[Vision2020] Moscow's mojo has become endangered

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Wed Mar 14 00:55:54 PDT 2018

Courtesy of today’s (March 14, 2018) Moscow-Pullman Daily News with special thanks to Nancy Chaney.


Her View: Moscow's mojo has become endangered

By Nancy Chaney

Do you agree with your family or friends 100 percent of the time? I don't. Disagreement is normal when people are excited by different ideas and life experiences. Civil debate improves outcomes and facilitates compromise. Former Moscow City Councilor Jack Hill was fond of saying, "We can disagree without being disagreeable." Surprisingly for Moscow, current elected officials - however smart or honest - seemingly show up at council meetings with a rubber stamp and a head-nodding technique that predictably bobs one way. So far in 2018, every vote has been unanimous. In 2017, they only disagreed four times. In a whole year? What accounts for such unusual behavior? What's happening to Moscow's mojo?

I've considered various possibilities: It seems improbable that every proposal that comes before the City Council serves the public's best interest. Maybe, it's just human nature that causes local officials to seek the respite of amity amidst the chaos and dysfunction in state and federal government. Conformity by rote might be the council's self-protecting response to the question, "Why can't we all get along?" It's easier to choose the path of least resistance. Maybe it's the oft repeated mantra in City Hall about being a unified team (as opposed to independent thinkers), or heavy-handed mentorship to shape new members, or buying in to the idea that dissent is a moral failing, rather than a democratic necessity. Knee-jerk decisiveness derived from bravado and dug-in certainty based on pride are no substitutes for decision-making through objectivity, patience, inclusivity and humility. These days, local government in Moscow seems to equate autonomy, opacity and this new-found pack mentality with efficiency. Wittingly or not, they've stifled public engagement by streamlining council meetings to get the work of the people done within an hour or two every couple of weeks (less time than it takes to shop for groceries), by burying substantive matters in consent agendas, failing to respond (or responding discourteously) to citizen input and outsourcing the city's website to a national firm that thinks our local values fit into a fill-in-the-blank template as long as you're willing to register online, and don't aspire to independently research records older than 2015.

A surprising number of people who came to Moscow for a short visit or stint at the University of Idaho decide to make it a permanent home. Nearly 40 years after arriving here, I remember it was Moscow's "differentness" that drew me in. It was a place where individuals mattered, diversity was celebrated, opinions were challenged and human connections were manifest as well-trodden neighborhood pathways and bodacious community events. I came to embrace Moscow in the way one might another human being, replete with a distinctive identity and uncommon chutzpah. Change is inevitable, but presumably, we elect people to care enough to guide that change for the collective good. Instead, local officials seem inclined to mold Moscow into Anyplace USA, where tree-canopied streets are modified to induce more car traffic at the cost of wrecking neighborhoods; where, with the city's blessing, the utility company is lighting up formerly peaceful spaces (such as living rooms and yards) until they resemble stadium parking lots; where our artful sense of place takes a backseat to profitability regardless of social costs; and the Bohemian spirit that has long been part of Moscow's identity is squelched by boilerplate marketing campaigns.

Our community's competitive edge is its "differentness." Here's my challenge to Moscow's elected officials: Be brave enough, kind enough and far-thinking enough to keep Moscow, Moscow. Seize your inner moxie. Vote for mojo.

Nancy Chaney moved to Moscow in 1980, intending to stay for two years. She is a small business owner, community volunteer and former two-term mayor.


Renewing Our Focus, then-Mayor Nancy Chaney - January 6, 2014


I agree with Nancy 1,000%.  Shortly after transferring to the University of Idaho from North Idaho College in ‘92, I, too, fell in love with Moscow . . .

“Our Moscow”

Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman.fsr.com/pipermail/vision2020/attachments/20180314/cffd4d76/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list