Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas season is well under way. The spirit of the season, however, seems to get lost amidst the activity - or perhaps it's just that life, both the good and the bad, continues no matter what.
The most vocal community advocate in Coeur d'Alene, Mary Souza, has been booted from the Planning and Zoning Commission. The obvious reason is because she was a vocal critic of the Mayor and City Council, who appointed her, and the LCDC, our version of an urban renewal commission. She had an opinion column in the Coeur d'Alene Press but it did not appear this Friday. Perhaps it was because of the Thanksgiving holiday; or not. We'll see. No matter, I have a few thoughts about the whole sorry mess that dominated the elections earlier this month.
Bearing in mind this is still a small town, people who choose or are chosen to serve aren't always as politically astute as they might be. And there are those who are and use it to their advantage. The council hasn't had a majority of fresh faces for years and electing the chair of P&Z this year does not change that. Former mayors and long time (and I mean long time) councilmen and their former appointees who are compliant are now in place.
Those who want an opportunity to serve have the deck stacked against them; especially if they dare to "question". Is this really what's best for the city?
It also shows that if you have questions you dare not ask them or you will be isolated and and belittled, especially on the local blogs where you are likely to be photoshopped unmercifully. This has gotten to the point of being sophomoric.
Now granted, Ms. Souza was not politic in criticizing those who appointed her. On the other hand, who better could point out the discrepancies of behavior, law, spirit of the law and the ignoring of it? Who will fill that informational void? The press as a whole does not give detailed reporting of the meetings and not everyone can dig through the minutes on the internet. Should this not be their responsibility to the community? Warm and fuzzies are nice; community news should be an essential.
While Ms. Souza's points were not always made as clearly, nor backed up as fully, as they could have been, she was an opinion columnist; not a reporter. But she did try. Whether an appointee or not, she is still a citizen and as such has the right to question and point out problems as she sees them. The CDA Press thought so to the point of running her column.
As things stand right now, local politics are little more than a state of confusion. No question has been adequately answered. The questioners that were running for office did not have the power structure behind them thus losing the financial ability to match their opposition during the campaign. So many things were rumored to have happened it's enough to make your head spin. What I do know is that massive construction of fancy new buildings does not a community make. I think that is the point that has been ignored throughout. Ends do not necessarily justify the means.
I've said before, I don't live within the city limits, and cannot vote there. I was marginally involved by doing some word smithing for a friend who ran for council. My interest and concerns, however, are driven by the potential spill over into the County. I'll be watching and listening. The communities within the county are closely intertwined and what affects them will in time affect us.
For now, however, I'm tired of local politics and posturing. I'm going to give it a rest. Christmas is coming. I'm going to try and grab the spirit and if that doesn't work I'm sure a good glass of wine will!