The real meat of Whatcom County Council discussions is found on Tuesday mornings and afternoons, not so much in the evenings.
The council meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, twice a month most months. But it also meets in committees of three those same mornings and afternoons -- including today.
Committee meetings are public, but committees comprise less than a quorum and only recommend decisions to the full council. But most if not all council members attend each committee meeting, so an observer gets a good sense, hours before the actual vote, of where the council as a whole is leaning.
Also, because six or seven councilors have already hashed out the issue fully in committee, there is often little or no debate during the "big show" at 7 p.m.
And sometimes hot-button issues are just brought up for discussion, not necessarily for a vote anytime soon. These are heard in committee only, not in the evening.
Which brings us to Roundup, Monsanto and genetically modified organisms. Nothing to stir a Whatcom activist's heart there, right?
Council member Ken Mann likes to preview the agenda on his public political webpage, "Ken Mann Whatcom."
"... Nothing TOO controversial," Mann wrote on Monday, June 2, of today's agenda. "We will have a discussion about County policy for using chemicals like Roundup and Crossbow on County property. I am interested in any information or opinions about that."
Surprisingly, our outspoken community did not line up with comments underneath Mann's post. But community members are speaking out.
Wendy Harris, in her open Facebook group Whatcom Hawk, opened up the GMO can of worms when referencing the county's use of Roundup to kill off roadside weeds. She also posted a story that linked Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, to cancer. Harris commented:
Think roundup is a good, inexpensive and convenient way to deal with weeds on roadsides, utility roads, along public trails, etc? What is so convenient and inexpensive about cancer?
Council member Barbara Brenner raised the issue of Roundup and other chemicals used to kill off weeds along county roads. The discussion is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today at the meeting of the council's Public Works, Health and Safety Committee. Should be a lively discussion. Public comment is sometimes allowed at committee meetings. Mann, Brenner and the rest should get ready. Roundup ready, that is.