Sunday, January 06, 2013

Bonanza Column 266 - Here Comes 2013

The 112th Congress, arguably the least effective in US history, has ended, and there are at least some indications that the 113th won’t be as feckless. One can argue over the interpretation of election results ad nauseum, and as I’ve said many times in this space, interpretations can’t be proven or disproven Nonetheless, I assert that the overall results reflect what my colleague, Verita Black Prothro, called “a slight but fundamental shift in our country’s ethos [that is] encouraging for those of us on the left.”
While I don’t think we’ll see the immediate disappearance of the Tea Party and its supporters, I do think we’re seeing the sun start to set on that distorted world view that each of us lives separately from the rest of the human race and it’s every person for him or herself. Issues such as marriage equality (now the law in nine states and the District of Columbia) are coming to be seen (correctly) more and more as civil rights issues. Women are standing up for their interests and to maintain the gains of the movement for women’s equality, and while the House failed to renew the Violence Against Women Act this week, such regressive moves are being seen more and more for what they are – a rear-guard action in a losing cause. John Boehner was re-elected as Speaker of the House over the Tea Party’s opposition, so hopefully he won’t feel so inclined to kowtow to them.
So I, for one, am optimistic going into 2013. I realize there will be setbacks such as the House’s action, but there will be victories as well and as Martin Luther King said, the moral arc of the Universe bends toward justice.
On the local scene, just as we have a new Congress in Washington, we have a new Board of Trustees for IVGID, a new County Commission, and a new Board of Governors for TRPA. Arguably these three governing bodies have a more direct and immediate effect on us as residents of Incline Village/Crystal Bay than do the President, Congress, and Supreme Court in DC. Here again I’m cautiously optimistic.
The IVGID Board has three new members who have not served in our local government before; the two Trustees who were not up for re-election are in their first four-year term, so we have a Board that, while it may be short on history and institutional memory, is to that same extent not likely to be bound by “how we’ve always done it.” Two of the three new Trustees ran on platforms promising greater accountability and closer fiscal management. Both, along with their third Freshman colleague, are young enough and intelligent enough to allow us to hope that this will go beyond mindlessly cutting spending or services and lead to a real consideration of what this community will be like for the next twenty or so years.
I’ve had the chance to meet and talk with our new County Commissioner, and she seems intelligent, non-doctrinaire, and eager to learn about her constituency. She also strikes me as articulate and persuasive, which is important as she is our one voice among the five County Commissioners.
The TRPA Regional Plan Update has survived extensive public scrutiny and seems to have stimulated an unprecedented level of bi-state collaboration. There are those who are certain that their analysis of the likely effects of the RPU are more accurate and honest than that of the TRPA Staff, Governing Board, and experts, which I think is unlikely to be true. If those well-meaning (but misguided) folks can restrain themselves from filing suit, which will delay, but, I am convinced, not deter the implementation of the RPU, they will have ample opportunity to make their case on a project-by-project basis. I am confident they will not do any better there than they did in the adoption process, and I am of the view that the RPU, in both the short and long-term will be one of the best things ever for the environment, economy, and people of the Basin.
On to 2013!

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