Opinion Piece by Samuel Strait – October 20, 2016 – Since I have included this part of a “Letter to the Editor” to be published, I can only assume that the portion of this letter that I submitted to the Triplicate was refused publication and I am offering these words to the readers of the CrescentCityTimes. It is very refreshing to be out from under the heavy pen of Mr. Robin Fornoff’s oppression and to be able to complete the entirety of my thoughts without the constraints of a three hundred word limit. It is also nice to be able to receive feedback from readers of these words for how else are we to learn anything in an echo chamber such as the Triplicate has become.
I understand that a growing number of our local citizenry are now banned from any submissions to the Triplicate in any form and it is also a sad day for the Triplicate and those that are connected to what is supposed to be a “free press”, without regard for source or content as long as it is civil. So, I have to say that it was a very different world that I have come from and it is my hope that we in this community will seek to emulate that which I have just come back from.
After having spent the last couple of weeks visiting relatives in a small town in North Carolina, I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised to experience an entirely different sort of community which showed very little of the political divisiveness and racial overtones that seem to crowd the headlines of most newspapers and newscasts on TV. While on a jaunt into into the central down town area of this little town, I noticed a liveliness and vitality that no longer seems to entirely exist in much of Del Norte County except in fits and spurts.
This is not to say that this was always the case for this North Carolina town, as they went through a period similar to what has occurred in this County for the past twenty some odd years. The chief difference being is that the local citizens realized that things hadn’t gotten any better under the current leadership, and in fact they seemed to be worse off. They got together and and put some new, more responsible people in charge and made some changes which resulted in a transformation of the town creating a more positive experience and considerable growth.
This transformation was not easy, as its new leaders were often viewed by the old guard, those that had steered this community into stagnation, as bullying, uncooperative, disruptive, disrespectful, and a dozen or more negative labels. The local newspaper was quite often at the fore front of this campaign of character assassination. Yet, as the members of that local commission gradually changed hands and a new leadership emerged, there was a more responsive activity which sought to curb wasteful spending, and prosperity began to replace what was a largely morbid economy.
Resistance to this gradual change was fierce, and the old guard, funded by large donations garnered from special relationships with Unions, State Politicians and Developers, were overcome with great difficulty. Tourism led the way, in addition to a recovery of agriculture, wood and paper production, and some light industry. The population has nearly doubled, and unemployment is relatively rare. Former problems that plagued the community such as a diminishing economic base, lack of reliable health care, blight, homelessness, unemployment, and deteriorating roads are a thing of the past. These were just a few of the problems that the old guard had paid lip service to, but never seemed to solve. Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it.
We have the opportunity this November 8th in the general election to follow this success story by reelecting Roger Gitlan and electing Bob Berkowitz to replace long time Supervisor David Finigan. They will be able to join recently elected Lorie Cowan in making Del Norte County another success story. Gone will be 4 to 1 votes for infrastructure programs we don’t need and the indebtedness that goes along with it. A serious effort at maintaining a full service hospital. A strong effort to clean up the areas infested with blight and maybe filling some of the empty store fronts with new businesses. A serious effort at doing what needs to be done at last chance grade no matter what the time line, the route selection that seems be evading the best efforts of the stakeholders, and address the environmental issues that will inevitably seek to delay any kind of speedy resolution. These are but a few of Del Norte’s issues that are holding back our own success story, but Roger Gitlan and a couple of new Supervisors, Bob Berkowitz and Lorie Cown will go a long way towards making that happen.