As far as it went, Boise Mayor Dave Bieters ninth State of the City address touted economic successes and municipal belt-tightening.
It was an optimistic message, well received by the 900 or so community leaders who gave Bieter a standing ovation at the end of Tuesday mornings speech.
There was, after all, some good news Tuesday. J&M Land will acquire and renovate the Armory, a vacant landmark on Reserve Street. The citys small-business incubator, the Greenhouse, has its first graduate, and Anboto Group, a tech startup from the Basque region, plans to move in to take its place. The citys police and fire unions agreed to renegotiate their contracts, giving up $1.3 million in raises to keep services intact.
What was missing Tuesday was something big. Something ambitious on a newly re-elected mayors to-do list something that will challenge the community. In that sense, and especially given the audience, Bieters speech seemed subdued, an opportunity lost.
Its not that Bieter doesnt sense the timing at hand, as Boises economy is gradually coming out of a deep downturn. Weve endured through the long, cold winter, and springtime has returned. Yet spring isnt a time for rest, but for renewal. Its a time to build, to create, to advance to invest in our companies and our families and our community.
But build, create and advance what, exactly?
Bieters focus on jobs was fitting, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Boise business mainstays such as Supervalu and Hewlett-Packard. But Bieter played it safe, restating his support for existing economic initiatives such as the Greenhouse.
Public transportation long a priority for Bieter didnt get a mention. Neither did the idea of how to pay for an improved transit system. Earlier this year, Bieter used a Boise City Club speech as a forum to argue for local-option taxing authority. Not on Tuesday, despite an audience dotted with state legislators, the elected officials who can pass or reject a local-option bill.
We were left wanting more because Bieter is positioned to press for more. As mayor of the states largest city seven months removed from an easy win over token opposition Bieter has a podium and popular backing. He should make more of both.