David Rupkalvis

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Let me explain. In my opinion, and yes this is just mine, the closer you are to home, the more government should be able to control you. If you live in Coos Bay or North Bend, those city councils should have the ability to impact your life fairly regularly with decisions they make.

Once you reach the county level, government should have some impact but not as great as the city or even school boards do.

At the state level, the impact should be minimal, and, the be honest, at the federal level, unless you are a government employee, the government should have little or no impact on your daily life.

That’s how the system should work, in my world view. I acknowledge that isn’t always the case as the larger governments, state and federal, overstep their bounds and try to more and more control the local governments and the people they represent.

Last night, I was listening to a city council meeting for Crescent City, Calif. Now for most of my readers, what happens in Crescent City is irrelevant and should be. But during the meeting, the council had a conversation with Del Norte County School Superintendent Jeff Harris. At the end of the discussion, Harris admittedly got on his soapbox and gave a speech. His view was very specific, but it matches my belief that governmental control should be local first.

This is what Harris said:

“I don’t think Sacramento listens to Del Norte County. We were one of the last in the state to get vaccinated. When we talk to the state about the needs of our community, we get lip service. They say, we know. What they don’t know is they don’t know the toll this is taking on our tribal communities, on our families, on our economy, on our students and emotional well-being of our kids - the number of students who have expressed suicidal deviations, depression, anxiety. In some ways it is criminal what our county has been put through in times when, maybe, there were other alternatives.”

Just a few minutes ago, I received a letter the Bandon City Council is sending to Gov. Kate Brown. Each member of the city council signed the letter that in part said this:

“The city of Bandon relies on tourism to provide essential government services. One third of Bandon’s general fund come from transient occupancy tax. If the current situation goes on much longer, we risk loss of our ability to provide core municipal services to our citizens. The rate of COVID-19 cases in Bandon’s 97411 zip code is far lower than the rest of the county and much of the state. We are close to Curry County, where restaurants are open, which increases the toll on our restaurants as people choose to go out to dinner in Port Orford rather than getting takeout in Bandon.”

In both situations, local government is begging big government to give them some control back. I can promise you, there will likely be no response and certainly not a response anyone in Bandon and Crescent City are looking for.

To be fair, my view on local control is the same regardless of politics. When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared masks could not be mandatory in Texas last year, I was equally critical. Cities around the state, mostly Democrat controlled, wanted to continue mask mandates, but the governor simply told them no. I disagreed with Abbott then and I disagree with Brown and Gov. Newsom now.

As a resident of Coos Bay, I will be happy to wear a mask as long as the city council wants me to. Heck, I won’t even complain if it’s the county government making that mandate. The difference is the people who make that decision can’t hide from me. I can meet with local elected officials, I can get city managers on the phone, I can get a call back from a county commissioner. They may not agree with what I have to say, but they can’t ignore me.

But governors, congress members, senators, presidents. Not only can they ignore me, and you, to be honest most of them don’t really care what we think.

So, again, let’s keep government control local. Of the lessons we learned in the pandemic, I hope that’s right at the top.

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