Democratizing economic development will allow an informed electorate to decide on the future of the county rather than leaving it to a small band of myopic potentates.
In recent decades the same people and the very same organizations now promoting the Jordan Cove LNG terminal have promised the citizens of Coos County literally thousands of jobs. None of these promises were kept, unfortunately, but were always made as part of a marketing campaign associated with any one of dozens of taxpayer funded or subsidized economic development boondoggles. In every case, the local paper acting in its role as the publicity arm of the Port of Coos Bay and the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce would publish quotes from self professed authorities expounding upon what our local economy needs.
Again and again, the schemes failed. (Read The JOB Messiahs). From the Crosline Ferry, to the T-Dock, to imaginary container terminals all the way to ORC and, one could argue, the Coos Bay Rail Link none have shown a positive return to the taxpayer. Still the likes of Frank Martin, Jeff Bishop, John Sweet, Jon Barton, Timm Slater, Ron Opitz and Jason Smith were granted a legitimacy by the media simply by virtue of an appointed position or employment in an established company. Never were any of these promoters held accountable for these failures.
The county owned and publicly funded 12″ gas pipeline was enthusiastically promoted by the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, the now defunct FONSI (Friends of New and Sustainable Industry), the Port of Coos Bay and SCDC (South Coast Development Council). The pipeline was promised to be a “game changer” and will bring “2,900 jobs” to Coos County. ECONorthwest, the same “independent” consulting firm used by Jordan Cove and SCDC to justify the new terminal claimed the pipeline “…project will have the direct impact of adding $4,262,200 in income to Coos County… It will boost output in Coos County by $18,679,600 and support the equivalent of over 162 jobs for local residents.” Again, sadly, none of these predictions even came close but that doesn’t stop pro-gas boosters from using the firm to bolster present claims.
Not that all observers of the parade of economic development follies have conveniently forgotten the failed promises and the names of those making the promises but why do the media continue to buy these same pitches from the same pitchmen? Are we gullible, desperate or, as demonstrated by some commenters, is it a studied obtuseness that allows the county to fall victim again and again?
Recently I attended a meeting of property owners in the path of the proposed 36″ Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline in Douglas County. Reactions to having their homes and livelihoods stripped from them using eminent domain to benefit a Canadian company were heartfelt and extreme. One woman declared her willingness to lay down in front of the bulldozers if she had to while another man said if the construction crews crossed his land against his wishes there would be nothing left to do “but shoot ’em.”
The Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance seeks to “democratize” economic development by allowing an informed electorate to determine the county’s future, rather than the same small miserable band of potentates. Passing this ordinance will throw the Jordan Cove debate into an entirely different arena.