Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Gaps & Gundecking

Words of wisdom from an ancient Greek Philosopher, Aristotle.
Think about them before reading further.

'A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility'.

'The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold'.

'Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your increased means permit'.

First a couple of definitions:

According to the online free dictionary, definition #5, a GAP means

a. A conspicuous difference or imbalance; a disparity: a gap between revenue and spending; the widening gap between rich and poor.

b. A problematic situation resulting from such a disparity: the budget gap; the technology gap.

Googling 'Gundecking', produces this definition;

In the modern Navy, falsifying reports, records and the like is often referred to as "gundecking." The origin of the term is somewhat obscure, but at the risk of "gundecking," here are two plausible explanations for its modern usage.

• The deck below the upper deck on a British sailing ship-of-war was called the gun deck although it carried no guns. This false deck may have been constructed to deceive enemies as to the amount of armament carried, thus the "gundeck" was a falsification.

• A more plausible explanation may stem from shortcuts taken by early Midshipmen when doing their navigation lessons. Each Mid was supposed to take sun lines at noon and star sights at night and then go below to the gun deck, work out their calculations and show them to the navigator. Certain of these young men, however, had a special formula for getting the correct answers. They would note the noon or last position on the quarter-deck traverse board and determine the approximate current position by dead reckoning plotting. Armed with this information, they proceeded to the gun deck to "gundeck" their navigation homework by simply working backwards from the dead reckoning position.


Now, with all that preparation, does anyone remember Pete Kremen's 'State of the County' speech, way back in early June of 2008?
Listening to that sounded like everything was hunky-dory, peachy keen and superfine', didn't it to you?

What happened?

About 5 weeks later, Pete surprised the County Council and began what he called a 'hiring freeze', basing that decision on an impending financial crunch for the County.
Since then. the rhetoric has grown even more dire, with predictions of upwards of a $5 million shortage in the budget now being prepared.

At first, I thought this was just Pete's way of informing the County Council that there was no money available for the many important water projects they had deemed important to again prioritize and move forward.
Then, his cautionary pronouncements seemed to also be oriented to damning the proposed Mental Health Tax measure with faint praise.
But, surprisingly, that 0.1% sales tax increase did pass -and stay passed when Pete decided not to veto it!
Think maybe he saw that as a way to gain more revenues AND somewhat reduce the General Fund pressures by doing nothing himself?
That's what seasoned Kremen watchers may rightly conclude, which just adds to his mystique as 'Teflon Pete'.

In the face of these suddenly adverse developments, we are now faced with an expensive and -at best problematic- proposal by Pete to reconvey 8400 acres of DNR forest lands in the Lake Whatcom watershed.
Where does this fit in the budget?

The County Council will have to rationalize for itself where this particular scheme fits into the greater scheme of things during their budget deliberations.
But here's a hint, converting revenue-producing forest administered by a State agency into a revenue-losing park administered by the County at additional cost would seem to be a no-brainer decision to most of us.

That is particularly true when the minor detail of protecting the Lake Whatcom Watershed could be compromised in the process.
But, that is at risk, if for other reason than no details regarding either what is intended or how these will be funded have been seriously discussed.
Even the 'Citizens' Committee, hand-picked by Pete to publicly vet this idea, was not given sufficient details or alternatives to evaluate the idea with any degree of objective confidence.
That is more than sad; it is borderline criminal!

But, Pete knows that folks really love their PARKS around here, never mind they will require more TAXES!
I believe that is the game; get people -particularly those not living in Bellingham- wanting something, so that later it's harder for them to say no to more taxes to pay for it.

Hopefully, enough members of the County Council will see through Pete's scheme to make sure it doesn't sail through without serious questioning.
And, right after the several important questions about 'what is proposed'? are answered, the enabling question of 'where will the money come from'? must also be answered. Likely, there would be no threat of veto if four of them wanted to raise THAT tax!

It's very interesting that the Council is being presented with an expensive proposal that many would term a 'frill', at the very time they are being told there is no money - even for essentials!
How'd you like to sit in on those work sessions?
Why don't you?

For those interested, the CITY Council has scheduled a brief work session to discuss the Reconveyance to Park proposal with a small panel representing diverse views.
This is planned to happen next Monday, August 4 about 1 PM in the City Hall Council chambers.
Be there if you can.

One last definition:

'Bamboozle' means:
'In today's Navy, when you intentionally deceive someone, usually as a joke, you are said to have bamboozled them. The word was used in the days of sail also, but the intent was not hilarity. Bamboozle meant to deceive a passing vessel as to your ship's origin or nationality by flying an ensign other than your own -- a common practice of pirates.'

Is this proposal an old deception, or just a modern joke?
You get to decide!

'Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.' - Aristotle