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Home » Archives » December 2005 » WHAT IS GOING ON?

[Previous entry: "Comrade of the County (the Friend to the San Juans)"] [Next entry: "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing An Update"]

12/23/2005: "WHAT IS GOING ON?"


Promises Made, Promises Broken

One year ago we elected two new Commissioners to our Board of County Commissioners. We were promised that they were both extremely qualified to do the job and would both do a better job of running our county government by:

1. fixing the problems in Community Planning and Development.
2. increasing the morale of our hard working county employees.
3. make our county government more transparent to the public by having more open public meetings and less Executive Sessions.
4. reduce the need to constantly hire outside consultants.
5. spend our hard earned tax dollars wisely, etc. etc.

What do we have today? Four new planning directors in one year, with a turnover rate that is embarrassing, and a much longer and more expensive permitting process. More Executive Sessions and closed door behind the scenes meetings than I can ever remember. The hiring of outside consultants for to make decisions that current staff is qualified to make (this is by a BOCC that told us they were very qualified to do the job). Spending our hard earned tax dollars like our money flows from a fountain of cash. I could go on and on, but in the interest of not sounding like a broken record (for those of you that remember what that means) I will try to be brief. Some examples:

Most recently, our County Auditor asked for additional funds to pay his overworked staff for the additional time required to install our new accounting system and transfer data from the existing 22 year old system to the new one. Two years ago when this new system was being looked at and chosen from several providers, the cost and time required to change over was discussed at great lengths. Now in the wisdom of our county leaders we are denying the most qualified and experienced people available the funds necessary to accomplish this task, and have decided to go outside and hire, train and bring up to speed new people. This is a complete waste of time and money; not to mention the unintended consequences that may result from this decision. Thank heaven this is government and not a business, or we would be bankrupt in short order with this kind of decision making. But then we were told that you can't run government like a business, weren't we? I guess it must have to do with the ability to tax us when more money is needed to fix the mistakes and poor decisions that result from not running a multi-million dollar organization like a business .

I could go on about the Lafarge project, Trash to Treasures, the secret deal with the Friends of The San Juans, ignoring the legal advice of the Prosecutors office, but why quibble?

The good news is that we now have a County Charter. I believe that the actions of our two Commissioners over the past year did more to pass the County Charter than anything the supporters of the Charter could have possibly done to get it through.

We now have the ability to actually run our own County Government. What a concept! If only the promises of a year ago had been kept, what would it be like today?

Ray Bigler
San Juan Island


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