Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, February 22, 2008

Shiny Happy People

According to yesterday's Lewiston Tribune, that could have ben the title of Queen Nancy's "State of the City" address Wednesday in Moscow. Nothing says "economic development" more than a bank teller that knows your name:
Moscow mayor reflects on city's 'evolving vision'
Chaney delivers her annual address to chamber

MOSCOW - Amid lists of accomplishments, goals and challenges, Mayor Nancy Chaney on Wednesday voiced some of the governing philosophy that continues to guide her into the next two years of her four-year term.

"One of the objectives of city government is to put in place the rules, plans and resources necessary to guide a community toward its collective, evolving vision," Chaney told members of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce during her annual State of the City address. "Moscow is doing just that as we revise our guiding document, the comprehensive plan, last drafted in 1999."

Through what she characterized as public outreach on a "grand scale," Chaney said a series of objectives, ranging from preserving small town community character to providing employment opportunities for all residents, has been established as a template for the future.

Chaney has been criticized for attempting to rein in economic development that doesn't fit her vision. She continues to question, for example, retail development across the border in the Moscow-Pullman corridor. Instead, she touts the concept of a "knowledge corridor" geared less to physical development of the eight-mile stretch of highway and more to educational exchange between the University of Idaho here and at Washington State University in Pullman.

The mayor spoke to a crowd of about 75 during a noon luncheon at the University Inn-Best Western.

"The state of a city is undoubtedly reflected in economic statistics, and they are important," Chaney said. "What sustains a community through good times and bad, including economic downturns, are personal connections and place identity."

She listed various price discounts and gestures like bank tellers knowing people by sight as "the stuff of community, and what keeps so many of us ferociously protective of whatever it is that makes Moscow, Moscow."

Chaney said the deaths last year of City Councilor John Dickinson in an automobile mishap and police officer Lee Newbill in a multi-death shooting showed that Moscow is not immune to tragedy, but is filled with "extraordinary support and compassion."

The mayor took office with a city council that leaned toward not only her politics, but her vision. That, according to most observers, changed last November. "Our new city council begins its journey in the midst of the comprehensive plan revision," Chaney said, comparing the route ahead to what Alice took in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

"If, like Alice, we didn't much care where (the city is going), we wouldn't be at this meeting today," said Chaney, "and frankly, probably wouldn't have government or State of the City addresses at all."

But people who live in a community, said Chaney, want and seek order, safety and social structure. And to that end, they create rules, guidelines and government. All of it adds to the complexity and costs of ensuring a community's future, she said. "Because we are Moscow, we endeavor to accomplish those objectives Moscow's way."

"As the nation enters a period of economic downturn, it is especially important to focus on local assets and strengths in our regional economy and ways we can reinvest in Moscow," Chaney said. She listed education, health care and technology as logical areas of focus. The town can be insulated from negative outside economic forces by increased interest in renewable energy, green building and a buy local mentality, Chaney said.

She challenged those attending to make a list of Moscow characteristics that attracted and kept them here. "They are the same things that will attract new businesses, academics and families here," Chaney said. "With active marketing, Moscow is on the path to becoming the model for solid economic development and coveted quality of life."

Chaney solicited questions at the end of her address, but none were asked.
Too bad. I can think of at least a couple.

"Madam Mayor, you mentioned your opposition to retail in the corridor and a 'buy local' mentality. Would you care to square this with the reality that the two largest businesses to open in Moscow during your administration are national retailers Old Navy and Bed, Bath and Beyond, the University of Idaho's negotiations with Home Depot to locate behind the Palouse Mall, and the plans for national chain drugstore Walgreen's and chain restaurant Shari's to open soon in the city?"

"Madam Mayor, one more question. You have focused on what you call the 'sustainable revolution' and developing a so-called 'knowledge ccorridor' of high-tech businesses. But did you realize that the employees of the Alturas Technology Park and their families consume 2.07 times the annual water use of a Wal-Mart Supercenter?"


April E. Coggins said...

"But people who live in a community, said Chaney, want and seek order, safety and social structure." Gee, is she talking about raising children or running a city?

"Moscow's way." Kinda catchy.

Tom Forbes said...

Big Mother is Watching.

April E. Coggins said...

The Attorney General's of two states also know her by name.