Everyone wants to reduce the risk of fire. So, why is there so much controversy swirling around the committee writing new rules. It’s because of the way its members are going about it, violating basic principles, principles of conduct we all believe in.

Conflicts of interest are bad. Financial conflicts of interest can be nasty, creating suspicion, mistrust and possible corruption.

Standards of behavior we have learned to believe in exclude any form of conflict of interest.

That’s why we think the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council should not be sitting at the table, discussing and drafting new laws and rules on fire abatement, rules affecting each and every one of us.

MCFSC helps us with abatement. That’s how it makes its money. It is a private group and takes a cut — what some say is a large cut — from the funded abatements in which it participates.

It also uses abatements as a tool for soliciting donations. After the job, it asks and we give.

Nothing is wrong with any of this. But it shouldn’t be picked to draft new rules increasing abatements, decreasing many of our pocketbooks and adding to its private funds. In our opinion, this is way below ethical standards.

What makes this worse is that it is the one and only group on the committee that represents the private interests of the community.

If the intent is fair representation, another basic principle we all believe in is why there is no other private local representation?  Many other groups with large supporters on the Hill work very hard on fire-safety matters. Why are none of them represented?

Why, no one from property-owners’ groups?  Property owners will be the most affected.  They should be there to discuss their interests. Also, Real Estate and businesses.

One other major principle that many of us strongly believe in is the voting rights of the people. This committee drafting new laws and rules has never been elected. Not one of the members has ever faced a vote or an election, yet they supposedly represent us in writing new rules.

What they are doing will seriously affect all of us locally and for a long time to come. It’s our right to locally vote on it. Again, this raises suspicions that basic rules of democracy are not in their best interests.

Let’s all work together on fire safety. But let’s do it the right way.

Norm Cassen
Pine Cove