Letter To The Editor: A Quick Comment On The REC Bond Discussion

By RALPH CHAPMAN
Los Alamos

Just a few quick notes on this REC Bond thingy. There have been some solid arguments made by members on both sides of the issue. Khalil Spencer’s comments against voting Yes were, not surprisingly or unusually, strong and well thought out. The large number of comments made in favor of voting Yes also make strong points about the effect of the Bond on the long-term health and vitality of the County. So, there is good reason to have a useful and civil discussion of this issue.

How I voted actually anticipated a comment suggesting we look at this from an entrepreneurial aspect by Dr. Shin. I have been participating in various entrepreneurial efforts in a variety of roles since I have been here in Los Alamos and feel I understand the nature of entrepreneurship pretty well. It tends to have a very Watergate-ian aspect in that one must follow the money ― what person or group benefits ― and that really tells the tale here.         

In a community like ours, it will be amazingly difficult for an entrepreneur to be successful at providing any of the basic services covered by the resources of the bill (except maybe the golf course and any food services attached to them). There is not currently the population base and distribution to make it a gamble worth taking for an individual entrepreneur trying to make money.

A main problem is that much of the great benefit (the money) to be had from these items is, indeed, at the County level. This is the direct and accurate statement made by its proponents; that these resources will help keep the population structure of the County vital and ensure that property values and various tax revenues will be strong as family-building groups of people will look at the County as a great place to live and move here (OK long sentence that one). I think this is true, especially as the more senior people are inevitably replaced by younger ones. It also means that the suggestions by some that the Bond will be bad for small businesses here is simply incorrect. A vital community is better for everyone living in it, including small businesses.

Further much of what is included in the Bond are things typically paid for by central pools of money.

So, back to entrepreneurship. I think the way to look at this is, as I said, to follow the money. Who will benefit strongly from it. Because a vital community is typically also a financially strong community, I would suggest that, by trying to do this Bond, that it is the County (including all of us in it) that is the entrepreneur in this case. It (we) will put up the money as an investment towards a strong return in revenues from the more vital community that results. So, I would suggest that Dr. Shin’s comment, although useful in general, misidentified the appropriate entrepreneur; she missed the one that can realistically make the entrepreneurial model work ―  the County. For this reason, I voted in favor of the Bond.

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