PROPS & DISSES: News&Guide witch hunts

By on April 9, 2013


News&Guide witch hunts (DISS)

Full disclosure: I respect the News&Guide and their reporters. I read their paper every day. They are a superb small press and deserve every accolade and award they flaunt in our face every year.

But I fail to understand why certain things seem to stick in the craw of the brass at 1225 Maple Way. For years, it was the hospital the NaG loved to hate. True, there was a period when St. John’s was a dysfunctional dumpster fire. Board members acted bizarrely. Administrators came and went (complete with juicy severances) with alarming frequency. Subsidized housing deals were arranged through government agencies then abandoned. The soap opera made good copy and sold papers, and the NaG was only too happy to ‘FOIA’ St. John’s to death.

Now the NaG seems obsessed with sinking their teeth into a new bone: the JH Airport board (see March 20 issue, “Airport leaders fly high in Maui; Airport spends big on annual trip for six to fancy Hawaii resort.” Their relentless pursuit of this non-story is perplexing. Newbie Mike Koshmrl pulled the short straw this time around, receiving all the journalistic glamour of authoring an investigative piece that blows the lid off nothing (remember Geraldo Rivera’s grand opening of Al Capone’s vault in 1986?) without the expense account of actually traveling to Hawaii.

The NaG’s objections seem to center around a taxpayer-funded trip for six to an exotic locale that totaled $35K. First off, for a board full of the valley’s highest rollers that oversee an annual budget of nearly $7 million, 35 large is chump change. Board member Jerry Blann calls that “walking around money.”

Secondly, the Airport board may technically be a public board but let’s face it, it derives its revenue from landing fees and jacked-up jet fuel prices. It’s only public in the fact that they have to play nice with the town and county once a year to get their budget approved.

And finally, regarding the location: Guess where they hold conventions? In beautiful places where people want to go. That’s where infrastructure exists to host, lodge, and feed large numbers of people. They aren’t packing ‘em in at the Grand River Convention Center in Dubuque, Iowa. And by all accounts this was a legitimate can’t-miss industry pow-wow.

At least the whole airport spending controversy distracted the NaG from their ceaseless quest for justice in the case of the cycling victim who plunked into the Snake River off a state highway. If WyDOT doesn’t count that as a traffic fatality who the hell cares? It ain’t bringing Robert Verhaaren back to his family.


Immoderate greatness doesn’t fix a lawnmower   (DISS)

The Wyoming Economic Analysis Division once again affirms Teton County is the costliest county in Wyoming to live life in. Duh. The Wyoming Cost of Living Index pegged Teton County as 30 percent higher than the state average in six consumer categories, including housing, food and transportation. Sublette came in a distant second.

But what does it really mean? How do you put a face on cold statistics?

Well, for one thing, you can’t get a lawnmower or refrigerator fixed in this town. The nearest small engine repair shop listed in the Yellow Pages is in Idaho Falls. Used to be you could find a guy like Alan in the repair garage at Action, or maybe you can still talk one of the Burnsides into fixing your Briggs & Stratton, but options are dwindling fast.

Same thing for household appliances. It’s nearly impossible to find anyone in the county who can and WILL fix your fridge or oven. There’s not enough money in it. The coverall-wearing, busted-knuckle Dickies customers have all given way to paragliding trust-funders with a real estate license on the side.

We’re creating a top-heavy Shangri-La full of doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs that is in danger of eroding out from under our feet for want of a decent HVAC repair man with a vocational degree.

The Pledge of Allegiance before every city council meeting should be swapped out for a mandatory playing of Alan Jackson’s “Little Man.”

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