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Guest Commentary: Pollyanna at the helm

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 3rd, 2013

Today we face great uncertainty on many fronts. Rising inflation, drought, Obama Care, regulatory strangulation of agriculture and fossil fuel, falling earnings, sequestration and rising taxes to name but a few of the myriad challenges confronting all of us in today’s America.

Yet in Platte County, our greatest concerns, according to recent reports in the paper, are a new $250,000 splash pool and a state-certified public kitchen, the study for which alone will cost $18,000.

Simultaneously, Wheatland is yet to develop a long-term, affordable solution for their solid waste disposal, we cannot afford to repair our county and state roads and bridges, nor do we have funds to repair or replace the HUD housing for seniors on 16th Street, highlighting only some of our many fiscal shortfalls.

A count of the long-empty storefronts and the number of businesses that briefly open only to close in an endless procession does not bode well for a broader, deeper and enduring tax base to provide not merely funding for initial construction of new wants, but also to fulfill the life cycle maintenance requirements of these wishes dreamt up by a vocal, demanding few. Not to mention the added public employees required to operate and maintain these new facilities for which the taxpayers will provide salaries, benefits and life-long retirement income programs. Of note, it seems that constructing new buildings, like the new and long empty business center in Chugwater, hasn’t worked either. They had enough empty buildings there before its construction. It seems the “build it they will come” theory only worked for Kevin Costner in the movies.

Where is the public outcry for a splash pool? A state-certified public kitchen? Can’t kids play in the water at Grey Rocks or Johnson Creek reservoirs? Doesn’t nearly every church and fraternal organization in town have a kitchen? Would-be entrepreneurs wishing to sell their wares directly to other consumers can cook up their jams and jellies (etc) at home in full compliance with the law, no State certification or public facility is needed.

For a county that is registered at 70 percent Republican, the party of conservative values to include fiscal conservatism, placing such pie-in-the-sky wants ahead of actual community needs seems rather incredulous during these uncertain times, doesn’t it? So one must ask where in our self-governance process are these legions of conservative Republicans? For that matter, where are the adults? Have we all become Pollyanna?

Perhaps more accurately, as the writer Ray Bradbury described himself, we are all more like Janus, the two-faced Greek god. We are half Cassandra and half Pollyanna; we’re all bemoaning our dire future, yet we are spending as though we’re living in a more financially secure, but certainly long gone, past.

I cannot tell you what the solutions to our needs are. I can tell you that wasting public funds, from any sources, on the wants of a few will not secure the things that we all do need now or for the future.

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