Opinion

Conspiracy and fear

There are all sorts of issues with the opposition argument against the Kitsap County Veterans and Human Services Levy that will appear on the November ballot.  It’s an argument rich with conspiracy and fear mongering.

Chief among the falsehoods is that homeless or disadvantaged veterans, to be served with an equal number of non-veteran poor, by the levy, are being used as political pawns and thrown  before the voting public as a marketing tool in favor of Proposition 1.

“...’veterans’ and ‘military families’ are not ‘victims.’ They cannot be exploited by politicians for personal benefit,” Jack Hamilton, chairperson, Committee Against the Measure argued in his written opposition that will appear on the ballot.  Hamilton’s idea comes from thin air. One actual fact on the matter is that the Kitsap County Veterans Advisory Board last spring decided to look down their budgetary road and saw veteran needs passing resources. The veterans decided to pursue a levy.  It’s also true that Hamilton was not in the room when that critical decision was made. Before taking the levy idea to county commissioners, the vet advisory board identified an advantage in joining forces with the Kitsap Continuum of Care Coalition.  Four years into a failed economy, the board voiced clear knowledge that selling any tax increase, in this case a real estate tax of $.05 per $1,000 in value, would be a tough prospect and made a tactical choice to better the veterans’ own chances of seeing additional funds to help the growing number of veterans while opening that helping hand to non-veterans trying to find living in Kitsap County.

The second troubling point of the misguided opposition argument is that the $9 million the levy is estimated to generate during its six year lifespan would really be used by the Board of Kitsap County Commissioners to clean up county general fund budget shortfalls as they struggle to balance the budget during the Great Recession”

It’s true that the BOCC legally took and estimated $316,000 from the proceeds of the current veteran’s levy, which is required by state law, to balance their beleaguered 2010 budget. It is true that operating procedures and detailed management plan for the 50/50 fund that would result from voter approval of the Proposition 1 is largely to be determined. What is not true is that the public cannot affect future BOCC decision making, should they seek to repeat the mistake of raiding veterans coffers.

More true is the idea that after 11 years and dual wars, the county’s veterans population is growing and those who find a troubled life after their return should not be punished and left to the streets or bridges because of the  short-sighted decision making of the BOCC scrambling to cover county costs elsewhere.

In a county with 35,000 veterans and 15,000 active duty personnel those veterans should be given a hand up. Perhaps Mr. Hamilton could better use his considerable angst to see to it that the commissioners properly spend tax money raised for indigent veterans.

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