We don’t need it
I just finished reading RCW 35.61, which would establish a Metropolitan Park District. Metropolitan means a large city — which we are not. I appreciate Ron Perrow’s recent letter to the editor which pretty much covers what is in that particular law. It certainly wouldn’t fit in our little community. Here’s why:
It gives power to five people to make decisions on how to control our lands for recreational use. It also gives them power to tax us without representation on the first 75 cents per $1,000 of valuation of our property in School District 350. You don’t vote on it.
It gives them power of eminent domain inside and outside of the city limits. Got a piece of property that would make a nice park? Hmmm … let’s see, how about a new water park in the area. How about a downhill ski area? How about a park to run a track for dirt bikes? How about an area to launch boats into a lake? Look it up for yourself under RCW 35.60.130.
There has to be a better solution to support our present swimming pool and ice rink without a new bureaucracy. Our economy is tanking. Food prices are climbing at an alarming rate. Food stamps are being cut. More people are depending on our food bank for help. At what point do you say, “We can’t afford this.” Homeowners shouldn’t be subjected to more taxes just to provide tourist attractions to help out the businesses. And we certainly don’t need to pay more taxes to hire five people to make decisions we don’t have a say in! Remember once this thing is done, there’s no going back and undoing it.
Let’s find another way to support what we have already without burdening the homeowners and renters. Rents will go up when your landlord’s taxes go up.
Perhaps hard decisions will have to be made if we can no longer afford these parks and pools but at least it will be the people of the valley who make those decisions and not a group of people whose decisions are beyond our control.
Shirley Clawson, Winthrop
In regards to a letter written earlier by James Dow, one of the co-owners of the small cabin built on Flagg Mountain near Mazama, about the structure: I find it incredible that he would cite the Methow Conservancy’s Good Neighbor Handbook, as it specifically devotes an entire page about maintaining the integrity of the ridgeline, a section Mr. Dow conveniently ignores.
For myself I believe that what is being displayed by the Kundigs [other co-owners of the cabin] is arrogance, pure and simple, a complete disregard for what an increasing majority in the Methow do not want. Does it occur to them that this “crate” is the only structure on the entire upper Methow ridgeline?
A good neighbor would feel self-conscious about that and move the structure. A prima donna would simply stand firm.
Stephen O’Neil, Seattle and Mazama
Ignoring the voters
I heard a disturbing story recently: In November 2013, Okanogan County voters approved a sales tax to fund a new countywide bus system, and in December 2013 the transit authority board of directors appointed an interim manager.
In January of this year, this transportation board manager went to the county commissioners to ask them for a bridge loan to get this improved transportation system up and running until the tax revenues accumulate early this summer. The loan would be a short-term loan that would be paid back when the tax revenues are collected to support the bus system.
The county evidently has a proper channel in which to give transportation authority a loan, at little or no cost to the transportation authority or the county. The commissioners turned him down flat, and when the manager asked them why they wouldn’t be willing to help the board with a loan to implement the voters will, Commissioner Jim DeTro told him that the “voters made a mistake.” At the next meeting, Mr. DeTro voted against raising the tax by .4 percent, as the voters approved. Our county commission is actively trying to undermine the will of the voters.
This is the same Jim DeTro whose campaign slogan was: “I don’t like problems, I like solutions! As your county commissioner I will work with, and listen to all of the people of Okanogan County.”
Mr. DeTro will listen to all the people of Okanogan County, except the voters! Apparently his fellow commissioners, Sheilah Kennedy and Ray Campbell, share this philosophy.
In an era when government agencies are taking greater liberties with our lives, I suppose we should not be surprised that even our county commissioners would embrace such tactics. That doesn’t mean we have to endure it. “Silence implies consent!” That three county commissioners can override the voters they pretend to represent looks more like medieval feudalism than democracy. If you do not agree with their actions, please let them know as much. Email them, call them, show up at their meetings.
Perhaps the mistake made by the voters of Okanogan County was to elect our present county commissioners!
Lawrence Hooper, Twisp
Protect our wild legacy
From the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)’s mission statement: “To preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.” And from the WDFW website: “There is no evidence that cougar numbers have increased since Initiative 655 was passed in 1996, which banned the hunting of cougars with the use of hounds. Since then, the number of cougars harvested by hunters has been similar to or greater than before the ban on hound hunting.”
So why is I-655 being ignored by WDFW? And not only is WDFW ignoring I-655 by issuing hunting permits with dogs, but also issuing the permits with the presumption that the remaining cougars left in the valley will kill more livestock (the loss for which the ranchers get reimbursed) or pets?
WDFW goes on to state that issues involving cougar interaction with people, pets and farm animals “is often a community issue.” Indeed it is a community issue and, I believe as a community and supposedly good stewards of this valley, everyone needs to be educated on how to deal with wildlife conflicts. The cause of most of these conflicts with cougars and other “dangerous” animals could be avoided if we took more precautionary steps to avoid the conflict in the first place.
We are losing our wildlife, especially those at the top of the food chain, at a fast rate. Soon our beautiful wilderness will be devoid of these great creatures. There are not many places left in the world where these animals can exist. I believe that as a community living close to the wilderness we need to learn how to avoid conflicts with these great animals. The WDFW website is full of useful information on this topic. Perhaps by being more informed we can become better stewards of all things wild. It would be wonderful to be able to leave such legacies for future generations to enjoy.
Barbara Allemann, Twisp
A blessed community
What an awesome community!! The Methow Valley Senior Center hosted a benefit for the Tina and Keith Houser family Saturday evening at the Methow Valley Community Center. The outpouring of support was overwhelming. We were delighted to welcome almost 200 people to an evening of great food and lively auctions.
The gym was elegantly transformed with red roses, candles and crystal chandeliers. Over 100 items were donated for the auction and raffle by creative individuals and valley businesses.
Even though Keith wasn’t feeling well enough to attend the function, his family was there to be embraced by people who care about them. We were pleased to hear that Keith is starting to heal from all the complications of his surgery. We wish him a full recovery.
Dozens of people pulled together to pull off this successful event and the senior center board is thankful to all of them. I especially want to thank Margaret Rosenstine for planning the event, Randee Colyar for providing and directing the decorating, Susie Heller and Linda Knight for organizing the auctions, Rosalie Hutson, Connie Austin and Lois Chavey for cooking and serving, and Hank Konrad for generously providing the beef dinner, plus all the cookie angels who provided an incredible assortment of sweet treats. There were lots more people who helped in a variety of ways and we couldn’t have done it without them.
It always amazes me when this community so generously supports these types of events to give their neighbors a helping hand. This sense of community is one reason many of us choose to live here. We are truly blessed.
Melodie Fleming, President, Methow Valley Senior Center, Twisp
For Room One
I would like to apologize for the oversight of not mentioning in last week’s article about Women of Aviation (Feb. 19) that all donated funds go to Room One during this event. We would encourage this practice again this year.
Bob Hoffman, Twisp
It is with some amusement that I have watched the fear, concern and passion unleashed by the proposed formation of a recreation district in the Methow Valley. The powers that the elected rec district commission would hold seem to have caused great alarm in some quarters. Imagine a group of individuals that could levy property taxes without asking the voters’ permission and even begin an eminent domain process to acquire property for a public purpose.
Just a reminder, we already have experience with these types of organizations and their powers in this valley. The town councils of Twisp and Winthrop and the board of commissioners for Okanogan Fire District 6 all have similar powers, some to an even greater degree. While 13 people have filed for the five rec district positions up for election, our shared experience with those other “frighteningly powerful” organizations has been highlighted by ballot after ballot of unopposed candidates, little or no public outcry (or even attendance) at budget and tax levy hearings, and a generally good job being done by those entities of delivering services that the public desires and values.
It is wise to examine any proposal with a critical eye, but don’t fear an idea just because it is new. And if the powers granted to a rec district commission alarm you, then perhaps you should get more involved as a citizen or even a candidate for those other entities in the valley that have those same powers and a potentially larger impact on your community.
Dave Acheson, Winthrop
I have done some research into the options available regarding park and recreation districts, and found that there are basically two state statutes under which such a district can be created: the one that is currently proposed, and will be voted on in April, called the Metropolitan Park District (Chapter 35.61 RCW), and another one called “The Recreation Districts Act for Counties” (Chapter 36.69 RCW). While some of the provisions are identical between the two, there are many differences that cause me to question why we ended up with the Metropolitan version over the alternative.
Some of the differences that concern me are:
• Under the county version, the board is reimbursed for expenses, but does not receive payment for their work. Under the proposed metro version, they receive $90 per day if they spend any part of the day on official business.
• Under the county version, the board is required to hold open public meetings monthly, and all records are public. Under the proposed metro version, there are no such requirements.
• Under the county version, the board may impose a property tax levy up to 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed value only with voter approval. Under the proposed metro version, the board may impose a property tax levy up to 75 cents per $1,000 assessed value with no voter approval.
• Under the county version, the district has no right of eminent domain. Under the proposed metro version, the board can condemn property “within or without the boundaries of said park district.”
• Under the county version, there is a requirement for a public hearing before the proposal is put on the ballot. Under the proposed metro version, there is not.
I cannot vote on this since I live just outside the proposed district, but since I own property inside the boundary, I have a keen interest in this issue. I am in favor of equitable funding of our recreational facilities, and there may be good reasons why the metro version was chosen. I just wish we had an opportunity to have our questions answered in a public venue.
Katie Haven, Methow
Defying the voters
The Feb. 19 Methow Valley News had a curious article about the continued hunting of cougars in response to complaints from concerned citizens. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has killed, or authorized the killing, of specific individual cougars in response to complaints from concerned citizens.
In 1996 the citizens of Washington state voted by 71 percent to make hound hunting illegal. Shortly afterward the law was modified to allow hound hunting of cougars that have proven to be a threat to human safety or to be predating upon livestock or pets.
But that has not been the end of it. WDFW and Republican state representative Joel Kretz of Wauconda (originally from Mercer Island and a hound hunter himself) have done everything possible, but not successfully, to circumvent the will of the voters and change the laws to once again allow indiscriminate hunting of wildlife with hounds.
Now, with the flimsy excuse that an above-average number of complaints have been received by the department, WDFW has permitted a new round of “cougar management removal” hound hunts. Never mind the fact that the problem individual cougars has been removed, or the curious fact that above-average number of complaints would be expected as complaints naturally fluctuate above and below the average. What else could possibly be expected?
Then there is the even more puzzling fact that last summer, as reported in the News, the results of a 15-year study (Effects of Remedial Sport Hunting on Cougar Complaints and Livestock Depredations) by Washington State University and WDFW concluded that indiscriminate hunting of cougars increases depredation and human conflict. With this in mind, Donny Martorello’s claim that this program is not a recreational hunt is nonsense.
It appears that WDFW is kowtowing to the hound hunters and blatantly defying the will of the voters who voted (passed in 47 of 49 legislative districts) to eliminate hound hunting. When petty bureaucrats usurp the authority of the democratic process in contradiction to the science reported by their own department and the will of the people, it is time to fire them.
Gary Ott, Lower Beaver Creek
Where the subsidies go
Thank you for passing along the story from Olympia about the possibility of more wealth transfers to farmers — expanded tax breaks subsidized by the rest of us paying more in property taxes (Feb 13).
I believe in preserving farmland. I’m also lucky enough that I won’t go hungry if my property taxes go up a little. What I don’t like is that the biggest subsidies usually go to Big Farma, not the small family farms that they are supposedly designed to save.
For example, one Okanogan “family” farm operation received over $1.3 million in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2012. That is in addition to the substantial real estate tax reductions they already receive on millions of dollars worth of property. The article suggests that big farms could profit most from these new tax breaks as well.
I wonder how the 28 percent of lower-income Okanogan residents on food stamps feel about the news. They just saw a big cut in the food stamp program so federal subsidies to farmers could be kept at current levels (same Methow Valley News issue).
It also wasn’t very long ago that we saw virtually the entire 2014 PUD rate increase be charged to the people who use the least electricity (Methow Valley News, Aug. 7). But hey, isn’t taking money from the poor and middle class and giving it to the rich the hallmark of the modern U.S. economy?
Randy Brook, Twisp
Too much destruction
In the past two months seven cougars have been shot to death! Seventeen permits have been issued around the state at one cougar per hunter, until March 31 or when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) sees fit to end the killings? Really?
All of the designated “cougar control” areas are wild, forested woods. Where do wild animals live? We humans are moving in on them. Think about it: This is February — snowy, cold, wintertime. The wild animals must come down closer to the valley floor to survive. There is no cozy, heated home nor a fully stocked refrigerator where the animals can get food readily like we have. If you feel your livestock, pets or family members are being threatened, get out your own rifle and fire a shot at or near the animal or fire in the air to scare it off! Too many sissies are too quick to holler for help! If you moved way out there, well why do you get to live but they have to die?
This horror story sounds very familiar. The mighty, arrogant homesteader has come, move out of my way! We take all and give nothing in return. No thanks, no care for the land, the animals nor the spirits here before us.
Just remember, the Methow Indians too were here — now they are no more. We are killing off the big animals at alarming rates. We are changing the ecosystem. Not for the better, because who knows better than the Creator? It was only a few newspapers back when game officer Cal Treser reminded us of the importance of cougars to the ecosystem. The same goes with the wolves. These large animals have a purpose in nature. We humans are changing too much nature! All we touch comes to be destroyed and we are what is left. Our greed, arrogance and stupidity will be our demise. Stop! Now! Learn about, and from, nature. Educate, don’t eradicate!
Jeanie North, Carlton