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"Bridge Views, Feb. 23, 2000"
"As Island County's planning woes have taken yet another turn for the weird, I feel compelled to once again - and positively for the last time - offer the capable and much less expensive services of my cocker spaniels to the grand task of planning the island's future.Just to bring you up to speed, this has been the county's approach:A. Put the whole thing off for about eight years.B. Then hire a really expensive attorney toC. Write a really complicated plan that runs to lots of pages and incursD. Lots of legal bills in its defense.When all is said and done, this approach has cost us a bundle - more than $720,000 last year alone in legal bills - and has ignored a much less expensive alternative.My cocker spaniels, Spud and Elly, have been working on the county's plan since 1997 when I threw a rough draft into their backyard kennel.The thing is a bit chewed up and dog-eared now. In fact, I think the cockers have abandoned any pretense of working with the county's drafts and have moved on to a solution of their own.The secret is in their diggy holes.Yes, I first noticed a pattern in their work two years ago as their snoots strategically nudged muddy dirt from the corners of their chain link enclosure.Their work progressed, finally emerging into the interior of their confines. Slowly - ever so slowly - the dogs' ingenious device became apparent: through a series of deep holes and shallow tunnels, they established a Morse code of sorts.Quite roughly translated, the holes conveyed a message: Woof, woof. Snuffle, snuffle.''While this was more articulate and useful than anything produced by the county's volunteer Planning Commission in its first seven years of work, I briefly decided to place my faith in the hands of the county commissioners' approach, thinking that surely their hired gun, Keith Dearborn, could create a more articulate plan for our future.He has, indeed, created a more articulate plan. However, his bill has also cost considerably more than the chew bones and Moist 'N' Meaty bits demanded by the dogs.Fortunately, and perhaps in the nick of time, a recent breakthrough has revealed to me the true cleverness of the dogs. Using a new computer program that can translate any language into any other language, I have re-translated the cocker's Morse code diggy notes out of the original doggerel and into a rough English phrase.And this - totally free of charge, with no obligation on the county's part should it choose to adopt it as its own - is the dogs' plan:N-o M-o-r-e P-e-o-p-l-e.That's it. As I said, I pass it along at no charge, simply as a public service. Just throw us a bone here and there, if you will.David Fisher is editor of the News-Times."