Noose threatens planning supporter

  Ellen Gray locks her office door when she's at work. Since she was threatened during a public meeting in Everett, Wash., this month, her job as director of the Pilchuck Audubon Society's SmartGrowth Campaign seems a high-risk occupation. Gray had just testified about a proposed land-use ordinance at a Snohomish County Council hearing when a man stood up in front of her with a noose and said, "This is for you." During a break, Gray says another man cornered her and warned, "We have a 10,000-person militia, and if we can't stop you at the ballot box we'll stop you with a bullet." Audubon is challenging the county for inaction on its Critical Areas Ordinance, which defines wetlands and wildlife habitat. The ordinance is a requirement for all counties under Washington's growth management act, passed three years ago. Bonnie Phillips-Howard, also a member of Pilchuck Audubon, says, "The most threatening thing is not the threats, but that the politicians are allowing it." Audubon's SmartGrowth Campaign, initiated in January, was designed to promote education and communication about development. Meanwhile, Gray is deciding whether to press charges. "It's pretty sad, pretty upsetting," she told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "These guys have no respect for public process."

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