The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Alcohol okay, but not marijuana?


February 19, 2014

To the Eagle:

 This year marks the ninth anniversary of the infamous Kelo decision, wherein the liberal wing of the Supreme Court supported the actions of a predatory Economic Development Committee in New London, Connecticut, resulting in the seizure and destruction of dozens of nice old Victorian homes and several small businesses by eminent domain, historically used to allow government takings for the "public good" meaning roads or public buildings. In this case, the land was given to private developers to build income producing facilities to boost revenues for the Town of New London. Then everything fell through, and today the area is a ninety acre empty wasteland right off the old downtown area.

New London is larger, but similar to Cathlamet. Like us, it has a steep main drag running downhill to public docks on the Thames River, lined with charming old buildings with apartments above and businesses below. Most apartments are occupied, but many of the businesses are shuttered. Their economic problems are a bit older than ours. We pin much of ours on government meddling in the timber, fishing, and dairy industries starting back in the eighties but theirs commenced with the collapse of the whaling industry in the early twentieth century. They've been plagued by government sponsored economic development schemes since LBJ's urban renewal projects in the sixties -- "Kelo" was just the most recent and most destructive.

In the seventies, I lived a few miles north of there, and owned a multi truck and trailer food vending business. For a couple of years, we put a Mexican food and a baked potato stand on the docks in their 4th of July festival, which, like our Bald Eagle Fest, featured a spectacular fireworks display out over the water, drawing large crowds from rural Connecticut to the north. But the greedy economic development folks charged way too much rent, so we opted out after two years, and the whole festival died not long after.

In the wake of "Kelo" forty states passed legislation to avoid such debacles, and seven revised their constitutions. Despite this, around the country economic development groups and public commissions have continued committing the other two development sins: spending taxpayer money on projects that should be developed privately, and getting grants for grandiose projects that then must be maintained forever at taxpayer expense. Next door in Longview, all the various commissioners are in trouble for getting involved in inadvisable projects they should have avoided, while the most viable private enterprise, Millenium Coal, is being delayed by enviro wackos and climate change Luddites.

Locally, we have had pretty sane leadership for the past few years -- made some mistakes (sewer to nowhere) and dodged some bullets (downtown condos, hilltop wind farm). At present we are watching a political kabuki dance, wherein one set of commissioners and the sheriff's department are discussing hindering development of a privately owned, voter approved pot farm while another set of commissioners are blithely committing tax payer funds and public property to the production of alcoholic beverages. Go figure.

Howard Brawn, Puget Island


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