Monday, September 24, 2007

The Black Sheep in Office

Rabble-rousers, Contrarians, Black Sheep, Turds in the Punch Bowl, or how ever you may see them, it seems this describes one member on each of the three most powerful Boards in the County right now. The three Boards are the County Commission, the Port Commission and the Clatsop Community College Board of Directors and the members of all three are elected.

Sometimes Boards consist of like minded people who make big errors because of their like mindedness. It is always exciting when there is one person on a board who seems to have the purpose of stirring up the dynamics of the board itself. Though, at times it does seem counter productive if not destructive, but it can be viewed as a check and balance of any organization.

Karen Mellin holds this seat on the Clatsop Community College Board. Though it isn’t true at all, she is held responsible for the failure of the recent College Bond Measure because she raised issues her constituents raised with her. Her relationship with the college board and the President are still strained.

Bill Hunsinger holds this position on the Port Commission. His scrappy demeanor set the commission on its ear because of his unwillingness to see the Port run as it had under the previous Commission and with the previous manager. He is also willing to take discussions out side.

Pam Patrick holds this position on the Board of County Commissioners. Sam was viewed as somewhat a team player until the Board cut the stipend of the District Attorney. It was at that point his passions for his vision of public safety over ran his programming of good sense. Since then he has become more disagreeable and petulant. He refuses to voice a vote and now must be called on. He pioneered a campaign to not only pay the District Attorney from the County budget, but to pay him more than the stipend paid him in the first place.

If speculation is allowed and if there were a hypothetical election tomorrow what would happen to these candidates?

In Karen Mellin’s case, sadly I don’t see her running for another term. It takes a lot of positive energy to withstand the pressure she has been getting from the other board members after the bond failure. She has support from her constituents; however continuing to work with a board doesn’t respect her may be a bit much to take for another four years. Her term ends in 2009.

Bill Hunsinger would not only run again, but would easily win again. He’s just getting started.

Depending on who runs against him, Sam Patrick may have a hard time holding onto his seat. He will have the support of his constituents who feel the County should pay the District Attorney, but it seems that support may not be enough to put him over the top. Also Sam seems to be along for the ride, not championing any special projects or opinions. He is a Commissioner without vision and does little to represent his district. He doesn’t even vote unless prompted to do so. Adding to his political mistakes; his incoherent ramblings on youtube should make voters question his logic and judgment as a leader.

Whether you view these three Board members as black sheep or turds in the punch bowl, they can be viewed as the ones who screw everything up or the ones who prevent rubber stamping of things without question.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Another Vinyl Village

Being aware of their mortality, it seems that it is a matter of importance that humans plant some sort of flag or monument on this planet to seal their identity with the future.

Listening to and reading the local news about some rather monumental projects are being approved and slated for construction, one begins to realize that this has always been and will always be.

Only in recent history have we have become secure enough with our present situation that we can afford the luxury of being against the development of an industrial fuel (LNG) facility, and we can be against river-front condominiums. In years past any development seemed to be welcomed because it would provide jobs and places to live. It was as though the land you owned was yours, but after people got the notion of zoning your land became part of the community and everyone wants a say-so in your plans of development and stewardship.

In Oregon, Measure 37 virtually repealed or at least made land use claims able to be appealed. We saw land owners realize that they had dodged a bullet, so they went out looking for profit while the getting was good. Community members saw the development of the farms and forests in their community and realized that Land Rights Measure 37 was a bad idea so they drafted Measure 49, which will be on the ballot in November.

On one hand one may think that land ownership is an entitlement to do what you like, yet on the other hand established community values and lifestyle. It is one thing to buy a house next to a landfill, and it is something else entirely to own a home on land that has been recently purchased with the intention of turning it into a land fill. The question is if land owner right are a higher priority than the rights of the community that predates the proposed use.

Getting back to the idea of a monument that was mentioned earlier, it becomes apparent that each year we are finding the foot prints of buildings are becoming larger. Every year there are more buildings and more parking areas utilizing precious space. We have a limited amount of space and one day we will run out and we will have to come up with creative means to continue.

Let us for example look at one piece of history. The old Astoria High School up on 16th and Jerome became obsolete at one time, so they moved the campus to an area that had room to grow. But someday with the growth of population here, that campus may become inadequate. At that point they may no longer be able to find the land to accommodate their needs, so the next Astoria High School may no longer reside in Astoria.

Urban sprawl is happening here, and one day it will become an urban squeeze where there is so much infrastructure that it will not only become unmanageable, but it will all become problematic when structures become obsolete. Take for example the Empire State Building. As historic as that building may be, it is obsolete. How are they going to replace it? When our river front is full of shops and condominiums how will they be removed without impacting other shops and condominiums and most of all the river?

The sad thing that happens with urban squeeze is that the opponents become more vocal and the land owners become greedier. The divide in ideology becomes greater and it destroys a community that once had consensus. We create yet another Vinyl Village.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Name of This Game

Cooperate. What is one of the first things we want our children to learn? When we are trying to get something done and as quick as we build something or clean something they are tearing it down or dirtying it up, “Why won’t you cooperate with me?” we ask. We make play dates for them so they will learn to cooperate with their peers and then in their first year of school learning to cooperate with the other children, the teacher and the administration is a priority subject.

We have sports programs at all levels promising to teach our children cooperation where they learn how to work with one another toward a specific goal, overcoming obstacles together, helping one another identify problems and overcome them with the objective being that the whole team comes out ahead, the winners, along with the boosters, the rooters and the school or district they represent.

Cooperate. An integral cornerstone of life. While “superstars” can make watching an event more lively for audiences, most often when that “superstar” doesn’t know how to be a team player, when he doesn’t appreciate the whole team and play for the benefit of everyone involved, his pompous attitude and scornful actions quickly deteriorate the morale of all who come into contact with him.

These superstars, even if they are the sole point scorers, usually end up being traded or walking out on the team. What eventually becomes apparent is that they don’t care about anyone or anything but their own aspirations and how they look to the rest of world. The day to day grind of making a team work best for everyone is lost on them. They have little or no comprehension of what obligation means when it pertains to what they owe or whom they owe it to. Their debit column is only filled with what is owed to them, what they feel they deserve, what they see others have and what they want.

Cooperate. A foreign word to most of these types of superstars, unless they can spin it to mean, “give me what I want.” It is a word that causes them to wince and glare or roll their eyes. These types of superstars don’t cooperate. In their mind The Star does not negotiate or acquiesce. He knows his worth and does not back down for anyone, anything or any reason. Those not appreciating the star affectionately, adoringly and with appropriate alacrity will be remembered and dealt with accordingly.

Who thinks of themselves as the superstar in our night’s sky? Who insists on twinkling alone, without acknowledging the whole team effort it takes to keep a county running in peak performance? Who refuses to acknowledge the presence and importance of each squad having its own specialty, its own importance, and its own reason for being a part of the team? Who thinks there is only one answer, only one way to resolve the conflict, their way or no way? Reflect and then look for a cooperative answer to this perplexing problem -for the good of our whole community.