The jail proposition must be stopped. Of all the items on the ballot, this one is the most onerous and devastating. In 10 years - or less - we, as a county, can change our minds about district or county-wide voting if we do not like the results of this election. Candidates who win this year can be judged over the next four years and re-elected or replaced. But if the 30 year jail tax proposal wins, we are captives to three men who are determined to dramatically increase our annual budgets in the name of an industrial jail system.
Louws, Elfo and McEachran will create a fiefdom if we give them this immense taxing power. There will not be other reforms. These men have no track record of support for open public process, committment to alternative approaches (other than throwing people in jail), or compassion. We can see what they have done with the 2004 sales tax we approved for jail repair and maintenance; they squandered and wasted it. In fact, just this week they used money from that tax to send every voter an illegal and expensive glossy flier. A flier that was created, designed, printed and mailed by the very firm, DLR, that is contracted with the county to advise on building the jail.
If you are somehow still inclined to vote for this, please read two articles. Samantha Wohlfeil of the Bellingham Herald has a good report on the jail mailer. She does a nice job explaining it and sampling opinions of local political leaders. She and I were both trying on Friday to get the exact cost numbers from Tyler Schroeder, the mailer manager on Louws staff. He was reluctant to talk to me and was vague on the numbers. The information he gave me differed from what he apparently gave Samantha. He promised more numbers on Monday or Tuesday - and I told him I hoped they would be on paper and not verbal. Accountability comes in to play here.
In the second article, Tip Johnson has written what I have been hoping for from one of our NWCitizen writers. He slices the jail proposition to pieces and demolishes their arguments. At 1,500 words it is a sit-down read, but worth the time considering we are voting on a taxing committment that will last 30 years. Tip served 8 years on the Bellingham City Council and understands how the city and county governments work. He has been very involved in local politics for over 35 years and has spent weeks researching this piece. He has credibility.