Mahan's e-mails weren't illegal — just unethical

Port of Bremerton Commissioner Bill Mahan says he has no regrets about sending an e-mail last week to supporters of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) project requesting they show up at board meetings to drown out the project’s chorus of critics. And he says he’d do the same again.

Sadly, he’s probably telling the truth on both counts.

To be clear, no one is saying there’s anything illegal or against regulations about Mahan’s actions. And when one is as far out on a limb as Mahan is regarding SEED, it’s certainly understandable he’d much rather look out among a sea of friendly faces than deal with those who can’t quite grasp why, if green technologies are, in fact, a sound business investment, startup companies in that field need a handout from the taxpayers.

On the other hand, since both he and fellow Commissioner Cheryl Kincer have steadfastly resisted the idea of holding an election to determine precisely how residents of the port district feel about SEED, it seems completely disingenuous to rely on attendance at the board meetings as a barometer of their enthusiasm — especially when you’ve gone out of your way to pack the audience with friends and relatives.

Moreover, in addition to future meetings, Mahan’s e-mail lobbying strategy also casts doubt on previous meetings at which it was reported — as though it mattered — that a majority of attendees spoke out in support of the project.

Did they do so at Mahan’s invitation then, too? How can we be sure?

Again, it’s become patently obvious at this point that neither Mahan nor Kincer care what anyone outside their circle of sycophants say about SEED. But just as a point of reference, it would be nice to find out how large or small that circle really is.

Failing that, let’s at least drop the charade.

If you’re going to flout public opinion and commit your constituents to this costly boondoggle, that’s your privilege. But don’t compound the insult by trying to manufacture the illusion of support and then citing that as the basis for a decision you’ve clearly already made.

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