Friday, January 21, 2005

Ketchum's faltering 'leader'

When the record of Mayor Ed Simon's stewardship as Ketchum chief executive is summarized, the most consistent theme will be "crises"—episodes he created with crippling consequences that detoured city government from important policymaking tasks while his petulance was endured.

Since the last crisis has faded from the mayor's agenda—the petty effort to purge Council President Randy Hall from the council on thin grounds—the mayor apparently sensed it was time for another.

In a startling announcement to council colleagues and the public on Tuesday night, Mayor Simon halted progress on leasing Park and Ride land to the YMCA for a new recreation center.

"I feel this lease agreement has been shoved down my throat," Simon blurted out at Monday's council meeting.

Not surprisingly, he attributed irresolute and erratic behavior to "how it (the YMCA deal) was sold to the public," and laying major blame on The Idaho Mountain Express.

If the newspaper "had spent as much time analyzing the Y" as criticizing his administration, 11th hour questions might not have been raised.


Just who "sold" the Y lease plans to the public?

Why, it was Mayor Simon and the city council, which held hearings, which wrote a ballot question that was approved handily by voters in November and who continued egging on Y officials toward a lease with promises during meeting after meeting.

And just who fed Mayor Simon details about the land and the lease for months, details he now whines were "shoved down my throat"?

Why, the mayor's own formidable professional staff that he controls: his planning and zoning staff, his city attorney, his city administrator, his fellow council members.

And until Tuesday night's meeting, not a whimper from the mayor that forces were cramming a deal down his gullet against his will and certainly nary a complaint to the Mountain Express about its considerable coverage of the project.

The uncomfortable truth lies elsewhere.

The mayor is weaseling.

When faced with important issues requiring vision and leadership, the mayor finds himself lacking spine, unable to stick with a position when whipped around by the winds of pro and con pressure.

Politicians who retreat under pressure share a common weakness: finding blame in others for their shilly shallying, pleading they're helpless because of the press or unnamed elements capable of imposing their will.

This latest unseemly mayoral contretemps has even worse potential for damage than the blundering personnel issues that led to costly lawsuits after Simon took office.

Now the mayor could single-handedly saddle Ketchum with an embarrassing reputation it doesn't deserve: breaking the word of the city and its voters by welshing on a deal.

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2021 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.