I am going to break from my norm of sticking to what is going on within the city limits of Montesano as our friends need our help. Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin related a sad tale in the December 27th 2012 edition of the Vidette concerning the sorry state of public affairs around the rural residents to the East of us – McCleary.
McClearyites and their rural neighbors are tough. They have been through the ringer lately. Still reeling from the still un-solved child abduction, and now a recent exodus of essential businesses. Including their health services relocating to Elma. The town is going through hard times. I have been following a nice young lady named Sarah who writes a McCleary community blog ( twitter @mcclearysarah ) for some time. She tries to stand tall and talk proudly about her community. It is getting difficult for her lately. You can see it in the unconscious tone of her stories. The drip ….drip….drip… is taking it’s tole both on the town infrastructure as well as on the residents.
The latest kick to the ribs of the community is the announcement of a complete lack of ambulance service in the surrounding community just outside the city limits. They flat out don’t have the money.
Let us set the scene. You are walking down the street and fall down clutching your heart. You die there. Unless you can convince someone to lift you into the back of their truck and hot foot you to Elma or drag yourself into the city limits of McCleary. No ambulance is going to come for you. Sure you might be able to find a local police officer to put you in his car….but I just bet that a lawyer somewhere is telling them not to do it. After all, what if the officer does something wrong in transport? Bus-bench local personal injury attorneys must be wringing their hands over that thought.
The terms thrown out by various public agencies are “not legally obligated”….and “….no free services”. Free? Exactly what are we paying these property taxes for? Property taxes in some cases three times higher than our county neighbor to the south, that somehow finds a way to provide police, fire and ambulance service to it’s residents.
My column last week in the Vidette centered on the recent surprise Christmas tax, via the County Commissioners, on all the cities in Grays Harbor to give their Public Service Worker friends raises. I don’t want to hear a word from this county about being too broke to help out in an obvious need such as this.
The County in very flowery coded language is telling them that they need to pony up more. Frankly, the residents of the McCleary area have had it. They don’t have any more. We have finally hit the wall of over taxation. The stone is dry.
This brings up a very serious public policy real-life exercise. Does our County government work for us, or do we work for them? The callousness of Grays Harbor County, allowing elderly and children to well….just die on the street and in their beds, rather than maybe scale back un-needed feel good social programs is now evident. Social programs designed to buy votes for themselves answers that question. Quite clearly, there aren’t enough votes in the area of McCleary to worry about. Therefore – why worry about them.
Reading the spin and double-talk in the formal Vidette article by the various agencies and officials was sickening. Not once was anyone worried about the County providing essential services. Everywhere people were worried about covering their you-know-what and not having their own budgets touched.
With no political price to pay, the County will continue on it’s self serving path. The citizens outside the gates of their Governmental Palace…..left to fend for themselves. The rural citizens of the McCleary area are the canary in the mine shaft for the rest of us. We should, and need, to support them in this mess. It could be us next.
You won’t be able to see an ambulance driving down the streets of McCleary anymore to help the rural residents, but you certainly will still be able to see the county tax collectors making their rounds….and in ever growing force.