Local generosity shines bright
Northwest Harvest, one of the main sources of food to the Ocean Park Food Bank, recently conducted a focus group of 15 clients of the food bank. They provided us with a transcript of the comments (anonymously) made concerning how people are struggling to provide food for their families.
Although, as a food bank, we are well aware of the significant need in our community to supplement the food available to low-income families, we seldom have the time to hear the specific stories of what it is like to live in this country and not be able to adequately feed yourself and your children.
How is it possible to live on less than a $1,000 a month from Social Security and still pay rent, utilities, car expenses, medical bills and food? Obviously many things are not taken care of. What blows your mind is that this situation has only gotten worse over time. Congress, instead of raising assistance to the needy, has actually cut back time after time. This Congress is certainly one of the worst: Cuts in food stamps, cuts in housing programs, cuts in medical coverage, requiring people to work longer to receive Social Security and Medicare benefits, and more.
At the same time, Congress wants to again lower taxes on the very rich. Can you tell me how many billions of dollars a person has to have to be enough? Apparently, there should be no limit. The persistent lie in this country is that the rich deserve it because they worked so hard to earn it. Not true at all. Any wealth accumulated in this country has been due to the efforts of low-paid workers. Sure you should be rewarded for having a good idea, but your better mousetrap only becomes profitable due to the people who build it or distribute it and the government system that allows us to have a functioning society.
But Congress believes that it is right to take all the wealth in this country and give it to a small percentage of people. Congress believes the destruction of our environment, oppression of minorities, and tyranny over the have-nots will make us great again. Hiring more police, more border guards, almost a trillion dollars on defense spending: these are the priorities. What a failed view of humanity.
The one bright spot in this malevolent picture is the generosity of the people who live on the Peninsula who support the food bank. It is reassuring to know not everyone has turned the world upside down. (These opinions are my own.)
County needs to get act together
Pacific County voters did the sensible thing and soundly defeated the tax hike in last Tuesday’s election. County Commissioners need not request any more tax increases until they begin to spend taxpayers money sensibly. Pacific County Commissioners can demonstrate they are spending taxpayer’s money sensibly by: 1) Transparently and properly accounting for money spent, 2) Stop wasting money, and 3) holding themselves and all other county employees accountable when they don’t follow the law or tell the truth. Pacific County demonstrates it still has plenty of money when it goes to court after court attempting to prove it can make “allowed” and “not allowed” item lists for one business and one business only.
Oysterville Sea Farms is a lawful business. Court rulings confirm this. OSF was slowly and openly built with full county knowledge and approval. As soon as my uncle said he considered all OSF activities illegal, I contacted Pacific County to resolve this issue. Pacific County planning director Tim Crose immediately made an administrative decision that confirmed OSF is “in an Urban Shoreline Environment. Commercial use is permitted.” Shortly after, my uncle filed a complaint with Pacific County. In response, Pacific County completely reversed its policy towards OSF.
Though their own public documents show it to be untrue, current county policy regarding OSF is based on the false assumption that OSF is not a lawful business. This policy is supported by untrue and uninvestigated allegations. Commissioner Frank Wolfe is still telling people “there is a path that OSF could follow to make the present business lawful.” Pacific County’s Development Department was aware of, approved of and participated in all aspects of OSF’s business prior to receiving complaints and pressure from my Uncle. The Sheriff, Board of Commissioners, and Development Department repeatedly signed off on licenses for my business. Most importantly OSF has proven its legal standing time and time again in court. OSF has always been known to be lawful and has repeatedly been determined to be lawful in court . Suggesting a path that will make a lawful business lawful is nonsensical. It is Pacific County that needs to be lawful.
Why has Commissioner Wolfe not developed and implemented a plan to make Pacific County government lawful? Abiding by its past land use decisions and court decisions regarding commercial uses of the Oysterville Cannery would be the most obvious path to lawfulness for Pacific County. During his tenure, Commissioner Wolfe has chosen to not discuss any aspect of this county issue with me. I ask Commissioner Wolfe to please cease discussing county issues regarding OSF unless I am present and able to respond. There is no legal reason for him not to openly discuss this county issue with me.
Discussions and decisions regarding commercial use of the Oysterville cannery buildings must be based on documents vetted by due process and no predetermined taking of its property rights. To date, expensive litigation has been the only form of due process and relief Pacific County has offered Oysterville Sea Farms. Without ever asking me what I want, Commissioner Wolfe and others have made unauthorized statements about how I can get what I want. What I want is for Pacific County to abide by the law and tell the truth. Any reasonable path forward needs to be illuminated by a mutual understanding of the law and truth.
To date Pacific County has implemented no plan to make itself lawful but is instead focusing on making oral arguments against Judge Goelz and Judge Faubian’s OSF decisions on Nov. 28, at 10:30 a.m. in the Washington State Court of Appeals.
No one knows how much Pacific County has spent on their witch hunt against OSF. Based on Pacific County’s own estimate of staff time spent, I believe it has cost the county well over one million dollars. Commissioner Wolfe claims a million dollars is pure “sensationalism” and makes the counter claim that the actual cost to the county is $1,300, and the over one million dollars worth of staff time and expenses I refer to are sunk costs. Prosecutor Mark McClain told the Chinook Observer that all this case is costing the county is his time. In the seven times Pacific County has dragged OSF before judges, attorneys other than McClain have represented the county. Regardless of whether it is McClain, Burke, Richter, Weston or another attorney who represents Pacific County on November 28, as it drags OSF before judges for the eighth time, it will be Pacific County taxpayers paying their salary.
Why isn’t Pacific County using their legal expertise on issues more sensible and beneficial than defending its right to make “allowed/not allowed” lists for one business and one business only? How much more staff time will be spent fulfilling public record requests that are required to supply documents that demonstrate Commissioner Wolfe and his DCD leadership strengthen their position against OSF with blatant lies? And whether the cost is $1,300 or one million dollars, why should the county be allowed to spend one cent of taxpayer’s money to take away the property rights of any citizen or any business, much less rights it has previously confirmed?
Supporting county employees who don’t follow the law, lie and have total disregard for due process is a dangerous path. If one business can be abused by government overreach, any business can. We deserve leaders who follow the law and tell the truth. All citizens should want to support honest, open communication that leads to a common understanding of the truth. Truth leads to justice, and if you don’t stand for justice, what do you stand for?