Infrastructure: The second I

May 16, 2014


Concluding the week-before-the-primary-election discussion of the priority planks in my platform, let’s look at the second letter I: Infrastructure.

It’s easy to remember the five priority areas. Just think of the chorus to Old MacDonald. E I E I O. Those letters stand for economy, image, education, infrastructure and open government.

What is infrastructure? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the relevant definition for the purposes of this page is, “the system of public works of a country, state, or region; also :  the resources (as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity.”

The components of that definition may identify the most important reason we have government. It is not feasible for each resident of a county to build his or her own road or to put a bridge over the creek. We band together and form governments to handle those things. Sometime when we are irritated by a speeding ticket or a sign that says we have to enter the courthouse through a metal detector, we may grouse that government exists just to pass laws and rules to make our lives miserable. But the important work for which the government is responsible is to make sure we have the essential “things” and services, without which our everyday lives would be much more difficult.

My approach to handling infrastructure issues applies to all issues: Plan. Start out by assessing what the needs for new infrastructure and maintenance of existing infrastructure are likely to be. Determine what the cost and priority are. Evaluate whether the budget can handle all the needs and, if it can’t, determine which ones have the highest priority. To the extent possible, be prepared to face some unexpected but possible situations that may arise, such as the unusual amount of ice and snow this past winter.

Then, deal with the issues. If the issue happens to be a good crop of potholes in the roads, fix them. If the issue happens to be failing equipment, the process should have identified that issue before the equipment fails and creates a crisis situation around what should have been merely an annoyance. It’s amazing how many crises good planning can avert.

All of what I’ve written describes elements of good leadership which is what we need in Ballard County.



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© Joe W. Culver