Monday, September 28, 2009

Good Graces Return.

Sunday morning I was a panelist on an interesting panel on rural economic development and community involvement. My fellow panelists were the president of the local community college and the executive director of the local economic development corporation. One of the reasons for our presence is that we have created a very successful economic development effort out here in the flatlands that is a partnership between the city, the county, the community college, and businesses.

Our audience was the Rocky Mountain Farmer's Union "Leaders of the Future" group. The group consists of people in the 20-30 year old range that have been selected by their (predominantly) rural communities as the next generation of leadership material. So the Farmer's Union hauls them off to a series of "best of" and "good examples" over a year in the hope they will import and use the knowledge in their own communities.

All in all a fun morning with some very good questions and lively discussion. But the really ironic part is that less than three years ago this city and I personally were the target of the Rocky Mountain Farmer's Union's (RFMU) wrath over the topic of water rights law. They didn't like the fact that we were standing up for enforcing the water law equally across all water right holders and users - they wanted preference to farms that had in truth tried to pull a fast one and got caught. But now we have had a couple of years for the truth to come out fully about what was really happening and all of a sudden the city and I are back in good graces (and occasionally even applauded for doing the right thing). It's a classic example of the fickle nature of attacks related to politics - the person or entity under attack today on the basis of incomplete or incorrect information or understanding may be the hero for exactly the same stance tomorrow. It's one of the reasons that anyone in a leadership position has to expect the arrows in the back and be able to continue on in spite of the pain. It is the hardest concept to get across to people who spot the bleeding back and wonder how you can go on. {*grin*}

In any case, I'll close with an interesting problem brought before the panelists Sunday. A gentleman from a county near Denver wanted to know how to overcome the problems associated with the proximity of a large city on what is and will probably forever be a rural county (too mountainous for much more development landwise). From our point of view, we are far enough from the front range to avoid those problems. But in this gentleman's case, the county only has two incorporated towns and they are both well below the 200 person level. But, there is a population of 1000s that live in the unincorporated tip of the county and commute to Denver and environs to work and shop and ... And because they have an income level very different than the rest of the county, they skew the census data to make it look like the average person in the county makes a very large income, which means that the vast majority of the county is ineligible for any type of grant or aid programs to help with development. In fact, he mentioned that the county did a survey and people living in the commuting tip could not even name the two towns in the county. It makes the problems of a truly rural area like this seem easy to handle in comparison.

Time to call the number and see if I have jury duty tomorrow or if the case has been called. I hope it has been called off since we have a city council work session on the budget tomorrow night that will need a clear mind. Besides, it is county court and getting empaneled while in office is about as likely as a lawyer getting impaneled on a district court jury, so all I'd do is go kill a few hours eating donuts and drinking coffee. Healthier to stay out of it!


  1. I do hope you get out of jury duty. I once sat on a week long trial about EMU birds. I kid you not.

  2. Interesting situation of skewed data. Thanks for sharing that. It's a shame that there isn't more of a division for the data to remain appropriate. As for the jury duty, best of luck with that!

  3. Free donuts and coffee and you'd rather opt out? What's wrong? J/K.

    And that is a truly interesting problem that the man brought up. I have never even considered something like that.


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