Dumb-da-dumb-dumb-DUMB!!! Bet you thought you were hearing the lead-in tune to Dragnet, didn’t ya? Actually it’s the sound made by the average American voter as they mark their ballot!

In just a few months, voters will be making tough decisions about who they choose to run local, county, state and federal governments and while I hate limiting the choice to only the top-two candidates in the Primary election, I think making a well thought out decision, when five or ten candidates are listed, is overwhelming for most people. Voting is, more often than not, based on name recognition, not ability or past performance. Consequently we end up with some real doozies steering the boat!

Going back a couple of decades, back to the era of the Northern Spotted Owl at its peak and the over zealous “obstructionists” trying to save it, we found ourselves on a slippery slope greased with nonsense and exaggeration. It was an era of mothballing refineries, registering every flower and creature that could possibly be listed as endangered and saving every tree and forest lest they be hacked down by wild-eyed, uncontrollable loggers frothing at the mouth and carrying a souped-up chainsaw powered by a Big Block Chevy engine!

Fast forward to the resultant consequences we now suffer, having been forced into the corner by elected officials who sided with the preservationists. Elected officials who lacked knowledge and experience to make some of the decisions they put into play; individuals who (with the stroke of a pen) destroyed lives from coast to coast and border to border. We still haven’t recovered from the laws they enacted. In the past twenty years not even ten-percent of the listed species have recovered and it’s not because we are still harvesting! It’s because Nature interceded, followed its path of survival of the fittest and it’s Nature who will, in the end, always have the say-so.

But, that is not to say that we can’t have solid, intelligent, experienced leaders who guide our paths. Of course we can! This is where YOU come in. It’s your responsibility to ferret them out, learn about them, find out what they know and just how much smoke some are blowing up your skirt ! (Well, my skirt … your stagged off pants!)

I’d like to touch on the Department of Natural Resource Commissioner’s race as a critical election impacting harvest of publicly owned timber. The DNR manages 2.1 million acres of timberland. Revenue from the managed land provides vital support for state schools and local government services. Counties benefit from revenue earned in the harvest of these lands, in the form of funding for K-12 education and higher education programs as well. Current Lands Commissioner, Peter Goldmark was quoted in the Seattle Times on July 15, 2012 saying, “I’ve recovered one of our primary timber accounts from the brink, reduced state management fees to send more money directly to the beneficiaries and directed $10 million back to cash strapped counties that were in desperate need of support in these tough economic times.” He went on to say he “…has had to make big decisions, such as laying off 10% of his staff and smaller ones like eliminating coffee service at board meetings…”, I will share the budget information with you in next month’s column, but I find it amazing that coffee would be such a big issue with Goldmark, when some of his staffers are dragging down pretty damned hefty salaries; $352,073, $245,521, $228,454, $323,462, $134,816, $245,828 … the list goes on (and on) because these salaries are in the first page and a half of a twenty page report!! The sickening part is, that the highest paid wildfire fighter I found within this same group, received – are you ready -- $10,548. These are gross annual salaries (some more GROSS than others). The heavy hitters are all Fiscal Analysts and all earn more than Goldmark as Commissioner at $121,618.08.

My point in this column and in the September issue will be a comparison of candidates for various offices, the practical experience they carry to the job and how the incumbents are managing the positions at present.

Frankly, if Goldmark laid off 10% of his staff, that’s a good start since there are 1,888 full, part and seasonal workers under his watch; 188.80 of them were laid off (I don’t know what the guy left with 20% is able to do, but maybe he’s the one that makes coffee.) I would think if one of the high-dollar staffers was laid off, Goldmark could furnish all of Lewis County with Starbucks and still have plenty of money left over! I’m just sayin’ . . . my point being, we must be careful when we vote because we can’t just throw the bum out if he’s a cull . . .dumb-da-dumb-dumb……dumbbbbbb!

Sherrie Bond serves as Director of the Northwest Log Truckers’ Cooperative. She can be reached via email at ohsee@aol.com