As I walked big dog this morning, after having read the papers, my thoughts were on the synopsis of the issues and the candidates' take on them that appeared in the Spokesman Review.
It lead with the "hot-button" issues: growth, affordable housing, budgeting and spending, public accountability and oversight of the urban renewal agency.
The pros and cons of the urban renewal agency (LCDC) has really been a "Hot Button" issue and has been raging on the blogosphere for months now. One paper espouses the pros and the other the cons. There has been very little middle of the road. It hasn't been pretty. Friendships have been lost, reputations sullied and the public with no place to go for an unemotional presentation of both sides.
I'm an outsider looking in. I get my information from the newspapers and the blogs. I would like to think there is fact in the papers where as the blogs are opinion, and passionate opinion at that. I'm in a bit of a quandary because, this being a relatively small community, I know and like people on both sides of the issues.
I found myself wondering how such a well intentioned commission ran so afoul of so many and how it might be remedied.
The city council appoints the members. I wonder if the members should be residents of the city rather than, as with many, including the executive director, living outside the city limits. They are indeed business men with business interests within the city limits. Well intentioned or self-serving?
Two members of city council sit on the board. I've been told this is for oversight purposes. Might it be more palatable if they were non-voting members? Oversight or conflict of interest?
Would it help if meetings were held at a time interested parties could attend? Most people I know are working at 3 in the afternoon.
Would it help to have the public actually elect 51% of the members and let the council appoint the other 49%? I know commissions are appointed for the most part, but this particular one is making decisions as to the disbursement of taxpayers' money. Ought they not have a say in who makes these decisions?
The executive director makes a salary the exceeds that of our governor. That would not sit well with me if, as a senior citizen on a fixed income or an older business in midtown, I was expected to fix my sidewalk while LCDC is funding sidewalks in new developments. Don't forget the re in Urban Renewal!
Would it be helpful if a developer would refrain from patting himself on the back while telling us his development would not have been build without LCDC money and at the same time trying to convince us no money went into his pocket.
Would the bank have approved financing without LCDC money? Even if they would, with LCDC money, the amount to be financed would be reduced. That means lower interest payments and that is money in ones pocket. Simple math.
This is not to take away from development. This is not an anti LCDC rant. It is an attempt to point out how the best of intentions can get skewed in the eyes of the public when information is difficult to ascertain, what's more interpret.
With every challenger in the paper this morning having issues with how things are being run, maybe its time to give more credence to well intentioned questions from the locals, a little less reliance on out of town consultants and an open minded approach to the process instead of the current climate of defensive politics.