Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Needless distraction

Northern Blaine County is home to a political faction that hates change and holds a grudge.

It's the same faction that's circulating a petition calling on Ketchum voters to change the city's strong mayor form of government to a city manager system.

Voters inclined to view the petition as inconsequential or some kind of demo-cratic intellectual exercise should see it for what it is: ongoing opposition by a mi-nority to a long list of city accomplish-ments in the last six years.

These include the lease of property to the Y recreation center, approval of three hotel projects, development of Town Plaza and half of the Fourth Street Corridor, purchase of a building that fronts Town Plaza, and an increase in downtown densi-ties through an overhaul of zoning ordi-nances. Also on the list is development of rental apartment units, the first to be built in Ketchum in at least 25 years.

Some of these could not have been done without creation of the Urban Renewal Agency and the Community Development Corporation, which can do things for the city that the city is unable to do for itself.

Not surprisingly, everything on this list generated opposition. The alternatives were to freeze Ketchum in time and let it die on the vine as other mountain towns that heartily embraced change and in-vested in improvements for residents and visitors choked it to death.

Calling for changing the form of gov-ernment to one in which the buck stops nowhere—the mayor is chosen by the city council instead of voters and a manager hired by the council runs the show, is a needless distraction.

Instead of spending time on this, city leaders should be focused on navigating the rough economic waters of these tough times and paddling the city to a safe shore.

Voters should see the initiative petition for what it is, withhold signatures and decline to put the question on the ballot.

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