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Posts Tagged ‘Pam Stout’

With increasingly critical attention being paid to Bonner County’s new “Property Rights Council,” the Council is getting defensive. Although paying little attention to actually publishing timely meeting minutes and agendas, the Council has published a new link on its website dedicated to “Media Errors & Omissions.”

First, the Property Rights Council takes issue with a widely published AP story noting the hiring of tea party favorite Pam Stout to administer the new program. The “Media Errors & Omissions” posting notes:

Recent media reports have concluded that the Paralegal Program Manager is utilized exclusively and permanently for PRC work.  This is false. The Paralegal Program Manager is only temporarily being used exclusively for PRC work. This is especially necessary during the initial formation and establishment of the PRC.

Notably not in error is that the occupant of the “Paralegal Program Manager” position has no paralegal training.  Also, notably not in error is the salary of $25,000 for the new 19 hours-per-week position —  a salary well above the going rate in Idaho for trained paralegals.

Second, the Property Rights Council denies that particular programs are being targeted. “Media Errors and Omissions” states:

In an October 14th 2011 AP article, John Miller paraphrases Pam Stout when he states: “Their first tasks include figuring out how to jettison the historical society, extension agency and county fairgrounds from taxpayer support, Stout said”. Pam Stout denies making such a statement and no such item has been placed on the PRC Agenda.

Yet, the linked-to “correction” in the Sacramento Bee only clarifies:

The story also reported the council was attempting to remove taxpayer support from the county extension, the fairgrounds and the historical society. It is looking for ways to replace taxpayer support with user fees.

The fine-point about user fees notwithstanding, unfortunately what has been placed on the PRC agenda (pdf) is the County’s watershed ordinance and whether to “interpose” in an ongoing dispute between a property owner and the EPA (whatever that means). All this before the Council even has approved bylaws under which it will operate.

We are certainly very concerned about what the PRC means for the few environmental protections that currently exist in Bonner County. But we are also very concerned that this inept, one-sided, and ideologically-driven bureaucracy is taking Bonner County far out of the mainstream as to what constitutes good basic local government. From phone calls and emails to our office, a growing number of Bonner County citizens share our concerns. Indeed, instead of concerning itself with “Media Errors and Omissions,” Bonner County should re-evaluate the errors and omissions coming from their own PRC.

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Unelected bureaucrats, creating rules and regulations, running an extreme agenda in a government agency on the taxpayer’s dime. We’re talking the Tea Party’s view of EPA, right?  Nope. We’re talking about the Tea Party itself in Bonner County.

Bonner County’s “Property Rights Council” is meeting tonight (a lengthy pdf agenda here) in Sandpoint. It is a new creature of Bonner County government with big plans “to review county government activities and inter-governmental activities to determine whether they may cause adverse impacts to private property rights.” Pam Stout, a Tea Party favorite – she was on David Letterman’s show last year – was recently hired by the County to run the new council.

The Council’s preliminary plans, posted on the Bonner County website, are elaborate and expansive, and borderline incoherent. Evidently, the Council will set up “review committees” to do legal research, hold hearings and meetings, and generate “Property Rights Impact Statements.”

The Council has also set up an online discussion group “to discuss a broad array of county relevant property rights issues utilizing market-oriented resources.” But in order to participate as a member of the Council, a Review Committee, or even the discussion group, ideological “free market and property rights” orientation and training will be necessary. Seriously.

For example, Councilors, whatever they are, are required to get a special certification:

PRC councilors must complete all stages of certification required of County resident volunteers as a condition of ongoing council membership. This ongoing requirement ensures that PRC councilors meet the same high standards as the volunteers assisting them.  This requirement helps PRC councilors demonstrate their commitment to free-markets and private property rights. (emphasis added.)

The Council has promised to use expert advise from “free market think tanks” with a helpful link to the far-right State Policy Network and a list of “property rights and free market concepts” we can only assume would be part of the certification process.

KEA has sent a public records request to this new arm of Bonner County Government asking for budget information and the legal authority for the Council. We’ll let you know what we find out.

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