For those asleep during the summer, it is time to wake up and take notice that another business is closing its doors in Klamath Falls. If JELD-WEN officially moving its headquarters to Charlotte, NC for a more business friendly environment wasn’t enough, now Haggen is closing its two stores in town. What? Haggen, when did they come to Klamath Falls?
Earlier this year Safeway and Albertsons merged into one company. The merger was approved by the FTC only if they would sell off 146 of their combined stores. Haggen won that bid to purchase those stores and went from an 18 chain grocery store to 164 overnight. Talk about a growth spurt. In Klamath Falls both Safeway locations were converted into Haggen stores. However, within months of Haggen’s acquisition, Haggen was losing money — and a lot of it. Haggen needed to borrow $25 million to weather their cash flow problems, which increased their total debt to $270 million. Did Haggen bite off more than it could chew?
What Went Wrong
After Haggen took control of their new stores, Haggen immediately incurred losses in several of those stores. Local customers either did not know the brand Haggen or thought it was too pricey compared to the previous occupant. There was an error assuming business would continue as usual. Clearly this was not the case everywhere. An outside consulting firm was brought in to do some analysis. They found stores fell into two groups: core and non-core. Core stores were profitable. Non-core stores were losing money. The non-core store loses occurred because of either a lack of traffic (revenue) or they were too costly to support. Some non-core stores were also in remote locations where Haggen did not have efficient distribution. The Klamath Falls stores most likely fell into both categories and easily made it to the Haggen chopping block.
Most of our local leaders, and many of our State officials, are leftists. I use that label not to ridicule, mock or scorn them. I call them leftists because it is an accurate description. When it comes to political leadership there are only two camps: left and right. However, some may claim to be neither left or right but “moderate” (aka reasonable). Yet, a better way to describe moderates are those who sit on the fence until the political winds blow strong enough in a particular direction and then rush to the front of the line to “lead the charge”. Moderates are not moderate, they are populists. And being a populist is not leadership.
Left or Right. Socialist or Conservative. Our leaders are one or the other. If they claim to be moderate, then they are really socialists because they have no back-bone or spine to stand for anything that may appear harsh or uncompassionate towards the poor and less fortunate. Therefore these moderate-populists vote for more money to fund government programs and enable more money and benefits for public union government employees. A populist’s direction always leans the same way as a socialist’s. Populists may be slower in implementing socialist plans but make no mistake the only difference is speed, not direction.
So what does any of this have to do about JELD-WEN? Everything.
I just described the climate in Klamath and in Oregon. Socialists (socialist policies) are ruling the roost. Local county and State governments are growing everywhere and contracting no where. More taxes, more programs and more welfare (farm, corporate and personal). Utopia is just around the corner, but to get there the socialist idea says we must give more our wealth to a benevolent group of government lawmakers and bureaucrats. Only they can protect us from our selfish selves and lead us to nirvana.
You probably did not know this (and that’s why we work hard at KlamathNews.net, to report the truth), but your dedicated Klamath County Commissioners received a 1% raise on July 1, 2015. This is only fitting. You see Klamath County Commissioners have not received raises since way back in 2010, and the time had come to correct this problem. We can’t have these public servants starving or falling behind. $68,000 a year is just not enough in 2015.
But wait, the two oldest tenured commissioners started serving in 2013. Both Commissioner Bellet and Mallams have only gone through two budgets without a raise (in other words they haven’t even finished their first term). Kelly Minty Morris has barely got her new curtains up in her office and she also got a raise.
The justification for the Commissioner salary increases can be seen in this presentation (PDF). The bottom line is that other Oregon counties of similar size are giving their commissioners raises, therefore Klamath should as well. That type of thinking is like your teenager demanding that you to buy them a car because their friend’s parents bought them a car. Government employees should only receive a raise if that person is doing a superior job compared to the previous year. Using that logic, Minty-Morris should not get one, because she has barely warmed her chair. Bellet and Mallams also should not get one either because they continue to support (or remain silent on) tax levy after tax levy each election.
In the 1980's an anti-drug campaign led by First Lady Nancy Reagan urged young adults to “Just say no” to drugs. The liberals mocked the campaign, and Mrs. Reagan, as being too simple. You see the drug culture was much more complex, much more nuanced. For her to expect youth to Just Say No when offered or encouraged to take drugs would never work.
Funny though. If you Just Say No and don't do drugs guess what — you don't do drugs. Will power IS enough, you just have to have the courage (this of course does not include those already addicted, where more is required).
This is exactly the same is the message we need to send to the county clerk's office this month when we turn in our May ballots. Just Say No to bigger government. Just say no to additional taxes. Just say no to public unions ever increasing salaries and benefits. The dirty little secret why county government is shedding services left and right is not because we don't send them enough money, rather it is because they have signed an unholy alliance with public unions which ever increase their costs — no matter what the surrounding economy is doing.
Of course you’re going to support the farmers, ranchers and children by voting Yes on 18-101: the KBREC OSU Extension Center levy. Who would be against such a thing?
This is the perpetual lie of the Left. They claim that if we continue to acquiesce and send more of our disposable income to government that County and State officials know best how to bring about utopia. 18-101 is no different.
Previously the OSU Extension Center and 4-H were funded by our general property taxes. This meant the County Commissioners looked at their budgets and allocated a certain amount for these services. Since 2007, when the housing bubble burst and economic collapse ensued, the Commissioners have steadily been setting aside less and less for this program. It isn’t that they think the OSU Extension Center is a bad program or that 4-H is not worth funding, but the County Commissioners had to make a decision with their limited resources and decided that the county had higher priorities that needed to be funded. (Why can’t we also claim the same thing with our limited budgets without being labeled “selfish”, “cheap” or “uncaring” by those with a differing opinion?)
Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Klamath County Republican Central Committee meeting. A gentleman spoke on reasons why we should vote no on both the Public Safety levy and the KBREC levy. It was an entertaining and informative talk.
What surprised me were two men who disagreed with the speaker’s point of view. During the question and answer session there was some discussion about how the county jail has been funded with Road Fund dollars and whether that was a good or bad idea going forward. One of the two gentlemen blurted out “We can’t continue to steal from the Road Funds.” Note, he is in favor of passing the Public Safety levy.
That comment stuck in my craw the wrong way until I realized why. This pro-Public Safety levy man was claiming it was wrong for the government to take money from one government account (set aside for a specific purpose, in this case roads) and use it for another government need (the jail). However at the same time he was perfectly fine taking money from my (personal) account to use on another government need (the jail). That’s when I had that “ah-ha” moment. What had bothered me was his hypocrisy, because if one action was stealing, then both actions were stealing. It just so happens that one scenario “steals” from a government account he wants to protect, but when “stealing” from my wallet — he could care less. “Hand it over”, in other words.
Klamath County — at or near 10% unemployment for over six years straight. Many are homeless. Many are on State or Federal subside programs while at the same time almost everyone employed by a government agency has not felt one drop of the economic tragedy since the housing collapse of 2008.
So the leftists go to work. They are going to bring economic prosperity through more programs, better public school buildings (not education), more parks and improved public safety. But that is not how the real world works. Improving those items are nice, and may earn one accolades by fellow citizens because it all sounds so wonderful and noble. However, that is not how to build a local economy.
... and Emotional People Will Vote Yes
It has been interesting to watch the latest round of “we need more money for the children” telethon. Of course I’m talking about the advocates for Bond Measure 18-99. If passed, the Klamath Falls School District (KFSD) will get a loan of $36,000,000 that the tax-payers in the district will be on the hook for the next 20 years. The economic impact is that over $2 million each year will be transferred from the citizens of Klamath Falls to the special interest consortium of banking, construction and real estate.
The Yes crowd’s claim is that this bond measure will benefit the children. It is a pure emotional plea. There is no real thinking behind it. In the final analysis it is some personal feeling that drives the Yes vote. In reality this bond measure does nothing for the children except to make their parents poorer while doing nothing to fix the real problem in Klamath County — education.
Public teachers often get a pass. They get to claim their main reason for being a public school teacher is that they care about the kids and that they love teaching. While they may complain about the work at times, how difficult students can be, if we dare challenge this core motive — caring for children — we are instantly made out to be demons with horns and pitch fork.
However, it is my belief that for most public school teachers this is a smoke screen, that caring for students and their education is not their core motive. So how do I prove to you my hypothesis, that most public school teachers really care more about something else than their students and their education? It can be done with two simple questions.
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 Centers, County 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.