Friday, April 13, 2012

Strike the vitriol and move ahead

There's a nasty streak in local politics that could impede the area's ability to recover from the economic tsunami.

Experienced elected officials who also run local businesses have noted for years that some people who disagree with their political positions aren't shy about threatening them with boycotts or conducting whisper campaigns to harm their businesses. Equally bad are people who behave as though vilifying public officials is a harmless recreational pursuit.

Some political disagreement is healthy. It provokes debate that can uncover issues that wouldn't surface otherwise. But political health suffers and turns poisonous when disagreements morph into obstructionism merely for the sake of obstruction.

When the majority of people in the Sun Valley area agree and then elect people of like mind to represent them, history shows that a lot gets done in a reasonable time frame. Initiatives don't drag on for years until supporters are worn out.

Looking back, people in the valley are usually proud of the structures and programs that are the result of combinations of public, private and volunteer efforts.

What follows is not an exhaustive list, but are some examples of what can be accomplished when people come together, hash out issues and then go forward together to make our communities better places to visit, live in, work in and raise families.


People in the Sun Valley area:

- Passed lots of education funding for buildings and programs.

- Protected hillsides with land-use regulations.

- Built a valley-long paved trail plus trails in Sun Valley.

- Approved local-option sales taxes in Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey that are used to support city services.

- Created many local festivals.

- Protected the Big Wood River by building and operating sewage treatment plants.

- Prevented commercial sprawl along the highway with land-use regulations.

- Created a housing authority and acquired or built workforce housing units.

- Built or managed recreation facilities in the north and the south valley—YMCA, Community Campus, Galena Lodge, Hailey Rodeo Grounds.

- Established parks in all but one city in the county.

- Established a valleywide bus system.

- Brought St. Luke's hospital to the area.

- Created a land and water conservation fund.

- Supported performing arts.

It's not the disagreement or the vitriol or the nasty personal attacks that have made the area the unique place it is. It's when people come together, agree and move ahead that we make our communities better places for everyone.

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