June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:44 PM
"Blame House for rural county flopThe 10th District's two Republicans in the state House of Representatives tried to blame the failure of the rural counties bill on their colleague in the Senate, but their blame game failed miserably.Island County government was depending on the bill to provide over $400,000 annually for economic development. All elected officials were for it, and it was a pet project of the Island District Economic Development Council. And yet it failed in the final hours of the Legislative session after it appeared to have clear sailing to the governor's desk.Our Republican Representatives, Kelly Barlean and Barry Sehlin, tried vainly to blame Democratic Senator Mary Margaret Haugen for not getting the bill passed in the House. Bad idea. Haugen got the bill through the Senate not once but three times -- all on unanimous votes. And she had the promise of legislative leaders that they would pass her bill in the House.It was a done deal until Barlean stepped in at the last minute and demanded this his identical bill be passed instead of Haugen's. Simply stated, Barlean, with one eye on next year's race for U.S. Congress, wanted the credit.Barlean's strategy flopped big time. The Democrats wouldn't support his bill, and Republicans wouldn't turn against Barlean once his desires were known. So Island County lost a huge increase in revenue that might have been used to fund a sewer system in Freeland, for example.This was Barlean's darkest day in the Legislature after several years of trying to serve his district's interests well. Sehlin was a bystander, but he shouldn't have joined Barlean in the unseemly effort to pin the blame on Haugen. The House is their responsibility, and it was they, not Haugen, who failed their constituents in Island County.The people of Island County lost the rural counties bill due to partisan politics and political ambition. Ironically, Barlean was right about the bill's importance to his political career. It is something voters will likely remember if he runs for Congress next year.Volunteers provide another great FourthThe 4th of July is another one of those times when volunteer efforts benefit the community in a significant way.The age-old Maxwelton 4th of July Parade is totally produced by a small number of faithful volunteers who organize the parade entries, providing parking and direction to the huge crowd, present the popular post-parade games, and otherwise create another memorable 4th of July for several generations of islanders.The Celebrate America fireworks show on July 3 isn't quite as traditional as the Maxwelton Parade, but now in its seventh year, it's getting there.Celebrate America's success is a testament to its many volunteer supporters and those who donate money for the pyrotechnics. It has become a South Whidbey tradition in a short time, and one that hopefully will continue long into the future.And this coming weekend we have Langley's Choochokam Festival of the Arts, another largely all-volunteer effort.One of these days we should have a festival to honor all our volunteers, but they'd probably be too tired to organize it. "