Wednesday, January 1, 2014
The Coulee Dam elections were a clear mandate for change — for a different way of serving, for more transparency, for more concern and hopefully for more citizen involvement.
I can’t — we can’t — make and do all that needs done without the active involvement of our neighbors. As well, we need more than just “us.” We also need to develop meaningful partnerships with our sister cities, the Colville tribes, the three counties and others that will offer a synergy that’s been too long missing.
Coulee Dam, along each of our local sister cities (Grand Coulee, Elmer City and Electric City) has its own unique history and contemporary reality. Some of that deserves and requires the maintenance of separate and inimitable realities, much like the special characteristics preserved as neighborhoods in large cities.
On the other hand, another part of that reality is an inefficient duplication of public services – the provision of basic and mandatory services that do not recognize city boundary lines on a map. If we should (or should not) embark on a more efficient form of government through a consolidation of some services will be in the mix of my thoughts, advocacy and proposals over the next four years.
When we think about any major investment in public infrastructure, we should always include an analysis of the synergy and efficiency that might serve us all cooperatively. Recent structural examples include substantial and costly investments in both water and wastewater facilities that may have offered us more for less if only we had considered a “regional” constituency and reasonable alternatives. The provision of parks and recreation, amenities for our youth and seniors, tourism and economic development, are all services and programs that don’t recognize or discriminate as to whether or not you live in Coulee Dam or Elmer City or Electric City or Grand Coulee. And let’s not forget protective services — does anyone really believe that four different fire departments in four cities all within four miles of each other is a cost/service effective model?
How we each govern is a mix of established law, rule and policy, mixed with our individual skills and personality. I work every day on improving the good in my mind and my heart and I work even harder on those things in my nature that don’t measure up to my own expectations.
I bring to the table a proven skill-set and I also bring a personality that is goal-oriented and tenacious. I march to the beat of my own drum and I’m not easily dissuaded by adversity and conflict. In fact, some would say that I’m energized by it!
That said, my personal goals will always include and reflect those of my constituency as best I understand them. Public involvement and participation in Coulee Dam over the past 16 years has been seen as an impediment to the quiet goals and objectives of a hand-picked handful. I want (and need) something more – something different. I need a robust community involvement as we review our code, update our plans, build our infrastructure, prioritize and serve.
The current administration has refused all requests for a traditional and efficient “transition.” Payback, if you will, for our exercise of choice at the ballot box. The Washington State Auditor’s office offered to facilitate an orderly and effective transition and found the Town “unresponsive.”
As a result, I will be more involved in finding, unfolding, understanding, and learning that which could have been shared and shown… you will not be served as well or as efficiently the first few months as I had hoped and for that you can thank what we had.
Although almost a cliché, transparency of process and procedure will be the new norm.
Greg Wilder is the mayor of Coulee Dam. The Chronicle invited all new incoming mayors to write a guest column.