Ethics of Trespassing

Reading the local blogosphere today, after a nice little Oregon vacation sans computer, it appears to me that Whatcom County Council Member Carl Weimer has made a clear lapse in judgment first by trespassing on private property and then a second lapse by publishing his lapse for all of the world to read.  I find it a little unclear as to whether his blog called carl votes, is an official or personal endeavor.  He lists his official CWeimer@co.whatcom.wa.us address for the contact, but delves into matters from a more personal angle, but lists another site as My County Council Website, yet it is actually a www.voteweimer.com address and reads more like an Elect Carl Weimer website.   It’s confusing.

Official or not, on the carl votes site, Councilman Wiemer has recently written two posts outlining some goings on out at the proposed SSA GateWay terminal site on Cherry Point.  The first post  Cherry Point – Full Disclosure describes how he, presumably while innocentlywalking his dogs, ran across what he felt was improper work being done at the SSA site and the second post Cherry Point Clearing Questions Asked describe his subsequent questioning of Sam Ryan, Director of Whatcom County Planning and Development Service regarding what Councilman Weimer felt were code violations.

Here are a few things that Wally wonders:

  1. What is SSA doing on the site and is it legal?
  2. What is Carl Weimer doing on the site and is it legal?
  3. Does anyone besides myself question the ethics of a sitting council member trespassing to obtain information regarding a current issue on the Whatcom County Councils agenda?

First, I think it is a valid question to ask if what SSA is doing on their land is legal and oddly enough the county has a procedure and a form to legally get the process started for anyone with concerns.  Also oddly enough the form bears the name of one Sam Ryan, the same person Carl Weimer addressed his inquiry.   Did Councilman Weimer skip the form?  And was his report processed in the same manner as other reports?

Second, can anyone walk around the SSA site or any other piece of private property snapping pictures, measuring, and documenting without the owners permission or is it just County Councilman Wiemer who feels he is above privacy rules?  And if you read his blog and bought into his story about him just happening upon this while walking his dog on a county road, then you are either blind or gullible.  Really, how many people take measuring tapes along when they walk their dog?  Or believe he didn’t leave county roads even though he is pictured on what is obviously not a county road?

And lastly I think Carl Weimer has unethically  used his position on the council, what I see as blatant trespassing, and his maybe official or maybe not blog to attempt to influence the outcome of an issue that is of concern to everyone in Whatcom County.  Here’s a link to the Whatcom County Ethics Commission.  Tell them Wally sent you.

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4 Comments.

  1. Wally,
    If another citizen besides an elected official, had reported strange activity, would that have made a difference?
    Trespass is a term that carries legal ramifications, usually triggered by an owner’s complaint.
    That this area is vacant, has been used for some time by visitors, is apparently not posted, not fenced, and not identified by signs, seems to tacitly allow, not prevent, animals and people wandering into it.
    Because Weimer was familiar with this particular property and its intended future use, his decision to report his visual findings seems appropriate.
    Should such a report be handled more quietly and privately? Think about. Once it becomes known to Whatcom County authorities, it is already public information and subject to disclosure, although likely delayed until someone asks or notices. Is this your preferred option?
    Arguments of propriety aside, your response appears more politically motivated than altruistic.
    Weimer is the messenger here, not the offender.
    Publicly elected officials are still citizens, and entitled to the same rights as everyone.
    If the property had belonged to someone else who was flaunting the law, wouldn’t you want the County to know about that? If not, then your criteria for judging such matters need to be more evident to maintain credibility.
    I believe Carl Weimer has done us all a service, whether one supports the Gateway Pacific Terminal or not. It does take a certain amount of bravery to do as he did -under his own name- and risk attacks from those with different views or agendas.
    Rather than knocking him, we owe him respect for his honesty.
    That’s my view, but thanks for expressing yours, too.
    John

    PS- Thanks for linking to my blog.

    • So this is another case of the end justifying the means?

      Councilman Weimer, or anyone for that matter, could have handled this the right way by staying on public property while snapping a picture to take to the planning dept. He didn’t need to venture onto private property to reach the same end; an investigation. Though, I personally think the end he was after was making SSA look as bad as possible rather than just investigating and correcting the situation.

      I’m concerned that your acceptance, like others I read around the local net, of his self-righteous behavior in this matter will help set a precedent for more local govenment intrusion onto private property for any matters which they feel strongly about, regardless of rules.

      As to political motivation, you are sorely mistaken. I’d love to see this project fail because I don’t support the export of our coal to China, but I’m not willing to resort to shady means.

  2. I’m surprised Wally, that you wouldn’t support the export.

    First, even after a china market peters out, it will still be used for whatever else is in demand. Second, withholding coal from a market that wants it smacks of protectionism (since I assume you’re not referring to environmental aspects). We have plenty of our own coal, why do we need the stuff we are exporting? Why should we let someone else benefit from exporting it instead (since they will get it regardless)?

    First principal of free economics: No transaction takes place unless it is mutually beneficial. I have no reason to believe this doesn’t benefit us. And if I’m concerned about Chinese security threats, this is hardly a threatening transaction.

    • Until we have comfortably replaced fossil fuels as the mainstay fuel in our nation I think we should treat our reserves of all fossil fuels as strategic petroleum reserves. I’m not against the port, nor it being a coal port, but I can’t support the effort knowing that the primary reason it is being built is to ship coal to China.