Please watch the video of the local candidates forum hosted by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce as you read my comments. I did not transcribe the Chamber’s 5-6 questions.
First of all, contrary to the Chamber’s attempt to focus (i.e., bias) the forum, the past is very much the issue in this election. The Carson City Board of Supervisors had made many highly questionable decisions — often in direct disregard of the people’s specific instructions to the contrary, expressed in a specific vote such as CC1 in 2012 and the tax increase to pay for narrowing Carson Street — and, as this video proves, we have every reason to believe that its present members they will continue to make similarly questionable decisions. The past is prologue to the future.
This forum presents a clear contrast between the “establishment” (Crowell, Bonkowski, Barrette) and the challengers (Carver, White and Shirk). Yes, I do know that Barrette never held office, but his recent job very much identifies him with the establishment. And Shirk is running for re-election, after four years of being the one vote in all the 4:1 votes by the Board of Supervisors; that is, the outsider.
This election is very much about the philosophy of governance. This city, as any other level of government, has NO business giving any kind of financial aid to private businesses in any form, using any excuse or scheme labeled as “in the public interest.” (Just like the State had no business going into a partnership with private interests trying to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.) Of course a healthy business in particular and a healthy business climate in general are in the public interest — in the same sense that the preamble to the Constitution uses the term “general welfare” — but it is NOT the function of ANY level of any government to enter into partnerships, provide subsidies, engineer special concessions and tax breaks, favoring some but not others, or otherwise meddle in the free market. Government interference always distorts the free market and therefore makes the business climate LESS healthy and operate LESS in the public interest, than if they just kept their noses out of it. (Just for the fun of it, do look up the definitions of a free market, a regulated economy, crony capitalism, and fascism.)
Another one of the problems with the current Board’s decisions has its source in smaller matters, such as the alarming fact that even the MAYOR does not know the difference between water RIGHTS and actual, physical water… Also, you DO have to look at the COST of buying the water from sources outside the county, the cost of providing that water to Carson City residents and businesses, and the ability of the infrastructure to provide that water to all the NEW users intended to be settled in this valley per the Master Plan. I can’t believe how glibly the “establishment” glosses over such fundamental details. Maybe they know how to make it rain in the desert.
Quality of life issues and the tax environment ARE linked, and money IS being wasted on ill-conceived projects (such as the downtown Carson Street beautification project), while essential basic needs such as road and street repair, water and storm / waste drain infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, etc., have been and are being neglected even though rates are being hiked and hiked and hiked, and now even more new taxes are proposed and even more new subsidies are being sought. The three establishment candidates offered NO mention of COST CONTROL… or better planning… or stopping all the disjointed targeting and support of pet projects.
No indeed… Instead, in the context of “quality of life” and essential basic services the mayor talks about theater facilities and the library… and MORE rate hikes and tax increases… next time, in the name of mandatory curb-side single-stream recycling…! Is an infernal imagination for finding excuses to pick the taxpayers’ pockets the primary requirement to be elected to public office? Isn’t that precisely what all our transplanted Californians came here to escape from?
Let’s face it. Deferred maintenance is CRIMINAL. What in god’s name IS the function of local government if not the UPKEEP of essential, basic infrastructure? All the excuses, such as hybrid cars reducing gas tax revenues, is misdirection. We are T.E.A. — taxed enough already, especially those of us on fixed income. The least the city could do is exercise responsible control over the budget and our priorities, so that the basics are always covered, before we undertake cosmetic projects such as the narrowing of downtown Carson Street, and plotting to inflict the same fate on the rest of Carson Street from county line to county line, and on William Street from downtown to beyond the freeway overpass.
Another major issue is growth and its apparently inevitable corollary, infill. Anybody who has attended meetings of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors knows that they approve massive new projects in total disregard of consistent feedback from city departments that we do NOT have the water, sewer, police, fire, emergency, health care, education and other city services needed to support growth, and certainly not at the rate of growth that they are approving. And yet, hyperdensity projects are being approved one after another — Schulz Ranch, Lompa Ranch, Little Lane, The Vintage, … — in total disregard of current master plans and zoning.
Indeed, we do NOT have reasonable growth management in place. And NO, we DO NOT have to be slaves to the growth, growth, infill, infill mentality. Whatever masters the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors are serving, they are NOT the people of Carson City (just ask the neighbors of The Vintage); whatever “experts” they are listening to, they are not the city’s own departments of essential service providers (as a peak into The Vintage TPUD application will tell you). If indeed the “city fathers” are acting according to a plan, they are not going by any master plan or by any interpretation of any master plan that by any reasonable interpretation is in accordance with the express wishes of Carson City voters, as opposed to the self-serving wishes of obviously well-connected private interests.
Does any of the discussion in The Chamber’s candidate forum change anything, as far as whom we should vote for on November 8? Most emphatically, no. Whatever the issue, the present board has made the problem worse, and therefore, with the exception of the lone vote on the losing end of all the 4:1 votes in the past four years, absolutely they must to be replaced (two this time, and the other two next time).
Carver YES, Crowell NO.
Imagine; two terms were enough for George Washington. Old Bob thinks he’s better than GW…?
Shirk YES, Barrette NO.
For the last four years, Jim has been the lone voice of the people, not the special interests.
White YES, Bonkowski NO.
Maurice knows the details inside out, and speaks plainly enough so anybody can understand him. Brad, well, he always sounds like he is snowing you. Maybe that’s just his style, but in view of all the votes that he has had to recuse himself from because of perceived or actual conflicts of interest, at what point is it reasonable to ask, please give up one job or the other?