Pat Butler: Figuring out what drives traffic policy
LOS. CEQA. EIR. 2-second rule. Mitigation fees.
This is hardly a provocative list of acronyms or phrases. Yet reporter Trina Kleist has spent the better part of three weeks trying to understand what these all mean while exploring Grass Valley’s traffic policy.
In my Feb. 18 column, I pledged that the newspaper would do all it could to unravel the issues that surround the Level of Service question at the Idaho-Maryland and East Main Avenue intersection.
At that time, the City Council was planning to discuss waiving Level of Service requirements for that intersection at its Feb. 28 meeting. Then the issue was moved to the March 14 meeting. Now, the City Council plans to discuss the intersection at its March 28 meeting.
The postponements speak to the complexity of the traffic policy and the controversy that surrounds it as well as the high stakes involved for businesses and those who believe traffic is our top problem in Grass Valley. Those delays also gave the newspaper additional time to look at documents, study the history of the traffic policy, and talk to city officials, city councilors, contractors and others who are closely following this proposal.
In today’s The Union, we specifically look at the Level of Service for that most controversial intersection. In addition to our own extensive coverage, we are publishing an Other Voices column by Mayor Gerard Tassone that you no doubt have noticed on the next page. For those word-counters out there, I have waived our word limit for the mayor’s piece because he’s talking about traffic policy and specific projects.
In next Saturday’s paper, we will look at how mitigation fees are collected and spent in Grass Valley. It is those fees as well as development impact fees that generate some of the revenue needed to improve our traffic flow. In the weeks ahead, we will continue to do our best to get beyond the rhetoric and really understand what and who drives our traffic policy.
On Feb. 28, I celebrated my one-year anniversary at The Union. It has been the most invigorating and challenging year of my professional career.
Due to a variety of circumstances, I have to had to hire four reporters, a city editor, a sports editor and a Web editor. Trina Kleist, Robyn Moormeister, Soumitro Sen and Josh Singer have joined the staff in the past year. Brian Hamilton, our former sports editor, is now the city editor. Dave Price, who used to work for the Nevada Appeal, is the new sports editor. Kady Guyton is our Web editor.
I have also had to learn how to manage a staff of around 20 people who not only publish a paper six days a week but provide material for our Web site, theunion.com, which now has 17,744 registered viewers. My other responsibilities include writing this column and editorials as well as representing the newspaper at various functions. Just this week, for example, I spoke to the local chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees and attended a Red Cross volunteer appreciation dinner.
Although The Union is considered a relatively small newspaper, I have learned that we have a demanding and sophisticated audience and the issues to match. We are doing our best to meet the expectations of our readers and in a timely manner.
Every story, letter to the editor, editorial, Other Voices and column that appears on our Web site has a comments feature. By simply clicking on the comments line at the top of the story, you have the ability to weigh in on the issues raised in that piece. Then others can comment on your comment if they choose.
At this time, you are not required to identify yourself when you make a comment. Unfortunately, some contributors take their comments too far and write items that are tasteless. One of the unfortunate consequences of the cyber world is that you can take someone to task without having to actually speak to that person or look them in the eye. I think it’s fair to say that doesn’t always elevate the quality of the debate.
As as result, we’re raising the bar on what we will post on our Web site. If your comments stick to the issues, they will be posted. If you decide to sling some mud, it probably won’t stick. Our goal, however, is to be as permissive as possible.
Pat Butler is the editor of The Union. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4235.
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