Former Commissioner Dennis Linthicum

Sep 16, 2011 — by: Commissioner Linthicum

The title for this blog is a calculated misspelling. Besides sounding like a pretty exciting Hardy Boy Adventure, I misspelled “Stakeholder” on purpose. I misspelled "Stakeholder" to cause everyone to slow down and think about the words that are being used.

A recent newspaper article, (Herald & News - “KBRA legislation in the works” - Sep. 12, 2011) references U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s efforts with regard to transforming the intent of the KBRA into actual legislation on behalf of the agreement’s stakeholders. Merkley’s office will attempt to push this $1.5 billion dollar effort along with the help of U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein. (This ought to create a fairly-hot potato for these four Democrats as they try to manage our US budget deficit while at the same-time spending $1.5 billion to destroy 169 mega-watts of clean hydroelectric generation.)

With regard to the KBRA agreement, a majority of the ‘stakeholders’ approved the agreement. However, the concept of a ‘stakeholder’ deserves some attention. After all, according to the article the stakeholders, “handed over their draft legislation to Merkley’s office…” This means our legislature is not drafting legislation, but instead special interest groups are drafting legislation.

The origins of ‘stakeholder’ are somewhat vague, but it appears to stem from the traditional American perspective of private property rights. An individual would ‘stake‘ his claim to some acreage or to mining rights, etc. The ‘stake‘ was the physical instrument used to identify the claim. This symbol became a vernacular phrase representing actual ownership, somewhat like a title or deed. Over time this meaning was enlarged to represent a legal interest or participation in private property. Today, it is used without much rigor to include a simple involvement, interest and concern, as well as, all of the above.

Please note that just because you may have some “involvement, interest or concern,” or a legally justifiable property right, that doesn’t mean you are automatically a ‘stakeholder.’ The KBRA stakeholder council did not simply appear. Nor was it formed as the result of citizen response to a common problem. It was created -- with great care -- by someone. The KBRA stakeholder council was formed to represent Tribes, farmers, fisheries, irrigators, counties, states, and dozens of US government organizations.

The Environmental Protection Agency and several other federal agencies often offer grants as incentives to help create these councils and develop plans to achieve sustainable communities. But, whoever instigates the process will carefully select participants based on their philosophical objectives. Typically, elected officials from each of the political jurisdictions in the region and individuals from industry are also invited.

This may seem straightforward, but the formation of the original group is extremely important to the outcome, so it is done with a focus on that importance. People who are expected to support the objectives of the instigators are chosen to dominate the group. Yet, there must be the appearance of broad community representation, even though the public is not invited to any of the closed-door sessions. In fact, by the time the public becomes involved, the stakeholders are well organized and in the consensus building stage with the media tagging along to give voice to the stakeholder message.

If this seems fine... let’s review.

The Tribes are represented. The same holds for the irrigation districts,  some agricultural water users, farmers, and ranchers. The power and energy concerns, are represented by ‘stakeholder’ status, along with Pacific Coast Fisheries, and even golfers. Lastly, the state, local, and Federal governments and their medley of regulating agencies are all amply represented.

So far, so good… There will be plenty of fish, plenty of water, hay, cattle, forestland, and power subsidies. (There will be less power because of dam removal; but, there is plenty of money for future irrigator power subsidies to help keep their power cost-payments low.)

Wait! All of this talk about money, future prices, and future payments gets back to our original quandary – What is a stakeholder? Shouldn’t it be the guy with the biggest ‘stake’? Who is supplying the money? Do they have an interest in this scheme? Who is coughing up the $1.5 billion?

So, it turns out that the local ratepayer, along with Oregon, California and US taxpayers are far and away the most important ‘stakeholders’. They are the ones whom this legislation will hit the hardest. They are the ones who will pay for their own future increases in water and power rates, along with paying for the subsidies to all of these other stakeholder-beneficiaries.

It does my heart good to know the economy is doing so well... I think I'll read an exciting Hardy Boy novel while I have some grilled taxpayer steak and hot-potatoes with dinner tonight.


  1. Finnious T. Fogbottom ~ Sep. 20, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

    First of all, are you aware that the Klamath isn’t the only spot on the globe where stakeholders have instigated dam removal? Here are a few of many examples: "Assabet River Sediment and Dam Removal Study Stow, Massachusetts “Executive Summary - Planning Assistance to States Report, September 2010 The Assabet River is located in eastern Massachusetts, approximately 20 miles west of Boston. The Assabet River has a length of about 32 miles, and drains a watershed of approximately 177 square miles, flowing through the towns of Westborough, Northborough, Marlborough, Berlin, Hudson, Stow, Maynard, Acton, and Concord, Massachusetts. The Assabet River joins the Sudbury River in Concord to form the Concord River. The purpose of this study is to provide planning assistance to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). MassDEP in conjunction with EPA and watershed stakeholders are investigating and implementing measures to improve water quality and the aquatic ecosystem of the Assabet River in order to meet its Class B water quality standard (fishable and swimmable). The study’s role in this effort is to provide scientific and engineering information that will inform the decision making process by MassDEP and stakeholders.” “On Monday, March 29, 2010, American Whitewater joined a diverse group of stakeholders in signing and submitting two inter-related settlement agreements that call for the continued operation of Boundary Dam on the Pend Oreille River, enhanced operation of Sullivan Dam on the natural Sullivan Lake, and the removal of Mill Pond Dam on Sullivan Creek. The agreements are the culmination of over three years of consistent efforts to resolve issues related to the surrender of the Sullivan Project, located in northeastern Washington.” 'This voluntary agreement signifies an important step in restoring fisheries and recreational opportunities on the White Salmon River," said John Gangemi, American Whitewater Conservation Director. "More importantly, this agreement serves as a model for other rivers where dam removal is being considered. After credible scientific study the stakeholders and utility collectively came to the conclusion that dam removal was the best restoration alternative for the White Salmon River. Furthermore, this agreement reinforces the financial and societal obligation of utilities to remove dams they have constructed and generated profits." American Whitewater recognized early on that the river might benefit immensely if Condit Dam were removed. In 1989, when the process first started, dam removal was not a concept embraced by many of the stakeholders. Dam removal is one of many alternatives that may be considered when a dam is being reviewed. The alternatives will depend on the reason the dam is being reviewed. A successful dam assessment requires that stakeholders and the general public be provided with a choice. of outcomes based on an in-depth analysis of a multitude of social, environmental, and economic factors. When all of the interested parties can consider and comment on the pros and cons of dam options on multiple levels such as these, the final resolution on the fate of the dam is likely to match what society considers the greatest good. Decision to Remove Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams…' If you really want to know the who, what and where of the stakeholder process let me know. Forever clearing that persistent Marxist fog, Finnious T. Fogbottom #
  2. Finnious T. Fogbottom ~ Sep. 20, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

    Here is bit (or is that bite?) of Stakeholder Consensus background sinformation. One would have to want to miss the graphic connections to the local and larger problem. I am sure this subject must weigh heavily on the minds of some arrogantly ignored security analyst types. What American Citizens Need to Know About Consensus and Facilitation (Someone is always encouraging legitimate government to hire a facilitraitor.) Multi-Stakeholder Process – The Legacy of the World Commission on Dams Regionalism: Sneaking America Into World Government Where the Power Lies Multiple Stakeholder Politics Over Natural Resources A Participatory Methods Guide Stakeholder Analysis Guidelines --Hatfield, Mark O. " Consensus in the Klamath." Environmental Law 26, no.1 (1996): 447. Senator Hatfield describes the success of a southern Oregon citizens' group in reaching solutions to natural resources issues in that region. Consensus Building/Conflict Resolution Toolkit The Ecosystem Approach Making Waves: Stories of Participatory Communication for Social Change Beyond fences : seeking social sustainability in conservation. Vol.1 : A process companion “March 16 - 18, 2005 found three Klamath Bucket Brigade members participating in the Klamath River Basin Stakeholders Workshop in Tulelake, California. Vice President Barb Hall and board members Alvin and Steve Cheyne met and networked with county government officials, federal and state agency personel (NOAA, F&WS, BOR), up and down river Indian Tribal members, commercial fishermen, and members of environmental groups. On April 14th, board member Steve Cheyne attended the quarterly Hatfield Group meeting and participated in discussions on the Bureau of Reclamation's Conservation Implementation Program. The Klamath River Basin Stakeholders held another workshop in Chiloquin, Oregon from June 28 through the 30th and board members Barb Hall and Steve Cheyne again participated.” This is of course just the tip of the AlGoreberg. It is at the very least all very interesting from a biblical point of reference. Lucky for us that God has provided an even better toolkit. Peering through a red tinted green foggy whirled, Finniuos T. Fogbottom #

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Commissioner Dennis Linthicum

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