Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Making sausage

Otto Von Bismarck was right about at least one thing: Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made.

For better or worse, the Wood River Valley had a front-row seat on the sausage-making involved in the city of Sun Valley's budget—the first one for fledgling Mayor Wayne Willich.

The process went on in fits and starts with gavel pounding and accusations flying as the mayor and Sun Valley City Council used Robert's Rules of Order and Idaho laws both as legislative road maps and cudgels.

Council members Joan Lamb and David Chase took issue with the mayor's proposed funding cuts for economic development and for Mountain Rides, the area's public transit system.

Lamb had proposed delaying a small number of road repairs next year to maintain funding for economic development and to allow Mountain Rides to purchase two new shuttle buses. The new buses would free up larger buses for the full-valley routes that are attracting large numbers of commuters as gas prices increase. Chase supported the delay.

The proposal hit a brick wall when Council members Nils Ribi and DeWayne Briscoe voted to give the mayor's budget preliminary approval in July, with the mayor breaking a tie vote.

So Lamb and Chase went around the wall and left the council without a quorum when both failed to attend one meeting.

Their strategy paid off.

With deadlines looming, minds met. The council allocated funds for buses and economic development with little impact on street repairs.

It was a fine piece of sausage-making.

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