Letter to the Editor: Crowner Won’t Be a Rubber Stamp in Port of Centralia

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If you were to choose someone to watch over Gov. Jay Inslee, would you choose a person close to the governor or would you choose someone who will hold him and the state government accountable?

That’s basically your choice for Port of Centralia commissioner. In this case, you’re going to have to vote for someone who tends to be more on the Democratic side in order to hold the Port of Centralia accountable. Ds or Rs don’t matter in this case. Because, in my opinion, the Rs in charge are spending like Ds.

The Port of Centralia was established some 35 years ago with the promise of being self-sustaining. Today, the port still taxes at the highest level. In this poor economy, there is no sign that it plans to end taxing at the highest level. Given all of its land and tenants, you’d think it would be able to give taxpayers a break.

Everyone knows the slog that is Centralia Station. So much money has been spent. Many call the project "too big to fail." It's moving forward because it's so expensive. Fine. That's done. But why was so much money spent on advertising and sponsorships when it was nowhere close to being completed? Is that a good use of public dollars?

There’s also the issue of transparency. Why are the full port budgets never public? There are basic numbers, sure, but never every specific expenditure.

Why?

Is the port a matter of national security? You’d think it is by how many things aren’t listed in the public record.

That’s why I think the best choice for port commissioner is Paul Crowner. Crowner was a teacher of mine and, as I have known him as an adult, one of the most decent people I’ve ever met. There have been other educators who have served on the port commission. I’m sure Paul can handle the job.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure his opponent is also an upstanding person. I’m not doubting his ethics. I hear he's a fine community member. I just don’t see any evidence of him ever questioning the status quo. And the status quo is more secrecy and taxing at the highest level allowed. Look at the port meeting minutes (the few that are on the website). See if you can find any monetary disagreements.

The Port of Centralia, while shrouded in mystery, has had its success. I would like to see the Port of Centralia succeed in the public eye, not in backroom meetings. We deserve to see how every penny is spent, not just general, vague audits and budgets.

This is why I urge you to vote for Paul Crowner. He won't be a rubber stamp. Paul Crowner is a vote for transparency, fully open books and tax responsibility.

 

Jim Valley

formerly of Centralia

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