By Ron Perrow
The Jan. 12 Okanogan County Fire District 6 board of commissioners meeting confirmed my conclusion that commissioners Roy Reiber and Darold Brandenburg don’t care what we say. Reiber said they were ignoring the last levy failure, that they “did not consider the levy failure as an advisory vote.” Well folks, advisory or not, the language in the last levy failure is pretty easy to understand. It said in part, “… a proposition to finance construction of a new fire station. If approved, this proposition would authorize the District to …” The most important part of that language is the “if approved” part. It wasn’t approved. This levy failure should have been the end of the discussion, just like the one before should have been the end of the discussion, but it wasn’t either.
On Nov. 4, 2008, we rejected a $5 million levy proposal to “… authorize the District to acquire land and construct a new replacement fire station in Winthrop and improve existing fire stations …” Although this failure denied District 6 the authority to buy land for a new station, one month after the voters said no, the district closed the real estate deal to buy the property the district wants to use for a new fire station. Apparently, this tactic set a precedent. Now, commission chair Reiber has gone on record saying they will ignore the voters once again. This is a huge problem, and we cannot ignore this assault on our sovereignty.
Our laws protect us and give us power. Take a minute and read part of the Public Records Act, which I think is the most important law on the books:
RCW 42.56.040 – “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. This chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy and to assure that the public interest will be fully protected. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern.”
The last sentence is critical. It says this RCW is the top of the heap. There is no act (law) which supersedes it. Therefore, when the voters say no to the agencies that serve them (Okanogan County Fire District 6) in a levy proposal, that agency must abide by the direction given to them. They cannot ignore the results.
In order to protect our sovereignty, we need to take the remedy given us in our state Constitution and initiate a recall. I think Reiber is the biggest threat to our sovereignty, and should be recalled.
It is unfortunate that the only solution appears to be a recall, but the intractable position voiced by the commissioners is abhorrent to most of us. Even if you supported the last levy proposal, you probably don’t support this attempt to dismantle our system of government. If Reiber’s philosophy is allowed to become the philosophy of the Fire District 6 commissioners, why vote? What good are elections?
This is incredibly important. Let’s fix it.
Ron Perrow lives in Winthrop.