Seven Examples of Complex Interventions
#1: DDD/DSHS and Stakeholder’s Workgroup — 1997-2003
Provided mediation of a complex multiparty public policy dispute between the State of Washington’s “Division of Developmental Disabilities of the Department of Social and Health Services” (DDD/DSHS) and the diverse twenty-two organizational member Stakeholder’s Workgroup. On January 7, 1998 all parties signed the ‘Stakeholder Workgroup Agreements in Principle’. New state legislation was based upon this agreement which also resulted in an additional $128 million dollar budget increase plus matching federal funds for the Division over a five year period with a significant anticipated and accepted monetary bow wave. The agreement also institutionalized as policy the principles of ‘informed choice and self-determination of persons with developmental disabilities’, and additional years were devoted to addressing operational policies regarding optional institutional residential placements or community based living.
#2: SOS and DOE — 2000
Provided federally-mandated mediation of a lawsuit case filed October 1st, 1999 between (i) a Eastern Washington grassroots organization, Save Our Summers (SOS), primarily comprised of parents of children with pulmonary disorders and (ii) the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology (DOE). SOS alleged DOE discriminated against a family and other plaintiffs under the ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’ [ADA] by allowing virtually unrestricted post-harvest wheat stubble burning in Eastern Washington. Although only SOS and DOE were parties to the lawsuit DOE insisted that the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) be included in the mediation process and as a signatory to any mediated resolution. The US Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] was a participant–observer as a steward of the Clean Air Act.
In August 2000 a settlement agreement was reached by all parties — SOS, DOE, WAWG, EPA — and a formal signing of the agreement was scheduled for August 17th. Late in that afternoon WAWG notified the other two waiting parties that it decided not to sign the agreement. Since SOS and DOE were the only parties to the law suit in federal court they decided that they would continue mediated negotiations in order to make minor modifications that would eliminate WAWG provisions. On August 23rd authorized representatives of both SOS, DOE and a representative of the State Attorney General Office signed the revised agreement — but 48 hours later on August 25th the Director of the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology [DOE] terminated the agreement which it signed on August 23, 2000 because WAWG — again, a non party to the lawsuit — was not a signatory. Additionally. The federal district judge presiding over the ‘American’s with Disabilities Act lawsuit then denied WAWG’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit thus WAWG could not be a proper party to any settlement negotiations or agreement.
In 2001 SOS and DOE signed an agreement which is all but identical to the modifications agreed on August 23rd, 2000 which it had later breeched on August 25th, 2000.
#3: Oil Spill Risk Management Panel — 2000
Facilitated/mediated parties within Federal Commission 2000 North Puget Sound Area Long Term Oil Spill Risk Management Panel for the Washington State Department of Ecology and the US Coast Guard by building consensus for a comprehensive oil spill risk management plan. Twenty organizational stakeholders were included in the process, among them the US Coast Guard, Makah Indian Tribe, the Western States Petroleum Association, local officials, ecological groups, and various maritime industries.
This case was complex due to a number of variables such as (i) all mediation sessions had to be held in public with the provision that the ‘audience’ would have opportunity to comment at each session; (ii) several panel members that signed the agreement to serve as ‘commissioner’ for the stated purpose of the Commission, e.g., ‘oil spill risk management’, instead placed their interests in the ways and means of ‘oil spill cleanup’; (iii) other commissioner panel members were myopic on one issue, i.e.\, securing permanent acquisition and operation of rescue tug stationed at Neah Bay for emergency response in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and eventually for all additional vessels to accompany every tanker and freighter transit on entry / within / and exit from Puget Sound waters; (iv) one panel commissioner exercised influence with then Vice President Al Gore who —while campaigning in Seattle to be President — reallocated funds from a resistant Coast Guard to fund a temporary rescue tug; and (v) the United States Supreme Court [ No. 98—1701] ruled against the State of Washington [excerpts]:
“Held: Washington’s regulations regarding general navigation watch procedures, crew English language skills and training, and maritime casualty reporting are pre-empted by the comprehensive federal regulatory scheme governing oil tankers; the case is remanded so the validity of other Washington regulations may be assessed in light of the considerable federal I nterest at stake. Pp. 6—25.”
“Ultimately, it is largely for Congress and the Coast Guard to confront whether their regulatory scheme, which demands a high degree of uniformity, is adequate.”
Despite the (i)-(v) dynamics mentioned above 24 of 27 issues were resolved.
#4: RIDGE and MountainStar Resort Development — 2000-01
Provided mediation between (i) RIDGE, a Rosyln, Washington citizen economic development and environmental protection citizens group, and (ii) Trendwest’s MountainStar Resort Development of 7000-acre resort. Accomplished a comprehensive agreement involving multiple issues including size of project footprint, density and umber of building units, water rights, amount of land to be kept and designated as forever wild, open space, “dark skies,” elk connectivity runs, public access, etc. This destination resort has since been sold, and is now known as Suncadia.
#5: Richland (Hanford) Nuclear Facility — 2005-06
Provided mediation at the Richland (Hanford) Nuclear Facility between the US Department of Ecology and the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology regarding the redesign of the cleanup of low-level nuclear waste in the reservation’s central core.
#6: Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Skykomish — 2008
Provided mediation between Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and the City of Skykomish, Washington regarding payments and clean-up projects of city-owned properties (buildings, streets, open spaces, etc.) to remove decades of pollution [petroleum in the form of fuel oil, hydrocarbons, PCBs, PAHs, lead and arsenic] caused by the railway’s former operations of its maintenance and fueling facility.
#7: UN’s FAO-WHO Codex Alimentarius — 2010-11
Facilitated/mediated negotiations for the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization-World Health Organization [FAO-WHO] Codex Alimentarius in the “adopt / not adopt ractopamine”* dispute” — involving authorized governmental negotiators of 11 nations plus representatives from industry and animal welfare groups participating in the Friends of the Chair [FOTC} process. Codex, comprised of the vast majority of the world’s nations, has as its primary principle to achieve international consensus regarding food safety standards that do not interfere with fair trade — and deals with food labeling, food hygiene, food additives, and pesticide residues. The key to Codex decisions rests on the credibility of the science conducted by the independent ‘Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives’ (JECFA) and which all Codex members are not suppose to dispute — but occasionally a nation will do so because they have ‘other legitimate factors’ [OLFs] which means non-scientific factors that are nonetheless fair game for consideration when carrying out risk management but do not have nearly as much weight as JECFA’s findings and recommendations.
* a veterinary drug that is used as a feed additive to promote leanness in pigs and cattle.
At the time of this FOTC process the matter of ractopamine was an 8+ year old dispute, and almost evenly divides Codex. It was perhaps unrealistic to think that convening and conducting three 1/2 day mediation sessions [spread over nine months in three nations — Mexico, Brussels, and China] would result in a consensus to recommend to the entire CAC body in July 2011 in Geneva.
In China and other Asian countries, animal internal organs including mussel, liver. kidneys and lungs are regularly consumed. China has some concerns regarding studies that indicate residual levels in lungs — thus a cultural consideration as well; as a result of the FOTC mediation sessions this matter is now being reexamined by ‘Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives’ (JECFA). The European Union [EU] delegation placed emphasis on ‘consumer preference’. Norway representatives advocated animal welfare. We do not fault any delegate for trying to advance their own respective ‘OLF’ interests – even while temporarily neglecting Codex’ fundamental principle, i.e., food safety for the protection of consumers while also facilitating fair trade.