Frank Gordon and Al Smith – two taxing peas in a pod


miniI have to start off by saying I like County Commissioner Frank Gordon. I really do. Despite the polar opposite we find ourselves concerning general political philosophy. If I could get him to keep his hand out of my pocket in the realm of taxes, he would be as close to a perfect County Commissioner as I could imagine.

I am particularly fond of his stance on the coming oil trains into Grays Harbor. We share the churning in our guts over what could happen. Frank has even stated he is willing to lay down on the tracks if necessary. It brings a tear to my fiscally conservative eye. I vow to be right there behind him, and a little to the left, supporting him when and if that day comes. Its the least I can do.

Frank also drew my applause during the recent dust up concerning the games the local Grays Harbor Democrat Central Committee played concerning the sham appointment list to the County Prosecutor vacancy. Calling out his own party for their child-like and self serving behavior. He recently called for the resignation of our County Assessor over the waste of so much money in regard to the failed software. I could go on. But I won’t. It’s time to talk politics.

Frank Gordon finds himself the lone Democrat on a County Commission that also contains a single Republican, Wes Cormier. Their two political ideologies couldn’t be different when it comes to taxation. Wes, will never vote to raise your property taxes without the direst of reasons. Frank has demonstrated, via his record, that he will pretty much raise them for no reason. Well, no reason other than to take care of his voting block. That being the 25% of those in the county who don’t produce, the now institutionalized food stamp crowd, and the public employee unions bleeding the county dry. I don’t fault him for it, it’s his base.

The problem is for 70 plus years the county has been in a downward spiral. Unfriendly to business and coddling to those who will never, ever pull themselves up out of poverty. Going on four generations now. You can’t blame the Republicans for the state of things. The mess this county is in is at the feet of the local Democrat party. Completely. Rather than go to where the jobs are, they are content to sit here and collect their benefits and do the under the table work for extra money. It has turned into a way of life and in many cases….the family business. It is my opinion that this is the reason Frank is so heavily involved with the current Commissioner race between Al Smith and Vickie Raines. Gordon knows, if Raines gets in….it’s all over.

Frank recruited Al Smith and has been the steady hand leading him. We can expect a matched pair should Smith prevail in the general election. The Democrat party here in the county has done everything they can to keep Vickie Raines from winning in the coming primary. They know, if Raines moves on to the general, she will win. Grays Harbor has twice voted to put Republicans in charge of the check book. The Democrat Central Committee  dodged a bullet with Herb Welch, who never was a Republican, but it worked for a while.

The main point the local Democrats are using to prop up Smith is his stance on the oil trains. Hey, I don’t want them coming in here either and agree with him 100%, however, our local county Commissioners have absolutely nothing to do with them. They can’t do anything more than talk about it. Words are nice, but that doesn’t negate the never ending assault on our homes. That is the real world implication of this election.  The strategy of the Democrats seems to be look over here… keep us from looking over there.  Where the real issues are.  I guess I am not so easily diverted.

Al Smith called for the support of the new hospital district last week. Despite knowing that, as designed, the measure will suck as much as a hundred million dollars out of the county via our homes to pay off their debt and maintain their comfy lifestyle via new taxes….which includes going on 10 million dollars of old union pensions. We all know what is going on. The entire hospital district proposal is a sham to take care of the unions and continue the ability of a dozen or so of the big boys over there to divvy up the two million in salaries at the top of the pyramid. 600 votes there to bow down to and buy. I am not going to speak for Vickie Raines here concerning the Hospital District, but she has a much more reasoned position that doesn’t include saddling the home owners of this county with as much as hundred million in debt and taxes over the next twenty years.

It shows such bad judgement on Gordon and Smiths part – and such total disregard for the people of the county that can’t afford to pay the new taxes, that I have to break Raines way. Why Gordon and Smith didn’t bother to call the hospital out on hiding their debt as well as explain the mysterious “cuts to services” is not acting in the public interest. It is strictly acting in the interest of those who stand to gain at the hospital. A private business that controls over 600 votes. Again, we all know what is going on here.

Combine this hospital issue along with the never ending levy shift taxation to pay for perks for the county employees, (another 400 or so votes),  and you can see the future. The county can not afford another four years of unfettered taxes under the direction of Frank Gordon. Make no mistake about it. A vote for Al Smith is a vote for the pair of them.

While Vickie Raines will drive me nuts here and there….she is a true independent voice and will look out for those of us in the county who are actually paying the bills around here rather than cater to a specific voting block.   It is in my best interest to get Al Smith in there. I have a better personal relationship with him. But here is the deal and apparently where I differ from quite a few around here.  I actually care about the people on fixed incomes having to cut their pills in half to pay these taxes.  I actually care about breaking the institutional poverty of this county over maintaining a voting block.   But perhaps the biggest difference is… vote isn’t for sale.

12 thoughts on “Frank Gordon and Al Smith – two taxing peas in a pod

  1. Hi,

    Question, Where did you get the pension debt numbers? I did not see them in their balance sheet or income statement. Also, their bond debt is 34 million. I am just trying to clarify your facts so I can make sure my information is correct.

    Also, as to Vickie, I am just as afraid of a Chehalis River Flood Control District as I am the Hospital District. Out here in Ocean Shores, again the cash cow for both issues, we get no benefit from a flood control district. By the time the water gets here it is spread over the whole bay. The real beneficiaries are the I-5 corridor people. They are the ones that flood. Why allow building in a flood plain? Not that is the stupid decision. If you are in a flood plain you create levies, and collection areas with homes, businesses and roads high enough to prevent the flooding. Yes, land is cheap there and that is why people bought it and moved there. But failure to do due diligence and pay flood insurance does not make it my problem. Back east they are removing homes and towns away from these dangers. So, why work in the opposite direction by building a dam when other places we are removing them and why allow building where in other places they are removing them? Are we in some strange time warp here?

    As to the oil question, I think Al is a one issue candidate. He had no idea what is happening on the coast. He totally has no idea about growing the economic engine of the county because without good medical care 25 miles to the west of Aberdeen the communities will never prosper because they can’t retain or gain people. If you get sick you move to Olympia or further up to Seattle. Right now the hospital can’t even afford A/C for the old part of the hospital. The old part will need retrofitting for earthquakes sooner than we think if they are doing it in California. You know it will become Federal or State law soon. The payment of about 60K to Hoquiam will allow them to collect 50 cents per 1000 rather than the 35 cents per 1000 Hoquiam would have represented because of the 5.90 limit on taxation below the state level. So, they go from 1.73 million to the 2.4 million in a flash. Yes, do we all want to be saddled with their 34 million in debt along with the range of 1 to 5 million to refinance? Even their Idea of having the district lease the facility from the 501c3 to avoid the refinance may not meet the letter of the law. The better choice would be to say no and force them to go back to the legislature to get the Medicaid money directly. What happens in 2017 when the Federal money dries up? We will hear vote after vote asking for more and more with the same “cut in services” or we are going to fail argument we hear with EMS every election cycle. Yet, they don t push medical care down to the lowest level across the county to first take care of people locally. No, it has to be the 1400 ambulance ride with the 829 dollar initial Emergency Room fee. It all does not make sense.

    Either way, we are going to get screwed by any of the people running. It will always be the Majority of Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Cosi that will drive the votes. Even expanding the commissioners that serve will not solve the issue. You saw that with the current hospital district formation vote by Gordon and Welsh. We ended up with 7. However, we really have 5 plus two extra votes for the Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and Cosi gang. There should have been 7 districts without the two at large seats. Direct representation and not gerrymandering.

  2. You can go here to see what we can find of the financials. The hospital still won’t release current total debt. Still….but why should they if they can get away with it. And Frank Gordon and now Al Smith…are letting them get away with it. According to their 2011 IRS filing the pension unfolding liability was close to a cool 9 million, but I am told it is much more. That was three years ago, and we all know it always goes up…never down. What it is today, accurately….they won’t tell us.

    I really mean this. Only an idiot would vote for this thing. A true idiot. Voting for something this large without knowing what you are truly voting for? Idiotic. Two million in salaries for the dozen at the top and a never ending reach into the home owners pocket to pay for even more. Never ending. Ever. It does buy 600 votes, no make that 1,200 including wives and husbands. That is what is going on and it is shameful. I wonder if the rental crowd is realizing their rents are about to go up 200-400 dollars a year.

    As for your flood control question, I will write Vickie and ask her to pen something on that dam and her position. She is always willing to answer questions. Look for a posting in the near future.

  3. This discussion has taught me that the hospital question is complicated, and that we all had better start paying attention to it, unless we want to be taxed out of our homes, and into living on the street. Everyone seems to have their own interests to consider, and trust is diminishing.

    One thing I do know, going into this, is that I prefer the plain speaking, and honesty, of Frank Gordon and Al Smith, along with the wisdom that has come with age, and the experience of working to support families, for many years. They are taxpayers, as well.

  4. NOTICE TO COMMENTERS: Here come the I support Al letters….they are hitting my email box. Well I am sorry someone rained on your parade. Al clearly stated on the radio last week he was in favor of the Hospital District. His idea going after they get their money is to somehow change the minds of everyone in Olympia and switch it into a sales tax. Ya, like that will ever happen. Look, I live in the real world, not pie in the sky political talk. The fact is, we have both a sitting commissioner in Frank and a want to be Commissioner in Al, both of which are ignoring the debt and not even demanding to see the financials and make them public…. or get information as to what services would be cut if the measure fails. The scare tactic currently being used by the hospital. Both via their actions enable the hospital to deny the voters the information they need to decide for themselves. I don’t like sneaky things.

    You want to be a committed liberal and vote for them, be my guest. Personally I don’t write blank checks. But don’t ask me to put on a blindfold and pretend like either will be looking out for our property taxes. Because they aren’t.

    I warned both candidates months ago I was going to come down like a hammer concerning property taxes. I have been extremely fair to both candidates, going overboard offering editorial space here, giving them a chance to state their positions. My stand and writings going forward will come as no surprise to either of them. They make their choices….I make mine.

  5. A good point here regarding voter turn out predictions in the County Commissioner race–Al Smith vs. Vicki Raines. In a county where apathy plays a major role, the people who actually vote are the people who are effected by the issues at hand; hospital district, flood control, property (home owner) taxes. As for the hospital district question, I’m no economist, nor am I a politician, and my pension is not at risk here–but I am a property owner so I suppose I go in that direction, out to the polls–looking for public officials who won’t raise taxes. Homeowners take the brunt of supporting endeavors of this county–probably all counties, and state, and we even pay taxes to THE PORT of GRAYS HARBOR, who do not consult with us on how they spend our money, or to whom they lease their terminals. Maybe I am straying from the point but I would much rather look at Port Commissioners records and carefully scrutinize those…as I said apathy is a major problem here. Some are not aware of 2.7 billions gallons of crude oil coming down the tracks–and the serious financial drain that will put on this county–property owners. Sad to say–the majority of people don’t even know the names of their Port Commissioners, or County Commissioners, for that matter, or where the 3 districts begin and end. It was a shock to me last November 2013, Port Commissioner Race, District #1, Ron Figlar-Barnes, a non-partisan and Chuck Caldwell, incumbent democrat, brought out only 30% of the 37,000, or so, registered voters in this County. As it turned out–those weren’t the non partisan base we were looking for and Mr. Caldwell won again–taking him up to a 16 year term at the Port with 70% of only 30% of the votes. You do the math. I see no reason to expect a grander turn out for the County Commissioner Race, although I could be wrong. Again, the few for financial gain, control the many who are busy doing other than voting–or maybe they are simply apathetic–fed up. So, my conclusion is, and always has been, on issues county and statewide, vote “no” on anything that raises taxes. Including People? Wow–that is extreme…puts a lot of pressure on those running, to assure of us of “no new taxes.” Can they do it? Come on Vicki. Come on Al..lowest taxer wins. Right Tom?

    ED NOTE: quit talking sense. This is Grays Harbor.

  6. The first question that comes to my mind is: Who are the thirteen people seeking the seven positions on the Hospital Commission, which are the ones actually responsible for the governance of this vital asset in our community. Not one of them cared to submit a personal statement of qualifications when filing their applications with Auditor, Vern Spatz. In my opinion, every candidate for elective office should be REQUIRED to fill out an “employment application,” under penalty of perjury, or have their application rejected. What do you think about that, Tom?

    ED NOTE: Oh I will be dealing with that. The same people who ran the place into the ground are now running for the board, and I use the term running loosely. Just the people we want to watch over a never ending dip into our home equity via property taxes. Yet…..all seemingly just fine with Frank and Al? I eagerly await the letter to post from them condemning the situation and sham “at large” positions designed to keep outlying communities from having a say. I imagine I will be waiting a long time.

  7. Sometimes, in high moments of frustration we have probably all thrown up our hands, exclaiming, I feel like running for County Commissioner myself. How hard can it be? Demanding? Probably. Is it a full time job? The salary looks good. Are there any prerequisites for the position? What are the qualifications, for education, that office?

  8. Hi Tom Great picture and write up of everything you covered on two taxing peas in a pod. I laughed so hard I got a side ache. On crude oil I will bring a pillow for you when we lay on the tracks together to stop the oil train.
    I as a Democratic will have my hand in your pocket for spare change to help the poor and our seniors. Vickie Raines will be getting your Wallet to get your bank card to build a Dam on Mill Creek in Cosmopolis at the price of 12.5 million dollars Plus. This could be a salmon bearing stream again and a help to jobs on the harbor. Vickie Raines also is pushing a Dam on the Chehalis River that would destroy miles of spawning areas and cost the Tax payer Hundreds of millions of dollars with no benefit to the people of Grays Harbor. Why should the People of Grays harbor pay for bad choices made by the people of Lewis County. We have enough of our own problems without taking on other counties goof ups. Again Tom thank you, your doing a good job making people think.

    ED NOTE: Ya I figured you would get a chuckle on that pic. I may not agree with your politics, but you do have a sense of humor. My site is always open to any editorial you want to write. I will most probably attack it, but it is always open.

  9. Some days I have to laugh and sarcastically ask myself if it is Al Smith or Frank Gordon running for District 3 Commissioner. I only say this after attending Commission meetings where Al Smith requests a sidebar with Commissioner Gordon during each recess … not sure what their topic of conversation is, it certainly would not be his campaign – no, not on County property during business hours … nah, they’re smarter than that … right?

    In reading Commissioner Gordon’s comment above, I thought it was important to correct his misstatements and provide factual information versus his fear mongering tactics. Former Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire placed in her 2013 budget a total of $28.2m dollars for a suite of projects to reduce and mitigate flooding within the Chehalis River Basin. (It is important to note that Commissioner Gordon supported this budget request while sitting in on the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority meetings during his tenure on the Aberdeen City Council.) Of the roughly $10.7m in local, small projects, $9.6m is being spent right here in Grays Harbor. We are putting boots on the ground and people to work as we prepare for the next catastrophic flood – it is not a question of if, but rather when the next flood will occur.

    Within this allocation, $2.2m was included for the replacement of Mill Creek Dam in Cosmopolis – a flood control dam, or retention system. In addition, as per WDFW, the proposed dam replacement will include fish passage, so that throws Frank Gordon’s salmon issues out the window. I believe that Frank needs to bone-up on his math skills; the legislature agreed and approved the $2.2m dollar project, NOT “12.5 million dollars Plus” – but hey, that’s Frank Gordon for ya, what’s an additional $10 million dollars to him? Come on, Frank – if you’re going to spew, at least be honest. Replacing the dam will insure flood reduction for the 300 homes in the lower level of Cosmopolis and into south Aberdeen, including Cosmopolis Elementary School.

    Frank came up with this cockamamie line on KBKW a few weeks ago, I subsequently approached him at the next commissioner meeting where he scrambled and ultimately was dishonest in outlining where he obtained his information about Mill Creek Dam. I offered to have him review the City’s documents on the 40+ year old structure and his reply was, “I will go to Cosmopolis today and look everything over”. Well, nearly three weeks have past and he hasn’t gone to the city and reviewed a single document, he just continues to spew his own misinformation.

    With regards to a dam in the upper Chehalis Basin – many questions remain unanswered. As a member of the Governor’s Chehalis Basin Work Group appointed by former Governor Gregoire and re-appointed by Governor Inslee, we have been charged with providing the Governor recommendations by November 2014, with respect as to what steps should be taken next. Can a dam be built? Can one be built safely? Can a dam be permitted by DOE, WDFW & USACE? What mitigation will be required? Can the impact to the fishery be a net-positive? We do not have the answers to these questions, at least not yet. Following the completion of our due diligence, the work group will bring forth their recommendations in November for the Governor and Legislature’s review and consideration. It is important to note that the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis is also a member of this appointed work group and are in agreement with the direction the group is headed and the scope of work to be done.

    To “Sheltered2” in this thread: the Chehalis River Flood Control District was the brain child of the former District #1 Commissioner and is not currently being proposed, nor will it be proposed or supported by me – period.

    Unlike Frank, I refuse to play party politics when the lives, livelihoods and cultural beliefs of so many are at stake. My focus has been and will continue to be about jobs, our economy and what is best for all of Grays Harbor. Let me be clear, on these issues and many others, I will represent Grays Harbor and work to ensure our best interests.
    Look for more comments to come regarding my political and community service, Crude by Rail, proposed Hospital District 2, Tourism and Wild Olympics.

    Vickie Raines, Candidate & Tax Payer
    District 3 Commissioner
    Grays Harbor County

  10. In response to Mr. Tom Bougher comments, some very valid and some inaccurate.
    To answer the question, who are the thirteen people seeking the 7 positions? They are Maryann Welch, Moraya Wilson, Armando Juarez Jr., Miles H Longenbaugh, John Sherrett, David E Monsen, Andrew Bickar, Pete Scroggs, Rocky Rocquin, myself (Bruce Daniels), Robert Torgerson, Tim Howden and Ryan S Farrer. Of these 13 running for office, 3 are current board members, 3 have already won their districts due to being uncontested races, and one has a spouse on the Senior Executive Team. Every one of these anomalies are problematic.
    The current board of directors consists of Pete Scroggs, Tim Kuhn, Maryann Welch, Jim Manenica, Carey Martens, Curt Janhunen, Dr. Gregory May, Dr. Robert McCauley, Barbara McCullough, David Monsen and Ty Palmer, Mr. Scroggs is the President of the board.
    On the subject of having every candidate fill out an “employment application”, currently the qualifications for running for this office are:
    “The basic qualification for a public hospital district commissioner is that he or she be a citizen of the United States and the state of Washington and be an “elector” within the district boundaries. The State Constitution defines an “elector” as persons at least 18 years of age who are citizens of the United States and who have lived in the precinct 30 days preceding the election.”
    • As far as filing for office, to get the vernacular correct, it is not an application. In a free country, citizen candidates (registered voters) file for office. It is left up to the informed voter to do their due diligence and elect the most qualified candidate to office. The application part of running for office is the candidate fielding questions and having exchanges with the voter. The voter is ultimately responsible for who is elected to office, if you don’t like a candidate, don’t vote for him and better yet, educate you friends, neighbors, and family members as well.
    • The Grays Harbor site is an extension of the Washington State Secretary of State’s Office, the link is, (
    • Vern Spatz may be the County Auditor, but Katy Moore is the Elections Supervisor, all communications regarding filing and elections go through her.
    • When I filed to run for this position, I received several emails. One stating that the online voters guide information submission process had some technical difficulties and gave candidates for the Hospital District a new extended deadline of Friday, June 20th to submit their information. That being said, I personally sent a statement prior to the deadline and this morning, Monday June 23rd, received an email from that email read:
    Online Statement Submission
    Thank you for your Statement Submission. Approval may take several weeks. If we encounter any problems with your submission, we will contact you.

    Please, before anyone goes beating up on the process of running for public office or the people that are actually engaged in the process of running for office, get the facts straight! If you don’t like the process or the state law that deals with it, there is a process to change that also. Whatever you do, the best way to invoke change is to get involved! The most interesting fact that has not surfaced is the fact that not all of the Candidates for this office filed with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) within the 10 day period of filing for office. Of the 13 candidates, 9 have filed and 4 have not ! I find that not only interesting, but disturbing! If we (the candidates) cannot follow the process to run for election, how can we possibly follow it after we are elected? Why no outrage and emotional outburst over this? If you really want to upset the apple cart, this would be one way to do it!

    Now, because it may be some time before the online voters guide is published, here is my statement.

    “The formation of the proposed Hospital District 2 is entirely in the hands of the votes within the boundaries of that district. At the same time the voter is casting a yes or no vote for the formation of the District, they will also be deciding the future of that district by choosing 7 commissioners. I will be the voice of the people of Aberdeen on the Hospital District’s Board of Commissioners. I offer common sense solutions, will ask the hard questions every time and keep the voters informed.”
    If this proposal passes and I am elected, I may be the only no vote on the board, but I will be a very loud no vote. Let me add this, my first no vote will be no on the Hospital District itself.

    ED NOTE: I would love to get you in studio for interview on this. contact me if interested. Thank you for taking the time to flesh out this process.

    • My point was that Vern Spatz practices leadership by example, in that he took the time to state his background and experience, even though most of us already know him as the incumbent County Auditor. Not one of the candidates listed for the Hospital Board had done this, at the time my comment was written. Having completed the same online process referred to above, without incident, or delay, I do not understand the above sarcasm. Tom Fredriksen’s position that we need to stop voting for the candidate that puts out the most yard signs is well taken. We have a right to know who we are voting for, and not just that they are associated with the Party of “NO.”

  11. I find Ms. Raines comments interesting about Al Smith requesting a side bar at each meeting with Frank Gordon. There is an old saying Ms. Raines “one who lives in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones”. It has also been noticed of your “closed door meetings with Commissioner Cormier prior to and after meetings. I stand by what I have said before, Cormier is your puppet and your “need” to be in control and have it your way will cost him a reelection. You are not a good fit for the county. One must possess the ability to work with people not control them. Remember as a commissioner the county staff from all departments are also the employers of the commissioners. Your reputation of inability to work well with others that may challenge you is noticed.

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