Property Rights Council Votes Against Drinking Water Protection

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Property Rights Council Votes Against Drinking Water Protection

As Bonner County Property Rights Council member Tom Cleveland explained, the whole idea behind drinking water protection in Bonner County was “with the blessing of the EPA” which he called a “Gestapo agency” and “out of control.” He followed with an ominous non-sequitur, warning that “people should start thinking about where their food is coming from.” And when his tirade was completed, the PRC unanimously* voted down the proposed watershed protection ordinance on Monday evening.

Even setting aside Cleveland’s obscene Gestapo comment, and setting aside the fact that the EPA really has nothing to do with this proposed ordinance, logic and legal acumen was not exactly on display at the PRC Monday night. Incorrect interpretations of law, straw men, and appeals to utterly absurd alternatives ruled the night.

Indeed, common sense drinking water protection never had a chance with the PRC.  The PRC started with the presumption that ALL regulations are arbitrary, and then they refused to acknowledge when their presumption was clearly rebutted by detailed testimony. Submissions from Idaho DEQ, the Idaho Rural Water Association, Idaho Conservation League, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper, and Bonner County’s own planning staff were essentially ignored.  (Knowing a kangaroo court when we see one, KEA has declined to participate in the PRC’s nonsense.)

The catch-all solutions to drinking water protection, according to the PRC, would be “voluntary best management practices” and filtration systems for people whose drinking water might become contaminated.  As Tom Cleveland explained, “Nothing can’t be filtered.” Indeed, Chairman Clark lamented that there weren’t more government grant opportunities to support filtration systems — the irony clearly lost on him.

What happens next isn’t clear. The statutory authority to pass on Bonner County land use ordinances is left to the Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Bonner County Commissioners.  (The Bonner County Planning Commission has already approved the ordinance.) Despite delusions of grandeur, the PRC has no legal role.

*(Noted: PRC member Roger Daar, a member of Bonner County’s Planning and Zoning Commission, abstained from voting. Two PRC members were not present.)

By |2012-03-13T21:19:34+00:00March 13th, 2012|Land Use, Water|19 Comments


  1. […] course, in Idaho, ethical lapses and ideological nonsense has made this Sunshine Week seem more overcast than the wettest winter day in North […]

  2. […] that last spring the Bonner County PRC voted against drinking water protections and presumed that “proposed government regulation is unnecessary, unreasonable, and arbitrary […]

  3. Aaron Hudlemeyer February 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    I am not for or against PRC’s. I am, however, for honest debate and against disinformation.

    The author of this blog is simply misinformed and not well versed on the subject matter or intentionally misleading readers with disinformation.

    FALSE CLAIM #1: “This bill would REQUIRE every city and county in Idaho to establish a Property Right Council.”

    IN REALITY: What is FACTUALLY written in the bill is that the Land Use and Planning act “shall be discretionary” and “provide that mandatory provisions of specified law SHALL ONLY APPLY TO CITIES AND COUNTIES THAT ELECT TO EXERCISE THE POWERS conferred by the Local Land Use Planning Act as evidenced by the passage of a resolution or ordinance”.

    So truthfully the bill does not “require every city and county in Idaho to establish a PRC” but instead gives the cities and counties the ability to choose, by resolution or ordinance, whether or not to exercise the powers of the ACT and, if they so elect, then mandate a PRC.

    FALSE CLAIM #2: “last spring the Bonner County PRC voted against drinking water protections”

    IN REALITY: What the PRC opposed was the proposed “Watershed Protection Overlay District”. As stated on their webpage “The PRC, unlike many governmental advisory councils, focuses exclusively on searching for private solutions to problems. The PRC does not presuppose that the government is the best entity to resolve problems.”

    Is it not a sound idea for those who have the greatest stake in the matter to have their voices heard and be evenly represented? That is the essence of the law after all, is it not? That all are equal and have the right for their voices to be heard? My presumption is that each and every member of the community, including the PRC, would like to protect their drinking water; the real question is “How?”

    It is an absolutely absurd position that KEA has drawn from the established facts.

    I won’t waste time rebutting KEA’s numerous ad hominem attacks, circular referencing logical fallacies and unreasoned arguments although I certainly hope you read for yourself to discern the facts as they are more than capable of standing on their own.

    If KEA would like to be considered a credible source of community input I respectfully ask that KEA formally retract this statement and open the floor for a more accurate and honest discussion on a factual, reasonable, and logical basis.

    • Terry February 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      I’ll have more on “False Claim #1” as you point out why the bill is even worse that the original post suggests. But on “False Claim #2,” it is you making the false claim. Notwithstanding the revisionism on the PRC website, I was there at the meeting, and there was no question whatsoever that the PRC voted against common sense drinking water protections that were being proposed. They certainly made plenty of allusions to your view that “the real question is: ‘How?'” but their questioning doesn’t solve the problem. They offered no free-market way forward for drinking water protection — indeed there isn’t one. The PRC is an out-of-touch and purely obstructionist organization and it ought to be disbanded.

      • Aaron Hudlemeyer February 15, 2013 at 8:17 am - Reply

        Terry, I did not attend the meetings. I did read the blog, the links referred to in the blog and did my own additional investigation.

        As to the perpetuation of the argument that “the PRC voted against common sense drinking water protections”, this utterly absurd false statement of logic is based on the premise that the Watershed Protection Overlay District is, in fact, “common sense drinking water protection” and implies that anyone who opposes it lacks common sense or the desire to protect the water. Really, I’m disturbed by the audacity.

        • Terry February 15, 2013 at 11:22 am - Reply

          You can call it audacity, but the premise is true and the logic is correct.

          • Jay Mock February 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm


            Why do you think the Watershed Protection Overlay District is, in fact, “common sense drinking water protection”. Why wouldn’t a Property Rights Council be better at deciding what is drinking water protection? Wouldn’t the PRC be made up of local people, who actually live where the decisions will take effect.

          • Terry February 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

            To your first question, it IS common sense protection — used similarly and successfully around the country. It’s simple: you protect downstream water supplies by controlling dangerous contaminants upstream. It prevents conflict, prevents lawsuits, and it is simple and inexpensive. To your second question, the PRC is not made up of people who know about water quality or county governance. PRC members are unelected and they not accountable to anyone. Instead the PRC is made up of right wing “free market” ideologues who can’t conceive of — or won’t admit to — the obvious market failure being foisted on downstream water users by upstream polluters.

          • Jay Mock February 16, 2013 at 8:50 am


            Are you saying the Watershed Protection Overlay District members are elected? Do they required to live in the community that is effected?

            Why are you presupposing that the PRC members in every county would be right wing “free market” ideologues?

            Why not let the court system determine who are upstream polluters to downstream water users. If the courts don’t work in that case, then why talk about even more laws on top of already existing laws?

            What happened to the fact that Aaron is correct in his original statement, that the article makes a false claim. You may not like the PRC but that does not change the false claim in the article.

            I wonder who is the anonymous author of the article?

          • Terry February 16, 2013 at 10:10 am

            First, with respect to the overlay district, I suggest that you read the legislation before you try to comment on it.

            Second, as an environmental attorney, I can say that relying on the court system to resolve upstream/downstream polluter disputes is a horrible idea. For one thing, it is always after-the-fact. There is no way to prevent the pollution in the first place. For another, the court can order a cleanup — which will be difficult and expensive, or it can order monetary damages, which won’t clean up the mess, and really, what is the measure of damages when you take away the drinking water of a downstream property? And would an upstream polluter have the ability to pay those damages? I honestly don’t understand what the problem is with keeping automobile junkyards away from water supplies for downstream users. If that’s not common sense, I don’t know what is.

            Third, I can only say that the Bonner County PRC is made up of right-wing ideologues. The PRC concept is being foisted on the legislature by right wing ideologues. The PRC concept is the brainchild of right wing ideologues. I guess I am drawing conclusions from the evidence available.

            Fourth, there’s no false claim in the article really. Re-read my comments.

            Finally, I’m not sure what you mean, but the article isn’t anonymous.

          • Terry February 16, 2013 at 10:30 am

            Ah. I see the anonymousness issue. It’s a changed setting on the website that no longer publishes the author name. Suffice it to say that it’s a KEA article and KEA stands by it.

    • Terry February 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      Your “False Claim #1” is not really correct. It is true that PRCs are not mandated for all counties, but only for counties that decide not to use LUPA. Currently all counties operate with LUPA, because it is currently mandatory. So, under the bill, the only counties that will NOT have PRCs, then, would be the ones that have NO LUPA powers at all. But NO LUPA AT ALL is worse than a mandatory PRC and no county in their right mind would give up the LUPA powers.

      • Aaron Hudlemeyer February 15, 2013 at 8:27 am - Reply

        I apologize for your mistake in comprehending the proposed changes to the Local Land Use Planning act.

        Currently all counties have a mandated LUPA, if HB136 passes that will change to allow for the counties – the actual people who are most effected by it – to keep it or get rid of it. Then if they choose to keep it they will have a PRC.

        And again I make the clear argument for the rights of the people most effected by the proposals to have their voices heard. A PRC does not wield any authoritative power of its own, but it does give a checks and balance to an otherwise unchecked program.

        Everyone has a right to be heard.

        • Terry February 16, 2013 at 4:26 pm - Reply

          What unchecked program? Under LUPA, land use decisions are made at the local level by local elected officials. That’s what you want right? So who is the PRC checking and balancing?

  4. Aaron Hudlemeyer February 15, 2013 at 8:57 am - Reply

    I realize I mistakenly double posted but these comments really belong on the most recent blog regarding the issue “House Bill would Mandate Property Rights Councils for All Idaho Communities”.

  5. Aaron Hudlemeyer February 16, 2013 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Mr Harris you do not appear to be well versed in dialectic/rhetoric but you certainly have the ‘pathos’ or appeal to emotion down and honestly appear to be a disinformation agent who himself is an ‘ideologue.’ How can I say this? Because you fail to post these comments on the blog for which they were intended and truly relevant, namely the blog titled “House Bill would Mandate Property Rights Councils for All Idaho Communities” and subsequently you continue to promote the blatant lie in the headline even when confronted with the factual language of the resolution itself.

    Personally I am disinterested in the off topic discourse but most definitely interested in protecting the environment, drinking water included, for which you and KEA appear to be making the claim that Watershed Protection Overlay District is somehow the only solution. Mr. Harris this again is a blatant demonstration of a logical fallacy that oversimplifies the issue. How can you not know that as an attorney? You do.

    You make ignorant statements like “relying on the court system to resolve [sic] polluter disputes is a horrible idea” when the court system itself relies, as a facilitator, on reasoned arguments of logic and law. You continue with more false assertions stating that courts have “no way to prevent the pollution in the first place” knowing full well of the equitable remedy called an “injunction” as one of several potential solutions.

    When I originally responded to your blog it was with respect to your position, asking for a retraction of intentionally false statements, and requesting that KEA open the floor for a more reasoned, logical approach because I do, in fact, wish to protect drinking water, air quality, soil quality and preserve those fundamental natural rights for my child and future generations. I am the audience you should be targeting as I have not made up my mind on the issue, yet I seek the information to do so and unfortunately have not found it from a source I once trusted, the KEA.

    Stop sidetracking the issue Mr. Harris, correct the false statements, stop attacking people and instead open the floor for reasoned discussion or you are risking the reputation of the KEA as a credible source of community input.

    • Terry February 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      LOL at “fail to post these comments on the blog for which they were intended and truly relevant” ? Dude, you’re the one commenting on the wrong post — I’m just responding.

      Look, the only way a county would NOT be required to have a PRC would be if they opted out of LUPA, which no county is going to do.

      Also, I never said the overlay district was the ONLY way of protecting water quality — only that it was a good common sense idea. So yeah, try me. I’m looking forward to your other options for protecting drinking water quality. The PRC came up with nothing.

      Finally, as an attorney, I’m quite familiar with injunctions. The reason land use law and environmental law exists is because injunctions are difficult and expensive to get and they don’t work broadly. Moreover, it puts the burden on the wrong person — the person seeking to protect his drinking water is the person seeking the injunction? Nobody wants to clog the court system with neighbor-vs-neighbor fights.

      • Aaron Hudlemeyer February 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm - Reply

        Well Terry are you not the moderator of this blog? If you are then you know that I posted my original comments mistakenly on both blogs and mysteriously they appear here and not on the more pertinent topic.

      • Jay Mock February 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm - Reply

        So, according to what you say here Terry, the commenter was correct in FALSE CLAIM #1, and you admit that here. By simply “opting out of the LUPA, there’s no requirement to have a PRC.

        Remember, your response was to a comment professing the sole interest of an honest debate by enumerating two corrections. But your comments seem loaded with the same bias toward incorrect assumptions as the article.

        FALSE CLAIM #1 does, by your words need to be corrected in the article.

        FALSE CLAIM #2 seems, likewise in need of correction in the article.

        It may seem clear to some, that there are no options except those they themselves see. But when they are not the only ones effected, they should accept alternate views. Especially if they are not even among the effected.

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