Jim Clark: The bond between Incline/Crystal Bay and Scotland
Despite all the media reports about the Sept. 18 election by which Scotland could vote itself to be a sovereign nation, a Rasmussen poll discloses that 51 percent of Americans could care less and 33 percent couldn’t find Scotland on a map.
We don’t see this indifference in Incline/Crystal Bay. Here locals are enamored of an amber colored adult beverage which smells pleasantly of peat smoke, our high school mascot is a kilted highlander and we hold in common with the Scotties a mythical lake monster (“Nessie” in Loch Ness, “Tessie” in Tahoe).
But the real Tahoe/Scotland bond is political. We both crave independence and home rule. How did Scotland come to be part of the United Kingdom in the first place? For thousands of years Scots regularly raided England.
In 122 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a wall along the border to keep Scots out but that only worked as long as Roman soldiers were there to enforce it. Romans left in the 5th century and the raids resumed. In the 13th century, English King Edward I brought his army north and subdued Scotland, but in the 14th century, Scots under Robert the Bruce regained their independence.
In the 16th century, English King Henry VIII married off his sister, Margaret, to King James IV of Scotland in hopes of a political accord. Their heirs became entitled not only to the Scottish throne, but by virtue of the combination of Tudor and Stuart, blood also became distant heirs to the throne of England.
Ultimately, Henry’s daughter Elizabeth became queen of England, never married and died without an heir. Parliament found King James VI of Scotland was in line for the English throne, so in 1603, he also became King James I of England. For a century thereafter, Scottish Parliament members had to go see their king in London to get anything done, so in 1707, they merged their parliament into England’s and thus was born the United Kingdom.
With that brief history, the political parallels between Scotland and Incline/Crystal Bay become apparent. Scots endured four centuries of having to brave weather and go to London. It got worse with the North Sea oil find off Aberdeen, Scotland. All the proceeds and tax revenues go to England. Gradually, London began to shift power to Edinburg on matters related to Scotland, but didn’t turn loose of any revenue streams.
The Sept. 18 Scottish independence election was won 55 percent to 45 percent by unionists so Scotland will remain part of Great Britain. However pre-election inducements were made to Scots if they voted to remain in the union which will now have to be delivered. These inducements include promises of greater control over spending and taxes as well as home rule over all matters except national security and monetary policy.
This is reminiscent of Incline/Crystal Bay’s history of seeking to become a separate county. Four times since 1980, “highlanders” from our community have gone to the legislature looking to create a new county out of Incline/Crystal Bay. Four times we have failed.
But each time we came away with something. The Incline Visitors & Convention Center was created; the legislature voted us our own school district (only to be vetoed by then Governor Miller); and Washoe County supported our town effort offering to share tax revenues (only to be voted down by local voters).
Our assessed value is the economic equivalent of Scotland’s North Sea oil. It is 13 percent of all Washoe County’s. Approximately $35 million per year goes over the hill, and about $20 million of it returns to be spent on local schools and county services. It’s not ever going to get better on its own. We need to continue to fight for a larger share of our own taxes and authority to spend it.
As Emperor Hadrian found out, a wall alone won’t do it.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He was a member of the 1995 New County Committee and Chaired the 1997 Independent School Board Committee.