Throughout history, the people of Ada County show an ability to come together and defeat whatever challenge confronts us. The past four weeks provided another example of our ability to succeed in the face of adversity. Neighbors helping neighbors shovel snow and other acts of heroism and kindness will go unreported but not forgotten — this defines us as a community. Our efforts kept us safe in the face of record-setting storms and the community is to be commended.
During events like this, we all experience fear, frustration and anger. What we don’t expect is to have someone exploit emotions of the moment for personal gain. The City of Boise’s mayor and City Council majority are preying on our emotions in their Guest Opinion (January 13).
Mayor Bieter asserts that during this storm the community was “left in danger without necessary services.” This is a reckless statement and unsupported by the City’s own Police and Fire departments. The Ada County Highway District has been in constant contact with public safety providers; I challenge the mayor and council members to produce any documentation of ACHD failing to respond.
The op-ed states a number of falsehoods that need rebuttal. The first is that the city would do a better job in handling this event. This is pure opportunistic second-guessing. There has never been a request from the mayor or any council member to increase ACHD’s spending for snow removal. Trying to claim that past requests for tax increases as evidence that the city would expend money on snow removal instead of on the requested projects is ridiculous. ACHD will spend whatever is needed for safety.
Another falsehood is that ACHD waited until the roadways became impassable before acting. ACHD has been working since December 10, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and brought in all available public and private resources to help. Our focus has been the arterial and collector roads and residential streets have been a second priority. As much as I would like to see everything be at the top, we need to insure that essential goods (like food and fuel) get to our community and that is why big roads come first.
Lastly, the assertion that ACHD’s inaction required the city to declare a state of emergency is bogus. The declaration allowed the city to spend easily on snow removal and those efforts have been minimal. The city hired a contractor to clear snow from downtown parking spots. The few city-owned plowing resources that were supposed to assist ACHD did not operate continuously and in fact three plows sat largely idle.
I am well aware of the desire of the mayor and City Council to control the roadways in Boise. Honestly, they can make some good arguments. However the egregious twisting of the facts cannot go unchallenged.
All elected officials take seriously our obligation to serve public safety. The ACHD Commission accepts responsibility for the storm response without excuse. We work with our staff to insure safety throughout Ada County and will move forward with the City of Boise, the other local governments and private contractors as a team.
Again, we are grateful to the many unsung heroes. This little dust up should not detract from the truly amazing community response. Our thanks to all.
Paul Woods is the District 3 commissioner for the Ada County Highway District.