For the week of April 21, 1999 thru April 27, 1999
Little-noticed services make for a better way of life
Commentary by PAT MURPHY
If only by sheer coincidence, the secret of the late Chicago Mayor Richard Daleys irresistible political appeal hasnt been lost on Wood River Valley governments.
Daley had an uncanny understanding of the publics basic expectations, as simple as keeping street potholes filled.
Which prompts this tip of the hat to Wood River governments for what must be their most outstanding and omnipresent taxpayer-friendly service snow removal.
Annoying as it may be in the pre-dawn darkness, the sounds of giant plows roaring down streets after a heavy snowfall are sounds of a community avoiding paralysis.
How big a job is it? In Ketchum alone, fully half of the citys total annual streets budget ($500,000) was spent this year on clearing streets and parking areas, then storing mountains of snow in out-of-the-way places.
We sin mightily for taking this for granted. Imagine the consequence and utter chaos to the entire Wood River Valley were the cities, Blaine County and even state snow removal crews slow into action?
Paralysis would overtake the towns, as happens sometimes in urban areas. Some workers couldnt reach jobs, schools would close, medical appointments couldnt be kept. Much of the areas economy simply would grind to a crawl.
Its only a guess, but larger Snow Belt areas surely dont spend half their street budgets on snow removal.
While on the subject, Ketchums free bus service is something else all of us should view with delight and pride, another of those "little" services that enriches quality of life.
Most of us are less taken by bigger-is-better. Instead, a lifestyle free of aggravation, and thats safe and healthful is far preferred.
So much of what local government provides routinely- prompt and reliable police and fire services, maintaining clean air and water, sensible use of public funds and, yes, efficient snow removal are far more important to the human spirit than grandiose programs.
So, those "small" services such as snow removal really are big in a better way of life.
Murphy is the retired publisher of The Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.
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