Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Shortcut is no solution

Taking a shortcut that excludes the public might well make governance easier and faster for the city of Ketchum's paid staff. But it can and does lead to abuses and blunders that result in public distrust.

So, the Ketchum City Council should look askance at suggestions of creating a "traffic authority" to expedite whatever decisions comes its way without the bother of hearings to inform the public or even involve its elected officials.

How this sort of corner-cutting government can backfire came home to roost at City Hall when the city staff decided, as a matter of efficiency and routine, to re-stripe diagonal parking spaces into parallel parking spots in the light industrial area on Lewis Street.

A minor fuss understandably resulted because of how reconfigured parking will affect businesses.

Now, multiply the public controversy that could ensue if a "traffic authority" routinely made binding decisions that literally touch anyone operating a vehicle but largely shut out the public in advance.

Elected council members are held responsible by the public and as such should make decisions that impact many people. Ketchum, after all, hasn't outgrown the ability of a mayor and four council members to manage a city.

If speedier ways are needed, the council can create those ways and still make decisions that provide the public with ample opportunity to object or approve.

The burden falls on Mayor Randy Hall to set his sights on methods for the City Council and public to digest, discuss and dispense decisions more efficiently without shortchanging the public interests.

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