The courts decide
All three of our candidates for county sheriff claim that as sheriff they will have the right to not enforce laws they deem to be unconstitutional. All three have a lot to say about the Constitution. But where in that document or any law of our land are county sheriffs granted the right to decide which laws are constitutional?
A long history of legal precedent and the Constitution itself clearly give this power to the courts. “It is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is … if two laws conflict with each other, the Court must decide on the operation of each.” (Chief Justice John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, 1803).
The Court, not the sheriff of Okanogan County, Washington.
Maybe the comments were made carelessly, in the heat of the political moment. Maybe somebody said it because the other guy said it. And maybe — we hope! — some explanation/clarification/retraction is forthcoming. But for a county sheriff candidate to claim for himself the right of judicial review should disturb anyone who cares about the rule of law and the maintenance of public peace and order. It should disqualify him for the office. So who can we vote for?
Nick and Phoebe Hershenow
I would like to thank Marcy Stamper and Methow Valley News for the excellent article on our valley’s Firewise efforts. Marcy dug deep and interviewed many of the key players that are working hard to make our WUI areas safer and more fire resistant.
Thanks must also go to our Fire Adapted Methow Valley (FAMV) organization for their tireless efforts and hours of work helping neighborhoods access the help available from governmental organizations. Kathryn Heim and Nancy Farr recruited me for the Sun Mountain Ranch neighborhood and it has taken off, slowly but surely, with their guidance and resources.
Unfortunately, I was quoted as saying no one burns vegetation anymore. I wish this were so. While we shut down our communal burn pile several years ago, some of our members still burn their vegetation. Often this is not just for convenience —they don’t have the funds or equipment to dispose of their yard waste easily. Last year a member thought their burn pile was completely out and had to leave the valley unexpectedly. This burn pile re-ignited and burned through almost 2 acres and threatened nearby homes. Thankfully our local Okanogan County Fire District 6 and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) got it under control without any loss of structures. It helped that the member’s trees were limbed up so the fire couldn’t get into the crowns of the trees.
Lastly, a big thank you to Jake Hardt of DNR who has helped our members access DNR’s excellent cost share program to help Firewise their properties.
Forest needs thinning
We recently received a flier in the mail from local environmental extremists protesting the U.S. Forest Service thinning project near Twisp. It’s very disheartening to see local folks try to stop any treatment to our overgrown forest designed to prevent the next catastrophic fire adjoining the town of Twisp.
With decades of fire suppression and no commercial thinning this area west of town, it is a time bomb waiting to explode and create another scorched-earth moonscape. All endangered species habitats will be gone for years to come. Many homes will be lost and millions of tons of carbon and smoke released into the atmosphere.
Some people seem to have a short memory on the devastating results of the catastrophic wildfires in the valley. Seven adjoining neighbors, with property bordering Forest Service land, wrote letters to the local Forest Service five years ago requesting they do some serious forest thinning in the Alder Creek area. Most of us took steps to Firewise our property but without our largest neighbor doing their part our work will be for naught.
Let’s not let a small group of extremists shut down a well thought out plan to Firewise the one remaining forest adjoining the town of Twisp.
Grateful to all
I am humbled by and grateful for the many individuals who rescued me after an accident at work. I am thankful for my awesome crew’s response, followed by Aero Methow’s well-orchestrated services. Life Flight brought me to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, where I received excellent care from all the professionals at their first-rate facilities. Now I am reaping the benefits of our strong community support with many offers of help and care.
LifeFlight and Airlift Northwest are super services well worth joining, since we are far from larger medical centers.
Thank you all!
An ATV thought
As the county considers opening some roads to ATV use, a question arises that needs to be part of the discussion: Can ATV riders stay on the roads opened up? If the answer is yes, and road use laws are followed, there might not be much of a problem with the proposal.
However, as recent rain storms showed, soil erosion is a big problem for the country transportation system that we have. If the answer to the question is no, and additional off-road use occurs due to new places being available to ATV users, we might gain additional erosion, vegetation impacts, and road damage that we don’t need to figure out how to pay for with limited taxpayer dollars. Unless users can encourage each other follow the rules, I don’t see any fresh money being spent on enforcement either.
Grateful for help
On July 11, Karen and I went for a walk from the Chickadee parking lot out Rodeo Trail and back on Beaver Pond Trail. Somehow I lost my keys along the way. The attendants at Sun Mountain Lodge and the locksmiths at RRRaceway facilitated getting us out of our predicament. When I went to the Winthrop post office on Tuesday to buy a key for my post box, the new postal clerk told me that someone had turned in my lost keys the day before! I don’t know who this “someone” is but I would like to thank you and reward this fine effort either personally or through donation. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Three Rivers
On the Aug. 2 primary election ballot, voters will be asked to vote for a renewal of the one-year property tax levy requested by Three Rivers Hospital representing Okanogan Douglas County Hospital District No. 1. This public hospital district includes the entire Methow Valley from Lost River to Pateros.
As one of the elected commissioners representing your district, I urge our voters to review the information provided in the Okanogan Voter Pamphlet or go the district’s website and review the information provided there:
Making an informed choice in casting you vote is particularly important.
Hospital District No. 1
Thank you for publishing Steve Pyne’s Writers on the Range guest editorial in your July 6 edition. It helps correct much of the misinformation that has become the new conventional wisdom. For instance recently on NPR, I heard a well-meaning but ignorant speaker broadcasting from an old fire lookout tower in New York State’s heavily forested Adirondack mountains. He claimed that old-fashioned lookout towers have been replaced by more modern means of fire detection. That much is true, but it also implied that these modern detection tools are superior.
As a former lookout, smoke jumper and retired longtime forest and park ranger, I know that spotter planes and satellites are actually slower than fire lookouts. It takes time to get a spotter plane into the turbulent air surrounding lightening storms, and by the time satellite information gets to fire crews, or the plane can see a fire, it’s often already out of possible control. I’ve previously recommended Steve Arno’s books but suspect that few get read. Rational science-based fire management could replace firefighting and its resultant disasters, if only more voters were aware of fire reality, and their legislators restored adequate funding to our parks and forests.
Sometimes a little background can help with the pesky challenge of deciding who is the best candidate. Washington had an excellent Secretary of State in Kim Wyman, so strong that she was asked to help with election security at the national level. With her departure, Gov. Inslee appointed our current Secretary of State. He is a good man, a public servant, but he has nothing approaching the experience and expertise of Julie Anderson: She is a three-term Pierce County Auditor and Auditor of the Year for Washington state. Anderson is running as a nonpartisan candidate because she believes political parties shouldn’t be involved in running the elections they are simultaneously trying to win.
I support Julie Anderson, and her belief that those overseeing free and fair elections should not be tied with party purse strings. Please check her website, http://julieanderson.org, and decide for yourself who will best safeguard and defend your voice, your vote.