June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:33 PM
"Two percent hike rates skepticismLangley citizens are correct if they are skeptical about the effort to have the cities and county pool revenues from an additional 2 percent tax on overnight room charges.To date, the cities of Oak Harbor and Coupeville have agreed, and the Island County commissioners are on the verge of throwing their money into the purse. The idea is to take the resulting $180,000 in cash to fund an off-island marketing push to attract more tourists to the island. The fund would be overseen by something called the Island County Joint Administration Board. The proposal is being vigorously pitched by the Island District Economic Development Council.A separate issue is whether the tax on rooms should be raised at all. But assuming its OK to further gouge tourists through our local inns and bed and breakfast establishments, there is serious doubt if the resources would be be wisely spent in such a joint venture aimed at a single marketing effort.Come to Island County is a theme thats a bit broad for our geographically and economically diverse county. While most of the land mass is on South Whidbey, we have only one-third of the population, which suggests a minority representation on the Joint Administration Board. Numerous north/south ventures have failed in the past simply because South Whidbey people were always in the minority.Furthermore, it is objectionable to spend all the added tax revenues solely to attract more tourists to the county. We like to see a portion of those revenues help the people who live here, by partially funding local chamber, historical society and fair projects. That way, all those who have to put up with increased tourism and the resulting longer ferry lines and busier roads at least benefit somewhat from their presence.It will be difficult for the Langley City Council not to succumb to the pressure to join the marketing push. And perhaps its even worth a try in the name of county unity. But at least make it clear that this is only a test -- at some point, we reserve the option to amicably withdraw and decide where best to spend our own money.Parents: Back off and support schoolsThe new high school athletic code is coming under undeserved fire from parents who seem to be worried that their own kids may be kicked off athletic teams for smoking, drinking or using drugs. But isnt that the whole point of the code?The new code was adopted less than one year ago and resulted from many months of thoughtful meetings and widespread community input. Its based on an honor code signed by each student who wishes to participate in athletics. In essence, they promise not to violate the rules for the privilege of playing on a team. And the code is very sensible. Nobody is thrown off a team for making one mistake. By admitting to the mistake, undergoing counseling and community service, violators get to stay with their teams. A second mistake, however, and theyre gone.Enforcement of the code is left to the principal and a board that includes student representation. Some parents seem to think the investigations are akin to the inquisition, and feel their kids have the right to legal counsel. But this is simply a matter of honor -- not the law. Kids who sign the code are obligated to tell the truth. Unfortunately, our legal system, shown in all its glory in the O.J. Simpson trial, has convinced society that individual rights are more important than the truth. This isnt the case, at least regarding the athletic code.Parents who want to end the inquisition should simply insist that their children tell the truth and live with the consequences. This no doubt will result in some cases where the truthful athlete loses the right to compete and has to go to AA meetings and talk to younger kids about drugs or alcohol, while the liar stays with the team and receives all the glory. But which athlete is the more honorable, and more deserving of respect? When kids learn the answer to that question, well know that the new athletic code is doing its job."