Steve Edgar 
Member since Dec 17, 2008




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Re: “Open Government

This reporter brings up some thoughtful points yet seems to be attempting to make a story where there is not one to be found. I respect public officials who are not intimidated by the consequences of being a contrarian and working very hard to protect my tax dollars. As we are witnessing with our Governor, budget cuts and reducing inflated property taxes are a favor to the taxpayer. We should be grateful for politicians who will carry those issues forward. It is a tough thing to work against the status quo but sometimes it is necessary to deal with the reality of our revenue shortfalls. Like any family who has faced a reduction in income, they look for ways to trim to live within their means, so should our government—at all levels. Eliminating unnecessary agencies or layers of bureaucracy helps to achieve those objectives. The author highlights the idea of “disbanding” the Ada County Planning & Zoning Commission. As a former Ada County P&Z Commissioner I also have done some thoughtful consideration on this topic. I find merit in the idea which needs to be thoroughly debated. Most of my perspective is from the fact that this Commission is another layer of bureaucracy that demands applicants to bring their case to a public board after the recommendation by the county experts has already been rendered and given to the Commission prior to the hearing. In fact, the Board is really only a “rubber stamp” in 99% of the cases as they cannot outright reject an applicant if the application meets established code, findings of fact and conclusion of law. Therefore, no matter what outrage the public might express towards an application, it will be approved by the P&Z Commission and move to the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) for final approval. As I understand Commissioner Elect Ullman’s position, it is the elimination of the board and the P&Z public hearing that she desires, not the elimination of P&Z. The logic follows that a recommendation would go with the applicants package to the BoCC after a review by the Developmental Services division and the County Commissioners would conduct the public hearing and the public would comment in that one hearing rather than having the public and the applicant do the hearing “dance” twice in front of two boards at great expense to the taxpayer and the applicant. There are tax dollar savings here in the form of P&Z Commissioner payments, ($100/Commisioner/meeting), hearing room costs, developmental service staff costs, overtime costs, administrative costs (court recorder in controversial cases) and the cost to an applicant of bringing expert witnesses, lawyers, developers and planners from all over the country to testify. While not every application has this many attendees, many do and the amount of fuel and energy to do this twice cannot be summarily discounted. This discussion could go on and on, but I think I have seeded the opening salvo. I find the rest of the article entertaining yet not fact based. I would hope the author would do more research on the issues mentioned prior to publishing sound bites which have no “meat on the bones”. Perceived conflict does no favor to objective reporting. As with any newly elected official, let them take office and see where they go and what they do, how effective are they? This really what we are looking for. If we do not like their performance, we can always elect someone else---next election.

Posted by Steve Edgar on 12/17/2008 at 3:53 PM

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