“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” translated from Dante’s Divine Comedy, 1814.

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.

It should all be engrained on the signs that welcome visitors to Klamath Falls.

A religious metaphor seems appropriate for the voting majority in the Klamath region bent to side with the illogical tribalisim that precludes new thinking even from within their own faiths. It was the best, most recent hope to rescue them from their consigned fate. They again sided with the changeless doom of apathetic irreverence by retaining the oppressors in office. 

Many of those struggling to sustain themselves in this circle of hell known as Klamath dared dream of a shift in local politics and the majority still shunned those who stated the obvious and attempted to make a difference. Even the non-religious would have welcomed a religious person with the right thinking, as embodied in Donna Walker who valiantly  attempted to unseat Todd Kellstrom for mayor.

Walker actually had a plan to lift Klamath Falls from the dark age created in part by Kellstrom’s (and the other incumbents’) antithetical presence. The Mayor of over 20 years in office presided over many incorrect decisions with a clear record siding with staff over private sector citizens, seemingly viewing City employees as a flock under his protection. He voted against small businesses and building owners trying to establish and maintain a presence in the dismal downtown area. He had no new plans and no stated agenda other than holding his court. His direct mailer stated only, “Mayor Todd Kelstrom for Mayor.” Although grammatically incorrect and from the same school of redundancy he perpetuated in office, he won again nonetheless.

Walker, by contrast, was a bright, passionate candidate willing to raise awareness of a chain of mistakes that led Klamath down the dark path and pledged to repair the broken town. How could the voters of Klamath deny her the office?

Not helpful were editorials by the likes of Herald and Snooze editor Steve Miller, who, in an article published on October 17, railed against arguments that Klamath Falls ordinances needed to be modified in order to build a positive business climate. In that piece, he argued that anyone who was victimized by City policies has no credibility. He may not have been referring directly to Walker, but he did manage to demonize the many people who told their stories of City corruption to her and for whom she and other challengers fought to represent.

Editor Miller wrote, “I feel it’s a more credible issue if it’s being addressed not just by people who haven’t had run-ins with the regulations…”

What a ridiculously pious and stupid statement. There are hundreds of regulations in play that were implemented at the request of staff with little or no regard for the outcomes on the community. Only through testing policies in practice do the barriers they create become clear. The surest way to become aware is to be tangled in the fallout.  In democracy, unjust actions are supposed to be challenged. In communism, the people are expendable for the service of the ruling class. Which side is this guy on?

For decades there was an ordinance in Klamath Falls that made it illegal to kick the heads off of rattlesnakes. That ordinance may have served the town at a time when there was a boardwalk and the gore of snake massacres made an unsightly mess, but like many ordinances, it remained in place long past it’s usefulness. This should make everyone constantly question what government policies are relevant, for many carry unintended consequences, such as being bitten by a poisonous reptile that could kill you. Many ordinances in Klamath have and will continue to kill businesses, and anyone harmed by them knows the pain they cause. It was suggested that ordinances should be left alone for the security of other residents, but that is a very short-sighted and incorrect assumption.

If you gut commerce, the value of property tanks and people lose their life savings they have tied up in their homes. Without commerce, residents can’t purchase the necessities for modern life. Residences do not exist in a vacuum separate from business. They need each other and businesses certainly know they need residents. Why don’t residents realize they need business? The ordinances adversely impact residents as well. For example, why is it more expensive to restore an old house than to build new? Any homeowner who has been caught in Klamath’s tangle of illogical requirements has felt the pain of an unwielding surplus of garbage within the ordinance structure, and most of it is a redundant layer on top of what the County already requires.

Perhaps a person who doesn’t make, fix, or do anything independently has an unjustifiable bias against those who do. Perhaps there are simply too many people of that type with media influence lording over towns like Klamath from their $4 million office complexes. Among the great barriers in this world are people like that editor who spew such myopic opinions from a soapbox, in this case, paid for by a media conglomerate based in Seattle. They wield the least credible position of all: one that sucks money from taxpayer coffers through the use of such ordinances that require the government to pay the newspaper to publish public notices (and why are we still doing that when the City has a website and everyone can search the internet?) To that end, one must question the motives newspaper editors. They serve organizations that support the cronies in already in office, like Robin Hoods in reverse.

All three incumbents running for Klamath Falls offices were re-elected. It might have made sense if Klamath Falls was thriving, but this is far from true. The town has not seen such destitution since the third lumber mill closed in 1994. The voters had a chance to easily correct the problem by electing new people. Through retaining these placeholders, the voters rewarded a chain of laziness, malfeasance, corruption, and negative conditions that will surely continue.

This election cycle punctuates another circle of hell thanks to all those who helped maintain the status quo of ignorance and neglect.