The City's Pulse Newsletter
Dear Newsletter Readers,

Below you will find a copy of my now once-per-month column for the CdA Press which ran in the paper just over a week ago.  This time I decided to write about the Midtown businesses that are struggling through the construction on their streets and sidewalks.  I was trying to be supportive of small business in general, during this terrible economy, but wanted to specifically direct everyone’s attention to the need for customers in Midtown.

I wrote one sentence about the Mayor:  “...the mayor stated there will be emergency access only on 4th street.”

Within hours of its publication, the mayor was on the phone to the paper, claiming she didn’t say anything about the closure of 4th Street.  Later the same day, the City Clerk was enlisted to call the paper and complain about my column, saying the staff at City Hall listened to a tape recording of the city council meeting and the mayor never made mention of the construction, but instead called on others to give that information.

Does this seem like a bit of overreaction?  It did to me.

So I got a DVD of the July 7th city council meeting in order to quote word-for-word.  You decide for yourselves:  (if you haven’t read my original column, below, you might want to read it first)

Here are some direct quotes from the meeting:

The Mayor said: "I think we all thought, to some degree, one lane was going to be open a lot more, whether we misunderstood or whatever, but I think that happened."

City councilman Ron Edinger said to Gordon Dobler, city engineer:  "I know things happen that sometimes you can't fulfill basically what you said you would do. But  I know when I attended some of the meetings, the biggest concern of the midtown people was about leaving one lane of traffic open.  That was their biggest concern.  The way it sounds, that hasn't happened."

Gordon's response:  "Not to the extent we thought it would, correct."

Then Ron added:  "And wasn't the project supposed to be finished in August and now someone said October?"

The SafeCo construction representative explained, earlier in the meeting, that even though the "spec was written and there is terminology in there that does say one lane will be open except during major events, it also says if the contractor has a better work plan that will benefit the city, whether it be time savings or monetarily, that they would look at that."
So there you have it.  Make up your own minds.  Was I bashing the mayor or supporting the Midtown businesses?

Can you tell there’s an election coming up this November, where the mayor and three council members will be up for a vote? (the Mayor, Mike Kennedy, Deanna Goodlander and Woody McEvers)  

It’s been a busy two weeks but we need to stay vigilant about the local concerns of our community and the national issues of our country.  Somehow they seem to mirror each other in an unsettling way...more about that later.

Have a great weekend!  ---Mary

 

Rules of the Business Road

Times are tough these days for small businesses everywhere.  Many are forced to lay off valued staff, cut spending to the bone and dramatically decrease benefits.  But here in Coeur d’Alene, we have a difficult situation made even worse by government intervention and now some local folks need our help.

The city is renovating the Fourth street corridor, also called Midtown.  This small but quaint part of our community is home to artsy, interesting shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. Often described as our bohemian district, Midtown is proud and protective of its quirky character.  So when the city announced its plan to update Midtown, citizens there quickly pushed to be involved. 

The street and sidewalk reconstruction is currently in full swing and Fourth street is  blocked off.  Last Tuesday’s city council meeting saw one Midtown business owner speak to the mayor and council, reporting his store was doing fine until the street was closed and now he’s in a world of hurt.  He said that during the community meetings last spring, the city pledged to keep one lane of 4th open throughout the retrofit. (Another person who attended the spring meetings confirmed the city’s promise.)

But at the council meeting, the mayor stated there will be emergency access only on 4th street. The street renovation is scheduled to last until October of 2009, according to the city’s web site, which means three more months of low customer volumes.

So, people, it’s time for us to come to the aid of our community. These Midtown businesses need our help!  Very small business typically operates month to month, and any disruption in cash flow can be fatal. Please make some extra time to visit Midtown. Park on the side streets and walk a couple of blocks to browse the shops, have a coffee or cold brew and keep our fun and funky district alive.

The widened sidewalks, an improved street surface with updated sewer and water lines will be great for Midtown, in the long run.  But getting through the process, especially in this national economic downturn, will be an endurance contest at best.

President Ronald Reagan used humor when he described the affect that government intervention can have, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.  But these are seriously treacherous times for small business, our major source for jobs and tax revenues. Above all, great care should be used by our officials, at every level, to avoid damaging private enterprise. First, do no harm.




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Mary Souza has been a concerned citizen of CdA for over 20 years. She's a local small business owner, former P&Z Commissioner and wrote an opinion column in the CdA Press on local issues.  Her opinions are her own.

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