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Rebuff of generous offer another insult

Letters to the Editor


Last updated 12/19/2012 at 8:03am

The town of Elmer City has worked tirelessly to find financial assistance to help fund the improvements to the sewer treatment plant it jointly operates with Coulee Dam. And for good reason, they can’t afford what Coulee Dam is building! On the other hand, Coulee Dam has not put any meaningful effort into a search for “grant” monies. Even their Project Plan discounts the “free” money as too difficult to bother with. They remain content with their own “success”… borrowing another $5 million and adding to an already burdensome debt on the town’s utilities!

The Elmer City approach “may” result in a modest increase in our monthly bill. The Coulee Dam approach “will” at least double our monthly sewer rates, driving them up to at least $85 and possibly as much as $110 per month … unaffordable for many of us! Elmer City has gotten further in six months (with a more responsible approach to financing/funding the project), than Coulee Dam has in 10 years! I guess Elvis impersonators and a swimming pool full of sand are enough “meaningful” accomplishments to the mayor’s way of thinking.

For the past two months Elmer City officials have been meeting with the tribes, trying to figure out a way through this cost and financing dilemma. Then, last Wednesday, the Colville Tribes delivered a letter to the town of Coulee Dam, offering to support a tribal application for federal funds to help with the project — a reasonably certain Christmas gift, if you will! Are there “conditions” to this benevolence? Yes, just one; “an independent review of the project scope and design.” After all, I don’t think any of us would buy a pig-in-a-poke, so this requirement is what any prudent organization should do anyway. And as it is, the tribes is requiring a “technical” review of the proposed design before they will consider supporting a funding proposal for the project. This process (known as value engineering) has a proven track record of saving costs, lots of costs, by a closer (and independent) review of the design and design assumptions. For a project with as much impact on the community as this, it would have been the expected and the “normal” process.

Now, what do you suppose the reaction was from Mayor Snow?... a contentious letter, written not just to the Tribes, but also to the Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Ecology, and the Town of Elmer City. A letter, if you read between the lines, that says “we want your money,” but we don’t want your “conditions” and thoughts and opinions and ideas! After all, and as always, Mayor Snow and his engineer know best! Now, stepping back from the “between-the-lines” analogy, here are the exact words from Coulee Dam to the Tribes (and others): “The Town of Coulee Dam is still moving forward with the scope of work outlined in the Coulee Dam Facility Plan, which was approved by the Department of Ecology. This WWTF improvement project has also completed the full federal and State Environmental Review Process.” And, “It (the project) is currently in the Design phase ….” Of course the letter goes on stating the town’s willingness to “continue discussions with all funding agencies.” This rebuff of the Tribes’ gracious and generous offer is just another of the mayor’s insults to [the tribes].

Last month the Coulee Dam Council, in a surprising change of demaner and position, presented a capitulatory face, one wanting to cooperate and “partner.” They were open, friendly, and truly (I thought) serious. I shoulda known that since Mayor Snow was absent from that meeting things would naturally be more friendly and progressive. Now he’s back — and so is the entrenchment, the arrogance, and the shallow-mindedness. I was once told that I “don’t suffer fools well.” Quincy Snow takes that suffering to a new level! He is a man so full of false-pride that he will certainly insure that we pay millions for what “he” wants and for what “we” don’t need. Now as to the Coulee Dam Town Council, I know and believe that almost all of them are good men, with good minds, high standards, and good hearts … some of them I’ve known since high school — for more than 50 years! Gentleman, sometimes you have to be divisive and rebellious. The mayor is not always right, your engineer is not always right, your clerk is not always right. There is nothing wrong with less than a majority decision and there is nothing wrong with a decision made contrary to what “your” mayor (and town clerk) wants or demands.

There is a looming solution … the next election, and that will be here before you know it!

Greg Wilder


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