The Wild Olympics Forum sponsored by Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks held at Central Elementary School in Hoquiam on December 4 was confrontational and cantankerous at best. It was obvious that the structure of the presentation was not what was expected nor desired by a large number of the attendees. The result was chaos. This would be treated as a learning experience for the class president of any 8th grade class in the County; for a sitting U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative to be instrumental is unbelievable.
Without detailing all the pros and cons of the specific proposal, one cannot help but wonder why this proposal is being made at this time. With the country in a recession and Grays Harbor County having the highest unemployment rate in the state, it would certainly appear that there are more pressing matters that our elected officials should be addressing. In fact, Sen. Murray was actually the Chair of the so-called “Super Committee” which was charged by the Congress and President Obama to cut $1.5 trillion over a ten year period from the federal budget. With the current spending level of $3.5 trillion/year, this amounts to a reduction of 4%. How many Harborites have cut much more than that from their spending? She was unable to get any kind of agreement, in essence throwing her hands in the air, and then proposes expanding the Federal Government through the Wild Olympics Plans.
As for Rep. Dicks, he simply has not been heard from for some time until now. It originally appeared that he was a driving force behind the Wild Olympics proposal but it now appears that he has assumed a secondary role to Sen. Murray. Could that be because has to make a reelection run whereas Sen. Murray does not?
In an August 23, 2011 letter published in the Daily World, former Commissioner Al Carter, a paid spokesman, stated that some 1300 Harborites have signed a petition supporting the Wild Olympics. According to the 2010 census, there are 72,797 residents of Grays Harbor County. This means that the 1300 individuals referenced by Mr. Carter represent 1.79% of the County. In other words, while there may be 1300 supporters, there are well over 71,000 who are either opposed or have no opinion. Perhaps the 98.21% should “Occupy” the forest?
The Federal and State government currently own approximately 15,513,500 acres of land in the State of Washington. This does not include land used for office buildings, prisons, counties, cities, and other minor uses. This represents 36.41% of the total area of the State. Does the government really need to expand its holdings?
Why are Sen. Murray and Rep. Dicks raising such a divisive issue at this time? Wouldn’t their time be much better spent working to resolve the national debt issue and local unemployment? Are they trying to distract people from the current economic situation? How about something to bring people together in these difficult times?