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OPINION: We are all paying KCRCC's bills

by CHRISTA HAZEL/Guest Opinion
| February 2, 2024 1:00 AM

In the stark wintery landscape of North Idaho, a disconcerting trend emerges for local Republicans — one of frivolous government spending that jeopardizes the core fiscal responsibility championed by our platform and way of life. Unfortunately, some of our elected leaders, predominantly Republican, are part of the problem.

Examining the major stories unfolding at North Idaho College, the Kootenai County Assessor's office, and the Community Library Network reveals a pattern of so-called 'fiscal Conservatives' spiraling out of control.

Ronald Reagan's astute insight, "The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that the government spends too much," resonates deeply among North Idahoans. At NIC, the ongoing legal turmoil and significant financial implications stemming from "frivolous" disputes among elected officials reveals a departure from the principles of limited government intervention and responsible spending advocated by Ronald Reagan.

Recently, Judge Barry McHugh ordered NIC to provide public records and awarded more attorney fees, which will be added to the $511,404 already paid to attorneys in 2023. The board's majority trustees are in power due to Brent Regan's leadership of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. Brent Regan's rating and vetting system resulted in vigorous endorsements of all three as "highly rated and vetted." 

The Kootenai County Assessor's office, under the "highly rated and vetted" leadership of Béla Kovacs, simultaneously grapples with a $53 million valuation error and delayed tax notices. This operational inefficiency exposes a lack of stringent oversight and raises concerns about prudent decision-making and careful consideration in implementing new processes. 

Ronald Reagan's warning against excessive government spending becomes particularly upsetting as financial costs mount due to sloppy errors, posing an additional layer of concern for taxpayers.

The Community Library Network's budget debate reflects a broader issue of local control going awry. Some within the board, "highly rated and vetted" political candidates Tom Hanley, Rachelle Ottosen and Tim Plass, question the library's free services and allege conspiracy or that the “occult” is involved in book purchases. Reminiscent of John Birch Society types, this seemingly puritanical agenda is a divergence from the foundational Republican virtue of fiscal responsibility.

All seven "highly rated and vetted" candidates for NIC, the Assessor's office, and the CLN cited "fiscal responsibility" as a priority during their campaigns. Yet, no less than three Kootenai County judges in less than a year have cited frivolous arguments advanced by attorneys representing so-called "fiscally conservative" officials.

Since ‘We, The People’ are funding their follies, we have a right to ask more questions. Knowing what we know now, Idaho conservatives and traditional Republicans should question the alignment between professed longtime Republican principles and the actual dysfunctional governance unfolding at local offices.

The National Republican Platform states, "A strong economy is one key to debt reduction, but spending restraint is a necessary component that must be vigorously pursued."

Tensions within local Republican groups stem from uncompromising agendas, championed by "highly rated and vetted" Republicans. These actions, lacking compromise, have incurred costs for 'We the People' in the form of lawsuits, community division and weakened institutions. 

Political agendas should not take priority over integrity, responsible public spending and fiscal accountability. The failure to do so poses risks, depletes funds, and harms the community. 

North Idaho Republicans, with its nearly 30 formerly elected local Republican leaders, and hundreds of conservative community members, maintains a strong commitment to good and honest governance, and the bedrock traditional Republican principles of smaller, less intrusive government, fiscal prudence and personal responsibility.

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Christa Hazel is a former KCRCC Precinct Committeewoman, former school board trustee and a member of the North Idaho Republicans.