McEntire speaks at North Olympic Peninsula Phone Tree

Commissioner McEntire speaker at
North Olympic Peninsula Phone Tree
By Dale Wilson

Embattled County Commissioner Jim McEntire requested the opportunity to speak before the North Olympic Peninsula Phone Tree. NOPPT is a group of veterans who meet monthly to learn more about what is happening on the political front in the county.

McEntire prefaced his remarks by saying, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 125 fewer people working in Clallam County since his taking office 3 years ago. Also, according to McEntire, inflation has robbed the dollar of 25% of its buying power since 2003. What cost a dollar then costs $1.25 now.

“What can we do about it?” was the theme of McEntire’s presentation before the group. This was the lead-in to his pitch to the crowd of 30 or more veterans and spouses for support for his proposal to infuse the Economic Development Council, on which McEntire serves, with a half million dollars of tax money from the county’s Opportunity Fund. McEntire seeks to change the manner in which Opportunity Funds are allotted.

“Government has a role to play,” said McEntire. “The EDC along with the North Olympic Timber Action Committee need to push the economy along a little bit faster” said McEntire. McEntire said he sought a seat on the state Board of Natural Resources in order to urge the state to release more timber for harvest in the area.

“In the past the EDC, to my knowledge, has never had goals. We just accomplished that when we set up a strategic plan which includes measurable goals.” said McEntire. As part of their new metrics the EDC seeks to increase median household income by 4% between now and 2018. Currently, depending on which report one reads, the median household income in Clallam County is either $38,000 or $42,000.

“Natural resource (extraction) jobs pay better than other jobs,” he said. This reporter mentioned an EDC report circulated last year which showed timber sales up by 300% while timber related jobs are down 75% and asked if this is the best track to follow–chasing disappearing jobs. Following a convoluted response beginning with “automation” and ending with, “that is why I went after a seat on the state board of Natural Resources,” this reporter could not make sense of his rambling and non-responsive answer.

More in that vein included, “We are on our own up here. We have to pull up our socks to figure how to be more effective. We have to take our own future in our own hands. We have to be our own cavalry,” he said.

When Edna Willadsen asked about past accomplishments of the EDC McEntire responded, “If the past five years (of EDC performance) is all I have to look at the county’s contribution to the EDC would already be gone. But I’m not looking back.”

“Why not look back?” “Why don’t we have any accountability?” We just go nowhere, when are going to quit pussyfooting?” asked Terry Kelley from the audience.

McEntire replied, “If I thought that I was doing what we’ve always done I would pull out the county’s money and watch the EDC go away.”

Presently the funding for the EDC is comprised of 85% tax money and only 15% from business members. This reporter asked McEntire if he had approached any of the Chambers of Commerce, who would presumably be the biggest beneficiaries of a fully functional EDC, for contributions to the EDC. McEntire responded, “No, I personally have not approached any of the chambers of commerce.”

Opinion: If each of the members of the 4 chambers of commerce on the peninsula would pledge just one dollar per day, half the price of a cup of coffee, then the EDC would have all the funding it says it needs. Why do they keep coming back to taxpayers to prop up the business community? The conservative mantra has always been to pull one’s self up by your own bootstraps. Recruitment and development of new and different jobs makes more sense than propping up existing businesses with dwindling jobs. The more timber sales increase the more jobs disappear. Does this make any sense? Would the EDC support manufacturers of buggy whips? Why not focus efforts on starting a wood pellet production facility? Why not retool Peninsula College’s welding program to build wood pellet burning stoves? These we could ship around the sound–by water–and even to Asia where they are suffocating themselves burning coal.Jim McEntire

2 Comments

  1. Dale Wilson (Post author)

    This is the first time I’ve heard McEntire use the EDC and the “North Olympic Timber Action Committee” in the same sentence. Looks like he is finally showing that he wants to use EDC dollars to prop up the age old timber companies in town. As if they need help from the taxpayers. They have made gobs of money for over a hundred years and still want more and more and more. And, I want them to make all they can but without using tax money for their private interests. The EDC board has always been top-heavy with timber interests and at the exclusion of ALL other businesses. Sure, their “retention team” may visit a trucking company but it will be a trucking company that hauls timber. I too am a capitalist. I want everyone to go into business and get rich. However, it is pretty UN-capitalistic when we privatize the profits and socialize the costs. The same can be said for NIPPON who pay $15,000 per year for water which would be valued in the millions of dollars. For too too long this community has allowed tax dollars to flow into private businesses with no sense of shame. Too many businesses have become too dependent upon tax dollars (see chamber of commerce.) It has gone on for so long people now expect a government hand out just because they want to develop a business idea (See Lincoln Theater). Businesses move outside the city limits to save on city taxes but the city follows them out with sewer lines and other infra-structure. Let’s decide if we are going to be a socialist economy or a capitalist economy and then move on from there. We cannot keep offering these sweetheart deals to the chosen few. When a tourist bus visited a mink raising facility they were explaining how long they have to feed the furry fellows before skinning them. One dim bulb from the crowd asked, “how many times can you skin them?” The proprietor of the mink farm replied, “well, if you skin ’em more than once they get a bit irritated.” Well, some of us are getting irritated.

    Reply
  2. Nadia Seymour

    Sadly, most of the so-called leadership on the Olympic Peninsula can’t see past the past. Ideas and proposals are based upon situations that have passed us by.

    In North America, much of the economic development is still focused on fossil fuels, with an assumption the world will continue to be largely based on fossil fuels, and the infrastructure needed to keep all that going. One of the most glaring examples is of Canada, which is a country largely dependent on fossil fuel industries. As the price of oil started falling 6 months ago, the leadership told it’s public these events posed no problems. Their answer? “There have always been boom and bust cycles, this is just another one, and we’ll sit back and weather this latest cycle out”. Today, the media speaks of the dire economic conditions impacting the country, a result of that “past based” decision making.

    And, the US is doing little different, as it is pumping more oil out of the ground than ever before. Building coal ports to ship more coal to Asia. Investing billions in pipelines, so as to be able to ship fossil fuels to Asia.

    But, Asia and other countries are moving ahead. India recently announced the construction of 100 gigawatts of new solar electric energy generating capacity, that will be completed in just 7 years. Similarly, China also announced 100 gigawatts of new solar electricity generating facilities, to be on-line in only 3 years. To put those numbers in perspective, the entire US solar electric capacity currently stands at only 17 gigawatts.

    A week ago, Indias’ new Prime Minister announced the formation of the Federation of 50 Solar Rich Nations. They will be creating the industries and jobs of the future.

    As we see, the markets for fossil fuels that US leadership is spending huge sums of taxpayer money on, is rapidly disappearing. Those countries are spending money on networks of charging stations for electric cars, and the infrastructure for the future, while the US can’t see past the past.

    And, here on the Olympic Peninsula, it is more of the same. We could be looking ahead, and building for the future. We could be looking at, and re-tooling for a cleaner future for our children. Employing people building and installing solar systems here. Building and installing charging centers for electric cars, here. Building electric transportation systems to move people around town, here.

    Instead, McEntire and others stay stuck with working to keep Port Angeles a “timber town”, employing less and less people. Staying stuck in the past.

    Reply

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