Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When is a Vote Not a Vote?

Mollie writes:

I learned something new about Kidney Island this last month. We've all gone feudal!

In the effort to force an un-sewer upon 400+ residents in an area on South Kidney Island, our Water and Sewer Commissioners have proposed a LID for our neck of the woods. A LID is a Local Improvement District in the State of Washington. What the bottom line of a LID is: our commissioners can assess us for a Sewer to Nowhere without bringing it to a popular vote.

If this particular plan were to go forth, approximately 400+ property owners would be assessed for a $40,000.000.00 system that doesn't address solid waste. We are looking at an average of $90,000.00 per property. Most of the people in our neighborhood can't afford to write a check for that amount, or finance it with a second mortgage.

If this proposal came to a popular vote, it would be voted out on a heartbeat. This is not to say that these South Kidney Islanders are anti-sewer, or anti-environment: these citizens pro environment. But in the absence of water testing, growth projections, and other tangible data, the vast majority of us are absolutely certain that throwing $40,000.000. at an undefined problem is, frankly, stupid.

So the commissioners came up with a plan that circumvents the popular vote. If the LID is passed by our commissioners, instead of having a poplar vote on this issue, the citizens in the effected area have to stipulate that they are AGAINST the Sewer to Nowhere, to the tune of 40%.

AND, here's the rub. The county will only accept opposition from land owners. You can live here all your life, serve in the military, pay your taxes, practice lawful citizenship, etc. and you can't express yourself on this issue if you live in this area unless you are a member of the landed gentry.

So if you RENT your home, you are without a vote. And trust me, if your landlord is assessed $90,000.00 for a sewer to nowhere, it will show up in your rent! But you can't vote. Does anyone else consider this taxation without representation?

But, wait, there's more! Votes are counted by amount of land owned, not by number of citizens. What this means is if you are a developer and you own 20 acres, you get 20 votes. And if you're a homeowner and you own 1/4 acre you get 1/4 vote. Vive la riche! All it would take is one major landowner with unbuildable land to outvote hordes of folks who can barely afford their current mortgages.

And, yes, grasshopper, there are folks like that out there. Some of the large property owners are Lind's Drugs, Nichols Brother's, Payless Foods, and Trinity Lutheran Church. And, yes, they are pro the Sewer to Nowhere.

And if that weren't enough our commissioners assure us that our local, state, and federal governments are just rolling in dough, waiting to give us free money (read tax-payer money) to offset the cost. This is the same federal government that plans to shut down Friday, April 8th, nationwide, and this is the same state government who has made enormous cuts in services state-wide to accommodate a failing budget, and a local government that partially shuts down on Fridays because the tax dollar doesn't go so far!

There's a group of concerned citizens who are well informed on this subject (read licensed engineers, scientists with PhDs, etc.) who are stridently against this LID. It will bankrupt our community and it won't address the issue of water quality of Holmes Harbor, where we ALL live.

What it will do is enrich the real estate community in the form of sales of foreclosures, and developers who have managed to "improve" lots that were previously un-sellable because of septic issues. It will marginalize folks who don't have $90,000.00 sitting around collecting interest, and it completely omits those of us who pay taxes, serve our country, but, for whatever reason, don't belong to the landed gentry.

These same citizens will have to look for homes elsewhere, which will impoverish the area. We'll have a sewer system that doesn't process solid waste, and we will have managed to do this without determining if Holmes Harbor is really as endangered as developers and real estate agents say, since they never took the time or paid the expense to do appropriate fecal coliform testing or document what causes red tides in the area.

Who will be left are the enriched land-owners who can now sell a lot for a whole lot more since they no longer have to prove that their lot "perks" - a fancy term that means that a septic system is no longer necessary. And it will have been paid for on the backs of the foreclosures and bankrupt citizens who never got a chance to vote!

This is NO WAY to build trust. What we have here are real estate folks who stand to make money if this passes, and developers who stand to make money if this passes - pure and simple.

There was a public meeting at Trinity Lutheran Church last night to explain all this to the locals. One Water and Sewer Commissioner didn't even bother show up, and the other two showed up, once again, without water testing data, proof of government subsidies, or any evidence that Holmes Harbor is endangered.

The two attending commissioners read the community and voted to postpone the LID until further documentation can be presented.

We're waiting . . .

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