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"During the last presidential campaign, scant notice was given to every item on each candidate's platform. However, one part of the Bush administration's approach to military policy is to revisit base closures.Texas Sen. Phil Gramm has said that the Bush administration will close more bases. Some bases may be closed as early as this year, according to a recent Navy Times news brief. Communities with a big investment in military bases cannot be complacent, is a statement from the Jan. 30, 2001, Corpus Christi, Texas' Caller-Times. Oak Harbor and Island County are strongly invested in Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. In March 1995, the base dodged being closed, primarily through efforts of the Save Our Base committee's efforts. In the last round of base closures, Texas lost a Navy base in Beeville. Other military facilities in the state survived later rounds of closures. What does Texas have to fear with a former Texas governor in the White House? Probably very little. And that's the way politics are played: The home town (or state) are usually protected.What do Washington state and Oak Harbor have to fear? Maybe a good bit. While Sen. Patty Murray has built some seniority, we have Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Rick Larsen - both new to Washington, D.C. And the state has several military facilities. Facilities that could be closed.Oak Harbor has relied on the Navy for years. Some would say that this reliance is bad and it's long past time to develop business diversity. But, with estimates of annual payroll at $248 million and 70 percent of the community with ties to the Navy, can Oak Harbor truly survive the hit of a closure? Certainly, other areas that had bases closed survived and even thrived. Alexandria, La., turned England Air Force Base into a successful business park, for example. But is Oak Harbor ready for a base closure? Is Oak Harbor or Island County even thinking about the possibility of a base closure? The area can't afford to wait for a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission to release a list of base closures. It's time to start a plan to defend the base. The city, school board and any and all local government departments are hurting for positive cash flow.Whether you like it or not, Oak Harbor and Island County do rely heavily on military dollars. "

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