Opinion

Clean air, flu and the overworked commissioners

JUST JACK

On May 1, I left the county to spend a couple of days with some of my U.S. Naval Academy classmates in Oregon. It always helps to get together with old friends and to re-zero the historical reference points in your life. For those of us in my generation, some of those points were the election and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War (and the loss of a number of friends and classmates), the Nixon resignation, the U.S. Embassy hostages in Iran and the failed rescue attempt, and the end of the Cold War. We lived through and participated in much of the history that is reflected in today’s political thought and rhetoric. Unfortunately, firsthand knowledge and experience are apparently no match for the revisionist history essential to assigning blame to the United States and to validate a continuing string of apologies to every country of the world for all the evil we have done.

Recently, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, an appointed board, determined that burning the woody debris from land clearing for development was “bad” for air quality and that a suitable alternate for disposal was available. The result was a ban on such burning. The decision was made contrary to any evidence that the practice actually harmed air quality since Kitsap has not had a “quality” incident in a number of years while the practice has been ongoing. In addition, substantive factual data was presented to demonstrate the agency’s cost model for the alternate disposal was significantly flawed and the actual added cost for a normal development could add up to $20,000 to the price of a home. Nice to see the agency is open to fact and the issue of “affordable housing” is high on their list of priorities. While Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman and North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer are the designated appointees to the agency, they are actually represented by two alternates they have appointed. I guess the mayor and the commissioner are just too busy to look out for Kitsap’s interests.

That then leads to the next item. Remember all that talk about how busy the commissioners are in their elected jobs? That was part of the substantiation for the pay raise they voted themselves. Apparently they were not so busy that they had to maintain a five-day workweek. We also have been made aware of the time they are spending doing the business of the Kitsap Transit Authority, the Public Health Authority and the Public Housing Authority. I guess those part-time jobs get in the way of the full-time employment we are paying for. Now we learn that Commissioner Brown has somehow found the time to serve as the vice-president of the Puget Sound Regional Council. Is it possible that all of these “ancillary duties” are taking so much of the commissioner’s time that we need additional staff to complete functions that commissioners should normally complete? Is it possible that, with the Commissioner’s staying home and attending to their primary responsibilities, we might find some budget relief?

While I would never minimize the potential impact of a serious medical threat, I am having some difficulty taking the “HINI Flu Crisis” serious. In 1958, I, along with a large number of personnel at the base I was stationed on, was hospitalized with a serious case of the flu. The outbreak was so bad even medical staff were reduced to patient status and ambulatory patients in recovery were pressed into service to assist the medial staff. This was no “cover your mouth, wash your hands and stay at home” event. But the nation survived and carried on. Having the president and his cabinet members give me the same advice and instructions that my mother gave me as a kid does not build great confidence in the capabilities of the administration. I am actually surprised to some extent the flu advice was even offered. Why would government want to protect those gun owning, bible reading, Constitution carrying, veteran extremists who obviously pose a major threat to the security of the nation?

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com.

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