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Principles of governance, freedom not understood by commissioners

Letter to the Editor


Last updated 6/29/2016 at 10:34am

How old were you when you first learned about Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and the First Amendment? Fourth grade? High School?

It is disturbing that our county commissioners publicly questioned whether a critical editorial comment in the Omak Chronicle violated its contract as newspaper of record. Fortunately, their attorney urged the commissioners to drop that thought like a hot potato. While ignorance of basic founding principles of our country is often tolerated in friends, we expect much more from elected officials. Reassurance that the commissioners themselves do understand and respect the concept of Freedom of the Press and the First Amendment would have been nice. The Chronicle’s reminder that voters were watching the Martin Hall/Juvenile detention issue was timely and appropriate. 

Our current commissioners have long refused to listen and learn from citizens, judges, department heads, scientists, union representatives, and state or federal agencies — and it is costing taxpayers dearly. It is incredible that our own Superior Court judges found it necessary to sue the county (and the commissioners individually) for interfering with proper management of the court and Juvenile Department. “Micromanagement” is also obvious when department heads are publicly pressured to contract with private entities at increased cost to the taxpayer. And according to commissioners’ minutes, executive (private) sessions regarding litigation or employee situations have increased to twice the length and many times the frequency since January 2013. 

I am concerned about the financial direction of our county. Having prematurely posted ATV signs on 600 miles of road, the commissioners have been ordered by the Court of Appeals to redo inadequate statements on the impact of ATVs or change their plans. In addition, we are in expensive litigation over the vacation of Three Devils Road and the decades-overdue Comprehensive Plan. The commissioners refer to more potential litigation against the federal government for perceived offenses, including USFS road vacations and ownership of federal public land. At last word the county reserve fund was depleted, we had cash flow problems, and state auditors were not pleased.

What’s next? Will they debate suing the courts on our dime?

Isabelle Spohn



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