Destination marketing is part and parcel of the Scenic Byway/transportation corridor/eco-tourist development program. We heard the "destination marketing" term bandied about at Council meetings just last week by Liz Ilig, promoter of the Scenic Byway. Destination marketing is the economic development plan pushed by our local "conservationists," which seems like it should be a cruel joke. Case in point, over a hundred businesses in the islands (many consisting of one-man bands) wrote to Obama in support of the National Monument/Conservation Area idea. This is what they said in their opening paragraph:
As business owners we have a strong interest in the economic health of the San Juan Islands. The economy of the San Juans depends on the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that attract residents, visitors and businesses to these islands.Folks, I have news for you. That's not a conservation message. That's a destination marketing message. That's not Rachel Carson or John Muir. That's Disneyland. That's using the environment for marketing. This county is full of pretend environmentalists pursuing their own economic self interest while simultaneously wanting the sanctimonious image benefits from their eco-glorymongering.
It's phony. It's Vivien-esque.
The eco-tourist economic development path is the road to perdition, and by perdition, I mean County bankruptcy. It creates infrastructure needs that have to be sized for the peak season, supported by a tax base sized for the off-season. Couple that with our County's collective fiscal irresponsibility, and we are on the same trajectory as all those charter governments in California that are going bankrupt. Yes ... bankrupt, just like our insolvent solid waste program. We need to start talking about it because that is where we are headed, in my opinion. And it's not the fault of the "CAO virus" or "property rights" groups, or the bogey man or some other scapegoat. Our whole County is run the way our solid waste program was run. We do not have a sustainable model for government here in the islands, and our incapable public servants lurch from crisis to crisis in groundhog day fashion, surprised at every turn by foreseeable events.
Just like the solid waste program, our overall pathetic performance as a County shows up in the numbers, and thanks to some fantastic research by Lopezian, Nick Jones, we can say the following:
Coming up with a truly equivalent comparison from county to county is extremely difficult: Counties all spin budget numbers in slightly different ways, counties vary wildly in percentages of population in incorporated towns and cities, percentages of unoccupied or vacation homes can drive up county expenses and drive down population figures. And of course geography play a large role in the expense of administering a given area--a county composed of islands is a special case when it comes to delivering services to all residents--though there is some adjustment too for the much greater mileage of county maintained roads in any mainland county.
That said, the discrepancy between all levels of SJC budget and spending and that of other rural, waterfront Western WA counties is shocking. In the rawest form, unexamined numbers from other rural Western Washington show San Juan County spending as a wild outlier. Total county spending per capita, including general fund and non discretionary spending, ranges from $825 per capita in Island County (Whidbey and Camano Islands), $990 per capita in Clallam County to $1084 per capita in tiny Wahkiakum County, with practically no services provided by incorporated towns. San Juan County total spending currently runs $2613 per capita, or 241% of Wahkiakum County's expenditures. Pacific County in South West Washington seems to have more in common with SJC than any other Washington county. It has many of the same factors and limitations as SJC, and some unique or steeper challenges than we have here. Their raw budget comes to $1464 per capita, or exactly 56% of San Juan County spending.More of that to come in later posts, along with economic analysis done by other citizens too. The excellent work done by these private citizens stands in stark contrast to the pathetic economic non-analysis done by our own County. It's one more example of how our County, dominated by special interests, doesn't do analysis. It's simply an out-of-touch echo chamber.
Why do we keep electing, appointing, and hiring people who perpetuate it?