To the San Juan County Council and to Lovel [Pratt],
I am writing you specifically as you have in the past seemed to have a good understanding of our island communities. I have also copied your council members.
This evening [July 23] I attended a meeting on Orcas of at least 100 plus people that were extremely concerned about who is to handle the Orcas solid waste. From the facts presented at the meeting it seemed as though there was only 1% difference between the Orcas Exchange and the next lowest, off island bidder. I have lived on Orcas, on and off, for almost 30 years. In that time frame I have come to appreciate that this community is a rare thing.
We have town meetings, we have fund raises for unfortunate citizens who have been stricken or in the throes of dying. We take great pains to assure that children are cared for and educated. For such an eclectic group we are fairly harmonious in the way that we wish to live our lives. You need not go further than our Saturday morning market in our square to understand the people that I live with.
I do not have to struggle as many here do. I have been fortunate and successful in my business career and hope that I have given and will continue to give not only financially but through Kiwanis and the other boards that I have served on over the years.
Seeing those 100 people in that room so wanting to control the solid waste stream, to innovate with ideas such as composting and to extract from the waste stream that which can be used and saved from disposal: many are just down-to-earth people that know what is right and what is wrong. They know it is wrong to export jobs from Orcas to the mainland. They know it is wrong to leave recycling up to parties that are only interested in the money. They know it is wrong to handicap the Exchange and its wonderful community work with a disinterested carrier from off Island. They know that community is one of the most important parts of their life.
I don’t know how many of the people that made the recommendation not to use the Exchange have lived here or participated in the Orcas community. I could appreciate their decision if the Exchange was 15 or 20% higher than the lowest bidder. But 1%?. I can assure you they do not know this community and its dedication to a sustainable life style.
Frankly, I have taken only cursory glance at the Orcas Exchange bid nor have seen that of the other bidder. But I would like to throughly understand both sides of the issue and what is the real difference. I can’t imagine money, a 1% difference at that, standing in the way of our strong community ethic. Perhaps there is a great deal more to learn and I hope like me you will give all parties more time to explain their plans.
I am so sure that the Exchange bid is the best thing for our community, that I will supply a letter of credit or loan to the organization of at least $50,000 to assure their financial success. Once there is time, I am sure that many other people on Orcas will see fit to also pledge funds that will make it possible for the Exchange to engage in its new task and provide the Council with assurance that they will responsibly deliver what they propose.