When Government Does not Represent People Any More: A Little Story from the Future of Carbon Policy Forum 2023
Commercial interest groups and corporations are not elected for any public office, neither are their professional lobbyists and legislative lawyers. They spend their working hours commenting on legislation, giving testimony, drafting legislation for elected officials and strategizing how to influence decisions. They are paid by the same top that funds election campaigns.
As Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkley, and former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, says in his book Beyond Outrage, (page 130):
“Get Big Money out of Politics: … with an almost unprecedented concentration of wealth at the very top, unbridled money in politics poses a clear and present danger to our democracy. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission invites the worst corruption we have witnessed since the Gilded Age.”
We see this playing out right now at WSDOT’s Aviation division and their work with the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC for short, but really the Commercial Aviation Expansion Commission):
- The Governor and Washington’s legislature have mandated the CACC to find a site for a new mega airport in the Puget region, which may be combined with other smaller commercial expansions of existing airports. See the CACC enabling 2019 SSB 5370 here and its amendment for deadlines in 2022 ESSB 5689 Section 707 here.
- The Governor appointed the CACC members of all fifteen voting positions, all of which represent/support the transportation and aviation industry.
- The two citizen representatives may be reluctant or former supporters, and are greatly outnumbered. As a result, only one has participated actively.
- Public health, environmental health, the public at large are not at the table.
- Aviation industry members are allowed to make their own forecasts. It is self-serving by design. It excludes other options and is not balanced with public health, natural resource preservation, and climate cooling goals.
- The underlying forecast data is confidential and not open to public review. The Public has a right to know, when an entire industry, such as the aviation industry, benefits from billions of taxpayer money.
Washingtonians have said clearly that they
- do not want aviation expansion, or
- do not want it unless environmental impacts are mitigated.
See the December 2021 CACC online survey results here.
Elected officials need to represent people again, including in aviation matters.