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A Common Sense Perspective on News, Economics and Government in Klamath County, Oregon

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24
Sep
2014
by: J. Madison 0 Comments
Categories: Government

Smart-conservativesYes, I'm serious with that question: Are Conservatives Smart? I don’t mean in an IQ kind of way, but more in a street-smart, politically-savvy kind of way. The more I travel conservative circles and hear responses from those who claim to be conservative, the more I am inclined to think we are not very politcally smart.

One such item that bothers my colleague, G.W. Washington, and myself is the inability of conservatives to see the long-view on the political landscape. Conservatives are mostly about the next election. Rarely, if ever, have I been in the presence of conservatives and learn about their 20-, 10- or even 5-year plan. Why? Because most conservatives do not think that far ahead. Conservatives are easily angered by liberals and progressive policies, vowing to do all they can to get rid of the bums in Washington, Salem or Klamath Falls. However, if doing so requires building a strategic 10-year plan, all bets are off. Conservatives can not seem to seem to see beyond hill just in front of them.

This is why conservatives play defense so much of the time. We seem to be always voting “No” to liberal agendas. Very rarely are conservatives putting ballot initiatives together in order to move their agenda forward. Where is the ballot measure to make County Commissioners partisan again? Where is the ballot initiative to require 50% of voters to approve any sort of new tax or levy? Where are the ballot initiatives to lower property taxes? Where are they? Of course every now and then there are exceptions. But you will see this play out if you look at your November ballot. Notice that there is not one conservative agenda on the ballot — all of the ideas and ballot measures are progressive ones.

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Voting-checkboxProblem: Your general ballot for congressman, governor, senator, state representative, county commissioner or city council person does NOT contain a conservative candidate. The general election is between a moderate Republican and a Democrat (who is liberal — that pretty much goes without saying). The common retort is to “vote as conservative as you can”. In other words, hold your nose and vote for the Republican, because it will be better than having a Democrat in office — or so the thinking goes.

This has been the conventional wisdom for about 50 years. Let me ask, how’s this advice working out? Do moderate Republicans deliver on conservative agendas? Are we moving in a more conservative direction as a country and as a community?

This advice, while helping ease our conscious, does little to help to move any conservative agenda forward, and actually does much harm. Why? Because moderate Republicans are not in the business of upsetting the status quo. Moderate Republicans find their home in better managing the current systems put in place by liberal Democrats. Think about it. Where is the outcry from the National Republican party over Obamacare? At first opposition and repeal language was loud and large, but recently have you heard anything? If asked, the GOP will say they can't do anything until the have control of the Senate. But stop and think, is this the overarching theme from the Republican party for their Senate candidates? Do you think once in control of the Senate the GOP will repeal Obamacare? Or do you think the GOP will instead try to make Obamacare better and more manageable? Will they work with the President on some sort of compromise to get something done? If you guessed the second answer, you're getting it. Moderate candidates and legislators are all about being liked and getting along. That’s how they get re-elected — which is their #1 goal that supersedes all other policy matters. Fighting to tear down a bureaucracy is not in their nature and therefore they won't take a stand unless there is complete political cover for such an action. Why? Because tearing down a government program means people benefiting from the program become upset. When people get upset they make a lot of noise and demonize the person taking away their freebie. Moderates melt in such conditions like an ice cube on the equator. Therefore moderates avoid any such activity of undoing government programs and bureaucracies put in motion by Democrats.

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13
Aug
2014
by: J. Madison 0 Comments
Categories: Government

George Washington, Constitutional Convention, 1878

When the Founders Fathers passed our Constitution in 1787, the idea of a representative republic was a grand idea — an experiment — as no one in power had ever executed such a distributive model for governance. At the end of the constitutional convention, Ben Franklin answered the question about what form of government the convention had created by stating, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Franklin, as well as the others in attendance, knew this idea of a representative republic would only work as long as regular citizens served as our representatives. Our first president George Washington set the example of returning to private life after only two terms as President. Washington said when being asked to run for a third term, “I had rather be in my grave than in my present situation, I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world; and yet they charge me with wanting to be a king.”

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Havana-cuba

During the past week, A.Smith wrote several articles about how to make Klamath County a better community. He has told me he has many, many more ideas, “My ways to improve this county are nearly endless. I can always think of some new and helpful way government can make life better and easier for Klamath County residents.” A.Smith claims he has ideas to create a special levy for:

  • Park Beautification for only $0.05/$1,000 — residents always enjoy beautiful parks
  • Public Safety for only $0.25/$1,000 — to ensure jails are always open keeping criminals locked up
  • County Trapper for only $0.05/$1,000 — to ensure wolves and coyotes don’t negatively effect livestock. Maybe even two or three trappers instead of just one for only $0.10/$,1000
  • County Lunch Service for only $0.07/$1,000— Free Lunches on Wednesday provided by the county for those who can’t afford a decent meal and are starving
  • County Detox Center for only $0.15/$1,000 — so we don’t use jail space to sober up people drunk or high
  • County School Improvement for only $1.50/$1,000 — to rebuild/rennovate all county school buildings over 50 years old
  • Senior Center Expansion for only $0.12/$1,000 — to expand the senior center program to have satillite locations throughout the county, not just in Klamath Falls.
  • Economic Development Upgrade for only $0.58/$1,000 — to better fund and expand KCEDA, the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce, and SCCOED.

Like he said, his list is nearly endless (and yes, he has many, many more ideas). If you think all of these ideas, including the four he wrote about previous (County Coffee Shops, County Library, County Museum, County Daycare CentersCounty Airport), are wonderful then you also think adding $4.44/$1,000 to existing taxes is also a fine idea. Of course no one would ever propose a $4.44 levy in Klamath. That would never pass. So the trick is to offer one, maybe two at a time and over time the public is gullible enough to pass them, especially if it makes the community better or helps the poor and the children.

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SkywestKlamath County was dealt a serious economic blow on June 5th, as SkyWest stopped service to the newly renamed Crater Lake - Klamath Regional Airport (aka Klamath Falls Airport). Now the only way to fly into Klamath County is via a private charter or through the Rogue Valley Airport and then catch a shuttle/rent-a-car to Klamath. Without direct commercial air service to Klamath County, it makes doing business in and with Klamath businesses much more difficult. Another way to state this is to say many companies won't do business with Klamath County enterprises because there is no longer any direct commercial air service.

The Crater Lake - Klamath Regional Airport is owned and operated by the City of Klamath Falls. However, the county government derives benefits such as the tourism tax on hotel stays, as well as other taxes gleaned through increased commerce in the county. That said, the county does not current contribute any operational funding or services to the airport.

Since commerce and connectivity to the outside world is vital to Klamath County’s economy and livability, we think that should change. A special tax levy of just $0.08/$1,000 could help raise funds to lure another commercial airline to service Klamath Falls (and the surrounding county). With this new funding in place we can be assured that a new airline won't just come or go based on how the economy is doing. Instead direct air service to Klamath County would be stable, predictable and consistent, once and for all.

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Daycare-learnAmerica has changed over the past 60 years. For the most part, gone are the days of the traditional two-parent family, where one parent stayed at home to manage household affairs and the other earned a living. Today’s modern world allows for the freedom of single-parent families without shame. 

But with this modern family arises a new dilemma — what do to with the children while the parent goes to work? Fortunately the government has provided a solution — but only half a solution. Currently the county government provides family financial assistance for food through WIC (Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program) and through other welfare programs. But what about those parents who wish to work?

This is where our county government could step up to the plate and do some real good in our community by providing County Daycare Centers. Since our county is so larger, there should be a County Daycare Center in every municipality so all parents have easy access. In addition, these County Daycare Centers should be housed in new county buildings, because we can’t afford for our children to stay in older, possibly mold- or asbestos-infected buildings. Plus the new construction of each of these daycare centers would mean more jobs to our local economy. Each County Daycare Center would be fully staffed with state-certified professionals, so our children would only receive the best care and learning experience possible.

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Klamath_county_museumMuseums are known around the world as not just a place to learn about history, but as a place to sit down and think, to reflect on those who came before and a place to relax in peace and quiet. Museums are where ideas from previous generations are talked about and where a community gets in touch with itself. Matter of fact the hallmark of a thriving community is that good museums are in its midst.

Therefore because of all the benefits museums bring to a community we can be thankful that we have a special taxing district for our county museum system. At $0.05/$1,000 the county provides us several fantastic museums in Klamath County.

To make the county museum experience accessible to all, the county museums system usually charges slightly below the market rate for admission. Most school children get in for free, and discount tours are often available to groups. Again, the idea is for no one to be excluded from the cultural and educational benefits of museums — especially the poor and under privileged. 

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LibraryLibraries are known around the world as not just a place to find a good book, but as a place to sit down and catch up with a friend, for small business owners to meet with customers and a great place to cool off or heat up while relaxing in peace and quiet. Libraries are for students to do homework and for business people to work while on the road in between appointments. Libraries are where new ideas are talked about and where a community truly comes together. Matter of fact the hallmark of a thriving community is that good libraries are in its midst.

Therefore because of all the benefits libraries bring to a community we can be thankful that we have a special taxing district for our county library system. At $0.49/$1,000 the county provides us two fantastic libraries in Klamath Falls and then nine more satellite libraries in Bly, Bonanza, Chemult, Chiloquin, Gilchrist, Keno, Malin, Merrill and Sprague River.

To make the county library experience accessible to all, library books are free for anyone to borrow. Some specialty items and electronic versions may carry a small fee. Again, the idea is for no one to be excluded from the cultural and educational benefits of libraries — especially the poor and under privileged. There is a special children's section and use of computers with full access to any internet content is also free.

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Coffee ShopCoffee shops are known around the world as not just a place to grab a good cup of a Joe, but as a place to sit down and catch up with a friend, for small business owners to strike deals with new customers and a great place to chill while listening to some eclectic music. Coffee shops are for students to do homework and for business people to work while on the road in between appointments. Coffee shops are where new ideas are talked about and where a community truly comes together. Matter of fact the hallmark of a thriving community is that good coffee shops are in its midst.

Therefore because of all the benefits coffee shops bring to a community what if one day the County Commissioners, City Council and other community leaders decided to put forth a ballot measure for a new coffee shop taxing district? For only $0.49/$1,000 the county could provide three fantastic coffee shops in Klamath Falls (maybe one that was even open 24-hours a day) and then six more satellite coffee shops in Malin, Merrill, Keno, Bonanza, Chiloquin and Gilchrist.

To make the coffee shop experience accessible to all, a basic cup of coffee (and refills) would be free. All specialty coffee drinks would only be $1.00, and food items would top out at $2.50. Again, the idea is for no one to be excluded from the cultural and educational benefits of coffee shops — especially the poor and under privileged. Children (26 years old and under) would be allowed to have food for free, and instead of free coffee could get a nice cup of hot cocoa (with parental approval of course).

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Detroit

Wednesday morning at Klamath Community College a group of about 30 government officials and state-wide bureaucrats gathered to congratulate each other for signing a non-binding agreement to launch the Klamath IDEA project. Klamath IDEA stands for Inspire Development – Energize Acceleration. According the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce’s website, the big idea (pun intended) is to

“...focus local, regional, and statewide resources on the creation of a business incubator and accelerator in Klamath County.  The IDEA will promote, support, consult, and provide business and marketing advice to local entrepreneurs in the development of start-up and business expansion opportunities in Klamath County.”

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