Whidbey Island vis-a-vis Vieques Island: Déjà vu All Over Again

UPDATED 1 August 2019 | Washington state’s lawsuit against Navy puts Whidbey Island officials at odds

Elected officials are weighing in on a lawsuit filed by the state attorney general against the Navy over its plans for expansion at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

In a letter to state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns condemned the lawsuit, calling it an irresponsible waste of resources and unjustifiable to the majority of his constituents.

Severns, who has served four years as mayor, said he believes the public understands the importance of the Navy’s mission, and values it above the additional noise that will be caused by expansion.

goSkagit.com | Elected officials weigh in on lawsuit against Navy

Les than one year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Navy sought to establish a northwestern facility in the state of Washington. NAS Whidbey Island (NASWI) was commissioned in September 1942 to support the WW2 Pacific War theater.

3,800 miles to the southeast of Whidbey Island, the Island of Vieques also served to support the U.S. Navy.

Towards the end of the 1930’s, the US Navy began to aggressively acquire land on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. The Navy first purchased several sugar plantations that were in financial binds, and in 1941 began forcibly expropriating land from the native inhabitants. The private properties of locals were seized on the grounds of eminent domain and they were compensated minimally for their losses. In all, the Navy confiscated 21,100 acres at a price of $1,041,500 – an average of about $50 per acre.

The University of Vermont

$100 in 1941 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1,742.47 in 2019, according to the CPI Inflation Calculator. Therefore, the 2019 dollar-equivalent value of the purchase is $18,147,825, or $860/acre. (Opinion: The Vermont professor sought to portray the Navy as a villain but, at $860/acre for land in a depressed economy, the purchase was more than fair.)

In both cases, the U.S. Navy was the main source of employment on Vieques as it is today on Whidbey Island.

The residents of Puerto Rico put up a vigorous campaign to oust the Navy and they were successful. In 2003, Bush 43 ordered the Navy to leave Vieques. Along with the departure of the Navy, sources of employment also left. The Puerto Ricans got what they wanted but didn’t want what they got: unemployment and poverty.

The economic vacuum created by the departure of the Navy made way for an influx of Airbnb® resorts, now the chief source of employment on the island of Vieques. By the way, the Puerto Ricans also complain about the non-military tourist industry.

Clearly, a lawsuit against the Navy by the State of Washington is a case of “déjà vu all over again”, as Yogi Berra would say.

Navy Times 9 July 2019 | Washington state sues Navy over expanded operations on Whidbey Island

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants the jobs, the financial stability provided by the Navy installation but he wants to control its mission.

“The Navy has an important job, and it’s critical that their pilots and crews have the opportunity to train, [but] that does not relieve the federal government of its obligation to follow the law and avoid unnecessary harm to our health and natural resources.”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Why would the State of Washington strive to undermine the mission of NAS Whidbey Island? It’s a blue state. The Seattle Times, 27 February 2018 | Liberals outnumber conservatives for first time in Washington state, Gallup poll shows

The Democratic Party has moved so far left it should be renamed the Democratic Socialist Party. The most vociferous members of the House majority openly call for all-out socialism.

Without oxen a stable stays clean,
    but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.

Proverbs 14:4 NLT

Stay tuned…

John White
Rockwall, Texas

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