Power Play

The telephone, ringing from my distant past in Moscow, with an old friend wondering if I had a copy of a previous Comprehensive Plan for bicycling improvments. We compared notes from the ends of Idaho. It's the same all over: the presence of countercultural types moving under their own power breeds resentment, assault, battery, and political shenanigans. It was about a year ago that the stunning fact that Boise was making progress came to my awareness. Forget about the Bikeways 2000 plan that looked simultaneously optimistic and inadequate: the ACHD was making things happen with a tiny bit of leverage against the car-growth machine.

The secondary result is a blatant power play, gerrymandering the county and its representation to try and stuff the panel with car-friendly, pro-business apologists. Or as Perry Swisher put it, "a try by mall and subdivision developers and the mayors to oust the incumbent imposers of impact fees and some conditions on new developments." [Boise Weekly, Nov. 5-11, 1998] Perry also noted that the winner in the new "district 5," David Bivens, was the architect of the state bill that carved up the County, including a Republican constituency that could find work for Bivens after he lost his May primary.

The Idaho Statesman noted that the area mayors tried to change the ACHD from an elected body to an appointed one, but failed. So they increased the number of seats from 3 to 5, creating districts that reduced any given voters' reach from 3 commissioners, to just one.

The lightning rod for the movers and shakers was Gary Richardson, a scary enough figure that they had to use an anonymous character asassination against him. (Better check that website while you can; I don't think the new ACHD is going to be all that interested in outreach.) The big ad paid for by the Association of General Contractors, Idaho P.A.C., lists the CofC candidates' talking points, with the following gems in amongst the applehood and mother pie:

Ignorance is better than experimentation? The hue and cry about the Northview traffic circles is nothing short of incredible. It was an interesting and maybe oddball experiment, but what the hell's wrong with giving it a try? It was temporary, and now it's gone. Some people really need to get a freaking life. And no, Marlyss, nobody ever suggested replacing traffic lanes on Fairview. Hope you pay better attention now that you're elected.

So anyway, how well does all this work? In Idaho, nothing works like the Republican money machine. (Can you believe that Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne weighed in for the CofC, a.k.a. Republican, candidates?) The message is as clear as vehicular assault: we want you goddamned bicyclists off of our roads!

Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

Thursday, 05-Nov-1998 12:00:00 MST