This opinion article was contributed by Marty Richman.
Candidates should get zero points when the problem becomes the message; everyone knows most of the problems, the essential question is, “What are you going to do about it?” A short restatement is fine, but the meat and potatoes (or kale for the health conscious) comes with that last part.
Here are some common non-starters:
Development: “Let’s have a moratorium or growth control ordinance.” That is a non-answer because it does not address the root of the problem. We have had both before and nothing was fixed because the issue is the planning structure and lack of coordination. There is no incentive to fix the system when there is no development, the county just lays people off because there is no revenue. If we don’t fix the planning departments and insist they work together on impacts and transportation planning with COG, we’ll still get lousy results. I guess one could argue that there will be fewer decisions overall; therefore, the lousiness won’t count for as much; the counter argument is that short staffing is shark bait for the future.
Transportation: “We must fix the road network,” is a non-answer because it does not address the issue of how you are going to fix it and in what order, especially if you do not have the development funding that is slated to pay for over 50 percent of the local match. I don’t think people are saying, let’s fix the road network in 30 years.
Employment: “We need really good paying local jobs” is an oft repeated statement that is obvious, but not a plan or solution; almost every location in the state, not to mention the nation, is looking for those scarce jobs. Besides, most jobs in agriculture – an in-county business staple – are never going to meet that definition. What we really need is a good overall local economy. Our commuting residents earn more than a billion dollars a year, we need them to leave more of it here and that is difficult enough in the Amazon world. We need people with a college education to come and stay here because they make and spend a lot more money and pass their economic success on to all.
Management and Analysis: Finally, what about the county’s manic leadership that’s always looking for the quick buck and underlying staffing issues that kill even their best intentions? It hardly gets a mention even though bad decisions have crippled more plans than anything else.
Hopefully, the voters will demand some thoughtfulness on these issues before falling for the same old non-solutions.