Thursday, February 21, 2008

Turn Back the Clock (op/ed #3)... post election

Over the last few days I have been posting old coverage from the KDM of the last run-up before the primary in 2006. This is the last installment of my little series. This op/ed is from the next day following the election and it is written by the editor of the KDM.

The entire op/ed is linked here.

Message is loud and clear
Slow Down!


Mark Borgard
Miner Editor

Tuesday’s election results remind me of the Verizon commercials: “Can you hear me now?” Kingman residents were heard loud and clear Tuesday, and the message was the same message many have been saying for the last two years: slow down!

How has that message worked out for the working class community since then?? Kingman is right in the heart of an expected growth region and many people that work for a living are dependent on continued growth (notice I didn't say 'massive' growth), and while it only says 'slow down' above, later there is a reference of putting on the brakes.

While it was popular to lay the town's ills on 'developers' the last election period, the truth of the matter was that if it wasn't for development in Kingman this town would look a lot more like Dolan Springs (no offense) than what the community actually does today. There's not a lot of development in Dolan Springs... not a lot of jobs either.

Residents took back their town Tuesday when they voted in two Council candidates who have no ties to development and overwhelmingly backed former Mayor Les Byram, who has promised to try to stem the massive flow of growth we’ve seen over the last year.

So what have those residents done since they 'took' back the town from development?? Is the community better off today than it was two years ago?? Is it better for the entire community, or just those particular residents that don't like new neighbors??

If Byram is unable to push his numbers over that 50-percent mark, the door remains open a bit for Gates. She will have to reintroduce herself to the community, and assure residents that she has learned from past mistakes. It will be a tough sell.

Not only did voters align themselves against massive development by backing Byram, they intended to give the former mayor some firepower by voting in Janet Watson and Kerry Deering onto the Council. Neither has ties to builders or landowners, which made them attractive to voters who looked to put the brakes on massive growth on Tuesday.

The traffic light was green, but for whatever reason the voters put on the brakes. Revenues have dwindled, jobs have been lost, opportunities thwarted, and for what?? For who??

I found it quite telling when I arrived at a polling station Tuesday to see a big pickup parked on the road just outside the entrance of the church where I was going to cast my vote. On the truck was a big sign that said, “Vote for Gates.”

I shook my head.

“She just doesn’t get it,” I told my wife.

I've had the pleasure of meeting with the KDM editor a few times over the last year or so. Real good guy, definitely a stand up guy that backs his word when he gives it. I'm sure his job is stressful and he feels pressure to produce a good product.

However, in a short two year period his tune has changed. Here's a bit from last Sunday's op/ed that he wrote...

I used to believe that the vocal opponents to growth were always on the right path, but now I wonder. I look at Kingman and the surrounding area and think, why hasn't this community grown like other communities? Where are the water parks, where are the Best Buys and Targets and Dillard's, where are the arts centers and theaters and places for kids to hang out and have fun? Why are there patches of empty desert all through Kingman, why are so many streets unpaved, and why are so many people so pissed off all the time? I came from communities of like size, Cheyenne Wyo., and Grand Junction, Colo., and both had problems, but both have malls (real ones where you walk inside) and both have continued to grow. As needs arose, those needs were met. Why not here?

The editor goes on to say that because two developers shook hands a new chapter in Kingman has begun. What if the two men hadn't posed for that photo opportunity?? Would the future still look bright all of a sudden, and would the editor look forward to being part of that future as he indicated last Sunday??

Kingman didn't need two men to shake hands and settle their legal differences about business between the two of them. Let's not forget that the local guy told us all that the out of town guy was a 'crook' and a threat to our area... that is... until he got what he wanted. Sorry, I don't buy all the assurances he supposedly negotiated for either when neither him or any of the other folks in the room have ever been elected to negotiate on behalf of Kingman and Mohave County. If those assurances were negotiated on for the city then where is the public record of the entire agreement??

What about the community?? When does it get what it wants?? You know, like some of the things the editor mentioned above.

Plenty of people fought against the future of Kingman for the last few years and now I think after this series... we've seen the major examples of who those person's and interests are. Now it is time for the editor and his staff to turn the magnifying glass on those, and others, that fought hard against our "very bright future".

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