It might surprise you, in the midst of the Dynamis debacle, to see me offer a few good words about lame-duck Ada County commissioner Sharon Ullman.
It might surprise you to hear David Case the newly appointed Ada County commissioner who has been fighting the good fight on Dynamis praise one of Ullmans initiatives.
But in an editorial board interview Wednesday, Case went out of his way to compliment the countys health screening partnership designed to catch illnesses before they result in a costly (and taxpayer-funded) trip to the emergency room.
I see that as a real benefit, and I applaud the past commission for going down that road, said Case, who defeated Ullman in the May GOP primary and is seeking a four-year term in November.
The free screening program is a winner, for several reasons:
Its collaborative, bringing together the county and several partners. One is Idaho State University: Students staff the screening booths, which keeps the cost on a shoestring and provides the students some on-the-job training.
Its preventive medicine in action. It seems like everyone in the public sector loves to talk about driving down the cost of health care through prevention and better outcomes. Here, the principle is put into action.
Its potentially a big money saver. Counties and property owners are inextricably tied to the rising cost of health care. The countys indigent services medical budget is $11.3 million this year, covered almost entirely by property taxes.
Screenings are a smart way to hold down these costs on the cheap. Ada County is giving ISU $10,000 in 2012-13, to cover supplies and immunizations. Overall, the county is spending $150,000 on various programs designed to improve health care access, or 1.3 percent of what it puts into the reactive task of covering indigent claims.
Contrast all this to Dynamis, the issue that has dominated news from the courthouse. Ullman and colleague Rick Yzaguirre have used brute-force politics to push this $75 million garbage gasification plant. Theyve rejected the common-sense idea of hiring a third-party consultant to review potential health effects. And, of course, the county has a highly speculative $2 million public investment in this project (and well surely have more to say about that in the days to come).
Heres one more problem with a debacle such as Dynamis: It looks all the worse when it is considered alongside a common-sense governing idea.
Ada Countys next free screening is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 707 W. Fort St., Boise. Services will run the gamut from blood sugar testing to oral and dental health exams to flu shots.
Heres hoping these screenings continue regardless of who ends up on the commission come January.
GREENBELT AND GREENBACKS
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a friend who was aghast at the potential price to make a contested stretch of the Garden City Greenbelt bicycle-friendly. Seems like taking down the no bikes signs costs a shade under $1.1 million.
Id kind of assume the contractor would throw in the sign removal as part of the deal. But when it comes to the Garden City Greenbelt, there is a risk in assuming much of anything.
Voters in Garden City will finally get a say on Nov. 6 about the fate of a 1 1/2-mile unpaved nature path on the north side of the Boise River in the Riverside Village subdivision. The unpaved path is off-limits to bicycles unless voters decide to allow cycling.
City officials decided to put this long-simmering issue on the ballot, and then asked The Land Group, an Eagle-based engineering firm, to run the numbers. Paving and widening the path would cost an estimated $1.143 million.
Critics, who have been battling the Garden City bike ban in court, were quick to question the cost estimate and the need for paving, when nearby sections of Greenbelt are unpaved.
Im no engineer just a law-abiding guy who has never biked the wheels-free section but has run it numerous times. Its narrow. Thanks to numerous tree roots, its also bumpy. To my untrained eye, paving looks like a big job.
But Garden City doesnt exactly have a lot of credibility on this issue. Its easy for the critics to suggest that the city is using this study and this eye-popping cost figure to stir up community opposition.
Thats what happens when a city spends a generation skirting a 1980 agreement to install a north-side bike path on state land.
This sorry record does not call third-party data into question, but it does call motives into question, weeks before an election that would purportedly settle this issue. This is a continuing credibility problem, of Garden Citys doing.
Kevin Richert: 377-6437, Twitter: @KevinRichert