Four years from now in New Mexico ...

IMMINENT CATASTROPHE, N.M., Dec. 20, 2012 — A county commissioners' meeting last evening turned raucous, boisterous and contentious as citizens and reporters verbally tussled with first-term commissioners Seadub Smythe, Jocko Welkers and Happy Gilmore. The primary bone of contention was the large salary increase recently approved for the three commissioners and the newly-elected sheriff, Tyke Summers.

Reporter: Commissioner Smythe, how can you justify the salary increase from $86,000 to $107,000 for you and your fellow commissioners and the increase for Sheriff Tyke Summers from $106,000 to $128,000 during these times of grave financial crisis for the county and the community?

Seadub Smythe: We didn't really want the money, but the Budget Committee determined by comparative analysis with other counties that we were underpaid. We reluctantly accepted the raise.

Citizen: By comparative analysis do you mean the same statistical techniques by which I can show that each year Slippery Rock could beat Ohio State for the NCAA championship? Who's on this Budget Committee, anyway?

Seadub Smythe: The Budget Committee is composed of five people, the three commissioners, Jocko Welker's niece and a friend of hers. The vote was unanimous, 3-0 actually. Jocko's niece and her friend were over in Dumb And Happy that day shopping. Isn't that right, Jocko?

Jocko Welkers: Actually I think they went all the way to Fat And Lazy to them Factory Outlet Stores. The vote was unanimous though. We strive for transparency.

Reporter: I believe you have achieved it. Many citizens are concerned about the precarious financial condition of the county and the poor economy in general. How can you possibly turn this thing around?

Jocko Welkers: Calm down now, you're talking as if tomorrow were the end of the world. Seadub, Happy and I have a lot of experience in this type of situation. We've seen it all before.

Reporter: Yes, all three of you ran on the platform of having endured a similar crisis in Southern Oregon. So, what was the situation in Jackson County, Mr. Gilmore, and what did you do?

Happy Gilmore: It used to be call Jackson County.

Reporter: What is it called now?

Happy Gilmore: South Multnomah County. You see, there were several Southern Oregon counties in dire financial straits, so the state decided to merge Jackson, Josephine, Curry and several others into a supercounty. We believed that the new county should have a name that was reflective of the values, belief systems and more that Oregonians cherish.

Reporter: Well, at least that must have provided a boost for the economy of Medford, being the seat of such a large county.

Happy Gilmore: It was important that the county seat be reflective of the values, belief systems and mores that Oregonians cherish. Therefore, we moved the county seat to Ashland and changed its name to South Portland.

Citizen: Commissioner Smythe, the economy is horrible. I don't know of a single thriving business. Bankruptcies are multiplying. Buildings and houses are being boarded up. What can be done?

Seadub Smythe: Calm down, calm down. The world's not going to end tomorrow. Besides, I know of at least one thriving business, the Indian casino. We just received their mandatory financial status report yesterday. It's brief, not as complicated and detailed as most financial accounting, just four words: "The House Always Wins!"

Reporter: It's good that the casino is thriving, but what about the rest of the county? We have reports from ICE that increasing numbers of people are crossing the border illegally.

Jocko Welkers: Well see, now that's a good sign. People are coming up because they see opportunity.

Reporter: Mr. Welkers, I am referring to growing number of U.S. citizens crossing the border headed south to do the work that Mexicans won't do. What possible course of action can we take under these circumstances?

Jocko Welkers: I know what I'm going to do and will recommend to my fellow commissioners that they do the same. Heed the advice of Woody Allen in the movie of the same title — "Take the Money and Run!"

Dave Ingraham lives in Upper Evans Valley.

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