May 5, 2008

Wildfire season 2008 officially began on April 15th. Are you and your community ready? Local fire districts train year round to respond to timber and rangeland fires, structure fires, and everyone’s worst case scenario of wildland-urban interface fire. Have you prepared your house for wildland fire season by:
  • Removing dead branches hanging over power lines or roofs?
  • Removing leaf and needle accumulation?
  • Pruning branches 6’-10’ above ground and removing ladder fuels?
  • Making sure your generator, pump and hoses are in good order?
  • Checked your road signage so emergency vehicles can find you quickly?

As a 20 year fire district volunteer, I participate regularly in training to respond to other people’s emergencies, but that doesn’t mean I do a perfect job of keeping my own home fire safe. Knowing and doing are two different things. We deny a catastrophe will happen to us, we may make plans but other priorities demand attention. It’s a matter of determining your household priorities and getting those dead branches pruned and the pine needles raked. Make a plan, set aside the time and just do it.

State government is no different – denial, deferral and delay are universal human traits. We will be moving into the 2009-2011 budget process facing a deficit every bit as daunting as facing a wildland-urban interface fire. We need to take the same approach to facing both – get a good size-up of the situation, make a plan and carry it out. Determining priorities is a key part of the fire size-up, and determining Priorities of Government (POG) will be a key part of the budget size-up. The POG approach is defined as “budgeting based on results, without raising taxes” (see the Evergreen Freedom Foundation web link at for more information). With a good POG size-up, we can handle the budget and face down the deficit without raising taxes.

As I’ve been listening to 7th District voters at open houses, community meetings, and doorbelling, I’ve heard your frustration. We wonder if we are getting value for our tax dollar. We want safe and secure communities, good schools and a vigorous economy with decent jobs. We want roads and bridges in good repair. We hope that the services we rely on will be there for us. We want the freedom to enjoy the fruits of our own labor. We’re tired of studies that too often result in more paperwork, less freedom and no better quality of life. We want accountability and results. We need to get our priorities straight, make a plan for budgeting based on results (without raising taxes!), and just do it. I’m ready to take on the challenge, and look forward to a successful campaign!