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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 2 - 8, 2003


Misguided house cleaning

Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon is cleaning house—again.

For the second time in two years, he has refused to re-appoint a veteran commissioner to the city planning and zoning commission. Peter Gray had served on the P&Z for five years, a period in which the city’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances were totally overhauled. Gray was willing to serve another term, but Simon rejected the offer.

Last winter, Simon refused to reappoint architect Susan Scovell, who also had served five years and helped guide the city through the contentious debates that surrounded the new ordinances.

Scovell and Gray were both appointed by Simon’s predecessor in office.

Simon says his refusal to reappoint experienced commissioners is nothing more than a term limits policy—no more than two terms—on P&Z commissioners. The policy is short-sighted.

Ketchum has lost more institutional memory and experience in the last two years than in the 20 years that preceded it. The city lost its long-time administrator, fire chief and police chief to retirement. Its chief planner, who had overseen the critical ordinance rewrites, moved to another state.

This left a big knowledge gap in City Hall. While official documents are good blueprints, there’s no substitute for experience, especially now as the new ordinances are coming into play.

P&Z appointments in small towns like Ketchum aren’t political plums. Commission seats come with little compensation, long hours and plenty of pressure. Consequently, finding residents willing and able to serve usually isn’t easy.

Throwing out veteran planners and replacing them with novices is like throwing out the encyclopedias, replacing them with paperback novels and claiming, "They’re still books, right?"

The mayor should end this misguided policy before it deprives the city of what experience it has left.


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