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treeswarper
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PostTue Jan 05, 2021 9:12 am 
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Sculpin wrote:
I suspect there are folks in Stehekin who lack the ability (read: a motor boat) to get to Chelan on their own.  This means that they depend upon ferry service for food and medicine.  Because of this, I think the ferry is considered part of the state transportation system, with an obligation to provide service under all circumstances.  That is so folks in Stehekin won't starve if private ferry workers go on strike for six months.

I doubt that's ever going to be a problem.  I bet they have a waiting list of people wanting to work for the boat company.  As far as having a "motor boat" to get down lake to Chelan, as I stated earlier, one has to contend with a tricky part of the lake known as The Narrows, where the wind can spring up and the lake get quite rough, with suitable landing spots limited.  Otherwise, there would be a lot more small boat traffic on the upper lake.  It's much safer to be on a large boat in those waters.

Weirdly enough, I've never heard the boats called ferries before this thread.  We just called the one, The Lady Of The Lake and it was the only passenger boat for quite a few years, although I think there was a smaller one they used on the busy holidays or when the Lady had to go in for maintenance.  The boat company also had a barge to take equipment and vehicles up lake.

Like other isolated communities, if you need many drugs, or medical help, you'd best move to town.

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What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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altasnob
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PostTue Jan 05, 2021 12:32 pm 
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The original video is a propaganda piece produced by the Courtney's attorneys, the libertarian Institute for Justice. If you want to educate yourself on any issue that has been heavily litigated in the court system, such as this one, I suggest reading the court opinions that have resulted through the years, and briefs filed by both sides.

The laws Courtney has a beef with is RCW 81.84.010 and RCW 81.84.020. These are state laws, so they only apply to ferries in Washington State. These laws have been on the books since 1927 and before that, there was a similar law that existed since 1911.

Below is a 2018 State Court (Division 3 in Spokane) decision against Courtney that does a good job of explaining some background.

In 2010, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) was directed by legislature and governor to report on the appropriateness of the regulations governing ferry service on Lake Chelan.

"The WUTC report reviewed the history of ferry service regulation on Lake Chelan from 1911 to 2009 and the legal framework for regulation and its rationale. The report discussed the then-current ferry service on Lake Chelan and the views of stakeholders as to whether existing laws should be relaxed to allow unregulated commercial ferries to compete with regulated commercial ferries. The report concludes with a discussion and recommendation to the legislature:

The ferry services provided by the Lake Chelan Boat Company provide a lifeline to the communities of Stehekin and Holden Village. Faced with the question posed in 1921—would these communities be adequately served by unregulated passenger ferry operators?—the present Commission could not say with confidence that they would.

In the short term, it is conceivable, and perhaps likely, that during the busy summer months customer would enjoy the benefits of competition among boat operators, who would lower fares and improve service to make their offerings more attractive to potential customers. During these periods, tourism may even increase as prices fall.

But we agree with our predecessors that ... ferry operators would cease all unprofitable activities. With no legal obligation to serve, they would reduce or eliminate services during the winter months, or during times when fuel prices are high, or during times when more attractive business opportunities arise for the use of their boats or docking facilities. Even if revenues during the summer months would allow the operators revenue to serve year-round, they would not be expected to so if such activities were unprofitable and they were under no obligation to provide them. In any event, it is not clear that summer operations would subsidize winter service if the operators were to lose market share during those months to seasonal competitors.

Moreover, the issue of safety must be considered. Because the purchase, maintenance and operation of ferry service is a costly venture ... we doubt that the opportunity to provide ferry service on Lake Chelan will attract more than a few operators that the Commission would deem "fit, willing and able" to provide service under current standards. ...

For these reasons, the Commission does not recommend at this time any changes to the state laws dealing with commercial ferry regulation as it pertains to Lake Chelan."

The Courtney's have lost every court case they filed and have failed to convince the Washington legislature to change the law to their benefit. So they enlisted the help of the right wing libertarian law firm to try to get the US Supreme Court to declare the Washington law unconstitutional. That decision is still pending. The libertarian law firm being, well, libertarian, does not believe in any kind of laws or regulations. They think the world should just be a free for all.
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altasnob
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PostTue Jan 05, 2021 3:27 pm 
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I can't copy and past from the the WA Attorney General's brief, but if you want to see the reason why Washington only wants to allow one commercial ferry on Lake Chelan, read subsection B on page 4 of this brief:

http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/Briefs/A03/350959%20Respondent%20WA%20Utilities%20and%20Transportation.pdf

And I noticed Arrow Launch Service Inc (from Port Angeles) filed a motion to intervene in the suit against the Courtneys. You can read their brief here:

http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/Briefs/A03/350959%20Respondent%20Arrow%20Launch.pdf

Courtney's sound like the Ammon Bundy of Lake Chelan.
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Sculpin
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PostThu Jan 07, 2021 8:27 am 
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Thanks, altasnob, I hadn't thought about the summer profit/winter loss aspect of it.  I know that the state ferries have a similar situation, the late night boats on winter weekdays have few passengers but the ferries are required to keep the schedule anyway.

I wonder if the Courtney's could get around the law by including a free boat ride for any reservation that costs over $250 or whatever.

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altasnob
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PostThu Jan 07, 2021 10:04 am 
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The Courtney's do not have to get around the law because as Seventy2002 pointed out, in May 2019, the WUTC granted the Courtney's a permit even though that means there are now two separate private ferry services on Lake Chelan. The WUTC had previously denied the Courtney's this permit because they did not qualify under the statute that basically prohibits two private ferry services in the same place. If you read the WUTC order, the reason the WUTC changed their mind was because Lake Chelan Recreation, Inc., the other ferry permit holder, was sold to Discover Lake Chelan
LLC and in that process, they withdrew, or allowed their objection to the Courtney's obtaining a second permit, to lapse. With no valid objection from the other ferry permit holder, and the public comments suggesting the majority of the public wanted a second ferry service, the WUTC granted the Courtney's their permit.

So if the Courtney's got what they want from the WUTC, why is a national libertarian law firm still fighting this case in the US Supreme Court? In their video they claim they just want to help the small business owner on Lake Chelan but since that is now moot, I suspect in reality they are hoping the Supreme Court issues a decision that allows them to further privatize and deregulate other governmental entities throughout US that have nothing to do with ferry service.
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Cyclopath
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PostThu Jan 07, 2021 8:52 pm 
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Thanks @altasnob for posting the other side of the story.
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kleet
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PostMon Jan 11, 2021 5:19 pm 
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I happened to click on a George Will column in the Washington Post recently and saw it was about this case. It confused me as well since I knew they'd been granted a permit to operate a competing boat service. And I knew the Courtneys had started the Stehekin Ferry. A Stehekin insider explained to me that while the person running this new ferry is in fact a Courtney, it is a nephew (of the two who are taking this to the Supreme Court).

They truly have been there for generations. They also run the majority of the commercial entities in Stehekin (the Mountain Barge Service, the Stehekin Valley Ranch, the bakery and cabin rental, the shuttle bus, horsepacking & river rafting guide services, probably more I forgot). They should probably take a stab at flights to/from Stehekin since Chelan Seaplanes lost their dock in Chelan (to condos!) a few years back. In any case, Stehekinites were happy to welcome competition, as the past schedules and prices have left a lot to be desired. We'll see how it all shakes out, as I hear the Lady of the Lake is planning to launch some new, faster boats.

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jinx'sboy
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PostMon Jan 11, 2021 5:52 pm 
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kleet wrote:
We'll see how it all shakes out, as I hear the Lady of the Lake is planning to launch some new, faster boats.

Except that as of this last year, it appears BOTH ferry services are owned by the same people/family; Reed Courtney and Brun Garfoot (Garfoot was the name of a long time NPS employee at Stehekin- dont know if same family).

From Jan 2019 Wen World article (behind a paywall - this is ‘outline’):  https://outline.com/yjmnUD - about the sale of Lady of the Lake.

Same people run the ‘new’ ferry - Backcountry Travels LLC
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Leafguy
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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 12:12 am 
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I hope the Courtney's have a lawyer in the family. Some lawyer is making a mint on this deal that may never end.
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