It would have been so wonderful to offer nothing but praise for the new County leadership: all they had to do was think and act differently in correcting simple mistakes from the recent past. Immediate plans (or lack thereof) were revealed in media interviews held in December 2016 about their intentions.

In Fictitious Manifestations We Trust

Championed by former bible-thumping Commissioner Mallams, an acutely monotheistic mural was painted on the wall of the County hearing chambers, much to the ire of a small group of detractors who expressed complete disgust over the incident. Those who voted for the new commissioners expected they would remove the religious propaganda upon assuming office. Apparently they will not. Newsflash: the people who wanted godspeak on the walls voted for the incumbent, not for the new commissioners. It seems the new bureaucrats are already at odds with those who elected them.

In recent media, the new county commissioners stated they were in favor of keeping the “In God We Trust” graffiti in the commissioners’ meeting room and though they may not have supported installation of the sign if they were incumbents, they saw no reason to remove it.

So you wouldn’t have supported it, but you’re going to leave it? We expected more from Derek Degroot, who served in the military and who should understand more than the rest of them how detrimental it is to American ideals to erode the constitutional separation of church and state. Anything one religious group is allowed to do opens the door for others (In Allah We Trust? In Ganesh We Trust?) To favor one religion is to oppress others.

You Commissioners are wearing the big pants now. That means you must lead, which sometimes means doing the right thing even if it feels unpopular (the only reason it would feel that way is because religious zealots seem to be the only people with time to badger the County. Most of the people who don’t want this religious nonsense in government offices aren’t going to waste their time in hearings as they are living productive lives and are sickened by the absolute stupidity of such proceedings). County, it is so disappointing you are leaving the religious graffiti on the walls.

Economic Development

Improving the economy was the most important issue for all candidates running for office. Most had specific ideas about what the County could or should do to spur economic growth. Oddly, the ones elected were the two candidates with no new ideas whatsoever. According to the grapevine, most people thought they had ideas, but were smart enough not to discuss controversial topics in detail while campaigning. Much to everyone’s surprise, it now seems they are indeed clueless.

What do you do if you are clueless? Default support to old, ineffectual institutions.

Commissioner Donnie Boyd said he would bolster support for the Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA), which he believes has the potential to grow into a major economic driver for the area.

This proves he is clueless; the other Commissioners nodded along with him. If that is the plan, the leadership has no idea what is going on.

There was a time when KCEDA was necessary and useful. That time is long gone. It was formed when there was a lot of state money (mostly lottery funds) available for infrastructure and to pay for new land and buildings. The money tap dried up over a decade ago as it was redirected to education and other programs. The organization is useless in the current context: KCEDA is now just a pay-to-play collection of 1-percenters intent on buying influence. Their development model is outmoded and pandering to KCEDA is a waste of resources.

Dispensaries

The Klamath economy was built on exploiting resources–mainly timber–which was dead by the early 90s. Klamath has groped for replacements to the economic base ever since. In the 90s, the growth industry was algae production, driven by front-runner Cell Tech who brought tens of millions into the economy. They were able to convince old Senator Harper to ramrod legislation that protected their monopoly status by preventing anyone new from harvesting algae from Klamath Lake. A scare about toxic algae and subsequent sanctions by the EPA, followed by IRS investigations shitcanned the algae industry in Klamath.

Ranching and farming were never big employers (less than 10% of Klamath jobs are ag-related). Klamath has always needed a solid resource to replace lumber exploitation. Algae didn’t work out, but hemp could have, in the same way that grapes fuel the Sonoma and Napa, CA economies. Hemp is labor intensive with a large markup, making it a very profitable enterprise with substantial ripple effects in the economy. The opportunity to embrace the new crop surfaced when medical marijuana was legalized. Communities in Washington and Colorado saw dramatic improvements in local economies when pot was legalized in those states. Klamath ignored the data. Worse, instead of just letting it happen organically, so to speak, the prior County administration actively banned the economic component. The initial ban made the subject taboo and further tainted public opinion so much that a referendum to overturn it failed. We are left with an intelligence vacuum exacerbated by the new Commissioners’ refusal to evaluate all economic growth opportunities and find a way to make them work.

The stance on dispensaries renders Klamath an island, like a group of backward natives isolated from the commerce of the rest of the world. We have become a laughable curiosity that may one day be the subject of documentaries exploring how communities could ever be this dumb.

Dispensaries are the only businesses that want to be taxed; they are begging for it. Klamath is losing 15% on millions that would go straight to local government. That’s money that could be used for the infrastructure that is needed for other kinds of economic development. It is the only way to pay for the infrastructure KCEDA requires to improve the economy. People are getting the stuff anyway: they can grow it in their homes legally. Dispensaries are legal in Medford and Ashland. Klamath residents are driving there to resupply, giving them our tax money and supporting their businesses.

Alright Klamath County, you insist on going prohibitionist? Do it right. Ban all intoxicating substances. Alcohol is more dangerous and destructive than weed. Ban alcohol sales and ban the bars. People who drink alcohol want to drive around, crash into things and get in fights. People who ingest weed want to stay at home, watch a movie and order pizza. It’s all bad, so do the right thing: ban it all or legalize everything.

State Legislators

According to the local paper, Commissioner Donnie Boyd said efforts have already been made to reach out to the incoming legislators and encourage cooperation rather than division. “We all have to be able to work together because we have a very, very limited resource,” he said.

Considering who Boyd is talking about, any meetings with those goons is a complete waste of time. Linthicum the state senator, hereafter referred to as LinthiCON, is on record in full opposition to government subsidies. His main issue is retaining the dams on the Klamath River (a federal, not state issue). He was buddies and in league with defeated commissioner Tom Mallams; he liked Tom, he will never really like you. He is a cheater and a liar that participated in rigging the primary election in collusion with former Senator Witless.

On the House side, we have someone who closely resembles the stapler guy in the movie Office Space. He also participated in the rigged election scandal, in collusion with Mrs Witless. His name is impossible to remember or spell, so we’ll just call him Rashy. This guy Rashy came from nowhere, a shill hand-picked to fill a void and take orders with no interesting thoughts of his own.

These are the people who now represent Klamath in the state legislature. They are among the most corrupt douchebags to assume state office and they are Republican. The Oregon Senate and House of Representatives have democrat majorities. The Governor is also democrat. Even if LinthiCON and Rashy were decent politicians with even a slight hint of being anything but batshit nuts, NOTHING they could come up with would ever be passed into law. The tides of partisan politics are against them and nothing in their arsenal of nutball rhetoric stands a chance of appealing to liberals, so not even consent agendas will be possible. Aside from all of that, they are inexperienced in state government politics. You can count on Rashy yielding to anything LinthiCON asks of him, sort of like two crooks sticking together as they romp a crime spree.

No, Commissioner Boyd, you don’t have to all work together, and here’s why: the limited resources Klamath has will in no way be served by the contradictory presence of these two. They don’t believe in subsidizing government, so you won’t ever see them working effectively to get Klamath the funding it needs create more jobs. Their positions are diametrically opposed to the political philosophy of the majority of the state assemblies and the Governor’s office. The government of Oregon will oppose anything they come up with.

Off Radar

Most curious is what the new commissioners don’t seem to care about.

“One of the things I think we can do right away is working on the way we feel about ourselves and working on pride in the community,” said DeGroot. “A lot of that has to do with leadership.”

What leadership? Ignoring the dam removal issue, supporting government religious propaganda, blocking state legalized marijuana, supporting ineffective programs and institutions…these are all the policies of the ousted administration. What was the point of replacing the County Commissioners if everything stays the same?

Nobody mentioned Tourism, such as why is Klamath spending over $400,000 per year on tourism promotion? We don’t need to promote tourism. Solid tourism attractions are self-promoting in this world of social media. Besides, anything businesses are involved in tend to be promoted by the businesses who benefit directly. If we focus internally on being rational and attractive, tourism will automatically follow. Another point, Isn’t tourism part of the economy? If it is, why aren’t you saving money by merging KCEDA with Tourism? Do we need a tourism office to house racks of promotional brochures? Isn’t that what the Chamber of Commerce is for?

Part of the reason the Klamath economy is under-performing is because of taxation and bureaucratic overhead. The County building codes are basically the same as Portland’s (Multnomah County) which are basically the same as California’s. Where’s the advantage? How about reducing the codes and streamlining permitting to reduce overhead? Every person considering moving a business to Klamath stays at a hotel when they visit. When they pay the bill, they can’t help but notice the extra 10% lodging tax. That’s the message: move to Klamath and you risk being targeted for tax exploitation. Klamath County incubated the tourism office and supported the initiative to fund it with new taxes. It could also reverse the process. This is something someone who pays lip service to “leadership” should be concerned with.

Degroot thinks we need community pride. Just where would the source of such pride come from? Should a community that supports protectionist policies designed to keep new entrants out of the market feel proud? Should we be proud that we readily tax a minority of businesses to pay for expensive, ineffectual and unnecessary money-sucking programs such as tourism? Are we proud to be left behind as we ignore new economic opportunities? Are we proud to plaster discriminatory religious propaganda on the walls of the County offices?

Yeah…we need some pride, but the kind that begins with our leadership. We need our County Commissioners to battle the lunatic fringe and help the public better understand the challenges we collectively face without hiding behind rhetoric. We need insight into how we intend to survive at a time when the state and federal government will further cut subsidies. We need leaders to pander less and lead more. This often means turning down the volume on the absurdities rising from sycophants and balancing the big picture with local challenges.

Kelley Minty Morris: are you playing it cool or just doing time? You are no longer being oppressed by two old white rednecks. You can shine now, if there is anything in that head, or does it just bobble?

Derek Degroot and Donnie Boyd: you were just elected, so please correct your thinking before it is too late. We still have hope in you. With greater awareness you can become the leaders the people need you to be rather than the myopic lackeys of recent portrayal.

Seriously guys, stop talking like you are still campaigning. Dig deep and find real meaning. If you feel you must talk about leadership and community pride, you are engaging in neither.