“What a difference an election can make” said one Thurston County resident as he departed the Tuesday evening Thurston County Commission public hearing. “I’m not used to having elected officials actually do what they promised to do and listen to me.”
We wrote about the Thurston County, Washington State “Crap Tax” which was a tax imposed on septic tanks last year in the waning weeks of the Romero/Wolfe Commission. It was passed in December after they knew their chosen successors had lost their election efforts. Five months later it is now history.
The public hearing included a room full of people speaking both in favor of the repeal and against the repeal. As expected, the people who attended the hearing and spoke in favor of the repeal lived on properties where they had septic systems. They pointed out that today’s $10 “fee” would become tomorrow’s $100 “fee” just like car tabs. Another argument against the Crap Tax was the fact it only went to increase bureaucracy. It would not improve the environment. Finally, local residents were better stewards of their own property than remote bureaucrats.
Dead Spirits, Tribal Consultants, and Former Politicians Support More Taxes
Most of the people speaking in favor of the Crap Tax were people who lived in the City of Olympia. This included one former Olympia City Councilwoman Holly Gadbaw who spoke eloquently about how other people should pay taxes she supports. Holly was also concerned about the Thurston County Commissioners revisiting the entire septic management program for Thurston County and she wanted them to ignore their campaign promises to repeal the tax.
While various people made a variety of comments on either the pro-tax or anti-tax side of the debate, two other testimonies stood out. One Olympia resident claimed that she was speaking on behalf of a dead friend of hers who once lived at a home that used a septic tank. This person then claimed to channel her dead friend and said he would support paying this tax if he were still alive. This testimony was not very persuasive. The other interesting testimony was a paid consultant from Mason County who spoke for the Squaxin Island Tribe. She claimed Thurston County for the Squaxin Island Indian Tribe because it was their traditional hunting ground. She assured everyone that the Squaxin Island Indian Tribe really wanted the residents of Thurston County to pay this tax.
Despite the dead spirits who would love to pay these taxes if they were still alive, despite the sacred nature of the Squaxin Island Tribe’s desire to impose a tax on other people, and despite the pleas of the former Olympia City Councilwoman Holly Gadbaw, the Thurston County Commissioners voted to repeal the Crap Tax. After the vote, widespread applause came from the audience with some of the City residents who supported the tax remaining quiet.
The “Crap Tax” is Dead
Tuesday night contained no high political drama. It was just another public hearing in another local community where a small fraction of the population bothers to speak to their elected officials, but it was a clear demonstration that elections do have consequences – both great and small. Commissioners Hutchings and Edwards ran on a platform of repealing this tax. Commissioner Blake voted against the tax when it was passed last year. Tuesday night’s repeal vote was unanimous. This was one campaign promise fulfilled with more likely to come.
Thurston County has changed, but it will be up to the people who voted for these commissioners to continue to communicate with them. Continue to support the Commissioners when they do the right thing. Encourage them to do more, and let them know if they make mistakes. Tuesday night was another demonstration that the future belongs to those who show up.
OUR CONSTITUTION BEGINS WITH THE PHRASE “WE THE PEOPLE.” IT WAS THE FOUNDER’S INTENT THAT GOVERNMENT BE CREATED BY THE PEOPLE, TO SERVE THE PEOPLE. IT WASN’T THEIR INTENTION FOR THE PEOPLE TO SERVE THE GOVERNMENT. IT WAS ALWAYS INTENDED THAT GOVERNMENT WHICH FAILED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE “ALTERED OR ABOLISHED.” UNTIL WE RETURN TO THE FOUNDER’S INTENT, WE REMAIN WE THE GOVERNED…