Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 10:15 AM
Subject: New Low

Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 8:47 AM
Subject: New Low


Even by Port Townsend standards, the City Council set a new low for representative democracy last night. By a vote of 4-3, they approved a first reading of a new ordinance repealing a previous ordinance requiring voter approval before the city can draw on any accumulated banked capacity, banked capacity being synonymous with property tax increase. With a second reading tonight, this paves the way for formal approval at next Monday's Council meeting. This action in effect overturns the results of three elections, by margins as great as 70%, whereby the electorate told the city they must seek voter approval before drawing on banked capacity. Barring emergency action by the state legislative reinstating Initiative 747, the council would be free to impose a 29.10% property tax increase. It's no wonder the city didn't want any part of an additional $18 "fee" for a clean water district.

While councilmember Benskin argued "something is wrong when government removes the checks and balances of the voters," Michelle Sandoval promoted an opposite and frankly disturbing view that "I've talked to people on the street, and though it's wonderful to hear from voters, it is government's job to take action." Katherine Robinson similarly echoed this new civic phenomenon where the views of people she meets on the street supercedes the clear will of the electorate. Robinson went even further, saying "it's the same people every time" (inferring those "same people" constitute a fringe minority) who oppose giving the council free reign to raise taxes as they see fit. George Randels justified his vote by arguing the federal constitution requires of states joining the union that they adopt the republican form of representative democracy, and that representative democracy places power in the hands of the elected, and that the state of Washington's legislative ambiguity and citizen's initiative process interferes with the ability of representatives to act unimpeded by objections of the governed. Sandoval advanced a similar position. By this reasoning, the whole idea of open meetings and public participation is reduced to a lone voice cast once a year each November. It's a similar view held by the CAO minority, who believe the people elected Phil and Dave back in 2004 and dammit, we should just leave them alone, because they speak for us!

OSF was founded on the main premise of providing a voice for landowners who felt they weren't being adequately represented in land-use decisions that affected them. It is exactly the type of disregard for our voice that has drawn us together. While our efforts have focused on the unnecessary infringement of large buffers, the imposition of increasing land assessments and exorbitant property tax increases, against the clear will of the electorate, has the power of effectively running many landowners literally off their homes. It is not beyond comprehension that the city is writing a future blueprint for the county to see their way out of the budget train wreck they currently find themselves in.

With these developments, upcoming PC CAO recommendation and action by the BoCC, and Upper Sims Way business owners organizing to protect themselves against the actions of the city of PT, our message to the county is timely and deserves careful thought. Edel has written a draft, and Dick has indicated he was putting something together. Anyone else who has ideas should bring them forth. We still have time to put something together and need to see what the PC is going to do, but we're running up against the holidays. (Should we wait until after the first of the year, depending on when the BoCC public hearing is?). I am working on something that I'll send out when finished. In the middle of the night a thought came to me of a theme along the lines of                                    


The Voice of Jefferson County Citizens

We could list examples of the public being excluded from decision making process and end with: