The Yakima Chamber of Commerce invited Don Hinman and Bruce Smith to speak about Home Rule at a recent luncheon. Yakima Public Affairs Channel is showing the forum nearly every day. Click here to find their daily schedule.
Don spoke in favor of Home Rule focusing on three points:
- What is Home Rule?
- Can we do better than what we are doing now?
- Will Home Rule make Yakima County government better?
Don’s speech opened with how voters control every step of the process from the 9,700 people who signed the petition to place Home Rule on the ballot to the voters having the final say on whether to adopt a new charter once it is drafted.
He called for community members to “not draw lines in the sand” and to participate in a discussion on whether increased checks and balances like the power of ballot initiatives would improve County government.
Don also made comparisons between Yakima County and business and pointed to the County being run by only three commissioners, holding both legislative and executive powers:
“I spent hours looking at nearly a hundred companies with gross sales of fifty-four million or less listed on the various stock exchanges and over the counter. Every company had a single person serving as CEO and a Board of Directors that is much larger than three members.”
Three Commissioners overseeing an area twice the size of Delaware and half the population of Wyoming is a lot to manage. Don pointed to several instances of mismanagement and resources wasted:
- The County allowed a large concentration of housing to be built just west of the City of Yakima’s borders. Without urban sewer service, the ground became saturated. The City had to respond and residents of the City were left footing the bill.
- The County allowed a large feedlot outside Sunnyside city limits. Flies and feedlot odor forced the city to buy the feedlot and shut it down.
- The County purchased land near Toppenish to build a jail, but neglected to negotiate water rights with the Yakima Nation. Again, resources were wasted by poor decision making.
Is our County really working for us? During these hard economic times, can we afford lack of oversight and accountability? As Don said:
“I don’t know about you. But in my business when times get tough that is when I do my best work. I take a look at everything. I find efficiencies I hadn’t noticed before, find new ways to do things and make the changes. The profits improve and the services we give to our customers improve. There is no better time to review your operation than when your back is to the wall. The same holds true for county government. It is time for the review Home rule can offer.”
You can read Don’s full speech here.