This past week I was asked by a number of constituents if the consolidation effort with Ketchum is truly over. Their sense was there still seems to be something brewing.
There has been a continuing beat of consolidation talk in the media since Dave Chase and Charles Conn, the two spokesmen for the “One Community, One Town” (OCOT) consolidation effort, announced on April 29th that it was “…time to move on, at least for now.”
Editorials in both the Idaho Mountain Express and the Times-News continue to push for consolidation, the Ketchum police consolidation with Blaine County has moved to the front burner, the headline page at SunValleyOnline regarding the end of OCOT’s effort reads “…Maybe, Later”, and Ketchum’s Mayor is once again pushing to consolidate Sun Valley’s Fire Department into his.
On the positive side, it was good that the OCOT promoters finally acknowledged their efforts were counterproductive to the communities’ interests.
In the same tone as Messrs. Chase and Conn launched their campaign to consolidate Sun Valley into Ketchum, so did they end it. The first sentence in their “…time to move on, at least for now…” Letter to the Editor explains perfectly why they created an acrimonious process between the proponents and opponents. They state:
“…we proposed…citizens have a conversation about the merits and disadvantages of some sort of consolidation.”
As they had done numerous times throughout their 75 day campaign, they continue to distort the truth and misrepresent the facts right up to the end, as the letter shows. As we know, they actually proposed an immediate petition drive to put a total, complete and final consolidation of both cities to an immediate vote, not have a conversation about some sort of consolidation.
Near the end of their letter, Councilman Chase notes:
“Until the public demands…public interest over self-interest from their elected officials, it won’t happen. Until that day Thomas Jefferson’s comment seems apt, ‘the government you elect is the government you deserve.’ ”
The citizens of Sun Valley learned plenty about elected officials who pushed self-interest very hard over public interest during this consolidation effort. It is clear the citizens of Sun Valley want less of that kind of government representation and they certainly continue to demand that at our Council meetings and will at the next City Council election.
Contrary to the title of that Chase and Conn Letter to the Editor as it appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express, “The merger debate that wasn’t”, there actually was a good debate concerning the merits of the merger. It just didn’t turn out the way the promoters of the consolidation thought it would. As John Adams so aptly stated, “Facts are stubborn things…”
Another Fire Department Consolidation Effort:
I feel compelled to respond briefly to Ketchum Mayor Hall’s remarks at the May 4, 2009 Ketchum City Council meeting and in the Idaho Mountain Express concerning reviving his attempt to take over the Sun Valley Fire Department.
Unfortunately, the Mayor of Ketchum continues to make the same erroneous statements about Sun Valley and our Fire Department as he and former Mayor Thorson did slightly over a year ago when the City of Sun Valley rejected such a consolidation effort. Like the OCOT spokesmen did when they tried to sell the City consolidation, Mayor Hall has publicly stated several factual errors about Sun Valley and our Fire Department, none of which will help lead to any constructive dialogue. This is an unfortunate way to begin such a discussion.
There are opportunities to continue to find more efficiency in coordinating certain fire department operations like automatic aid, mutual aid and joint training. Fortunately, the fire departments already have a good operational working relationship. However, for any successful effort to take place which may expand those opportunities, it will need to be based on factual information and done in a coherent manner. I am hopeful the leadership in Ketchum is willing to work with us in an open and cooperative way.
You can read my April 11, 2008 blog with data and an explanation on why the City of Sun Valley rejected Mayors Thorson and Hall’s previous attempt to consolidate the two fire departments at this link.
So the answer to my constituent friends was not a simple one. We never heard from the 10-15 nameless “citizens, non-profit and business leaders, current and former elected officials and second homeowners” who formed OCOT. We don’t know if these unidentified people have thrown in the towel, only that their two spokesmen have…sort of…
I am extremely proud of the positive and transparent way the citizens of Sun Valley came together throughout the consolidation process. As citizens and elected officials, we have reaffirmed our commitment to our community and clarified our community values. Contrary to some of the negative things a couple of our Council members say about our City, we can be extremely proud of our City’s strong financial position, low debt ratio, reasonable tax rates, high bond rating, highly efficient and lean staff, balanced budget, good working relationship with the City’s major employer, and the extremely responsive, high level of service the City provides its taxpayers and citizens.
We set the bar high during this consolidation process by responding to misinformation and personal attacks with only factual information, something you insisted upon from the beginning.
I will continue to update my website and blog with current information on additional consolidation efforts. If you would like to receive automatic updates to my sites by email, you can subscribe at this link.
Great thanks for all your input, comments and support throughout this effort.