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Commissioner hopefuls discuss public safety, water


by SAMANTHA TIPLER, Herald and News 10/14/12


Editorís note: This is the second installment of three parts asking candidates for Klamath County commissioner candidates about issues they will face in office. The first part ran Saturday.


Klamath County will have two new commissioners after the Nov. 6 election.


Tom Mallams won the Republican primary for Position No. 1. Kirk Oakes joined the race for the November election as an Independent.


Jim Bellet won the Republican ticket for Position No. 3, and also received the Democratic nomination by write-in. Bellet has no challenger in the November election.


Today the candidates address public safety and the commissionersí role in water issues ó specifically if they have opinions about the controversial Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement or the issue of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) when it comes to water quality. Hereís what they had to say.


Position No. 1: Tom Mallams


Q: Please speak to the issue of public safety. What should happen and how can commissioners help that along?


A: There is no easy, quick fix for funding of public safety. Our county has to live within its means. Then, and only then, will we be able to have continual funding in place for our necessary public safety. Raising taxes is not an instant fix. Raising taxes can actually encourage over-spending.


I will continue to fight for the continuation of the Secure Rural Schools funding. I have been in contact with many federal legislators and their staff promoting and working toward this end.


I will also continue fighting for the reform of the ESA (Endangered Species Act).

Even achieving these goals will not prevent further funding problems for public safety and other county budgets. Strong fiscal leadership and long-term planning is absolutely critical for Klamath County to get back on track and stay on track.


Q: Please speak about water issues. Whatís your thinking on what, if anything, commissioners need to do?


A: The KBRA began as a good effort to solve the Klamath Basinís water problems. Unfortunately, the process was taken over by our own federal agencies, dam removal thrown into the agreement and now does not deliver any guarantee of water for agriculture, no protection from biological opinions and also no protections from the ESA and no affordable power for agriculture.


The TMDLs are another example of our own governmentís out-of-control, unattainable mandates being forced on the citizens. The TMDLs are absolutely unattainable even if the city spends millions of tax dollars and irrigated agriculture was completely eliminated.

Klamath County commissioners have to take a firm, united stand against these out-of-control mandates tearing apart and attempting to destroy the Klamath Basin.


Editorís note: Tom Mallamsí comments were shortened from the written comments he submitted. The Herald and News requested each answer be kept to about 100 words.


Kirk Oakes


Q: Please speak to the issue of public safety. What should happen and how can commissioners help that along?


A: First we have to define our terms. Public safety is not achieved by ďlocking up all the bad guys.Ē Public safety is a physical state of being but it is also a mental state of being. When you perceive it is safe on the streets at night and it actually is, thatís public safety. I am a firm believer in appropriate law enforcement and I also believe that public safety begins with appropriate staffing, for if law enforcement officers feel threatened, they will respond accordingly.


I also believe in restorative justice, meaning that punishment that does not give back to the community or the aggrieved becomes a burden on the community. These things are achieved with proper funding, proper attitude, proper expectations and an overall community awareness of the kind of neighborhood we wish to foster.


Q: Please speak about water issues. Whatís your thinking on what, if anything, do commissioners need to do?


A: As stewards in a managerial capacity for the county, the commissioners need to be active in anything that impacts the county. The water issues are critical and ongoing.


When looking at ways in which the TMDL is implemented, and where its proposed rating and management system is concerned, we need to make a serious differentiation between natural and introduced phosphorus pollutants in the watershed. If we are to comply and be involved in the evolution of the regulations, we must utilize scientific method and leave emotion at the door. The current TMDL projections and costs are untenable. KBRA is in adjudication, quite rightly.


Position No. 3: Jim Bellet


Q: Please speak to the issue of public safety. What should happen and how can commissioners help that along?


A: On the issue of public safety, I am waiting to see what the advisory committee comes out with in the next few months. Hopefully we will see many options that help solve our problems. The commissioners need to make the best decisions given those options, to know how much money there will be to spend.


Q: Please speak about water issues. Whatís your thinking on what, if anything, commissioners need to do?


A: In regard to Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the sewer discharge, the DEQ continually comes up with new rules and regulations. Eventually, our citizens will not be able to afford the answers. We need to persevere in the facts that we meet the standards set by the state, that the water is acceptable. If the county and city do not win this argument, they need to shift water discharge elsewhere.


As for the KBRA, the commissioners need to do everything possible to make sure we keep the dams in place, make new and lasting agreements on water use and eliminate the KBRA agreement that misses the main point of more water storage.





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