So, I’m going to focus on something very local here and then talk about how this is going on all over the country.
Whatcom County, WA is one of the most beautiful places to live in the world. It doesn’t snow much in Bellingham itself, but it does always snow a bit every winter. This winter it snowed a lot. In the past the County owned several snow plows, but then ran themselves out of money through, among other things, mismanagement of tax revenue. The taxes have gone up on properties just about every year, because we play this game in America with people’s necessities, and allow their values to increase or decrease rapidly. Hence the County will argue that the taxes have not increased for 20 years, but we’ve all been paying more in taxes because of our insane real-estate system. It’s a really slick way for them to make you pay more in taxes without technically doing it themselves, but the result to the average worker is the same. You pay more in taxes for the place you need to live in to have any quality of life.
One of the County’s solutions to mismanaging their money was to sell the snow plows. Allow me to explain why this is very, very stupid. Machines in general depreciate in value very rapidly. They lose about 1/4 or their value when you “drive them off the lot”, and the depreciation only gets worse from there. Hence, they were worth way more to us running then we could have sold them for proportionately. Kenn Mann claims that there were only 5 days the roads were unserviceable, but the territory that the plow men/women have is from Point Roberts to about Lakeview Street. Meaning that they have to prioritize streets to the point that by the time they get to many of the streets they’ve waited so long that the snow and ice is compacted and it basically cannot be plowed. At this point putting sand down and ice melt, which they do a poor job of as well, is only minimally effective. Hence getting to the snow in a timely fashion is very important. Plus, they’re always complaining about how they need to create jobs. Well, I could have created quite a few jobs this winter. Still, they will literally not work on many of the roads for days in the hopes that they will melt out. There have been a total of 15 days that many of the roads were unuseable, costing home businesses, etc. thousands of dollars County wide. It also shows potential businesses that Whatcom County will not take their infrastructure seriously, and that they should look elsewhere to setup shop. Like in Mount Vernon where they also have a publicly owned fiber optic network.
The school conditions were a disgrace as well. At an Arts Competition last weekend at Meridian High School, the conditions of the grounds were disgraceful. I observed people slipping and falling on their way into the school. Luckily they were young, so I don’t think there were any permanent injuries. They can pay the high level administrators high salaries, but I guess they just can’t let a few maintenance workers clean up on the weekends when it’s necessary to keep the public, who is paying for the school and their salaries, safe. Schools have been closed for what will end up being a week and were closed earlier this winter too. It’s never inexpensive to close the schools once you exceed the allotted number of snow days.
The County has had the following commentary.
- They tell you that your road isn’t a priority and apologize, which at least means that they apologize. OR
- You get a snotty e-mail from Ken Mann telling you that expecting them to clear the roads so people can get to work, school, run their businesses, get food to the hungry, etc. is “cadillac service.” Ken told me flat out that expecting basic services for my taxes in this regard is “expecting Cadillac Service.” I kindly reminded him that he should treat others how he wants to be treated.
So, onto Rud Browne, another Council Member, that the local Democrats hate. However, Rud Wrote back to me as well and actually looked into the issue. So he actually cared. So what’s my point here? Nationwide we have representatives on both sides that are telling Americans that expecting basic services for what they pay in taxes is obscene and lying to us about how Europeans like the French and Italians are drowning in taxes. Which just isn’t true if you look at what they get for their tax money.
We are constantly shamed, even by our own politicians, for expecting to get something for our taxes. So we settle for less and less all of the time. Well, we’ve settled for enough now. Just ask the people of Flint, Michigan, or East Chicago, Indiana. Are they expecting Cadillac Service, as Ken Mann might accuse them of if he lived in their towns and represented them, by expecting their government to do something about their poisoned drinking water? Are we by expecting the government to try their best and make the roads safe so people don’t get injured or worse when it does snow? Are we by expecting them be prepared for the future? Are we by expecting our schools to turn out well educated students? Of course not, we just need to get rid of the Ken Mann’s of the world, nationwide.
As an aside, we had to hold a special election to approve a tax to buy a new fire truck here too.
Here is a local newspaper article highlighting the infrastructure issues that were part of the storm too. I’ve been trying to convince them to improve their infrastructure for quite some time now.
Also, here are some pictures from Meridian High School’s “Solo and Ensemble Competition” showing off Ken Mann’s “Cadillac Snow Service.”
People tell me that guys like Ken are progressive, because he is against the muslim ban, like Cory Booker. I am against it too. The muslim ban is stupid, and any reasonable person is against it. Still, it’s pretty obvious that guys like Ken and Cory don’t care about it one way or the other. They just pick topics that are popular and will get them funding. Right now that’s a good one to pick for them. When it comes to dealing with poor and middle class people in their community, instead of self-reflecting, apologizing, and agreeing to do a better job, they just tell us to go fuck ourselves, because we’re not potential donors and that’s all that guys like this care about. Something tells me that if Ken spent the money that he does on Haircuts in his community we’d have plowed streets and all of the homeless would be fed and in shelters. So let’s stop pretending guys like this are progressive simply because they know when to yell and for what. We need people in power that care about everyone at their core. Again, Cory Booker is the guy who voted to protect his big Pharma donors at the expense of the lives of Americans and the safety of his community, by blocking the Canadian Drug Imports which have been proven many times to be safe. I had a neighbor slide off of the road into a ditch with her kids in the car. Luckily everyone was ok. Still, people like Ken will say, they should have had chains, yes they should have, but they pay high property taxes and almost 9% sales tax. They say they shouldn’t have gone out. Well this has been going on for 5 days this week and a total of 15 days this winter. So how about this instead, how about our county does a better job with the large amount of revenue they take in and Ken Mann acts like a man and admits his mistakes.
Fremont St. and Surrounding Streets After 5 Days of Ken Mann’s Cadillac Snow Service.
For reference, here is Ken’s reply to my legit concerns.
“Thanks for your email. I suggest you look into it even further. The County has not raised your property taxes in 20 years. Even if we did, it wouldn’t be prudent to have specialized equipment and let it idle 5 years just to deliver 5 days of the Cadillac service you seem to expect. Ken”
Here are the inaccuracies in it:
- The County has not raised the rate of taxes because they artificially inflated housing market means that the houses are valued often above what they can be sold for. So the amount of taxes go up. I described this in further detail above.
2. The equipment does not need to be specialized. Plow kits are available for trucks and vans that are inexpensive. These detachable systems would allow trucks purchased for general work to serve as plow trucks in cases like this.
3. Setting aside money for sub-contractors to plow the roads would have been prudent as well.
4. Again, the depreciation on the trucks is high, so they were worth more to us running, as I described above.
5. Expecting basic services that keep my family and my neighbors safe is not Cadillac Service. One of our neighbors ended up in a ditch with their family. Please see above for more details.
6. It’s not just 5 days every 5 years. On many side streets the streets were not attended to or properly treated for 15 days this winter causing unnecessary loss of property, work and injury. Also, the increment is about every 3 years.
— The truth is that they didn’t plan for it. It’s that simple. Now they’re trying to cover up for it while they take in more tax money all of the time. Get ready for your house to be over-valued and your taxes to go up again. Since Trump deregulated the banks we’re back at the 2007 levels for housing, right before the bubble burst that created the great recession. Still, there is no motivation for them to get better. They are an excuse machine and if you withhold your taxes they’ll seize your house and sell it for the tax money. That’s who these guys really are. The other truth is that Ken is talking to me this way because he believes that I’m poor, not a potential donor, and therefore not worth speaking to with respect. We know this is how he treats the poor in general when he opposed the installation of a crosswalk because he, “never noticed anyone cross there himself.” Yeah, because there wasn’t a crosswalk there. He also spearheaded a bill to allow the use of unnecessary roadside herbicides to be used. Your water taste funny recently? Again, they’re an excuse machine and they try to shame you into not holding them to account. They will say that you don’t understand how hard the COunty Workers are working, when you never said anything about the workers at all in any of your statements. They’ll tell you that not plowing your road for a total of 15 days over the winter is actually 5. They’ll tell you that it only snows enough to care every 5 years, when it’s every 3, and even then how else do they plan to move the snow. Here’s the truth, they don’t. They don’t live paycheck to paycheck and need every penny they earn like 50% of Whatcom County residents. They can’t relate, and don’t care to. They protect the interests of the very wealthy first. This is why it’s time for new leadership.
Update: One of my newer articles is specifically about other specialized equipment that the police have that is unnecessary. Whatcom County has 1 tanks and the City of Bellingham has a Light Armored Vehicle (aka a smaller tank). These vehicles start around $300,000 each and have never been used legitimately. The BearCat was used to put down a WWU riot, but it was unnecessary to use that vehicle to distribute the tear gas (they call an operation like this crowd control, it sounds nicer than tear gassing young adults, and in the stated case the college kids probably deserved it.). So just so everyone is clear, we can’t have snow plows to remove the much more common occurrence of snow, but we can have tanks, filled with weapons, for our police to use when pacifying us to the tune of at least $600,000. It should be noted that the police did followed proper procedure during the incident.