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Posts published in “Day: April 3, 2009”

Parochial issues


Here is a good example of why people seeking redress at the state legislative level need to get their local disputes taken care of and in order first: Idaho Senate Bill 1157.

It sounds simple enough, having to do with the naming of a city. State law sets the rules if two cities decide (by voter election) to merge, as some have in Idaho over the years. One of those rules is that when two cities merge, the new city takes the name of the larger one. SB 1157 would alternatively allow to be used a name "mutually agreed upon," the decision being made by the voters at the consolidation election.

This is arising, as you might suspect, because of a specific local circumstance. There's been a lot of talk in Ketchum and Sun Valley, which is an incorporated city as well as a well-known resort, of merging the two cities. Ketchum, with about 3,000 people, is about three times the size of Sun Valley, and so logically would become the new city name. SB 1157 was sponsored by Senator Jon Thorson, D-Sun Valley, who is filling in for Clint Stennett; Thorson would like consolidation to happen.

That has infuriated any number of people at Sun Valley, and a local feud over the subject has erupted. And it has spilled over into the legislature. Wally Huffman, the long-time general manager, warned of "a disaster for my company" if the merger happens. In fact, the Sun Valley contingent seems deeply, and bitterly, split over what should be done.

(And as for the name of the city: It's not terribly important, except for the numbers of people who would have to be changing their addresses and stationary. What possible effect it could have on the resort at Sun Valley is unclear: It has a very well-known brand because of the resort itself, and the mountains nearby, and not because of the small obscure muncipality in the area. Most people who "go to Sun Valley" and don't stay at the resort itself stay, not in the city of Sun Valley, but at one of the many lodges in Ketchum.)

Imagine yourself as a legislator dealing with this: The prospect getting into the middle of a local war.

The response was the only obvious thing to do: Kill the bill. Veteran Senator Denton Darrington, R-Declo, made the point cleanly: "The perception is crystal-clear that this injects the Legislature in the middle of a huge local feud.” Where, in other words, it would have had no business being . . .