Thursday, October 16, 2008


A SPANIEL ON THE JERKS: When John Lennon named his second book “A Spaniard in the Works” in the 60’s the joke was lost on many across the pond until the Money Wretch Gang was published a decade later.

It advocates the “use of sabotage to protest environmentally damaging activities” by using a spanner or monkey wrench against the fully corrupt organizational machinery of oppression genocide and fascism in general.

And it’s not a bad strategy for fighting those entrenched in government or even an organization when the people involved are so corrupted that reform is impossible.

And so we are proud to reverse our “no” position on the Citizens’ Charter Amendment to restrict growth to what is permitted by law.

As a matter of fact, we love it.

The Planning Department in the person of Ian Costa has refused to enforce the law called the General Plan so the people have devised a clever way to force them to do it through the same kind of intimidation and bullying that they have used to put a hotel on every shore and a vacation rental in every garage.

Under this proposed charter amendment, if the council doesn’t limit growth to the amount determined to be optimal under the General Plan, they would be required to basically create a whole new planning department under the authority of the council

Under the amendment any time someone wants a “zoning, use, subdivision or variance permit for more than one accommodation unit”- something the planning commission does now- the power to do so “shall be vested in and exercisable exclusively by (a 2/3 vote of) the council”..

This means that, after the council has already passed a law providing the zoning, they would have to also do all the minutia needed for issuing a “zoning permit”.

And they would need to do it separately from the planning department which does all the work now making sure the applicant meets the numerous and sometimes contentious “conditions” in the permit

According to the Charter the “administrative” branch of the county government under the mayor is fully independent from the legislative branch so the planning department doesn’t work for and isn’t answerable to the council.

But wait- the amendment provides a way out of this absurd dilemma that could cripple the county and cost many millions of dollars.

All they have to do is pass a law to require the planning department and commission to abide by a

“rate of growth ordinance that limits the rate of increase in the number of transient accommodation units in the county to no greater than one-and-one-half percent (1.5%) per annum on a multi-year average basis, or such growth rate that is within the planning growth range of a future general plan”.

We used to object to the fact that this should be done though an “initiative”- a citizen petition to change the law at the ballot box- not by amending the Charter which is a constitution-like document for the county, informing and broadly proscribing the actual laws the council considers.

And if the council doesn’t “cooperate” and “take the easy way out” it would be a crisis of epic proporions.

“Ya got a nice county here councilor- lotsa boids, twees, watahfalls ...families. It’d be a shame to see anythin' happen to ‘em. And all ya gotta do is pass this law that youz and ya people says ya wants anyway”.

It’s simple extortion. And as much as we try to advance good governance and support good systems when bad people take them over- so as not to throw out the pot with the bongwater- sometimes the monkey wrench philosophy is more than appropriate- it’s crucial, vital and indispensable..

Though a law would have been much more appropriate if the goal was ultimately to pass a law- even in a Rube Goldberg way- perhaps it’s appropriate that we do it this way, especially since we’d have to wait two years toget the law on the ballot.

Stick it to the man. Vote yes on the people’s charter amendment.

And keep you spanner handy. With all but one of the current crop of council and mayoral probables it may come in handy to at least twist their, ah, ear lobes for the next two years.

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