There should be an online database entitled "Threats you shouldn't make" for those who need help resisting the urge to say things like "I'm going to sell my historic hotel to neo-Nazis if I don't get my way with the county."

Then again, anybody who needs such advice probably isn't likely to take it.

Great passions continue to play out on the shores of Willapa Bay regarding spartina, an invasive grass that at one time appeared certain to turn the bay's productive tideflats into pretty monoculture meadows. This endangered the bay's commercial oyster farms and also put at risk the National Wildlife Refuge's extensive migratory bird habitat.

But others believe with equal intensity that spartina is no great threat to anything, while a highly effective spray campaign results in lasting harm to human health and the environment. In an aquatic environment, it's effectively impossible to completely keep herbicide used on one segment of the bay from lapping on to another. This has infuriated the owner and operator of Moby Dick Hotel, which has its own small patch of organic, chemical-free oysters.

Under state law, spartina is a weed subject to mandatory eradication. Eradication doesn't work unless everyone does it, like it or not. And however begrudgingly, Moby Dick and its owner Fritzi Cohen have worked to beat down their spartina via non-chemical means. A little is left and must be eliminated.

But it is simply reprehensible and beyond the pale to seriously issue an ultimatum, as they did, to sell their property to the Aryan Nation's group if they do not get their way. This outrage may have been more rhetorical than real, but it certainly falls squarely in the range of strategies one should not use if one ever wishes to again be accepted as a neighbor.

Modern history holds a number of examples of chemicals once believed to be benign that turned out otherwise. Tremendous ongoing caution is warranted before using any sprays in the bay.

Unfortunately for those who appreciate such care, owner Cohen and her manager, Keith Stravrum, have firebombed their credibility with this Aryan Nations maneuver. They got everyone's attention, which in addition to getting their way, may have been their goal.

Now, they should emphatically withdraw their threat and begin mending bridges with a community that has good cause to be highly suspicious.


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