Friday, December 16, 2011

Perception vs. reality

Some things just boggle the mind, particularly when it comes to perception vs. reality. Here are a few of our favorite information gaps from the past week:

Sun Valley skiing: Our eyes tell us that the snow cover is thin and that skiing and boarding ought to be marginal. The word around the region is that skiing is bad everywhere because of low snow.

It's hard to believe that's wrong, but it is. On Baldy, manmade snow and the nocturnal perfectionists who run the snowcats while everyone else sleeps are producing spectacular groomed sliding, which is combined with beautiful sunny days.

Though all runs aren't open, skiing is just plain fantastic from top to bottom on both the River Run and Warm Springs sides of the mountain.

Right to know vs. desire to know: It's hard to communicate too much in a world that's awash in information. But sometimes, just shouting louder or more frequently won't have the desired effect.

It's frustrating to elected and non-elected officials that every member of the local public doesn't know the details of their projects. Most times, it's not because their projects haven't been in the news or that studies aren't accessible in print or online. It's because people outside government are busy and often don't pay attention to details until a question like what should be done with the airport in Hailey either hits them in the pocketbook or threatens to affect their quality of life.

The Friedman Memorial Airport Authority is just the latest local government body to look to hire someone to speak for it because of the perception that the public needs more information. Balancing what officials want the public to know with the public's fluctuating desire to know is a challenge that hiring a spokesman likely won't change.

Business, schmizness: Last week, an astonishing 31 percent of a self-selected group of 26 people told the local economic development group Sustain Blaine that if the Hailey airport closed down it would not affect them at all. That was in sharp contrast to 56 percent who said they would have to move or close down a business if the airport closed.

Talk about a disconnect, even if the results are an anomaly.

The loss of businesses and services that the valley would sustain if the airport closed would inevitably affect everyone here, even the independently wealthy and the frugally retired. The losses would ripple through every institution from schools to snow removal operations and leave the entire Sun Valley area not just economically poorer, but culturally poorer as well.

The 31 percent of those who overlooked the potential fallout should look again.

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