Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Drunken Sailors Alert!

No fifth term for Mike Chapman as a County Commissioner?

No County reserves reserved?

Apparently, now that Mike Chapman has had to look at not one but two funhouse mirror reflections of his own brand of austerity makeup, he's had an "epiphany" that good old fiscal conservatism might not be the greatest good after all.

And suddenly all three Commissioners are singing from the same songbook again. Now, how's that tune go? Oh yes: "Let us spend, let us spend, let us spend!"

Now, I'm all for public officials being willing to admit their thinking has evolved on an issue. Growth and evolution are both part of life. But I'm a little wary of epiphanies. Especially Clallam County epiphanies. Especially when the epiphany opens the cash spigot. And especially when it involves Mike Chapman saying he's going to willingly give up his gravy train gig for..? He can talk about private sector all he wants, but the fact remains that Chapman is unqualified to earn anything close to what he earns as a Commissioner in the private sector. Plus, he's his own boss at the County, a set up that suits volatile personalities well. He's not going to find that sort of freedom in the private sector.

But hey, he's said he's open to spending it all, and then he's going to walk away. If all that's true, what do you think? Is draining the reserves a good idea? Is Chapman really and truly likely to walk away? If so, what job is waiting for him out there? In this proposed round of musical chairs, where do the players wind up sitting? Isn't Jim Jones retiring? Or is Rich Sill getting sick of being Mike's placeholder in the County's HR department? How about the EDC? The COC? Maybe Steve Tharinger is also going to walk away?

So many choices...All tied to those addictive government dollars. Chapman says he doesn't want his sudden turnaround to be seen as some sort of political ploy. Well, I agree, kind of, in that I think it's less a political ploy and more of a case of nest-feathering. After all, you've got to give to get, so Mike Chapman has suddenly decided he wants to give.


  1. Ah ha! So, Mike, all this bickering with Jim McEntire over money really was just political theater all along.

    Man, you really can't go wrong betting on the cynical view here.

    1. I never really quite believed that the big, showy dramatics between Chapman and McEntire were for real. This seems to bear that out. Both got to play to their (slightly different) constituencies, while knowing all along that they'd end up at the same place.

      Neither of them seem to really care a damn about the people of this county, though. The only futures they're concerned about are their own.

  2. Oh my god, something truly awe-inspiring is on the horizon and I haven't a clue but it is gonna be expensive. All three county commissioners are willing to drain the piggy bank. Plus, they all sing the same song about the Opportunity Fund. Everyone with a greedy eye on the op fund is saying "the state is going to come in and sweep up that money." And, of course they could but they could have done it in any of the last few years the state was strapped. Now the state is less strapped and less likely to "sweep" up our little Op Fund balance. However, there is something big on the horizon and everyone who is in the know is getting in line to do the deal. Someone knows what is coming but we puny taxpayers won't know until the deal is done and all are walking away with big smiles and big checks.

    1. Anon 6:45 am has hit the nail on the head. We don't know what, or exactly when, but we can all assume it won't be good for anyone other than the chosen few insiders.

      Hold onto your hats, folks.

  3. If Chapman wants to "go big or go home," I'm sure that Jim McEntire will be happy to remind him about the big chunk of cash he'd like for the EDC.

  4. Here's betting that Mike's next stop will be as human resources director for the county. Oh, it's not private sector, but I can already hear the arguments in favor of it, touting his "deep, institutional knowledge."

    What a crock!

    1. Mike has his sights higher: county administrator.

  5. Yet within the article and even the sole comment show that nobody understands that the County hasn't even been able to minimally fund their own employees. I really feel sorry for how they've been getting hours shortened, benefits reduced, pay stifled, and so little respect from their leaders. They can't go elsewhere because there are no jobs here. Yet the Commissioners want to just give money away to outside handout agencies. How is that going to improve morale within the County? I for one am ok with them leaving our taxes exactly where they're at if they bring their level of services to us taxpayers up to at least a minimum level and start treating their employees like respected and valued individuals. I'm sure that what they decide to throw money at though will be a futile waste. I have no confidence in this.

  6. Bait and switch is the phrase that comes to my mind.

    Like you say, CK, I'm all for elected types being open to change. But really, this is a guy who has run again and again as a conservative - a fiscal conservative. Now, oops! He's decided he's maybe a spendthrift, and oops! Won't run again, so people won't get to weigh in on the new Mike Chapman at the ballot box.

    All of which kind of stinks.

    So...Can't wait to see who signs up to run for that seat next time around. Given local trends, it's hard to see anyone but a Republican winning it.

  7. Oh lord, here it comes...Commissioner Maggie Roth. Can City Council member Peter Ripley be far behind?

  8. More craziness.

    In one sentence, the Commissioners acknowledge that there is a serious economic situation in Clallam county: “Is this economy in such a desperate shape that it is time to look differently? I for one am willing to look differently,” Chapman said.

    After more than a decade of austerity, Clallam County's economy is worse than the state average and twice as worse as the national average, Chapman said.

    And in another: “We, the county, have an abnormally high fund balance in our general fund this year due to a combination of factors,” McEntire said.

    “I have long been of the opinion that money does little good just sitting in a bank.”

    And the result? " The board directed County Administrator Jim Jones to formulate a proposal for investing excess general and other fund reserves to spur the local economy."

    Really? You mean, after a decade of demonstrating how well local efforts have been to "spur the local economy", we, now in such "desperate shape", are going to throw away our savings on projects created b the same people who have done nothing but create the very situation we find ourselves in?

    Okay. I can see how that makes sense. No, actually, I can't.

    Having "reserves" to fall back on when you are in "desperate shape" is not a bad thing. It is hard to believe that our so-called leadership thinks "spending down our reserves" is a wise and prudent reaction to bad economic conditions.

    Reading something on the internet about economic theory is one thing, but applying it in real life situations is a whole different thing. Yes, the Federal government spent $80 billion a month, for 7 years trying to "spur the economy", and look what we got for it. The Jobless Recovery. The very economic situation the Commissioners now call "desperate".

    Yes, all those billions the Feds spent went to the bank accounts of the select few. As has been well documented, the few uber-rich in our society got a lot richer, while the vast majority got a lot poorer. And, the national debt got a lot bigger.

    Will the Commissioners figure out that Clallam County is not the US Federal government? The Feds may be able to print more money, and pass legislation to raise their borrowing limits ever higher, but the County cannot.

    Yes, reading is a good thing, generally. We encourage our leadership to do it. But, critical thinking is also important.

  9. Speaking of spending money in desperate times on stupid supposed economic development scams, this from the PDN about the "Light Up The Lincoln" failure:

    “Our Lincoln is still there and we are still here. This is Port Angeles. Our town doesn't quit. We still have a theater to save,” the video said.

    Nagel did not return calls Monday or Tuesday."

    Ah, yes. Another Port Angeles success story joins that long list.