The City's Pulse Newsletter


We Are Formidable Weapons

Dear Readers,

I wanted to write about some positive things that are happening in our community right now.  But I can’t.

I wanted to tell you of my support for State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna’s innovative plan for our educational system.  And I wanted to reassure you about the County’s embezzlement fiasco, and that I think it’s great our newly elected Clerk and Commissioners are shaking the dirt and dust out of the system.  But I can’t.

And I also wanted to tell you about the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s 2011 “Pork Report”, that you can get free at www.box.net/shared/bpy37sp28t  It’s a quick, riveting read about serious, shameful spending abuses all over our state. 

But I can’t.

I can’t, even though I want to, because the City of CdA continues to do one outrageous thing after another.  It’s like a parade of arrogant injustices, played out in the dream bubble of City Hall.

This morning’s front page headline in the Press shouts the “SURVEY says” that we all love the new plan for McEuen!  What a bunch of bunk.

The Survey they are referring to is the fluff questionnaire from Team McEuen.  It was handed out on paper at the first public meeting just over a week ago and has also been available online at www.mceuenpark.com 

This is not a scientific survey in any way, shape or form.  It should never be the basis of any serious decision because there are so many flaws in the structure of the questionnaire.  Let me elaborate:

I am no expert, but because I have a Master’s degree in Health Education (from Whitworth) and studied research methods, including specific course work on survey design, composing questions and assessing population samples, I may have a bit more critical view of Team McEuen’s questionnaire.  It is NOT  reliable research! Without getting technical, here are just a few of its obvious flaws as a document to determine public opinion on a major public spending project:

--It gives no pricing, funding information or cost-benefit analysis.

--It does not allow for an option to do nothing and keep the status quo.

--It does not ask about current items they plan to remove from the park, such as the ball fields or the boat launch.

--It groups together many new features into one question, creating an all-or-nothing choice for the respondent.

--The survey is not limited to the citizens of the taxing district, which is CdA.  
This questionnaire’s sample includes people from outside the city, possibly even outside the state, we haven’t been told.

--And the very biggest flaw, in my opinion, is that Team McEuen, according to this morning’s paper, will not count the results of any questionnaire unless it contains the respondent’s personal contact information.  In scientific surveys, asking a respondent to identify themselves creates a huge set of problems, often casting a dubious light on the results because people don’t want to be targeted for disagreeable views.  They might chose to not respond at all, be untruthful in their answers, or they will express themselves but leave their identity blank. 

Perhaps this is why the reported number of respondents on McEuen is so low?  Maybe folks just didn’t want to fill it out if they had to include their names.  Or maybe Team McEuen has received a lot of surveys unhappy with their plan but with no name attached, thus not included in the reported numbers.  

After reading the excellent My Turn column in this morning’s Press, www.cdapress.com/columns/my_turn/article_08201ce8-6ed7-54e6-aff9-c54bce9d4760.html  by Rita Sims-Snyder, I’m not surprised people are wary of speaking out on this issue.  Rita says she stood up during a recent public meeting and this is what happened:

“ I stood up during the open forum portion and commented about the City not being able to keep up all the parks and public facilities now, and asked how they could propose a park redesign and expansion of this size without knowing what the cost for the proposed upgrades would be? ... Within days I received a voicemail message from the Parks Director questioning why I had made the comment about the city not being able to keep up the parks. Has he called other people who have commented - or just the people who question the plan?” 
(Please remember that Doug Eastwood himself said the park’s tennis courts and some other facilities were deteriorated and unsafe.)

This is so typical.  They try to control and stifle the public’s ability to respond, then intimidate anyone who questions their claims.  And now the Mayor has announced, with great fanfare on the front page of last Friday’s Press, that there will be NO PUBLIC VOTE on this plan!  

How short her memory!  Back in 2004, this very same Mayor insisted on a public advisory vote for the proposed Hagadone Gardens project even though it would have cost no taxpayer money at all.  But Sandi said it required a vote because it would change the look of downtown and close a street.  I agree.

But now our Mayor has turned.  This new McEuen plan will also change the look of downtown, close two streets to regular traffic and, in addition, will cost the public literally untold Millions of dollars, but she says NO VOTE!

The McEuen questionnaire, with less than 500 responses, is only one of the unscientific surveys out right now.  Two others are online polls that asked whether the public should have the right to vote on this issue.  Here are the results:  
•The Spokesman’s Hucks Online Poll (whose readers usually support city hall) showed 62% want any significant changes proposed by Team McEuen to go to a public vote.  230 people participated in that poll.
•The CdA Press Online Poll, which had just shy of 1000 responses, showed that 85% said voters should have the final say on McEuen Park’s conceptual plan.

Well, we’re not done, dear readers.  We have much more to say to our city officials.  The next meeting was supposed to allow questions but the city changed it.  Feb. 3rd will be a repeat of their grand presentation = no public comments.  This will be at Woodland Middle School at 6pm.  (not on TV or recorded at this location, of course) The public questions are supposed to be Feb. 10th at 6pm at Woodland again.

Please remember this wisdom from Ronald Reagan: “No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.” 

Have a great weekend!  --Mary


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