The latest critique of the gubernatorial candidates brought some lively Wyofile commentary and some private rebukes to The Sage Grouse.
Mary Flitner aptly observes that it is easier to criticize than to run for office. The critics tend to be, well, critical, whereas political candidates need to be optimistic, cheerful, voluble and thick-skinned, but they also have to be blurry and inoffensive to avoid pissing off voters.
Here are some leadership ideas:
I-80: don’t install a bunch of toll booths, just charge a surcharge based on weight whenever a non-Wyoming licensed truck crosses the border on either end of I-80, at the ports of entry. Let’s do it at Sundance, Sheridan, Cody and south of Laramie too.
(Non-residents pay more for hunting licenses; why not pay more for I-80 licenses?)
Wolves: Leslie Petersen has it right: make them trophy animals statewide. Asking the Attorney General to defend a shoot-on-sight policy is hopeless.
Wild horses: find a Wyoming community which is missing out on the boom, like maybe Riverton, and build a nice clean government-inspected horse slaughterhouse. Maybe build it on the reservation and offer jobs to unemployed residents.
State budgets: require each program manager to write a justification from scratch, not to exceed two pages, why his/her program should be funded. Publish the same on the internet and in the media. Let voters and legislators review and react. This is sort of a shortcut for zero-based budgeting.
Fuel tax: in this era of anti-government, anti-Obama, anti-taxes, this issue is hard to include in any candidates’ brochures. Wyoming has no income tax, a low sales tax full of exemptions, low property tax, low fuel tax. Folks, if you want good highways, sewers, clean water and public safety, you gotta pay taxes. Fuel taxes ding non-residents; can’t we get behind that?
Obamacare: Folks, this is a federal law. Don’t vote for local officials or the Governor in hope that they will magically change this federal law. Isn’t it leadership to recognize your limitations and focus on things you CAN change?
Juvenile justice: why aren’t the candidates focusing on this huge issue? Steering problem children away from careers as druggies and criminals, why, this might be more important than hot-button topics like wolves and “fighting” the feds. The guardian ad litem program mandated by the Supreme Court is foundering under huge costs; it has to be fixed. Juveniles need separate incarceration facilities, but they need to be not incarcerated when correctional alternatives are available. This is one of the most complicated, difficult governmental issues in Wyoming.
Wind River Indian Reservation: Natives need to get over outrage that Europeans stole their land and European descendants need to get over their contempt for people with unique priorities. Disadvantaged people with ready access to alcohol and drugs do not effectively organize to achieve political goals; they fall upon each other in crime and predation. This happens in hopeless urban ghettoes in Illinois and Michigan and in Indian reservations across the nation. I don’t hear candidates for governor offering ideas on these topics. These are difficult issues, not well suited to tea party sound bites. Fremont County’s position on election redistricting is embarrassing to the entire state.