Remember the movie "Cool Hand Luke," in which the Southern sheriff says in that drawl of his, "What we got here is a failure to communicate!"? (It sounds so much better than it reads.)

We thought of that line when we heard about the recent communications failures in county government, and how it forced advocates for a Housing Bank funded by a real estate tax to delay for three months their plan to submit it to a vote of the people.

And speaking of a lack of communication or, if you like, a miscommunication, San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord must accept most of the responsibility for what went wrong. As soon as he and deputy Prosecutor Karen Vedder realized all the steps that would need to be taken if the county was to meet its Aug. 19 deadline, he should have been pounding the drums until the commissioners fully realized, and with plenty of time, that they were the ones responsible for putting together both a resolution and a spending plan. We have no doubt that Kevin Ranker and Alan Lichter would then have taken the necessary steps to get the Housing Bank on the November ballot. Both commissioners have said on many occasions that affordable housing is desperately needed, and that the Housing Bank provides the county with an opportunity to lessen the extent of the problem.

Perhaps things would have been different if Rhea Miller was still a county commissioner, but it was too much to expect our new commissioners to be familiar with all the hoops that must be jumped through when devising an ordinance, particularly one leading up to a vote of the people.

Then again, maybe this snafu will be for the best. Advocates for affordable housing will be the first to tell you that they're going to need some time educating local voters about the need for a Housing Bank funded by a real estate excise tax. Had they stuck to their original plan and placed it on the November ballot, they would have been competing with a county charter, a state gas tax, an election for county commissioner, and a whole host of local races.

By waiting until February, they'll not only have more time, they'll also have less competition during the days leading up to a vote of the people.

Thanks to Jackie and Aloysia for bringing us world-class concerts once again

For the eighth consecutive year, local people are being treated to something extra special. We're speaking about the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, which continues to grow in size and stature.

Thank Jon (Jackie) Kimura Parker and Aloysia Friedmann for bringing us chamber music concerts that are as good as any that you will find in the world. These two renowned musicians are able to bring the best musicians to Orcas because their word counts for a great deal among musicians who are at the top of their professions.

That Jackie and Aloysia are eager to bring them to Orcas Island every year is proof that they love the island, have embraced it, and want to give something back to our community. We're very fortunate that they count themselves as fellow islanders, and that they consider us to be their friends and neighbors.

But let's not also forget the vital role that local people play to bring the festival to Orcas Island. Jackie and Aloysia couldn't put on the festival without the help of many generous islanders who are spending substantial amounts of money sponsoring both the concerts and the performers. They too deserve our heartfelt gratitude.

Oh, yes, tickets are still available for several of the concerts, and don't forget that you can always come to Orcas Center just prior to a concert and hope that one or more seats will remain vacant.

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