Sunday, January 20, 2008

Coody Must Take Responsibility

Talk around the coffee shops is that Mayor Dan Coody droned on too long during his State of the City speech on Tuesday. The praise of all things good was to be expected, but the slick way the mayor tried to obscure the damage of his own actions surprised even veteran observers of city government. Specifically, many were taken aback by his comments about streets, roads, and traffic congestion in our city, and how he refused to own up to his responsibility for the mess.

Citizens know. Even in the recent survey commissioned by the city, a clear majority of residents expressed frustration with our local transportation system. Some mentioned the lack of practical mass transit or even any planning for future mass transit issues such as light rail. Most were adamant about what a pith poor job the city has done in responding to growth and providing adequate street improvements to accommodate the increased traffic. Everyone knows its a serious problem. Blogging about about bicycles in Amsterdam won't get it, Dan.

The editors of the Northwest Arkansas Times, which is a member of the Chamber of Cowbirds and the Fayetteville Economic Development Council, noted, "Traffic and roads get a lot of chatter around these parts. Lousy speed humps this and annoying congestion that. People roll their eyes. Then they get out in it and realize that changes can’t come soon enough. Transportation in this town (at least, that is, getting across town quickly ) isn’t a realistic option most days. ... So the results of a recent citizen survey certainly shouldn’t come as any surprise. About 54 percent of those polled responded by saying that streets are the city service in need of the most assistance."

The corporate chain newspaper then gave Coody a pass on the problem. "Mayor Dan Coody had something to say about all this during his State of the City address at Tuesday’s Fayetteville City Council meeting: 'When I consider the top concerns of many other communities ... I thank God traffic congestion is our biggest immediate problem.' Well put, mayor. We couldn’t have said it better."

At least the newspaper editors admit their lack of imagination, writing ability, and critical thinking skills. Dan Coody is more reticent in admitting his mistakes or his intentional actions, and it's not just the honking cost overrun on the sewer plant. Dan Coody jumped in bed with the Chamber of Cowbirds and Jeff Koenig and opposed the road impact fees that could have begun addressing the traffic congestion created by growth and sprawl. If he had a better idea, he failed the people by not bringing it forth before the election that ended in a tie vote. If he has a better idea now, why has he not produced an alternative ordinance in the eight months since the election?

Dan Coody, Jeff Koenig, Ben Israel, Bill Ramsey, real estate salesmen, assorted developers, and the Chamber of Cowbirds killed the street impact fees, and they must buck up and admit their responsibility for the sorry state of our streets and the problems of congestion that undermine everything the city has tried to do for sustainability. The Northwest Arkansas Times is their enabler and apologist. The people are not fooled.

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