Letters for Feb. 15, 2017
February 14, 2017
Plan survey results skewed
I was recently appalled to find that only 294 of 421 visitors to the County's online Strategic Plan Survey took the time to respond to the questions.
Likewise, many residents missed an opportunity on Feb. 6 at the Carson Valley Inn to personally provide input to the County's 2018-2021 Strategic Plan. Shame on us if we wait for bi-annual elections to make our voices heard.
The recent meeting was conducted jointly by the Board of County Commissioners and facilitators from the consulting firm OnStrategy with the purpose of identifying the top three of seven strategic categories.
The seven strategic categories were Financial Stability, Safe Community, Economic Vitality, Infrastructure, Natural Environment/Resources/Cultural Heritage, Managed Growth, and Organizational (County government) Stability.
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The process for identifying the top three included giving all attendees the opportunity to identify their personal priorities, and what degree of effort the county should give to each.
While the facilitators of the meeting did their best to get an accurate measure of importance, the fact that county employees outnumbered non-employees 3-1 unquestionably skewed the results dramatically in favor of Organizational Stability, Financial Stability and Infrastructure.
Strategic issues addressed by Organizational Stability included among others "What can we do about the lack of awareness and support of County plans: its goals, its values?" and "How can we influence County employee retention to have a positive impact on community satisfaction" Much of the substantive discussion on this priority focused on employee compensation and improved communications, both internal and external.
Strategic issues addressed by Financial Stability included among others "How do we achieve and maintain a balanced budget given the mandated (employee) benefit programs?" and How do we resolve tension between current residents' resistance to taxes and need for increased revenues?" Much of the discussion on this priority focused on Redevelopment Districts siphoning Ad Valorem tax revenue from other needs, e.g. schools, infrastructure, etc.
Strategic issues addressed by Infrastructure included among others "How will we ensure [that] infrastructure funding and planning insures citizen experience – with benefit from and access to – collective roadway and water systems?" Much of the discussion on this priority focused on re-routing heavy traffic around the downtowns of Minden and Gardnerville, and how to institute and pay for storm and flood water management.
Overall, the meeting was informative for those of us who stayed the entire seven-plus hours, but I for one left feeling that the process was less than it might have been if more non-employees had been involved.
The fact that so few people participated in the on-line survey or attended the meeting is evidence that there must be a better way to get citizen input to County planning efforts. How many of those on-line survey respondents were county employees with a vested interest in the outcome is unknown, but that unknown casts doubt on the results. Perhaps, as was suggested by one participant at the meeting, a mail survey with a postage paid return envelope would be more accurate, even if it cost more.
Haunted by ghost of human folly
America is now haunted by the ghosts of past human folly. Consider: "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." (Herman Goring); "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." (Joseph Goebbels); "All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those it seeks to reach." (Adolph Hitler).
Could it be that not one of those currently in power is willing to put the welfare of his country above that of his party and help exorcise these demons before it's too late?
Law is clear on travel ban
The 9-11 terrorists entered the US from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emeritus and Lebanon. Just prior to 9-11 the CIA had telephone intercepts between Bin Laden and operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan in which they discussed the major events that were to occur in the US. None of these countries are included in Trump's travel ban executive order.
Visa applications are not completed in a week or even a month. Nevertheless, if Trump's ban were implemented immediately supposedly to prevent the "bad dudes" from "pouring in", why couldn't the "bad dudes" simply apply for visas from one of these or other non-banned countries.
All of this is made immaterial by eight U.S. Code subsections 1185, 215, (a), (1), "… the President is authorized to place reasonable limitations and exceptions on the immigration rules, regulations, and orders pertaining to any alien." And, 8 U.S. Code subsections 1152, (a), (1), (A) "… no person shall … be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person's … nationality … or place of residence."
This clearly dictates that any limitation and/or exception placed on immigration rules, regulations and orders relating to a person of one nation must be applied equally to people of all nations. The Trump executive order draws distinctions based on people's nationality therefore is illegal and contrary to his constitutionally sworn duty to "… take care that the laws be faithfully executed…"
Regardless of personal feelings regarding the executive order, it is hoped that our judicial system interprets the law according to its precise wording and does not succumb to the bombastic claptrap from the executive branch of our government.