Thursday’s “Herman” cartoon should have struck a chord with people in our area. A grotesque figure depicting an attorney stands below an official on a dais with several wrapped packages under his arm. The caption?? “Your honor, before the jury retires to reach a verdict my client wishes to present each of them with a little gift of jewelry.”
Earlier “The World” ran a news story about an agreement the Coos County Commissioners signed to accept a portion of a $12 million per year “Community Service Fee” payment in exchange for granting a 25 year “Enterprise Zone” property tax waiver to the proposed Jordan Cove LNG facility. The article didn’t mention that in addition to approving the “Enterprise Zone” tax exemption the County and the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend are also in the process of reviewing several land use permits Jordan Cove needs to have before they can proceed.
The “quid pro quo” of Jordan Cove’s Community Service Fee payment setup is as transparent as the example in the Herman cartoon strip; Jordan Cove promises to give local jurisdictions five, $12 million/year “Community Service Payments” that can be spent however the recipients choose, but before any hungry city or county jurisdictions can receive the payments, they must first all approve a series of highly controversial land use zoning permit requests from the Jordan Cove LNG project. What a Sweet deal!
The City of Coos Bay has its version of the enterprise zone tax exemption and Community Service Fee approval all queued up and ready to approve at their next meeting. North Bend may have already signed on the dotted line. The only remaining step is for the cities and counties to grant a few awkward land use permits and the path will be clear for our community organizations to receive the promised Community Service Fee payments.
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It might be more direct to call the Community Service payments the bribes they actually represent. If Jordan Cove thought it possible to get the necessary land use permits without having to ante up several voluntary $12 million/year payments, do you think they would have bothered to offer them? The Jordan Cove LNG project will stress local services, expose our communities to unthinkable risks and do considerable environmental harm. It looks like Jordan Cove is willing to bribe this community into accepting those risks. We should not accept their bribe.