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Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I went to the Candidates Night week before last.  Most of what I learned was that the County Council candidates don't know that much about Point Roberts and, even more interesting to me, that we in Point Roberts don't know much about the County Council and what they do and are interested in.  When the generous question period came for these candidates, nobody had any questions.

Even when the Fire District Commissioner candidates and the Park and Rec Board Chair discussed their various candidacies (Mark Robbins was speaking on behalf of the Levy to repair the Community Center), precious few questions were heard.  Stan Riffle (Fire District Commissioner candidate) said he was a good guy with experience (and didn't mention any of the sturm und drang that have been the hallmark of the last year+ of Fire District meetings in which he has fully participated as a safe vote for whatever Bill Meursing wants).  Craig Carter said he wanted to bring "harmony" to the Fire District Meetings (which means, I'd guess, he wants to be another vote that Bill Meursing can count on; it's worth noting that he has previously been in business with Meursing and that he volunteered that an unnamed person had asked him to run for Commissioner).

Fire Commissioner candidate Rob Dean did mention some of that disorderly mess that followed the Fire District's firing Nick Kiniski "without cause", a firing that has never been explained by Meursing/Riffle.  As well, Dean spoke about some more recent matters, including the inexplicable 20% increase in the Fire Chief's salary that was passed very recently.  This was then followed by an unexpected and very loud appearance by the Fire Chief (Chris Carleton) who is NOT running for any office but felt some need to strongly defend pretty much everything he's ever said or done in Point Roberts.  After the talking was over, one of the County Council guys asked me privately, "What's wrong with the Fire Chief?"  Indeed.  Good question.

If you vote here, you've received your ballots.  I can't prove that, if Jeff Wilmot and Rob Dean are elected, the Fire District will settle down to a wonderful performance level.  But I do know that if Craig Carter and Stan Riffle are elected Bill Meursing will have three votes instead of his current two votes (himself and Riffle).

And here's two things about Meursing that may be worth knowing:

1.  Meursing allows public comments only at the beginning of each Fire District public meeting.  However, he does not allow questions during the comment period because, as he has repeatedly advised me when I try to ask questions about what they're doing, "This is a Comment Period, not a Question Period, Ms. Ross."  Now Bill Meursing may have great powers, but he doesn't have the power to overrule the 1st Amendment to the Constitution and it's the First for a reason.  He doesn't have to answer the questions, but every member of this community has a right to ask questions about what they are doing as Fire District Commissioners.  Meursing does not seem to know that.

2. A frequent Meursing comment at regular meetings to Jeff Wilmott, who is also a Fire District Commissioner, is "Are You going to play ball here?"  Perhaps he also does not know (because he does not appear to be a native English speaker) that that phrase implies something slightly distasteful in the democratic context.  In fact, it is the heart of democracy to vote one's conscience rather than to just "go along" with what someone else pressures you to do.  Meursing apparently lives in a world where everyone else is just expected to "play ball," and in the Fire District world, that means doing whatever Meursing wants, as far as I can tell.

So, a vote for Jeff Wilmot and a vote for Rob Dean will not be more votes for Meursing and, if their candidacies are successful, it could change the atmosphere around the Fire District for the better: more open, more transparent, more accessible and accountable to the public.

That's my take on that particular election, as someone who has attended almost all Fire District Meetings in the past 14 or 15 months.

Second Election Issue:  As someone who is at least peripherally involved with the Park and Recreation Dept. (in connection with the new library fundraising), I very strongly urge everyone to vote "YES" on the $250,000 levy that will pay for major maintenance on the Community Center.  Just imagine how this community works (the community part of it) or doesn't work without a Community Center?  And if that grand old building doesn't get major repairs, we're not going to have a Community Center.  The only sensible vote is "YES," and it will cost each of us a pittance--something like $5-$10 each year--on our property taxes for the next decade to restore it to wholeness.


Anonymous said...

Well said Judy - I was there too and you pretty much summed up everything. Chief came across as a raving windbag. That was the first time I've ever met or heard the guy speak and I was thoroughly unimpressed. Also of note was the quite obvious side stage gathering of Bill Meursing, Craig Carter, and the Fire Chief prior to Mr. Carter getting up and trashing Jeff Wilmot. His diatribe only eft me wondering which commissioner or what "insider" was feeding Craig information that could only have been gleaned from a politically motivated person from within the "old boys network". Most of the mud splashed back on the slingers in my humble opinion.

Ron Hughes said...

$250,000... No Long Term Plan?

This Parks tax is a poor deal for the the taxpayer.
Cash grab alert! Please know your Point Roberts Parks & Rec. District. This cash call adds nothing of value to the community as a whole. The Parks Board does not need to ask for tax. Fixing the Community Center roof leak is way less than the levy. $35,000 could buy a complete replacement.

There are idle Park’s assets that could be traded or sold. Do you know what assets the Board manages? Did you know we had cash in the Capital Account before spending most of it on Julius Hall and knowingly at that time they would need capital to improve that building and that future repairs on the Community Center were coming. Subsequently, our Parks Board is now in the process of giving it to the Friends of the Library & Whatcom Library who already get free rent. That will be $94,000 cash out of our taxpaying pockets, if it completes. Know your Parks & Rec. we still and always have a say!

Let me be perfectly clear, I think it is wonderful what the FOPRL have accomplished to date. The MOU is simply not a good deal for taxpayers from an investment point of view.

Yes the Community Center has importance, but this is good money after bad. It would be more economically sensible to completely renovate and make new, expand (even a second floor) but that is a more sizable investment and would add value, as opposed to wasting a quarter of a million dollars to still have the status quo.

Know and say No...

The Parks want $250,000 more and will have nothing to show for it. Parks & Rec. Board has no plan for the long term strategically. Unless the plan is to give away cash and then ask for nearly 3 times more.

The Parks Board has no vision for expanding or improving our community. Know that this Board is not reaching to the community for input, but into our pocket to spend our money on an old building with a bandaid approach. This much money into this old building is a poor investment. It does not improve square footage, does not offer any new utility to the taxpayer, and will offer little to property value.

This tax is a poor deal for the taxpayer.

Gina F said...

We are delighted to see the 2013 Election results for the Fire Commissioner positions. Perhaps this will now put an end to the mindless vitriol that appears on this blog. Instead of the constant and unwarranted criticism concerning certain of the Fire Commissioners, it would be beneficial and more appropriate to see some objective commentary for a change on this blog.

Richard F said...

Well Judy - It seems a new era is upon us / The electorate has given Fire Chief Carleton a team of commissioners as dedicated to emergency services here on the Point as he himself is / Please look forward to the progression of emergency services here on the point with a tad more positiveness and a lot less negativism / The past is now indeed the past / Richard F