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Austin: Urban Renewal & Outsiders

A funny thing happened to Silver Valley residents on their way to a decision on whether or not they want an Urban Renewal Agency (URA) in their county. They've heard from their neighbors to the west, including two elected officials angry over Coeur d'Alene's agency and its investment in McEuen Field. The newest change to urban renewal law requires approval from local residents before their elected officials can form a URA. Previously, in over four dozen cities and at least one county, those officials needed only proof of deterioration within their boundaries to authorize the URA and appoint its members. As a result of the law change, Shoshone County Commissioners have scheduled a vote on the issue for this Tuesday. What they could never have imagined was the interference of residents outside the Valley, but that is exactly what has happened/John Austin, Coeur d'Alene Press op-ed article. More here. (Idaho Legislature photo: Rep. Kathy Sims)

Question: Should state Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d'Alene, and Coeur d'Alene Councilman Dan Gookin be trying to export their anti-urban renewal philosophy to the economically depressed Silver Valley?

JohnA: Give It Up For Little Sister

In case anyone was wondering that pretty young woman on page C1 of the Press today is none other than my little sister, Patty Morrison, the principal at Spirit Lake Elementary. She recently received the Rookie Administrator Award from the Elementary Principals Association. Patty comes from a long line of educators, including my folks Jo and Gene Austin, who taught science and physics for many years, as well as her older sisters Beth and Susie. When she got the job I used the old line that it wasn’t the school I minded so much as it was the principal of the thing. :) Yes, her big brother lost a button off his vest this morning.

Question: When is the last time a member of your family did something that caused you to pop your buttons?

JohnA: Montana Dreamin’

JohnA: Montana was always a fun place to visit back in the old days. Growing up a few miles away in the Silver Valley, we’d take advantage of their hospitality on more than one occassion. Seltice was a short drive away, especially when their drinking age was 18 (officially, anyway). The 10,000 Silver Dollar bar was another great place (the old one, not the commercial gag at Haugen) and for a longer trek there was St. Regis and the nearby hot springs. It was cool cruising along at whatever speed felt right, which when you’re a teenager is as fast as the old beater could go.

DFO: My family has strong ties to Montana from my 5 years there. My wife & I were the first O’s to migrate. Eventually, three siblings & my mother followed. My son was born there. Two of my siblings married Montanans. Two nephews were born there. I’ll always have a fondness for the rugged Rockies out of town to the east and the independent characters that I met there.

Question: Do you have Montana ties and/or fond memories of The Big Sky state?

JohnA: Out, Out Damn Tourist

JohnA: I’m a Chamber of Commerce guy when it comes to tourists, as I know the economic impact they provide to the area. It’s just that by the end of August we’re ready for a break from the hordes. We don’t mind sharing paradise but it’s great when we finally get our peace and quiet back. That’s our September reward, and like many locals, we look forward to it.

DFO: I’ll confess that I’m tired to death of having tourists all over our waterfront and downtown. Mrs. O & I drove thru downtown Cda en route to our customary walk along the north shore. I’d thought that the deluge of tourists had subsided because we were turning the corner to fall. But downtown was packed. The waterfront less so. We’ll have to wait for Labor Day.

Question: Are you tired of tourists and visitors overrunning the waterfront?

JohnA: September Is King Of Summer

John Austin: Actually, DFO, the end of August means that the best month of summer is upon us.  It’s that magical time for locals when we get our lakes back, our roadways back and our sanity back. Now, of course, July and August are exceptional in north Idaho with their long, hot days and cool if short nights.  But September is the king of summer for Deena and I as we navigate the south end of the lake without much competition, and meander the St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene rivers, gorgeous in their changing-to-fall colors.  We also have the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes to ourselves, mostly, to witness the moose, deer, elk and bears in our chance encounters. No, the visitors to our area can have the rest of summer as long as they leave September, in all its majesty, to the rest of us.

Question: Which season of the year is your favorite in Inland Northwest?

Austin: A Multi-Lingual Boardwalk?

John Austin: I had a remarkable exerience today while walking around the Boardward at the Resort. I walked the entire Boardwalk without noting a single spoken word of English. A large group of Japanese tourists were engaged in their native language while another larger group spoke only in Spanish. I heard other languages I could not identify but they certainly were not English. At one point, I had to look at the lakefront landmarks nearby to ensure that I was where I thought I was. At once I was reminded why I have a hard time leaving our paradise to vacation anywhere else, when so many come so far to experience it

DFO: Last week, Mrs. O and I had a similar experience as John describes above. About half the people on our usual walk along the waterfront were speaking Russian or a Middle Eastern dialect. I enjoyed the international flavor and, indeed, felt lucky to live here.

Question: Have you had a similar experience as the ones described above?

JohnA: Regulate Moorage Costs

JohnA: With a virtual monopoly on boat moorage, I believe government needs to get into the business of regulating what is charged, like the PUC regulates the monopoly of Avista. In my opinion, marina owners who use our waterways for their docks should be allowed to recoup only the cost of their operations, including depreciation, and no more. The other alternative is for cities to get more into the business of marinas, with fair pricing to cover the costs (no taxpayer support) like CDA has at 3rd and 11th Streets. Something has to be done before mooring a boat is a rich man’s right only.

Question: Should Idaho regulate fees charged by private marina owners who lease state waterways to ensure that most boaters can afford moorage?

JohnA: Night Before Xmas, HBO Style

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the blog
Not a creature was stirring, not even ol’ Bob.
The avatars hung by the posters with care,
In hopes that St. DFO soon would be there;
But the master was nestled all snug in his house.
While visions of page views still danced with his mouse..

With mamma in Boise, and I with her cat.
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out from my keyboard arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
Away to the laptop I flew like a fright.
Tore open the Windows and threw up the site.

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