"Bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant." - George Washington
Today, we celebrate the results of our local elections, which did produce some positive results in my view:
• Kelli Linville will be our next Mayor, by a margin of 164 votes - not exactly an overwhelming mandate, but good enough to give her the chance to do better for our community than her 1-term predecessor, whose political naiveté, ego and self-serving style managed to irritate more people than it satisfied in a series of missteps, largely of his own making.
• Cathy Lehman, a first-time candidate for City Council -Ward 3, was an overwhelming [2 to 1] winner and promises to be an intelligent and energetic voice on the issues which matter most to our community.
• Christina Maginnis, also a first-time candidate for County Council lost a closely contested race with a 12-year incumbent, but forcefully demonstrated that seat will be in play in future elections, and that her opponent in on notice to more carefully consider his obviously special interest agenda.
• Almost overlooked was Jack Louws' early and clear triumph over Doug Ericksen for County Executive. Louws is a proven elected official and an honest, reliable person with excellent credentials for this top job.
• While I am no fan of Pete Kremen, it is a good thing that he defeated Tony Larson for a County Council seat. Lesser of two evils.
There are other results which can be accessed here, but these 5 races are the ones I watched with most interest.
Before launching into relatively simple local budget matters, aren't we lucky to have such stellar examples of courage and ability to work together as the 'Super Committee'? Note the advice one CNN columnist reports that George Washington might have given the 'Super Committee'.
One of the issues of enduring importance to Bellingham is its municipal budget, which has been -and remains- stressed by the fiscal hard times. Not only is the overall budget critical, but so is each of the sub-budgets of which it is comprised. The workings and interrelationships of these various sub-funds are sometimes quite difficult to understand, but the City Council must make the decisions to keep these budgets - and the overall budget - in balance, thereby protecting the City's credit rating and the trust of its citizens.
There has been one notable occasion in which the City Council and the soon-to-be ex-Mayor have knowingly violated this trust; that was the appallingly unwise decision to purchase the entire so-called Chuckanut Ridge property, without a current appraisal and without sufficient funds designated for that purpose - and despite clear directions as to the proper use of the Greenways 3 funds, voluntarily voted by citizens!
Instead, the Mayor -preferring to listen to his vocal partisan supporters- deliberately, and with much fanfare, led the Council into making a decision that expressly violates the distinct words of another admonition by none other than the Father of our Country, George Washington in his farewell address:
'.....adding to their sense of urgency, determining not to ungenerously throw "upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear."
Perhaps, our new Mayor WILL have the courage to ask the erstwhile Council to do the right thing and sell sufficient of the unneeded property to bring this ill-considered purchase into budgetary balance, thereby honoring the wishes of citizens, volunteers, staff and prior elected officials.
Cleaning up someone else's messes are never fun, but this cleanup is necessary to preserve the integrity of the Greenways program, universally appreciated by the public.