We recently heard someone talking about how the new City Manager is circumventing the “good ‘ol boy network” in Klamath Falls. Ironically, the person who said this apparently didn’t realize he is one, and there is no indication this person’s power base has been eroded even slightly since the new manager came onboard. If anything, it has expanded.
Let us now explore what exactly a “Good Old Boy” is.
Generally, the term refers to white men who live in rural areas, commonly applied to those with generational wealth and prestige. The old, positive connotation suggested these people behaved morally and could be any age, if humble. In recent years, the Good Old Boy label has become very negative, referring usually to older men engaging in cronyism by associating primarily with other Good Old Boys. Collectively, a group of Good Old Boys is known as a Good Old Boy network. The term suggests exclusion of women and minorities.
The American Heritage Dictionary also characterizes Good Old Boys of holding an “anti-intellectual bias and intolerant point of view.” Go to any government meeting in Klamath and you’ll think…aint that the truth?
All of the above are certainly true of the the Good Old Boys in Klamath, and to some extent the men exlcude some women from their boys club, but there is a tight secondary network that includes women as well.
People like the Good Old Boy who didn’t realize he was one don’t really see a problem. It is a great group to be part of, and that is the point. The level of control these people have over local politics, society and the economy exerts strain, stress and pain on those who aren’t part of their club.
I’m tired of typing out Good Old Boy, so let’s just abbreviate them GOB.
The actions of GOBs are moral only from their perspective. Due to their extreme intollerance and myopic, self-righteous views, they conduct their activities like sociopaths, unwilling or unable to empathize with the situation facing anyone outside of their clan.
Commmon traits of Good Old Boys (GOBs):
- GOBs are placeholders and gatekeepers, taking positions on councils and committees and never leaving.
- GOBs will intervene to screw over an outsider if one of their own needs help or protection.
- GOBs legally railroad those outside their group to generate profit for themselves or their group.
- GOBs make authorititative decisoins that favor their clique to the exclusion of others.
- GOBs marginalize everyone outside their group.
- In Klamath, the strongest, most dangerous GOBs are often associated with the oldest families.
The list begins with every person who has been in an elected office for more than two terms. That’s 4 of the 6 City Council members. The Mayor, Todd Kellstrom has been in office since 1992 for five consecutive terms, now a total of 13 years. You don’t stay in office that long without a large network of GOBs keeping you there. That make’s Kellstrom the king GOB. As the GOB leader, he appoints other GOBs in perpetuity to the various City Committees.
In Klamath, the GOBs are so pervasive, the appointed GOBs are often left in place beyond changes in GOB administrations. Just scan the membership rosters of the appointees on committees at the City and County to see the second level GOBs. Some names stand out, like Rich Bogatay on the City’s Downtown Advisory Committee and Randy Shaw, who is Chair of the County Planning Commission. Both of these people are licensed real estate agents who work on commercial properties. Their positions provide them with inside information, special access, and special favors. The requirement to declare potential conflicts of interest doesn’t stop such GOBs from profitting among other GOBs and the potential for exploitation is infinite.
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