Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reopening Kitsap’s Government For Business Five Days a Week

Now that Rob Gelder and Charlotte Garrido have been re-elected as County Commissioners by comfortable margins, it’s time to turn our attention to what issues the commissioners need to address moving forward.

The number one issue as we see it is reopening the County administration building for business five days a week. As citizens, we pay for full time government — not for 80 percent of it. This is an issue that was brought up repeatedly in both County Commissioner primary, and general election debate forums. All the candidates at the time stated they could see the need for it. The big question was how to pay for it. It appears Gelder and Garrido have since flip-flopped on that issue.

Numerous good suggestions on how to accomplish it were brought forward during those forums, including using flextime; looking at the busiest hours, and adjusting staffing levels so they were minimal during known slow periods and adding people when the workload was known to be heavier; having some people who are currently off on Friday work, while, allowing them to be off Monday instead; as well as just diverting the money to pay the cost of being open from other, less critical budget items.

Back in September, the Homebuilders Association (HBA) Board of Directors voted to put together a petition asking the Commissioners to return the Department of Community Development (DCD), the County Assessor, and the County Auditor’s offices back to five days a week of full public access.

During the HBA’s candidate interview process (in which, as a member of the HBA’s Government Affairs Committee, I participated), and after several meetings with the Commissioners, it became abundantly clear they would refuse to budget for full service to the community, or adjust staffing levels to accommodate it. They appeared to be of the opinion that full service to the citizens is just not necessary — or desired — by business owners and community leaders. It has also been reported that both County Assessor Jim Avery and County Auditor Walt Washington have each been given the budget to be open full-time, but have said that they don’t support a return to five days a week of public service either.

Avery has told the Kitsap Association of Realtors Executive Officer Mike Eliason, as well as the HBA Executive Vice President Teresa Osinski, that no one has complained to him about his office being closed on Fridays. However, I specifically remember having that discussion with Avery myself.

Commissioner Gelder has also commented more than once that the title companies don’t want the County open on Fridays because they don’t have the staff to handle transactions five days a week. That’s simply not true. I don’t know who Gelder talked to, but the HBA went to great lengths to survey local title companies, and found just the opposite to be the case.

So why is this important? The Realtors and Builders main concern is transaction closing time frames. A transaction that is signed around on Wednesday won’t be recorded until the following Monday at the earliest, but usually Tuesday. It takes at least another day, and sometimes two, for the recorded paperwork to be conveyed back to the title companies, meaning the transaction can’t disperse until at least Thursday or Friday of the following week. That means buyers can’t move in, and no one gets paid for an additional week because of the Friday closure.

But they aren’t the only ones being inconvenienced. When I was campaigning for Commissioner, I would spend about two hours on Friday in front of the administration building handling out campaign literature to the people who had come — sometimes from as far away as Bainbridge Island, Kingston, and Hansville — to do their particular business with the County. They may have wanted to register to vote, register a vehicle, pay their taxes, get a permit for something, or a myriad of other things.

How busy was it? Well, in spite of the closure, the hot dog vendor in front of the building was open, and the number of people doing business with him must have made it worth his time. I know in the two hours I was there, I would hand out at least 50 flyers to people who were either angry, or disappointed they had come all that way to Port Orchard, only to find they would be forced to return home, and make another trip. For some, this presented a problem, because of work schedules. At $4 a gallon for gas, and an hour’s time from North Kitsap, this isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s an unnecessary personal expense for taxpayers.

But what I find most disturbing is the elitist attitude of Gelder and Garrido who don’t seem to believe being open five days a week is necessary at all. In a forum I attended, one of them stated that County employees liked the three-day weekends, and didn’t want that to change back. I’m sorry, but that’s a blatant case of the tail wagging the dog. County employees work for us — the taxpayers — not the other way around. It’s what we want that matters.

It’s time the commissioners got that message. If you agree, call them at (360) 337-7146. You’ll probably have to leave a message, but you’ll know by their actions if what you have to say matters to them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Final Word On The Election — And Aren’t You Glad?

Congratulations to the Democrats, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Young People! You won the election. You voted for what you believed was best for you, and best for America's future. Well guess what, you now own it.

• The next terrorist attack, you own it.

• Can’t get a job after graduation? You own it.

• Sky rocketing energy prices due to Obama’s EPA shutting down the energy producing states, you own it.

• A nuclear Iran, you own it.

• Bowing to the Soviet Union, you own it.

• Another severe recession, you own it.

• A volatile and violent border with Mexico, you own it.

• Trouble getting good health care, you own it.

• Higher heath insurance costs and health care costs, you own it.

• No budget, you own it.

• Another few trillion of debt, you own it.

• Our allies mistrust, you own it.

• More Benghazi situations, you own it.

• No one willing to join the military, you own it.

• Trouble getting a loan to buy a home, you own it.

• More dependency on food stamps, you own it.

• Trouble finding a job, much less a good job, you own it.

• Several part time jobs instead of a good job, you own it.

• A World Government, you own it.

• The UN governing the United States instead of ourselves, you own it.

• A Senate that will not bring any legislation to the table rather it is “Dead on Arrival,” you own it.

• China controlling our world trade and trampling all over us, you own it.

• Loss of our freedoms as we have known them in the past, you own it.

• A dictatorship instead of a democracy that follows the Constitution, you own it.

• Less take home pay and higher living costs, you own it.

• Driving a car that looks like a toy, you own it.

• Being taxed for every mile you drive, you own it.

• More government corruption and lies, you own it.

• More toleration of extreme and fanatical Islamists, you own it.

• Terrorist attacks called work place incidents, you own it.

• Revenge instead of love of country, you own it.

President George Bush, Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, and all the other scapegoats are out of it now. There is no one left for you to vilify and lie about. In a way I am relieved that another good man will not be blamed when it was impossible to clean up this mess you voted for.

YOU own that mess... How will you fix it?

If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters
Benjamin Franklin