For the week of December 2 thru December 8, 1998  

The messenger

We’re not going to have Karl Fulmer to kick around anymore. Friday is the last day on the job for Ketchum and Blaine County’s first housing administrator.

For two years, Fulmer had the unenviable job of looking for and offering solutions to the area’s housing dilemmas. From the day he opened the door to his office, inevitable controversy raged over what, if anything, the city and county would do about a cost of living that was rapidly outstripping local paychecks.

Fulmer carried political trial balloons into hearings full of people who first blew the balloons to smithereens and then took aim at him. Elected officials—the real decision makers--were often nowhere to be found when the clashes began.

In upscale neighborhoods, the coffee cake was snatched away as he delivered the message that ordinary middle-income service workers need affordable housing. Some people furiously rebuked him when he told them local officials were thinking their neighborhood might be a good place for affordable homes.

Fulmer educated city and county officials about housing options and the consequences of doing nothing. A bright and capable technician, he will leave behind a housing road map the city may use in the future.

Fulmer calmly delivered a message people hated, but needed to hear. He weathered the fallout with dignity.

He will leave his job bearing the stinging scars that can only be inflicted by small-town politics. He should wear them proudly knowing the valley is a better place for his having been here.


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