Friday, March 3, 2006

Housing snit? Or not?

The resignation of all five of the Blaine County/Ketchum Housing Authority board members this week was a bombshell. But the bombshell may yet turn out to be a dud.

The board members said they resigned to protest Blaine County's appointment of Sun Valley City Administrator Virginia Egger to the board. They claimed that the appointment violated the "spirit" of the state law that prohibits appointment of employees of a city "for which the authority is created."

There was just one hitch. The five acknowledged that the city of Sun Valley has had nothing to do with the creation or funding of the housing authority, and that the appointment violated no law.

They quit anyway—over the legal appointment of a highly skilled candidate.

Egger was a city manager in Telluride, Colo., where she worked on housing issues. She has a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of public policy and doable housing strategies. The authority desperately needs her expertise.

Why the board, which included three people involved in local residential development, would object to the legal appointment of a highly qualified person is more than just a little puzzling.

The public deserves to hear answers to some simple questions:

What were the board members afraid of? What possessed them to resign, aside from the tissue-thin objection they stated? How do their resignations help affordable housing in Blaine County?

Perhaps there are good reasons. Or maybe, five people just got in a righteous snit over nothing. It's time for a good explanation.

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