With beautiful mid-summer days in full swing, it would be easy to completely forget about the so-called important issues we normally wrestle with locally in Camas, Washougal and throughout Clark County. Especially if you are a young person 18 to 25 years of age. Really, do we think many of our 18- to 25-year-olds, currently enjoying days at the river, trips to the beach, concerts in Portland or getting prepared for college in the fall are going to give scant attention, right now, to the issues that may affect them considerably in years to come?
Citizens of the East County Fire & Rescue district, watch your mail in the next few days. The ECFR newsletter is being mailed out this week, and it includes a survey asking for your opinion. If you live or own property in the ECFR District, ECFR wants to know what you think about having a bond issue on the upcoming Nov. 6 General Election Ballot. The bond is for 20 years, and the survey presents you with three alternatives: Yes or No to a $1,275,082.00 bond with an estimated cost of 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed value or approximately $1.33 per month for a $180,000 home; yes or no to a reduced bond with an estimated cost of 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value or approximately $1.18 per month for a $180,000 home; or no to the bond being on this Nov. 6 ballot.
Military installations and defense contractors are taking the brunt of the automatic budgets cuts mandated by sequestration. Why should we care? Washington has major bases and military suppliers such as Boeing. They contribute more than $13 billion to our economy, about 4 percent of total GDP. A July 2012 study by George Mason University projected that sequestration could cost our state 41,000 military-related jobs. The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan will also have an impact.
Noise and chaos around the corner. People reluctantly running with their children in their arms to the city’s gathering areas to see the commotion. Soon, social media is on fire with news about a historical event a year in the making.
About midway through a 40-plus year management career, I became interested in the phenomenon of organizational change. I learned that people don’t necessarily resist change, but do resist the way change affects them personally. The proposal to convert Washougal from a strong mayor to a council-manager type of municipal government portends the type of change that begets both benefits and difficulties. Among the latter are the effects it will have on current and future council members and candidates, as well as the city administrator. I leave to others the task of making the case for change. My focus in this editorial is on the effects the proposed change would have on the job of the city council, and the qualifications needed for the job. These issues deserve consideration during the debate.
Sometimes change can be good. In the near future, we may see changes in government at the county level. In the recent past, Ridgefield and Battle Ground changed their city governments from a strong mayor to a council-manager form. Maybe now is the time for a similar change in Washougal. At the June 10 Washougal city workshop, Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay requested time at the next workshop (June 24) to discuss putting forth to voters the option of changing Washougal’s form of city government from the strong mayor system we have now, to the council-manager form.
Recently, Gov. Jay Inslee proposed several tax increases to the Legislature in a time that state revenues are increasing. That's a combination of factors that will hurt consumers and retailers. Just last month, Inslee's chief economist, Steve Lerch, described Washington state consumer confidence as fragile. Recent payroll tax increases and rising gasoline prices do nothing to encourage companies to hire or consumers to spend, which would help the economy recover faster.
Citizens expect government to be fiscally responsible. Regarding the Columbia River Crossing, legislators are being asked to allocate $450 million toward a $3.5 billion mega-project. The CRC has spent $170 million so far on a $50 million "maximum" contract to design a replacement bridge. We've not purchased the first steel I-beam or poured any concrete footing.
When an errant SUV crashes through your picture window, you may not notice that your barbecue tipped over and caught your house on fire. So it is with the U.S. economy these days. All the focus on our national debt, sequester cuts and federal tax increases is obscuring a smoldering problem in the states. Declining tax revenues, budget deficits and underfunded pensions have legislatures scrambling for revenue. Many states are taxing and borrowing more just to make ends meet.
In our scheme of government, we elect representatives to take a stand on issues that affect their constituents. Among those representatives, leaders take a stand. Politicians don’t. Leaders study the issues and decide what policy best supports the interests of their constituents as a whole. Politicians take a position based on what is best for the advancement of their own interests.