Invisible army gets its marching orders |

Invisible army gets its marching orders

Staff Reports

Douglas County Commission Chairman Jacques Etchegoyhen says there’s a small army waiting to campaign for a ballot question on open space.

He must be right, considering only seven people showed up Thursday to watch the commission approve formation of a committee to make pro and con arguments for the eventual question. None of them spoke publicly about the ballot question, so it’s impossible to know if they’ve enlisted.

Perhaps the rest of the army was out reconnoitering, talking with landowners and making notes about which open spaces should be saved first.

One of the lieutenants who did show up is optimistic about the impending campaign. Dave Bolick, executive director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and leader of a coalition of open space proponents, based his prediction on the results of a phone survey that showed 59 percent of the 400 people polled would be willing to increase Douglas County’s sales tax by a quarter-cent to pay for preserving open space.

That’s nice, but there are more than 26,000 registered voters in Douglas County. Nearly 14,900 of them are Republicans, a group that is not known for supporting tax increases.

The poll summary offers sunny language about how support reaches into the 70-percent range when respondents are told how good open space can be for wildlife, water quality and valley views. Of course support is high. Who would be against those things?

The answer is not many people. But many people are against higher taxes, no matter how nice the things the taxes would fund are.

So get rid of the rose-colored glasses. Just under seven months remains to investigate and explain all the ways to preserve open space and the benefits of doing it. This is not going to be an easy task, especially with a small and, to this point, rather invisible army.