Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In case you don't get the Wall St Journal

This was an ad in the Wall St Journal today and I found it so good that I thought I'd share it with you.

"Thoughtful Americans – people of common sense and good will – know exactly what is going on today in American Politics.

Whether or not the proposed absurd, onerous tax penalties are eventually signed into law, we share the outrage you must feel for the utter hypocrisy, heavy handedness, and pure idiocy of our elected officials. There is nothing new about the concept of politicians identifying scapegoats to divert attention from their own ineptness, but they have now taken it to a preposterous level.

These polished, practiced hypocrites, aided by the media, are staging a vicious charade aimed at stirring anger amongst a naturally vindictive, vocal segment of our population – either oblivious or non-caring of the impact of this furor on you and your families.

• We have a permanently unpopular and irreparably out-of-touch Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – shamelessly pandering to an uninformed electorate – wasting taxpayer dollars treating private citizen CEOs like convicted felons – investigating everyone but themselves. It was they who passed legislation promoting sub prime mortgages and the latest ‘stimulus’ package which provided for the bonuses.

• We have a populist President – in his own words – “channeling our anger in a constructive way”. His idea of “constructive” demeans his role as the leader of all Americans – specifically: his unnecessary divisive remarks that treat all people of wealth as greedy; his broadside attacks on excessive executive compensation as if all CEOs in Corporate America are overpaid; his sweeping, counterproductive vilification of Wall Street’s “excessive greed” – combined with his terribly misguided advice to young folks not to pursue careers there; and, his constant, classless whining about the mess he inherited and his predecessor’s mistakes. He says he is angry about all of the above, yet sees no problem in incurring the wrath of sensible Americans by running up trillion dollar deficits.

• And, no surprise, the New York and Connecticut State Attorney Generals are now piling on – issuing subpoenas.

• We are appalled that, before our very eyes, they are systematically demeaning and dismantling America’s financial services sector – a proven facilitator of wealth and job creation. This national asset, with all of its flaws, is irrefutably the very best in the world.

Elections have consequences – but caring Americans, regardless of their ideology, must not remain silent on the sidelines and allow this lunacy to continue.

• The bonuses in question were voted by Congress and signed into law by the sitting President.

• Retroactive use of the tax code to punish any private citizen is an absurd, vindictive, small minded act by political hacks!!

• The money legally belongs to the bonus recipients regardless of their role in AIG. What’s done is done – let’s all move on to address real issues: the deficit, jobs, and economic prosperity!

For the sake of your own dignity and out of respect for your Country, do not succumb to this insanity which, if allowed to prevail, will most certainly propagate the lawless power of our Federal government.

A special message to bonus recipients: If after reading this, you are still overcome with guilt – please don’t give the money back to proven, profligate spenders – donate it to a useful charitable cause.

By the way, the ad writer/funder doesn’t seem to be an AIG refugee but “a small business owner who started my career 52 years ago with nothing but a $500 used car loan and a pop up toaster and proudly, as part of Corporate America, created jobs around the world and wealth for my family.”"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We Are Not Borg

At the March 25, 2009 Commission meeting on the Fairview/Milwaukee Winco expansion (yes, Winco gets to expand and the neighborhood won too - no curb cut to Fairmeadow as yet) one resident from the surrounding neighborhood stated that the ACHD planner told him that it really didn't matter what the neighbors said, the Commission does what the staff tells them to do so the conclusion was a done deal.

Well. The gentleman was quickly disabused of this notion. A Commissioner told him in no uncertain terms that staff would NEVER say that and that he must have not heard it correctly.

However, I'm not so sure about that. This is the second instance of hearing that a staff member has said an issue was a done deal. In fact, that's the whole jist of my previous blog entry on Shamrock/Ustick and heck, I was the one who told them their language sounded like the conclusion was foregone, change it and yet they did it again!

ACHD has a reputation of being a very insular agency that doesn't listen to the people. The commission has long been believed to be a captive of the staff. Certainly comments like the one to the gentleman who testified and letters to the public from the planner about Shamrock kind of tend to reinforce this belief.

Hopefully, having two planners outed in recent weeks might start changing the way staff interacts with the public, you know, at least giving the veneer that decisions are not premade.

We are not all Borg yet people, we have not all been assimilated, resistance is not futile (Brit pronunciation please).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ada County Alliance

In June 2007, the Urban Land Institute came to Boise to look at the relationships between the cities and ACHD and subsequently published a report. One of the suggestions was to form an Alliance between the different jurisdictions to be a forum for the discussion of transportation issues.

Fast forward to March 2009 when a regular Alliance meeting was held. This one however, was mediated to allow the participants a sounding board to come up with ideas on how to make this Alliance really work. Apparently, it hasn't been doing so well up to now.

The Mayors of all six cities were in attendance as was the Chairman of the Ada County Commission and the President of ACHD. ACHD did not fare so well in the comments (of course, ACHD didn't fare very well in the original ULI report either notwithstanding the spin).

The Mayors feel ACHD is not responsive to their needs and concerns and that ACHD only wants to discuss things with the cities when ACHD needs them as during the recent election to increase vehicle registration fees. The Mayors want more communication, more input into decisions that affect transportation in their communities and to have ACHD treat them more as partners. Needless to say, there is a lack of trust between the cities and ACHD, which is unfortunate. However, these issues are all ones that arose during the ULI study and which were to be addressed by the Alliance.

On a positive note the Mayors did acknowledge that comprehensive land use plan changes done in the absence of ACHD participation are not good as they add to costs. Everyone also agreed that everyone's plans need to be shared, kept up to date and adhered to.

I was surprised, and pleased, to hear ACHD Commissioner Carol McKee say that the Commission had discussed in December a program to provide a portion of ACHD funding for cities to direct to needs within their communities and would bring that forward to all in April 2009. This is something the cities have long asked for and would cause ACHD to function somewhat as a city's street department which, they, of course, gave up when ACHD was created. Currently, cities get a lot of complaints from citizens with no way of addressing those complaints short of saying go ask ACHD.

This was a great meeting. Hopefully, it will finally allow the Alliance to function as it was supposed to originally. Maybe the $100,000 plus spent on the study will actually be well spent.

Oops - forgot to mention that this meeting was not taped. It's a shame because this had a lot of good info come out that may end up being lost. But I did take copious notes so.....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ustick/Shamrock Study

ACHD has been "studying" Ustick Rd between Five Mile and Cloverdale for lo these many years now. This "study" includes the potential of connecting Shamrock from Ustick north to McMillan and Shamrock from Ustick to points south.

There are three alternatives that have been "studied". One is the alternative listed in the above paragraph, which also includes a signal at Shamrock - we'll call this one A.

Alternative B is to leave Shamrock unconnected and put a signal at Bryson.

Alternative C is to leave Shamrock and Bryson alone - basically a do nothing alternative.

In January 2009, ACHD planners sent out a letter to affected residents, property owners and other interested parties which basically said the ACHD commission would vote on Alternative A on March 25, 2009. This pushing of Alt A, however, ignored the over 400 petition signatures vehemently against Alt A and the majority of comments at the public information/comment meeting in November 2007 against Alt A. It was also known to staff that the position of the West Valley Neighborhood Association was up for review in February 2009 (and in fact, the WVNA came out strongly against Alt A).

When I questioned in January 2009 the statements in the letter and told staff that it read presenting Alt A as a done deal, I asked them to send a postcard out fixing this rather egregious overstepping of reality.

Well, they did send a postcard out - on March 16, 2009 - to inform the public that a meeting tentatively scheduled for March 25, 2009 would not take place and that it would be rescheduled maybe sometime whenever. But, they also continued to give the impression that the concept design of Alt A was still the one.

This is so irritating. Alt A may be what the staff prefers in the face of increasingly mounting opposition, but it is NOT a done deal until or even if, the ACHD Commission approves an alternative.

Since my comments in January 2009 were not recorded because for some reason we do not record any pre or post commission meetings, I took the opportunity to put my concerns on the record today. You can view the video at the following link in a week or so. Just go to the minutes of March 18, 2009 and click on the watch the meeting button.


Once again, the Shamrock/Ustick concept is NOT a done deal.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What a good idea

While many of the states surrounding Idaho seem to have a much better grasp of how to move traffic, the best by far was in Palm Springs California. It's really a bunch of cities laid end to end for about 30 miles, Palm Springs being only one of them.

The main road, besides the interstate, is Highway 111. They do something wonderful on that road for a number of miles. They actually time the lights to flow with the speed limit. If you go 40 mph (or maybe it's 45) you will NOT stop at a traffic light.

What a concept.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

From the Road

I'm away from home right now, so blogging will probably be light, although one can never tell.

We just spent a few days in the Phoenix Scottsdale Arizona area. Their road system and highways were very impressive. Of course, they have millions more people than Ada County has, but every one of their major roads is beautifully landscaped both on the sides and in the median strip. The landscaping obviously fits with the desert environment.

The highway interchanges were likewise lovely. The bridges were decorated and there were pedestrian walkways over the highways that had decorative ironwork.

All in all it was a very nice experience.

I know that we have little money to do the kinds of things that the Phoenix area does with their roads to make them very pleasant to be on ---but ---it would be nice to dream.