Letters to the editor July 12
July 11, 2017
Douglas swamp not drained
In scanning past BOCC meetings, I found a public comment I made (but incorrectly attributed by the county website to "Tom Derick" [2/2/17] worthy of a revisit.
"Welcome to the two new commissioners [Nelson and Walsh] and welcome back to the one who stood unopposed for re-election [Penzel]. New blood is essential. Your work is cut out for you.
"Politics is a gregarious undertaking, but it is also one of the most serious; the people have elected you to represent them — not the special interests, the embedded bureaucracy, the consultants, or the rent seekers.
"It is not your money you are spending, but that of the hardworking taxpayer. Fanciful schemes, gratuitous bonuses, bail-outs, glittery vanity projects, and wants not needs no longer have a place here. The taxpayer works too hard for it to be otherwise. The days of an ever-expanding tax- spend-redistribute commission should be over. Every department requesting funding should be required to cut, trim and justify its existence. Accountability should be the watchword ….
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"Prior boards have not been faithful representatives of the people and have passed taxes, fees, bonds and otherwise distributed tax dollars in a manner the people likely would not approve. Many of those who favor this tax-spend-redistribute mentality remain in county government and some of those are your paid advisers. So whether you get your information from staff, the district attorney or the county manager — question, always question — and keep questioning until you are satisfied. Don't accept flip advice that you can or cannot do something; demand to see the law, rule or regulation so stating, read it, and pursue it until you are satisfied. Always consider the source of information—does that source have a personal agenda which does not sync with your Republican principles? Get advisers you can trust. "No bid" contracts to favored consultants, attorneys, or other professionals have no place with this new board. Do not let the consultant/attorney tail wag the commission dog. Make sure that the days of 'business as usual' are over.
"You, as a new board have a wonderful opportunity. It should not be wasted. Insist that this board be the most open and transparent ever. And remember your basic Republican principles: less, not more, government; less, not more, regulation; and less, not more, taxes and spending."
Five months have passed. It is clear that (with the exception of Commissioner Dave Nelson who has kept his pledge and bond to be the voice of the people), the others listened to, but did not hear, the presentation. Perhaps its meaning was drowned out by the misguided and self-serving directives of their paid advisers. And perhaps Commissioners Walsh and Penzel have discovered the "safe space" associated with "going along to get along." Why rock the boat? Indeed. The voters who put them in their comfortable BOCC seats thought they were starting a revolution (three of five commissioners who would "drain the Douglas County swamp"), yet all that's happening is "tax, spend, redistribute" as usual.
Thomas C. Starrett