Search
  • iacoboni049

Let's Talk About Priorities


Let's talk about the priorities of our fair city shall we? On the surface. all seems well, does it not? Life goes on, the roads are paved and we work or go about our daily lives. But, it sure seems the priorities of our current elected leadership is skewed. Let's count the ways.


Homelessness: I am personally involved in addressing this issue. The city should be pro - actively working to find partners and develop relationships with existing nonprofits to address this need. What's the best they can do? Allocate $20,000 to a homelessness study in a defunct strategic plan which was never implemented. You don't need to do a study to know Lewiston has a homeless problem and it is only getting worse. Additionally, numerous city code and zoning ordinances make it virtually impossible to set up a shelter, even just for a season. Organizations and individuals seeking to fill the gaps the city will not should not have to work against the simultaneously work against the rules. Zoning codes should be changed and the city should actively seek out partners and solutions and not wait for organizations to come to them to ask for their permission to solve their mistakes.


Businesses Development: Seen downtown? As much effort has been put into revamping downtown and lowering the price to start to a business in Lewiston - a move I applaud - downtown still has many issues. Elsewhere, complex zoning laws which some city staff don't even know, lead to confusion for prospective businesses and drives down the attractiveness of Lewiston as a business location.


We are set to get United Airlines at the airport this year, with a direct flight to Denver. If the airport can market and make Lewiston attractive enough to get a new airline, surely the City can market itself to businesses. Maybe I am expecting to much. After - all, as Councilor Blakey said in a budget meeting on June 29th, in regards to higher property tax revenue, "Couldn't we use this to argue Lewiston is growing?" So, even our elected officials know the city is not growing and will hang their hats on the fact property assessments are going up, leading to more revenue. Higher revenue on existing development is not the definition of growing. To use a quick analogy, a business does not grow its customer base by raising its cost by a $1 on existing customers. They raise their revenue though. It is time we finally focus on marketing Lewiston affirmatively and help our city grow and prosper. We have so much to offer; a vibrant community, a wonderful climate, more outdoor recreational opportunities than I can count. Let's use that!


Property Taxes: Speaking of growth and taxes, isn't it interesting our taxes NEVER, EVER go down. I am not even talking straight dollars and cents. I mean the rate. The city is patting itself on the back for not raising property taxes for the 2022 - 2023 FY but is planning on raising it the full percent the year after. I am not even getting into fee increases which occur non - stop every year and function as a backdoor mechanism to fill city coffers. The city's logic, well, over two years that is only a 1.5 percent increase. This logic is why people get priced out of their homes and affordability crisis in the Valley only gets worse. Maybe, it would not be so bad if the City actually allocated money to areas of need. Instead, they spend thousands on pointless wage studies, oh, and homelessness studies they never implement.


Mandates: This one is pretty simple. No mandates. At least a few elected officials agree but unfortunately enough do not to implement a poorly conceived mask mandate which, even after its end, still divides our fair city. I mean, for goodness sakes, I heard people tell me they were so worried about the division it caused they did not want to walk down the street. That whole brouhaha could have been easily avoided if our elected officials, practicing pragmatic judgement, had simply issued an advisory order and focused on education vs. mandates. You can be assured I will not vote for any mandate which infringes on the basic, Constitutional rights of Lewiston residents.


Elections/Strong Mayor/Accountability: So much to include in this topic so I will try and pare it down. The City Council has proven with Ordinance 4819, passed on July 12, they are perfectly willing to erect barriers to voters being able to elect a mayor in a mini temper tantrum, because we, the voters, decide we want a mayor accountable to us and not a City Manager only accountable to the City Council. As a supporter of the Strong Mayor system (which is utilized all across Idaho for goodness sakes), I find the actions of the Council to be anti - democratic and they should suffer at the ballot - box this November for it..


Public Engagement: I've made it clear over the months the way the City Council hears public comments is skewed. Did you know the only way to comment on a specific Ordinance is only during public testimony? This is a City procedure. Nothing in City Code prevents the city from changing this to increase transparency and accountability. On day one I will work to change this so citizens know they can comment on specific ordinances. Secondly, did you also know the City Council can simply skip over multiple readings of ordinances to pass them all at once? I am sorry, but no, convenience for your schedule does not outweigh accountability.


Finally, in the same vein of transparency, I believe at a minimum, at least one Council meeting a month should be an open house for individuals to come and meet their elected officials and discuss issues before the actual Council meeting begins. Call it an open house. I don't know why the City and our elected officials, who so pride themselves on their transparency, have not come upon such a simple idea. Being an elected official is not a title as some believe (Mr. Blakey), but an honor and meant to be a service to the community. Elected officials should treat it as such.



13 views0 comments