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Hope springs eternal

 

Here’s to 2014, fellow citizens of Ravalli County! May we resolve that in this brand new year, where hope always springs eternal, we vote out Commissioners Foss, Stoltz and Burrows for their unfailing hypocrisy and managerial incompetence. We owe this to ourselves and to the welfare of our valley.
Being an independent-voting progressive with conservative underpinnings, I respect differing opinions, philosophies, and ideologies. I respect the integrity of folks who are willing to practice what they preach, even if I disagree. I expect job competence. Unfortunately our three Tea Party Commissioners don’t pass the integrity and competency tests and should be voted out. Replace them with competently governing, pragmatic conservatives, independents, or whatever. We need change in 2014.
The three Tea Partiers, as Ravalli residents have clearly witnessed, are incompetent at their job and are hypocrites to boot.
Here’s my Top 10 call outs, in no particular order, of their hypocrisy and incompetence. It’s an extemporaneous list—surely incomplete and understating the damage they’ve done and the trouble we’re still in for 2014.
1) Commissioners Burrows, Foss and Stoltz don’t believe government should be involved in healthcare, yet they greedily consume county government health insurance. They are hypocrites. Their handsome government insurance costs us thousands, adding to government spending and to our debt that they so abhor. Double hypocrites.
2) The Commissioners have relentlessly cut jobs over the past three years, after promising more jobs for our county through their efforts and good management. They never seriously considered reducing their own number from 5 to 3. This’d save us more than $100,000. Folks, would you rather have two unneeded commissioners or a fully staffed Road Department for winter plowing and keeping our roads safe? Where are the jobs?
3) They’ve been completely incompetent at overseeing the Road Department and Treasurer’s Office. Lawsuits and low morale abound, while competently qualified new hires are absent. They appointed a Treasurer who’s unqualified, has three aliases, was delinquent in paying her own taxes, and is storing our paid county taxes in her office drawers. Where’s the money? Enough said.
4) The Commissioners approved the Legacy Ranch subdivision against the wishes of 80 to 90%+ of county residents who commented. They disregarded serious safety, infrastructure, natural resource, economic, and land use concerns in approving this development monstrosity that’ll forever change our valley and way of life.
5) The Commissioners are totally wasting our taxpayer money and the previous Commission’s (and citizens’) hard work, by steamrolling yet another Airport Expansion Plan and Environmental Assessment down our throats. In doing so they’ll accept more federal money, raising our national debt, and will do the bidding of a select few jet-setting millionaires and billionaires who have vacation homes in the Bitterroot.
6) The Commissioners fully supported the Ravalli Off-Roaders’ obstructionist appeal of the Bitterroot’s 3 Saddle Vegetation Management Project. This caused lost jobs for locals and contradicts the Commissioners’ supposed priorities for Forest management, tree cutting, jobs, and fire safety.
7) Related to #6, the Commissioners used their authoritarian powers to adopt a radically dangerous, backward thinking County Resource Plan that basically just cuts our forest down, while ignoring rational, science-based Forest management and watershed restoration. The Commissioners, like the off-road organization, don’t believe any Forest road should be closed or decommissioned, no matter how damaging the unneeded, poorly designed road is to clean water, fish, elk, or recreational activities like hiking, hunting, or fishing. The Commissioners’ “Resource Plan” downgrades wildlife, habitat, clean water, ecological integrity, and quiet recreation to a meaningless afterthought.
8) At least one Commissioner, Suzy Foss, wants us to surrender our public lands to the state, locking us out. History shows this snake oil scheme will undeniably lead to our public lands being sold off to developers and resource extractors. Suzy, her realtor husband, and Charles Schwab may win in this land grab, but we’ll lose. Not one Commissioner had the spine to go on record in support of keeping our federal lands in public hands. That’s embarrassing.
9) The Tea Partiers (Foss, Stoltz, Burrows) have such blind ideological devotion to their extreme political philosophy that it leads to governing incompetency. This occurs through political cronyism in appointing unqualified tea party brethren (e.g. Stamey); a take-no-prisoner, uncompromising governing attitude; disenfranchising a majority of valley residents; and ultimately causing self-inflicted harm to us, the local economy, the environment, and our children’s future.
10) The three Tea Partiers’ hypocrisy, incompetence, and extreme political views cannot be more evident than in their inhumane closure of the Family Planning Clinic—a clinic that saved lives and was the lifeline for 400+ residents. That shameful act by Foss, Burrows and Stoltz sums up their true colors.
Folks, for a brighter and healthier future in the Bitterroot, let’s resolve in 2014 to vote out Foss, Stoltz and Burrows. Cheers.
Van P. Keele
Hamilton

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