from April 2012, Government
Friday's Herald and News had questions and answers from the four Klamath County Commissioner Position #3 candidates. The question that grabbed the front page head-lines had to do with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and asked why a candidate was for or against the agreement.
Both Cheyrl Hukill and Todd Kellstrom stated they were for the KBRA and gave their reasons. However, what is more important to understand are the principles used by Hukill and Kellstrom to build their answers. By understanding their principles, then one can predict how either one will behave given any kind of issue. Principles do not change with issues, but are consistent from one issue to the next. Without principles candidates waffle all over the place, saying almost anything that seems to gain them political favor.
Cheryl Hukill’s Comments:
In 2010 the Tea Party burst onto the political scene in amazing fashion. At that time the Democrat controlled House, Senate and White House was running rough shot over what the people clearly wanted — or didn't want. The Tea Party got its name from the Boston Tea Party. Both were in revolt to taxation or fiscal injustice. However just two years later it seems the Tea Party has lost its way, and that is mainly because it has a serious flaw.
The flaw of the Tea Party is putting preferences over principles.
While many in the Tea Party claim they are a principled group who want fiscal responsibility in government, this notion quickly comes to the test in the real world. My good friend, Mr. P. Henry, wrote about how Commissioner Switzer was essentially calling farmers "sissies" because ranchers and farmers couldn't take care of a task that their forefathers took for granted as part of the job. But the problem is much deeper. Whether one is talking about county funding for tourism, trapping or soil and water conservation — these are all preferences. There has yet to be a principled argument made why these (and several other items) should be paid for by government. If these items have real value, if they are indeed needed services, then those who benefit will surely pay for them out of their own pocket. But there is no principled reason why tax dollars collected from the general public should pay for them — only preferencial ones.
Today County Officials approved budgets for several items. One of those items was funding for the county trapper. The argument goes that without this important service provided by the county, agriculture will suffer.
I say horse-hockey.
Chuck Cleland is a nice fellow and a very skilled trapper. From what I hear he is well liked and takes special care to make sure he is courteous to people and at the same time tenacious to get his prey. Fantastic. But that has nothing to do whether the county should fund this activity. It also doesn't explain why the family living on Esplande or on Hope Street should pay for a county trapper. The idea is that if the county didn't provide this service, livestock would be killed and farmers would suffer. Again, I repeat, Horse-Hockey! Look, from what I know about farmers it's that they are very skilled at fixing problems one way or another. So when an unwanted coyote or mountain lion decides to show up, I can guarantee you the farmers I know, know how to fix that problem, without a county paid trapper. If for some reason they are unable to do this, then I see no reason why they couldn't pay for a private trapper to come do this for them. Look when I don't have time to change the oil in my car I don't expect the county government to collect taxes from everyone else in the county to pay for this service, I pay for it myself.
Today's Herald and News featured two articles about how rising tuition might lead to lower enrollment. Then at the same time the school is facing fewer and fewer dollars coming from Salem which means it is having to make tough choices to cut services and some personnel.
This is what the Herald and News and OIT call a budget shortfall.
As mentioned several times in this blog, budget shortfalls are caused by two things — not just one. When looking at budget one must look at the revenues and look at the costs. Both articles in Herald and News focused solely on the revenue side of the equation. The Herald and News was all to eager to report tragic news that state funding is decreasing for OIT and how that translated into higher tuition for students. Students are being told they need to bear a larger burder for their own education. Imagine that?! And yet each article was whisper quiet about ever-increasing rising costs (even when cutting jobs).
Al Switzer has been county commissioner for 16 years. He is trying for another four so he can reach the magic number of "20 years of service" and retire like only kings used to dream.
Having been county commissioner for 16 years Al is most accountable for the condition of Klamath County today. Al's had the most time to shape policies, spend money, raise taxes and all the rest more than anyone else.
I want to spend a moment analyzing Al's response to a question by Ernie Palmer in the Herald and News from Friday, April 13, 2012. Rather than making empty claims, I'm quickly going to put some muscle behind the idea that Al doesn't have a clue and needs to go.
The Klamath Public Safety Advisory Committee — set up by both the City of Klamath Falls and Klamath County to solve the "funding problem" for County patrols and jails — has lost its way. First, there is no longer an urgent need for their service. Initially, they were to recommend a short-term fix to fund Jail Pod B for next year. However, this was solved when the governor waived the restriction and allowed Klamath County to use money it already had in its bank account (nice system when you can't use your own money without special permission). If the PSAC had its way, the citizens of Klamath county would be swallowing a $4.2 million tax increase each of the next three years.
Next the PSAC was to work on a long-term solution to Public Safety funding, so jails could stay open and there would be enough patrols to keep our streets safe. However, unless this committee gets serious about the ever-increasing costs associated with union labor, they will never solve the problem (without ever-increasing taxes that keep pace). So far costs have been missing from their conversation (you see the problem is completely a funding problem).
It's amazing how many smart candidates we have this year. It doesn't matter whether they are running for County Commissioner, County Sheriff, State Representative or State Senate. Almost everyone is saying the same thing:
In order to solve government's fiscal problems, we need to create more jobs.
Seems like a simple statement. Seems like the right thing to do. But here's where the rubber meets the road — how? The way someone answers how they would "create jobs" tells you much more about them as a potential government official, than does their statement that we need more jobs in our local economy. That part is easy. Just say it. Now you are brilliant too.