Friday, October 17, 2014

Pass or Fail, Charter Amendment 2 is no guarantee against folly

Maybe we need to put these in mailboxes
Along with all the meaningless B.S. I've been getting in the mail from various special interest political groups, there is a constant influx of mostly thoughtful letters to Carol Clark's newsblog about the Charter Amendments, particularly Amendment 2, regarding the relationship between the Board of Public Utilities and County Council.

I've not got the strong feelings others have about it although on balance, I remain skeptical, especially in light of Council trying to run around and brand our backsides with e^x. But either way, good governance is not the sole purview of Councillors, Board members, county staff, or the public alone. Good governance only happens when we are all engaged.

A while back, we went through the Second Battle of the Roundabouts on Trinity Drive.  (The Diamond roundabouts being the First Battle of the Roundabouts). The county hired a consulting firm to redesign Trinity Drive and the design focused on roundabouts. Several astute citizens with science and engineering backgrounds (I'll call them the "citizen's committee" until I look up all of their names) were skeptical and started doing their own calculations, going so far as to buy their own copies of the roundabout modelling programs. When they, and finally the Transportation Board (yep, I'll take my lumps because I was chair) repeatedly pressed the county's consultants on details, the consultants were vague on their numbers and uncertainties. Finally, consumed by our own growing doubts and the continued work of the citizen's committee, the Transportation Board insisted on an independent review from one of the two best roundabout engineering firms in the country. The firm substantially agreed with the citizens committee on key shortcomings of the plan and the proposal was given an unceremonious funeral.

So I guess my bottom line is that regardless of the vote, we all need to be engaged and be checks and balances on folly. As far as public utilities, one of my own role models in this regard is former Councilor Robert Gibson, who was arguing for community broadband when the rest of county government was building lavish governmental and golf buildings and then saying we didn't have the funds for broadband. Sigh. As Mr. Gibson says, community broadband is a key 21st Century public utility, and is part of the underlying strength this community needs to build if we are to be a strong enough economic force to support the nice perks we have here, such as beautiful public parks, nice public buildings, and excellent roads and trails to ride on.

County Branding Party?

1 comment:

Steve A said...

Yet one more example of the folly of trusting government...