hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Almost Non-Existent Government

There is much talk nowadays about how government ought to be smaller.  I often think that those who think that way ought to come and see how Point Roberts works.  Here we have almost no government, including none that could be helpful, although we sort of have some that is the taking not the giving sort.

I was brought to meditate upon this after sitting through a visit from a well-meaning and thoughtful Whatcom County Port Commissioner and a Port Planner to us up here in nowhereville.  On Thursday past, the two of them made the trip up for a kind of 'get to know each other' meeting.  There wasn't anything specific up for discussion, although the underlying issue was the fact that Point Roberts' residents, via property taxes, contribute about $150,000 every year to the budget of the Ports Commissioners, and none of that comes back to Point Roberts.  Nothing that the Ports people do has any specific connection to us.  They are responsible for nothing here.  And, as a result, they pretty much do nothing for us here.  They take our money are spend it.

We don't have a port or a County airport here and that's pretty much what the Port people attend to.   (They don't pay for marinas: marinas pay for themselves.)   They are also responsible in some way for economic development .  (It wasn't clear to me ever whether they share this responsibility with some other agency in Whatcom County, but I suspect they do).  Economic development: that which we also have pretty much none of and maybe can't realistically have much of given our location and unique problems.  It's clear that we could have a little more tourism, but not much without a lot more infrastructure to take care of the tourists once they get here.

And how would that infrastructure arise?  Well, the Port could help in a small way, helping us to get some money to develop a 'professional plan,' which would be based on a local plan that was very concrete and already well-developed.  And then the Port could help us find some financing for the plan, maybe.

But the Port wants an initial plan.  They don't want to hear about a cool idea.  And who is to develop that plan?  Well, if we had a little bit of local government, there might be someone--that is to say a government employee--whose job it would be to work out that cool idea into a preliminary plan.  Doing that preliminary plan with nothing but volunteer labor is not likely to be very effective; it could work, but it's going to be dicey or go on for many years.  We have done it before: see, e.g., the Wellness Clinic.  

The Parks Board Commissioners can do some of that pre-plan work, but they don't have employees to do such things.  The Community Advisory Committee is trying, in some ways, to see if there is some way in which their members can function in that way, building up alliances down in the actual county government and developing some information bases.  But our status as an unincorporated area makes it much harder to get this ever to work.  So, if you are enthusastic about small, even tiny, government, watch us flail.  It's okay as long as you can manage all on your own for pretty much everything.

1 comment:

Heinrich Raatschen said...

Hi Judy, I just want to leave a short message on how interesting and well written I found your notes on economic growth in your community. I am from Germany and just happened to stumble upon your blog. I do have friends in Seattle, so I have seen some places in that area and I very much love the Pacific Northwest. Kind Regards, Heinrich