Monday, August 12, 2013

On site report from the Economic and Transportation Public Forum

Last Tuesday, August 6th, there was the first public forum held as part of this Economic Development and Transportation committee/process created earlier this year by our County Commissioners.

The Eye captured some video from this meeting and we wanted to share some of it with a bit of our editorializing. The pro rail contingent once again have the heavy hitters of elected officials, the local media, taxpayer funded agencies and deep-pocketed special interests on their side. Now it's only “Fair” that another side be heard too! Enjoy the show!

We have previously written about this committee: its confusing agenda, no transparent plan (or no plan), unelected bureaucrats in charge and its credibility questioned because of the recycled pro-rail business leaders again get their say while others don't.  And who cares and never mind that voters overwhelmingly defeated the rail referendum in 2010. But the 2010 losers want a do-over......when the more critical issue is how do we fix our roads.
2010 Rail referendum election results (purple voted against)
Well the confusion and credibility issues were not resolved Tuesday. This was the first event to gather public input. Poor event planning forced the venue and format to change the day of the event. Some folks who attended thought this meeting was simply a transit meeting. It turned into some organizations rallying members to show up in numbers and even hand out stickers for transit. And to top it off, this event was hosted by the facilitator and county staff but the county commissioners and other members of the committee were nowhere to be found.

The event turned into the public comment “pep rally”.  It was originally intended to be some facilitated type event where those who attended would be separated into various groups and go thru some exercise of answering and discussing the questions. But instead, it was really not much different than public comment at a BOCC meeting, except the commissioners weren't there to hear anybody. Everyone who walked in was asked to complete a survey that had the vaguest of questions like “how important are transportation improvements to job growth in the county?” Really? Folks probably read the first half of that sentence and the first thought is yes, we do need transportation improvements even if their highest priority is to fix our roads. They were all nebulous questions where you could make all kinds of assumptions to answer.

As we listened, we realized that many of those speaking from  the “we want more transit and a rail too” contingent were members of the Sierra Club. They were good about bringing out the human interest stories.  However, they did not address cost or funding and we were left wondering if transit is another taxpayer funded entitlement.  Isn't it still a responsibility of adults to make decisions where they live and work based on numerous factors, transportation being one of them but not the only consideration? We all cherish our freedoms to have and make choices but personal mobility is what has contributed vastly to America's economic prosperity. Thankfully, there were others who brought some balance by highlighting the importance of facts, figures, costs, proper expectations and feasibility of realistic results.

At the end, the facilitator Herb Marlowe asked how this process could be improved. Well how about starting by specifically stating what the problem is and provide a transparent, public plan. Then identify key stakeholders who represent various groups of citizens in the county. Either have stakeholder roundtables or one on one's that allow the stakeholders a voice to present their ideas and information.  Better yet, let's get rid of the facilitator and the unelected bureaucrats who seem to be driving this process off it's tracks.  It's time our elected representatives specifically state what problem they are trying to solve.  Either the elected reps step up to the plate and bat or shut the whole committee down now!  Because at the end of the day, they must be held accountable for the results.

Replay of the August 6th meeting will be tonight, August 12th at 9:30pm and it is supposed to be archived sometime.

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