Childcare facility stalled by ideology
March 17, 2022
DAYTON – The Port of Columbia held its regular meeting at 5 p.m., March 9, 2022. Chair Genie Crowe, Commissioners Johnny Watts and Seth Bryan, and Port Director Jennie Dickinson, were present. There were members of the public attending in person and over fifty joining on Zoom.
Board Chair Crowe opened the meeting with public comment.
Dickinson began by reading two from many letters submitted to the board. County Commissioner, Charles Amerein, wrote of his fear that leasing port property to the Hospital District to build a childcare facility run by the private, nonprofit YWCA was nothing more than a plot to indoctrinate children into "soul-less" communism.
After quoting Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, he wrote, "As an American, I reject their goals and methods. While I empathize with those parents who find themselves in the difficult position of being unable to find childcare in our community, I would suggest instead of seeking more state control over their lives; they become active in seeking solutions to their problem through other means." Amerein concluded his letter with, "I oppose this attempt at state control over the formative years of our children's lives and the use of public funds to do so. I am sure that with the millions of dollars that leftist oligarchs donate each year to "worthy" causes, they can find a little to send to their puppets in rural Washington to create youth indoctrination centers. Leave my tax dollars out of it."
Most opponents to the proposed lease expressed similar fears about the facility being either state-sponsored or state-run while also afraid of the local YWCA as the operator. They do not want taxpayer money going into a childcare facility that receives any state or federal funding. The YWCA and the Columbia County Health System (CCHS) are private nonprofits and not state entities. However, U.S. taxpayers have historically voted and supported subsidies to protect necessary industries, including agriculture, childcare, education, aviation, and health care.
Dickinson read the second letter from J.L. Goldsmith, who wrote in favor of leasing land for the childcare center, emphasizing the economic need for the economy of Columbia County. The writer thought the proposal was a 'sweet solution,' and felt the stakeholder committee had done the legwork to show need, complete the design and drawings, and find funding.
"With just an approval to lease land at the BMS location, the port commissioners can fulfill the port's mission statement to maximize public resources and private investment to create jobs, provide infrastructure, and maintain and improve the economic vitality of Columbia County and its communities."
Goldsmith ended citing an article in the Harvard Review dated April 29, 2021, which describes childcare as a business, not a family issue; it is up to businesses to come up with creative solutions on how to provide childcare.
Both letters are printed in full and available as part of this article online at watisburgtimes.com.
The first speaker, Seth Murdock, began his statement saying he objected to the proposed childcare facility on funding grounds but was more concerned that the YWCA had been chosen to run the center. He objected to the nonprofit group after looking at the national website.
"I really didn't know anything about them. And I looked at their national website, and the motto for the YWCA is eliminating racism and empowering women, which may be noble ideas, but they also infer those are the two biggest problems that this country has. That we are inherently racist and misogynist as a society. I don't think that accurately reflects what this society is all about, and I don't think that an institution that is going to put that in the minds of children basically an attitude of victimization from day one that there's always somebody out there to get you that there's some reason you are being held back."
He ended his comments by saying, "I don't think that's a good fit, and it's definitely not a good fit for a state-sponsored institution. Obviously, they can do whatever they want on their own time, but I don't want my tax dollars going to it."
A copy of Murdock's letter in opposition to the lease is also printed in full and included with this article online at waitsburgtimes.com.
Winemaker David Harvey leases three units from the port for his business. He voiced concern regarding public statements and how some could hurt his business internationally.
He ships to Germany and the UK and hopes to partner with these businesses to expand, maybe building a new building on port property. He worries negative statements will have an impact on their decisions to work with him.
"I want to give my wholehearted support to this project. It's a great use of the port property," he said.
Harvey said the proposed facility would accentuate port property, make everyone's property more valuable, and create construction and ongoing maintenance jobs.
"This goes beyond political ideology; we are investing in the future of our children. And that's probably the most noble cause I can think of," said Harvey.
Columbia County Prosecutor Dale Slack spoke in favor of the project, saying the impact from the lack of childcare stretches across all socio-economic backgrounds. He shared his experience as a parent and an employer to stress the importance of this proposal. The complete lack of childcare available to his employees affects productivity at his office. He said he or his wife have missed work when his child's daycare needed to close for the day.
Slack responded to public comments that parents should have planned childcare before having children. He said there were two daycare centers when he and his wife had their child and reminded the commissioners that those businesses closed after the operators retired, not due to state regulations.
Concerning the YWCA's role, Slack said that opponents of the YWCA's role should talk to the local organization instead of judging them on the national website. He said the YWCA has worked in the community and is known in the area. He characterized Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, who was at the meeting, and his cousin Tabitha Haney as trustworthy, very moral, and very noble people who anyone concerned should get to know.
Vicki Zoller said she had a public request to see the emails sent to the commissioners, which overwhelmingly supported the land lease.
Zoller agreed that there are a lot of regulations on childcare businesses but reminded the commissioners that those regulations protect children and are there for a reason.
Amy Rosenberg said her story was illustrative of others who had to leave their jobs in Dayton after losing local childcare. She left her job at The Boldman House Museum to take one in Walla Walla to be near her child's daycare.
"I'm making a little bit more money, but that money is not coming back to this community. I don't spend as much as I would like to spend in Dayton. I spend most of my time in Walla Walla." She continued, "The other thing I wanted to say that maybe hasn't been addressed is that people have to work outside of the community; they lose their motivation to volunteer."
Nick DePaulo said, "Parents need to get together and go fight the state to lessen regulations so that we can have private business here. We're not going to get it in one night, I mean, we all understand that, but we can get it. The private business will create a tax base. It will be local people we know; we'll have more opportunity to pick who and where we want our kids to go instead of one facility. Anybody who thinks the state will not have some sort of hand in it later, to try to warp it just a little bit, that daycare, we're all naive about it then. The state, anytime they've said, 'Oh, we'll just leave it alone.' eventually, they start to change it."
Hannah Hulse, who works as a nurse, asked how the proposed center's operating hours would be able to cover all shifts. She said the facility shouldn't be on leased land. She ended by saying she was against government involvement.
Later in the meeting, Shane McGuire addressed the hours of operation for the facility. He said those decisions will be made after they start working with the client base. It is a consideration working with the provider, as most of the hospital's nurses have 12 hour shifts.
After initial public comments, the meeting moved to administrative items, including the budget report, leases, election expenses, and emails.
Dickinson presented an email from the county auditor explaining the increased cost to the port for the last election. The cost to the port for the previous year's election was $15,000, as opposed to past elections, which ranged between $2,000 and $5,000.
The auditor's emailed response stated the cost difference resulted from several issues, including labor cost increases, legislation changes and mandates, extended hours needed to keep up with the new voter registration system.
"We are now mandated by law to develop a voter's pamphlet for every election. Approximately $2,175 for printing and mailing for each election, plus staff time to create the pamphlets. This used to be paid for and published by the state, not anymore," the auditor wrote.
The auditor went on to list issues with printing, supplies, and pre-paid postage.
"Your commissioners could look at the changes in election laws over the last couple of years, and it will tell the story."
The commissioner decided to post their email addresses on the Port website for greater accessibility.
Dickinson reviewed the Democratic Rule of Order proposed by Bryan as a replacement for Robert's Rules of Order currently used in Port meetings. The Democratic Rules of Order are more informal and more straightforward, and Dickinson recommended they include them the next time they do a policy update.
Dickinson then returned to the proposed lease to the hospital district for the childcare facility. She reiterated the lease specifies the hospital will build the building without aid from the port. The first term of the lease would be for twenty years, followed by six five-year extensions, totaling fifty years.
Bette Lou Crothers spoke on behalf of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce about the childcare proposal, asking, "Why not on port property? The chamber believes this topic to be a city, county, port, chamber, and community issue. We want to help bring to light the positive impact the childcare facility would make on economic development to businesses and community members alike.
"There are many obvious reasons for the Chamber of Commerce's support of this childcare facility in our community. One, the obvious, we are in desperate need of childcare.
"Childcare was voted as one of the top three lead projects for economic development during our economic development steering committee meetings in 2022. As you may remember from the presentation, there are over three-hundred forty kids under the age of eight in our little community. Rather than drive these children to Walla Walla every day or not go to work that day, we can make it happen in Dayton, and we need to. With the childcare facility in our community, it creates a positive economic impact by creating a new business in our community that brings new jobs, taxes, and services.
"It provides our businesses with a reliable workforce. When employees can plan for daycare, they are less likely to miss work and create a burden on the business and its other employees. A childcare facility also gives our kids a safe environment and a consistent schedule, as well as a place for social and educational services."
She finished by saying the facility supports the port's mission and asked again, "Why not on port property? Is this not part of the port's mission?"
Crowe said other commissioners may have expected a workshop on this issue, but it never happened. She and the other commissioners received a letter from Shane McGuire, the CEO of CCHS, saying he was tentatively planning a community workshop for April.
McGuire, attending on Zoom, said he had reached out to the chamber and another group about hosting the workshop but had not heard back. The public workshop would consist of a panel of stakeholders, those knowledgeable, to answer questions from the community.
He responded to earlier comments about the government running the childcare facility. He did not know where that was coming from. The hospital wants to build a building for childcare. It does not want to indoctrinate children. He didn't understand the concerns and had no idea where they were coming from.
Addressing concerns about who would run the program, McGuire said the hospital was willing to make a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find operators. However, there was already a connection with the YWCA in the community. In addition, they would be hiring locals, 10-15 new jobs so that it would be people known in the community.
McGuire asked if the board was willing to entertain the possibility of leasing to the hospital.
Watts answered that the question was if the port would even entertain the idea of leasing land. He complained that after first hearing about the proposal, he felt the timeline for funding was forcing them to respond quickly.
Listing concerns, he disputed the reassurances that the facility would not be run by the government and expressed concern about traffic safety. He complained the presentation contained too much information, but there wasn't enough about things like snow removal plans.
Watts repeatedly revisited ECEAP and Head Start programs, fearing that even if the facility did not offer to host those programs now, they would certainly come later.
More information on both programs may be found at https://tinyurl.com/yynvd42a
Watts said he appreciated the local YWCA program but criticized the YWCA for its national legislative agenda. He also criticized the YWCA for no longer calling themselves "Christian." In his opinion, they changed their name because they didn't want Christian in their name since the government gives more money to non-Christian entities.
In 1985, the YWCA changed its name from Young Women's Christian Association of the United States of America, Inc. to YWCA USA, Inc. The YMCA, not connected to YWCA, changed its name in 2010 to the shortened "Y". Both changes are consistent with other businesses, including KFC, LG, and WW, that have shortened their names to align with popular use.
Bryan said he sees the value of a community forum but does not support using port resources for a childcare facility.
He read the port's mission statement, "To maximize public resources and private investment create jobs, provide infrastructure, and maintain and improve the economic vitality of Columbia County and its communities." He then read the definition of "maximize." He said the facility would not offer a living wage to its employees.
Bryan said, "If you say that daycare is infrastructure because people need to have daycare in order to get to their jobs, while roads are infrastructure because people need to get to their jobs on roads, how can you make that parallel between those two? It just doesn't add up. So, I don't really see it aligning with building infrastructure."
Continuing, "Our community isn't going to shrivel up and die just because it doesn't have a daycare. People aren't going to move away and never come back for lack of childcare. A resilient community will see a problem, and they are going to work together and find solutions for that problem. The most efficient and best way to raise children has always been in a home/family environment. I do not believe a government-sponsored or a government-run daycare is a solution to that."
He did not offer any alternative solutions. Though he said he supports a community forum on the proposal, and that a childcare facility would be built, he said it would be in a different area.
Crowe felt she could rebut every issue raised by Watt and Bryan, saying, "I'm in favor of this because new families may not come here, because we don't have the infrastructure. I think it's an infrastructure. I believe that without these types of service businesses, you're not going to get people to come here. You have less people coming here and less tax revenue coming into the community. We are not going to be able to maintain so many of the things we already have available like water, sewer, roads, without families coming in."
Crowe said she submitted her name to be considered for commissioner because she wanted to see her community succeed. She does not see it without a daycare, and at this moment, this is the only option.
She said she believes it is important to have childcare and that the Blue Mountain Station is the best location for the facility. Crowe said she wants economic vibrancy, which she pointed out had been part of Byron and Watts campaign platforms.
Because of the opposition of Watt and Bryan, the port took no action on the land lease proposal from the hospital.
There was to be a presentation on housing, but it was postponed due to lack of time.
No action was required on any other items on the evening's agenda.
The commissioner's meeting adjourned at about 7 p.m.
Below are the two letters read at the Port Commissioners meeting. One against the lease proposal, one in favor. The letters were provided to The Times by the port following a public request by paper.
All of the letters submitted to the port about this issue are available through a public records request at https://www.portofcolumbia.org/contact-us/public-records-requests/
A third letter from Dayton resident Seth Murdock is also included below. This letter was sent to Dayton City Council members, Columbia County Commissioners, and the Port Commissioners. It is against the lease proposal and any government subsidized childcare. There has been interest in the community about the comments Murdoch made in the meeting and the letter.
Notes from publisher:
Since these letters were sent to the port and not to the Times editor, the paper did a routine check for factual inaccuracies, not on the writer's content. The letters are printed as submitted to the Port of Columbia. The paper fact checks every article we print to protect the writer and The Times.
To the Port Commissioners,
I have recently become aware of plans that call for the formation of a childcare facility on Port property.
It is ironic that a State sponsored program is being proposed as a solution to the State created problem of lack of childcare in our community.
To be clear, Washington State chose to regulate small local businesses providing childcare out of existence and now proposes to address this shortage, not by repealing the legislation, but by using taxpayer funds to create a state controlled entity. I do not trust Washington State with that control over our children.
First a quote from Marx,
"The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions."
Then a quote from Vladimir Lenin,
"Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted."
These are not statements from men with the best interests of a Constitutional Republic in mind, nor did they have any love for the United States of America. Their goal has always been a soulless worldwide communism and the destruction of freedom and free people.
As an American I reject their goals and methods.
While I empathize with those parents who find themselves in the difficult position of being unable to find childcare in our community, I would suggest instead of seeking more state control over their lives they become active in seeking solutions to their problem through other means.
Last session (2021) the Washington Legislature passed laws limiting the ability of law enforcement to stop and detain suspects. As brilliant as that idea was, due to public outcry, this session (2022), it looks to be repealed. If parents want options for childcare in their communities, they should be letting the Legislature know, in no uncertain terms, how they feel about their decisions.
I oppose this attempt at State control over the formative years of our children's lives and the use of public funds to do so. I am sure that with the millions of dollars that leftist oligarchs donate each year to "worthy" causes they can find a little to send to their puppets in rural Washington to create youth indoctrination centers. Leave my tax dollars out of it.
The quote attributed to Karl Marx was incomplete, the full quote is:
"The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense."
Source: The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels, 1888 edition.
Context: Referring to an ideal where all children would have free and equal access to education.
The quote attributed to Vladimir Lenin has not been cited to any written document or witnessed speech by Lenin. It is not an acceptable citation for use in educational texts.
This is similar to a credited quote by the Greek philosopher Aristotle who said, "Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man," generally accepted as saying the first seven years of a child's life is the most informative to their development as an adult.
It is often attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order.
The Washington State legislature is not repealing the 2021 Law Enforcement legislation. The legislature passed and the governor signed two bills that clarify portions of the 2021 legislation. One lowered the threshold for use-of-force in cases of violent crimes to "reasonable suspicion" from "probable cause."
The second bill allows law enforcement agencies to buy .50 and higher caliber less than letheal weapons and ammunition.
Below is the second letter read at the meeting.
March 7, 2022
Port of Columbia
1 Port Way
Dayton, WA 99328
RE: Childcare Center in Dayton
First, I want to say I was sorry that I missed the presentation from the Childcare Facility Stakeholder Committee at last month's meeting. I reviewed their presentation material and all I could say when I got to slide 15 - The Solution - is that I said to myself – ''what a sweet solution''. The Stakeholder Committee has certainly done the legwork for this proposal: evaluated several sites as to their pros/cons and selected the one that checks off the most necessary criteria, completed drawings and artist's renditions of the proposed site selected, surveyed Columbia County citizens to show that there is a need for childcare, designed the desired structure, put together initial funding and brought together financially viable stakeholders' who are clearly vested in a workable solution to a problem that affects workers and employers throughout the county.
With just an approval to lease land at the Blue Mountain Station location for this project, the Port Commissioners can fulfill their mission statement of maximizing public resources (the land) to provide infrastructure, and maintain and improve the economic vitality of Columbia County and its communities. The other stakeholders have done all the legwork. Now, I understand that daycare is not listed as a specific activity to be performed at Blue Mountain Station but then again, it is not forbidden either. Childcare improves the economic vitality of the county. As this summary from the April 29, 2021 article 'Childcare is a Business Issue' in the Harvard Business Review states:
"Childcare is not a family issue, it is a business issue. It affects how we work, when we work and for many, why we work. Moving forward, employer-provided child care could also influence where we work. Employers that provide high-quality childcare will not only differentiate themselves from the competition but will also create a "sticky" benefit that fosters retention. Employees are less likely to move to a new job if it also means moving their childcare from an environment they love and trust. It is up to businesses to think creatively about ways to build the childcare infrastructure we need to help working parents keep working for their families, and the economy as a whole."
Maybe it would be great if private enterprise could provide this service for Dayton families, but that ship has evidently sailed. Communities like Dayton have relied on government or quasi-government help for decades. REA was rural electrification – electricity came to the hinterlands through subsidization by the federal government. Those outside of town have this service. The same happened in many rural areas with the rural Telecom Act. Not too many towns, though, had a rich person who could set up their own telephone exchange. So here we are again, the community is asking the Board of a State funded agency to pass some of our tax money back down to us in the form of a lease of bare undeveloped land to the Columbia County Health Systems so that they may build a building, which they will contract to the YWCA to setup and run a daycare in. The fact that the largest employer in Dayton is one of the Stakeholders in this project emphasizes how important this issue is to Dayton and its citizens. All of its citizens, even those of us who do not have children and want to see the community prosper.
Please vote to lease a parcel within the Blue Mountain Station footprint for the Dayton childcare facility.
The Harvard Review article "Childcare is a business issue" is available online at https://hbr.org/2021/04/childcare-is-a-business-issue
The 2019 Port of Columbia report on areas largest employers is available at
CCHS is listed as the largest employer with 183 total employees, and 162 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) employees.
Below is the letter to Dayton elected officials from Seth Murdock.
Port Commissioners, County Commissioners, and City Councilmen,
This is primarily a Port issue at the moment, but I'm including the latter two groups because these things tend to spread.
I'm writing to voice my disapproval with the proposed childcare facility on Port ground. My guess is you've already heard the funding side of this argument (but I'll tell you again just in case), wherein two public entities collaborate with each other on a state-of-the-art facility, and when challenged with the common where-is-the-money-coming-from question conveniently fall back on these two arguments:
From the Port: The Port of Columbia is just donating the land, Columbia County Health is paying for the build, after which the Port will receive lease payments.
From Columbia County Health: The Hospital is just paying for the build, the Port is donating the land and the facility is being run by a non-profit.
My rejoinder to both these arguments is this: What is the origin of every penny spent and every asset held by a public institution? A small amount does (or at least may) come from charitable contributions from individuals or foundations, etc. But the vast majority comes from or came from taxpayers, and camouflaging this fact by umpteen degrees of separation (as in federal or state grants) does not stop it from being true. So telling me that a whole boatload of money is being spent on a truly magnificent facility (look at the drawings!), but not to worry about the funding because I won't get a bill from you is like telling me that you're going to mow my lawn for free all year but your kid's landscaping service will bill me.
Even if it is decided that a public daycare facility should be built, how could it possibly be responsible to build the Taj Mahal of daycare facilities? Are the Federal, State, and Local governments undergoing some crazy surplus in tax revenues? Take a moment and project this Port childcare proposal onto a private business― let's call it the kid's landscaping service from above. The landscaping service is struggling, to put it lightly. He's over-leveraged and his cash flow has waned to such a degree that overdue bills are starting to pile up and nasty phone calls are filling up his voicemail. His equipment is serviceable but barely, his employees are looking for other jobs, and his competition is outperforming him. So he goes out and buys a fleet of brand new zero-turn riding mowers at zero down and hires an unassuming paint shop to shoot them in a flashy new paint job with company colors and logo. Good move? Only in a world without accountability, the world of government.
If we must have a childcare facility, there is a downtown with what appears to be a lot of empty buildings, and even the existing port buildings at Blue Mountain Station don't seem to be a real beehive of activity. Did anyone even think of repurposing those? Do we really need a new fleet of zero-turn mowers with fancy paint jobs, or is this a vanity project?
After all the arguments on funding have been made we come to that last little bit about being run by a non-profit, specifically an organization called the YWCA. The YWCA's local website looks innocent enough, but a couple things stuck out to me. The first is that nowhere on the website is the YWCA acronym spelled out. Go to national website, "YWCA USA" and still nothing. The closest you get is to go way back on the timeline under the History heading and find that in 1858 the first association in the US, the Ladies Christian Association, was formed, from which apparently the YWCA morphed. A YWCA leadership program even goes so far as co-opting the acronym in order to give it a more modern, socially-acceptable appeal, in the form of Young Women Choosing Action. In truth, YWCA used to stand for Young Women's Christian Association, and it doesn't take long on the YWCA USA national website to see why they no longer want to spell out their acronym, because the YWCA is about as Christian as cigarettes, hookers and booze. The YWCA is religious only in their devotion to the new holy trinity of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I encourage you to explore the website's resource library to get an overview of the YWCA's values and priorities. Make sure to visit the Family Planning Chat/Text Program page, where young women can chat with Planned Parenthood "health educators", ostensibly on how best to expedite an abortion. Spend some quality time on the page, and then ponder what they might be teaching your children while you're out doing the Lord's work fielding phone calls at the Acme Corporation.
The YWCA's motto, or at least its masthead, is a succinct little couplet of Newspeak:
"Eliminating racism" is a noble cause in and of itself, although entirely eliminating racism would require first eliminating the human race, but we get the idea. The odd thing about YWCA's use of this as a definitive part of who they are is that we happen to live in perhaps the most racially diverse society in human history, and that society― by any objective standard― is also the least racist, racially-tense, or racially-segregated society in human history. In fact, looking at our society today it's easy to find that the biggest tensions between races are driven by people and organizations like YWCA, who insist on perceiving racism everywhere by default, an "unconscious" racism of which you can only be absolved by proclaiming you are guilty.
"Empowering women", on the other hand, is not a noble cause at all― just an insult. It follows in the same vein as all the stupid girl-power slogans that you see on bumper stickers and Oprah. It assumes that women are powerless without some government program or NGO ad-campaign to empower them, like they are somehow less than fully developed. "Empowering women" rings of that disingenuous, almost child-like exuberant encouragement that soft-hearted meatheads give fat people who are obviously taking their first swing at the gym. If the YWCA really felt that women needed to be empowered, it would simply tell them to embrace their femininity and maternal instinct, for therein lies more power than a planet of solid uranium. Tell the Acme Corporation to field their own phone calls, and go get your kids out of daycare.
Being a person who finds the confluence of public institutions and children a recipe for indoctrination and disaster, I'm against any kind of government-sponsored or government-organized childcare facility from the start. I am a purist when it comes to childcare, in that I believe that parents should raise their own children, with family and close friends filling the gaps. In cases where that is not possible, we should be encouraging local private groups or individuals to actively disregard the draconian regulations that the state has leveled against private daycares in order to drive them out of business and advance government childcare schemes such as the one we're now speaking of. That is, after all, the end game. Get them while they're young, and you got them. Build a big brand new building with attractive landscaping and playsets and all the appointments of wellness and learning and goodness and six helpings of organic vegetables a day. Play that creepy Good Humor organ-grinder tune out of a bullhorn at the top, and watch the kids come running.
The YWCA will take it from there.