The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Asleep but still time to take control of the wheel


It’s time to face some less-than-optimal facts but also to rise to a new opportunity.

Clarity emerging from perfect-vision hindsight leads to the inevitable conclusion that the entire community of Goldendale was, to varying degrees, asleep at the wheel when it came to I-502. Perhaps the view was, “It can’t happen here,” with the notion that legal recreational marijuana was something the crazies west of the Cascades embraced but would never see the light of day in this reasonable Eden. Perhaps it was, “If we don’t look at it, maybe it won’t come here,” born of a sense that the salt-of-the-earth folks here have already done battle with climate and cattle, dirt and disease—don’t make us have to take on pot shops. Probably it was some of both.

In a city not entirely renowned for dazzling civic leadership (while we’re on the topic of less-than-optimal facts), blame for the current fallout on I-502 cannot be placed fully on the mayor. It can be seen now that community complacency lulled the area into thinking itself immune from this issue. That attitude was reflected in elected representatives on the city council, which, truth be told, was anything but proactive on dealing with I-502 when it passed. It’s clear now that at least some degree of awareness about the possibility of a pot shop in Goldendale was brought to most of the council members. Dazzling civic leadership could have brought proactive exigency to the issue, to the council, to the mayor, and to the community to get its hand off the snooze button of the pot alarm. None of that happened.

Now pot shop entrepreneur Richard Ellis, who by most accounts is a decent person doing what he feels best, is undergoing a siege by the community, finally aroused from its slumber. Not his fault. His allies are mostly out-of-town activists riding the wave of what they consider an irrefutable future. They weren’t helped Monday night by a blustering attorney/pot shop owner who stomped her shoe on the podium and shouted, “We will bury you!” Oh, sorry, that was Krushchev. This woman opened a verbal sortie against the city council, declaring she would “bleed the city dry” of money by virtue of her by-god legal prowess.

So those are the less-than-optimal facts. Here’s the good news: this town can still rise to create the future it wants. It needn’t compound past mistakes with a new one that acquiesces to the gravity of “things as they are.”

There are already downcast faces in town bemoaning that it’s too late. We waited too long, momentum is against us, and the pot store is just going to open, the feel. And anyway it would cost too much to fight it all at this stage; the city attorney, presumably tasked to consider worst-case scenarios, is going to advise the council based on his gauge of litigation potential, which will be used by some to blanket-justify future action. Some of the people holding the attitudes are citizens, some are on the city council.

While often used as a rallying cry for change, the view that values “grow up” over time, like a maturing child, is absurd. “In this day and age” is the slogan of ethics usurpation.

That day is upon this community. It’s time to take what it holds dear to the forefront of expression and ignore the pull of futility. It’s time to make a determination to make a difference.


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