Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bob MacLeod and Dan Venable (and a few more things)

I'm not going to vote for Kevin O'Sullivan, not a chance in heck. But, I'm thinking twice about my vote on the primary ballot between Bob Macleod and Dan Venable. I don't have any problem with Macleod. I voted for him four years ago and almost fully plan on voting for him again. But, my main problems with county government may never be adressed by him. Venable, though, seems able to hit them on the head.

Take this answer from the Olympian's Capitol Chat:
I agree with Bob on I-933, pretty much straight through. It's a bad initiative that will cost the county a lot of money. I am a property-rights individual, I'm strong on property rights, but I-933 isn't the answer to the issues we're faced with today, like growth. There are other ways of working through it. There are some circumstances within the county -- in rezoning -- where some people will be severely and negatively impacted. There are some people who will be impacted less than others but still it may not be their preference.

I think it's for the good of the whole overall county, and as Bob has said, we have a lot of other things the county needs to do to sustain the growth here. We haven't been keeping up with that where we're at now. I'm against I-933 as it stands. I think we need zoning regulations. We're under state mandate to protect our resources. The city of Olympia has gotten eminent domain for the brewery water, then was joined by the cities of Lacey and Tumwater, which means somewhere along the line they weren't thinking ahead about their water issues when all this growth was happening, and I think the county also needs to take a look back and see what it could have done better in the past four years.

I would like to say about the meetings conducted to get public input on the rezoning -- I've attended three, Aad it seems as though, from a resident's point of view, they're getting a lot of lip service from the county. They say they want to hear what we have to say, but when it comes out, none of the resident's thoughts are reflected in it.

It seems like it's a pacifier, not a real problem-solving task. It seems like "tell us what you think and we're going to do what we want." That's the opinion I'm getting from a lot of people and one of the reasons I decided to run for County Commission.
I know, long quote to get to what I think was the main point. The county seems to treat the public process like something they need to get through, not something that can actually do something. A lot of the controversy surrounding the new county critical area's ordinance could have been avoiding if they'd started with a more inclusive public process.

It isn't like the board of commissioners isn't thinking in this direction. The Citizen Priorities for Thurston County Government seems to be a good start, but there are problems with it.

One, it was a one year project, it seems. These kinds of projects, if they really want to develop an understanding of how citizens want their money spent, should happen every year. At most, you get a snap shot of one year. At worst, you get a distorted view. By engaging, in depth, you not only create trust between the board and citizens, you start to see a trend in what people are thinking.

Two, the website for it sucks. There is some basic information in .pdf files (of all things... was their something about html that was problem?) on the process, but in terms of actually engaging via the web, there is nothing there.

The step to send packets to 2,400 random voters in the county was a great step. Inviting "the public" into a process like this invites the same old activist folks to make their case, and you really don't get anything new. Phone interviews with 600 randomly chosen of the original 2,400, even better.

Better yet would have been allowing a web version of the same interview. Even better would have been to have sit down discussions with these folks too.

Three, The actual public process was six hours over three days. You expect to get a broad view of how we want to spend almost $400 million in three nights?

Anyway, to get back to my first Macleod/Venable topic, it seems like Venable realizes their is a public involvement problem at the county. If I do end up voting for him, it will be because of this.

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