Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yes, Virginia, “The Government” Really is Here to Help

You’ve probably heard the laughter surrounding the statement, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Yes, it does seem that nearly every time people talk about “the government,” or “the government” is in the news, it is painted in a bad light – stories of partisanship, bumbling bureaucrats, or squabbling among agencies.

This paints a dismal picture of how government functions. I’m here to dispute that. The presentation of the COMPASS Leadership in Motion awards earlier this week reminded me once again of all the good work “the government” (elected officials, staff, contractors, and volunteers) does for its citizens.

The first two awards presented highlight government projects that succeeded through the cooperation of several different agencies with different goals and different ways of looking at things, yet had one thing in common: they wanted to do what was best for their citizens.

The Leadership by Example, Canyon County award was presented jointly to Canyon Highway District #4, the City of Middleton, and the Middleton School District for their collaborative efforts to build the new Emmett Road dual roundabouts in Middleton near the new Middleton High School. They saw a potential safety issue near the school and worked together for a solution.

Leadership by Example, Ada County, was awarded jointly to the Ada County Highway District, the City of Boise, and Valley Regional Transit for their cooperative efforts in developing the State Street Transit and Traffic Operations Plan. In addition to these three, numerous other agencies were involved in the project. It was a large collaborative effort serving many different, and often competing, interests, yet they worked to find solutions beneficial to all.

Our special Transportation Champion awardee, Congressman Mike Simpson, was recognized for his efforts in supporting transportation on a federal level and a state level (in both of Idaho’s Congressional Districts) – working to do what needed to be done, regardless of political boundaries.

Similarly, Leadership by Example, Elected Official winner Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas consistently demonstrates leadership locally in Caldwell, regionally through COMPASS and other organizations, and nationally as chair of the Youth Council Committee for the National League of Cities. He doesn’t check his vision or leadership at the city limits.

Even our private business and individual awards demonstrate how government can work as an entity of the people. Leadership in Private Business winner Allied Waste is recognized for its pollution prevention efforts in its truck fleets, which collect waste under contract with many of the local government agencies in both Canyon and Ada Counties. While Allied Waste is a private business, its efforts benefit us all.

Finally, LaRita Schandorff, winner of the Leadership by Example, Individual award demonstrates the importance of the role of private individuals in government. LaRita is the volunteer chair of the Nampa Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizens Advisory Group, and in this role as a private citizen she works closely with the City of Nampa, including helping craft the Nampa Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. She is truly a citizen leader.

I’m excited to be able to share these good stories of how government does “work.” Congratulations to our winners and thank you for all of your efforts on behalf of all of us. Visit to learn more about all of our winners.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What will 2040 look like?

Close your eyes and use your imagination. What do you think the Treasure Valley will look like in 25 years?

That is a question we’ll be asking Treasure Valley residents next year as COMPASS undertakes a scenario planning process to develop a preferred future growth scenario upon which to base Communities in Motion 2040.

However, that is also a question we’re asking elementary age children in the Treasure Valley to answer now as part of the Communities in Motion 2040 Youth Art Contest.

COMPASS develops, or updates, a regional long-range transportation plan for Ada and Canyon Counties every four years. These plans look 20+ years into the future and are used to prioritize transportation and other projects based on public input and how the region is likely to grow.

Communities in Motion 2035 is the current regional-long range transportation plan. The next version of the plan, Communities in Motion 2040, is being developed and is scheduled to be complete by September 2014.

COMPASS strives to include individuals throughout the valley in its planning process. However, typically, most people that choose to become involved are not the ones who will be most affected by a long-range plan.

For example, in the year 2040, I’ll be 74. I assume I’ll still live in the area, but likely (hopefully?) won’t still be working. On the other hand, my children will be 37 and 38 years old. It is their generation that will be the commuters, homeowners, and business-people when Communities in Motion 2040 reaches maturity.

To engage children their age and encourage them to think about the future of our valley, COMPASS is holding an art contest in which elementary age students are asked to draw or paint what they think their neighborhood, community, or city will look like in 25 years.

Entries are being accepted now and are due by 5:00 pm on Friday, December 16. Information has been sent to local schools and is also available online (scroll down to “Public Participation and Outreach”).

Winners will be announced in early January. Winning entries will be displayed at the COMPASS office, at COMPASS and community events throughout the valley, and on the COMPASS web site at I’ll also announce the winners here in my blog.

I’m excited to see the future as imagined by our children. Who knows? The seemingly wildest ideas may be those that come true.

Friday, August 5, 2011

And the Nominees for Leadership in Motion 2011 Are…

Who are the nominees for Leadership in Motion 2011? You tell me.

Now is the time for you to submit your nomination, or nominations, for this year’s COMPASS Leadership in Motion awards. The awards recognize businesses, individuals, and projects that have demonstrated leadership in supporting the goals and vision of the Treasure Valley’s regional long-range transportation plan, Communities in Motion.

We seem to be bombarded with bad news on a daily basis – the federal deficit, two wars, and the ongoing recession, just for starters. Let’s take this opportunity to turn that around and focus on good news in the Treasure Valley. What innovative projects have been completed or are underway that will improve our local transportation infrastructure? What private businesses are going above and beyond for the future of the valley? Whose work is helping fulfill the goals of Communities in Motion?

More detail about the awards, past winners, and the nomination process can be found online at

Nominations will be accepted through Friday, September 16, 2011; awards will be presented at the COMPASS Board meeting on Monday, December 19, 2011.

Please take a moment to submit a nomination. The process is quick and easy. A few minutes of your time will help us honor the people, businesses, and projects that are helping the Treasure Valley continue to be one of the best places in the US to live and work. Let’s share the good news.

Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho

COMPASS is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for transportation planning in Ada and Canyon Counties. The COMPASS Board comprises 39 members representing the cities, counties, highway districts, educational institutions, state agencies, and other entities within the two counties. COMPASS plays an important role in making decisions about future long-range transportation needs in the Treasure Valley, taking into consideration environmental and economic factors that affect the quality of life.