BY AARON WALKER
There is a lot to unpack from the glyphosate discussion from council last night (3/7/23). Bad faith arguments were brought to the table, and there was an attempt to overturn a decision made by council in December 2021 without any significant public input. Transparency, poor (and bad faith) arguments, and a general lack of preparation are to blame for this.
Councilor Lepsch brought the item to council because he wanted to make sure that the county had “tools in the toolbox”. He stated that his estimation was that approximately 30% of the county opposed glyphosate usage. This is an extremely bad faith argument, as there is ZERO data that shows this. Instead of asking for a town hall on the issue, a survey, or even looking back at all the hard work that the Environmental Sustainability Board had done on glyphosate (including the significant public feedback they received), councilor Lepsch made a wild assumption not grounded in reality. This is extraordinarily poor judgement and decision making from a county councilor. He didn’t even state HOW he came to the conclusion of 30%.
The major argument Councilor Lepsch made repeatedly was regarding the airport runway that was recently resurfaced. This is yet another bad faith argument. If there are weeds coming up through a runway that was recently resurfaced, then the contractor the county paid to do the job did an extremely poor job. That doesn’t justify using a chemical that has been declared possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Councilor Lepsch could have gone back and looked at all the work the ESB had done, and the discussion that council had making the decision to stop the usage of glyphosate. He apparently chose not to in his “independent research”. He asked people to give him information, rather than going to the information that was already gathered by a board that was designed to investigate these items. If he had chosen to do that, he would’ve seen the pages and pages of public comment and emails supporting a ban of glyphosate. I spent 5 minutes on Granicus and found the meeting council had where they made the integrated pest management decision AND the ESB meeting where they made the recommendation to council (12/14/21 for Council and 10/21/21 for ESB).
“Emotionally based” was a term used to describe the argument for banning glyphosate. This was a wildly unacceptable description of this effort, and IF Councilor Lepsch had actually looked back at the discussion of glyphosate in the county, he would’ve found it to be the exact opposite. ESB has put a tremendous amount of work over a long period of time researching glyphosate, so describing it as “emotionally based” is not only a bad faith argument, but also wholly inaccurate and unacceptable.
I’m not an expert on glyphosate, but I have been following ESBs work on it, and supported the decision on it in 2021. A major factor in that was the massive public support it got. Councilor Lepsch saying “I hope we can step back and become a little more driven by data and take advantage of some of the expertise we have in the county” is an insult to the work that has been done on this. His own research wasn’t “data driven”, it was wildly unprepared.
This being brought up on an agenda with little to no public input a year after the decision was made is yet another blow to transparency. Council needs to do some serious reflection on the county survey and try to determine how they will do things better. Asking for an agenda item, and then showing up wholly unprepared for the item asked for is entirely unacceptable. At least do the research to show you know what work has been done and the effort put into it.