4/06/2005

What a Joke!

A stranger came up to me after the City Commission adopted a new sign code on a 3-2 vote.

"Why did they do that," he asked?

"Do what?"

"Why did they pass a sign code when everyone who came to the last two meetings was against it?"

Good question.

Does anyone doubt that City Government's constant cries about public participation are simply bullsh*t? First, Mayor Gray excoriates local businessman, Tim Murphy, on the front page of the Tribune (and those guys gave him the forum!) for daring to oppose a closed door deal to sell a public parking lot. Now, the Commission listens to two lengthy hearings of public opposition (literally 10-1 against the sign code) but adopts it anyway because this is what "the community" wants. I'll say it again: What a joke.

I wonder why our community is so cynical? Anyone? Anyone?

Here are the Commissioners' reasons for their votes in descending order of logic and coherence:

John Rosenbaum (voted against): Rosenbaum suggested that we enforce the existing code that has been on the books for years but has never been enforced. In other words, how about seeing if the status quo works before we change it. Excellent point.

Sandy Hinz (voted against): She is not prepared to "legislate attractiveness." Another great point. These are matters of taste. Why should the small minded elitists have the right to dictate anything in our community?

Bill Beecher (voted for): This code is merely a starting point. The CasiNo people can propose an amendment restricting gaming signs if they want. (They can? Is this little pack of moralists now our 'shadow commission?' I thought so. Do you know that they constantly meet with City Government 'off the record?')

And first place? It's a tie for the most ridiculous logic in current public policy debate:

Mayor Gray (voted for): Our Mayor suggested that there are those who might say "if a law isn't in great shape, we shouldn't pass it." Well, duh! No, Mayor, this isn't public policy, it's freakin' tiddlywinks. Let's pass a law 'just cause.' It'll be fun, right?

He then said the law is "generally accomplishing what the community wants to be accomplished." Reeeally? That's funny, because virtually all the public comment I heard was opposed to the ordinance. Maybe Mayor Gray, another elitist, could let the rest of us see his community crystal ball?

Then he argued that "statutes and laws change all the time," and businesses don't really have any legitimate expectation that something once legal will remain so. This is a crucial glimpse into the mind of our Mayor. He does not respect property rights. He does not respect business. These things obviously exist only for the benefit of government.

Commissioner Jovick-Kuntz (voted for): She was worried about the volunteers on the sign committee. It might make them feel bad or useless if we don't adopt their code, regardless of whether it's good public policy. Well gosh, Commissioner, what about all the citizens who showed up, listened to hours of BS, just to give their two cents, only to have their opinions ignored? I feel pretty useless this morning.

And then she pointed out that the City has to adopt the code because they have already hired someone to enforce it. Ready...shoot...AIM!

Please, please attend the next Commission meeting. Without your testimony, the Commission will have nothing to ignore while they doodle on their notepads.

As for the sign code, I guess it's not that big of deal. It won't impact me personally. I am, however, waiting for the coming economic boom that everyone promised on passage.

And waiting...and waiting...and waiting...

2 comments:

jim rohrich said...

They're falling over themselves trying to make Great Falls into Missoula part 2. Or Bozeman, without the jobs.

GeeGuy said...

An economic development guy once said to me: "Give me 12,000 college kids every year, and I'll make Great Falls look like Missoula and Bozeman too!"