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.
My greenhouse is covered with a thin plastic film. A few molecules of plastic are all it takes to make it 30 Fahrenheit degrees warmer inside than out. When coal, gasoline, and natural gas are burned, they produce carbon dioxide which traps heat just like the plastic film of my greenhouse.
When people who want more government regulations argue in favor of a new mandate on employers, they usually say, “Well, one more rule won’t break the bank.” However, seemingly harmless regulations have a cumulative effect that eventually cripple employers and prevent entrepreneurs from creating the jobs needed to fix our weak economy.
Imagine a child with a life-threatening food allergy. Now imagine that child having a severe reaction while at school. If that student is fortunate enough to have an epinephrine autoinjector on school grounds, he or she may receive a dose to help reverse the reaction and potentially save a life. But what about students with a food allergy who don't have their injector with them? What about students who haven't been diagnosed with an allergy, but experience their first life-threatening reaction while at school?
I would like to share a special memory of Bob Tidland. This scene can help illustrate his character and community-mindedness. As Camas’ retiring first city administrator, I have had many, many fine days in the past 24 years; the scene I am remembering is among the finest hours.