Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bonanza Column 252 - The IVGID Election

I was out of town on business for the IVGID candidates discussion last week, so what I know about it is what I read in the Bonanza’s printing of their responses to three selected questions and what I’ve heard from people who were there. From what I can tell there were no real surprises, with the candidates reiterating the positions they took in the primary race.
As the regular reader of this column is aware, I believe that local (community and county) issues require a different set of standards than state and national issues. My fundamental philosophy remains liberal/progressive, but on local matters the best interests of the community is the highest standard and as is well-known, Jim Clark and I often find ourselves on the same side of issues.
The problem with this standard is that what is in the best interests of the community is a wide-open question at this point given we have never come to a consensus or a decision on what we want the community to be. From the early Independent Incline efforts through Incline Vision and Pathways 2007, to the current Incline 2020 work, groups of well-intended residents have collected data to the best of their abilities about what people in the community want. All of these efforts have been interesting and none have been definitive. All have been subject to criticism based on the sample they used, and none so far have been followed up with any process that would have resulted in a charter for IV/CB going forward. Our subjection to Washoe County adds a further layer of complexity to the picture.
In the Bonanza’s report, one of the questions asked was “What is the view of recent financial losses at district venues, and should they should self-sustaining?” Frankly, I don’t know how any of the candidates could respond to this question. Any answer would have to be based on some coherent view of what the character of the community is to be going forward – for example, if we are to be a destination resort, then it might be reasonable to expect the venues to be profitable. On the other hand if the community is to exist primarily for the residents, then maybe breakeven makes sense. I don’t know how anyone can attempt to answer the question without having this as a basis. The TRPA Regional Plan Update makes this question, the most important thing this Board will have to deal with, along with hiring a new General Manager.
Notwithstanding all this, every two years we have to elect IVGID Trustees and the IVGID Board has to govern the District to the best of its ability, and the IVGID staff have to execute the policies the Board adopts. This year we have six candidates running for three seats. Three of these candidates make very similar cases for their election bid, the other three are running on platforms that, while similar to the first three in some respects, contain important differences. It behooves us as voters to look beyond simplified slogans and posturing and to investigate thoroughly before we vote. With only one incumbent seeking re-election, it’s possible that we’ll elect a new majority to the Board, so this year’s election is likely to be more impactful than usual.
For that reason, and for what it’s worth, I am only endorsing one candidate. The two Trustees who are not up for re-election are in their first term. Bea Epstein, the incumbent who is running has been on the Board, including stints as Chair, since 2004. While I doubt that anyone agrees with every decision she’s made and every vote she’s cast, few would disagree that she has worked hard, done her homework diligently, and been willing to listen to all views and think objectively about the issues. The Board needs continuity and, particularly with the prospect of a new GM, the institutional memory she provides is especially important.
Whatever your views one thing is sure: your view won’t be represented unless you vote. Early voting begins October 20 – be sure to vote.

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