Frank Moe: In response to “Mass Exodus”
I would like to say that everyone mentioned in the Craig Press article this past Friday titled “Mass exodus,” including myself, has done many wonderful and positive things for our community in the past and present, and we will all be doing many more in the future. We should all feel proud of our accomplishments knowing we all have a great passion and dedication to the people of Moffat County.
When your own dedication, credibility and honor are questioned by others in a newspaper article, how do you defend yourself without making your reply question those same people’s dedication, credibility and honor? I don’t know the answer, but I am going to do my best.
One option would be to take the advice of Edward Everett.
“Once a man who had been slandered by a newspaper came to Edward Everett asking what to do about it. Said Everett, Do nothing! Half of the people who bought the paper never saw the article. Half of those who saw it, did not read it. Half of those who read it, did not understand it. Half of those who understood it, did not believe it. Half of those who believed it are of no account anyway.” In my case it was not the Craig Press but individuals quoted in the article who made heart-piercing comments about me.
Another option is to respectfully present your “side of the story.”
In my position as a county commissioner, I was approached by members of the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, the Moffat County Tourism Association and the Moffat County Local Marketing District boards (I am the Board of County Commissioners liaison to each) seeking my help to see if there was a better, more efficient and effective way for these groups to use the Moffat County taxpayer’s dollars for local economic growth, diversification and marketing.
I was cautioned by these same people who reached out to me that there could be “great resistance,” and I would possibly be subject to “public ridicule.” Even knowing this, I was willing as a county commissioner to take on this endeavor, and, with the help of others, work on this issue for them and our community. I informed these concerned board members who came to me that I appreciated their commitment to their respective boards and their dedication to improving our local economy for the benefit of everyone.
After reaching out to my fellow commissioners, the Craig city manager and mayor and other city council members, the Dinosaur mayor and town trustees, including additional members of the boards mentioned, plus the city and county attorneys (and taking input from all), I prepared a PowerPoint presentation representing a combination of thoughts and collaborations of how these groups could work together to best represent the entire community.
I then presented it to the Moffat County Board of Commissioners, the Craig City Council, the town of Dinosaur trustees, the MCTA, the CMEDP and the Moffat County Local Marketing District.
The theme of the presentation was “How Best to Serve Our Entire Community,” and it included the following points.
• “Stronger Together To Serve the Community Better.”
• “The Sum of the Three Organizations Is Greater Than They Could Achieve On Their Own.”
• “More Efficient, More Effective, More Productive and Maximize Use of People and (Taxpayers) Dollars.
• “ONE TEAM, ONE MISSION, ONE VISION & ONE GOAL for local Economic Development and Diversification.”
• Additionally, there where charts showing possible ways to staff and structure a combined organization.
In addition, I recently read into the minutes of a Moffat County Board of County Commissioners meeting a paper I wrote titled “It Is and Will Always Be About the (Local) Economy.” Here are a few of the key points made in the full article, which follows.
• Knowing and understanding the difference between success, status quo or failure of our local economy will help determine the amount of tax dollars available to operate our local government bodies. Our local economy and expansion of tourism, economic development and diversification are the top priorities for the people of Moffat County.
• The people of Moffat County are saying that all of the economic planning, analyzing, studying, contemplating etc. over the years needs to be turned into tangible, measurable and visible economic development and diversification results. They are demanding to see implementation.
• When the people of Moffat County see the dwindling budgets of local government(s) and the prospects of reduction of services to them, they are crying out, “Now is the time to get it done!” economically.
• Going forward, once a mutually developed and agreed upon budget and operating plan for economic development and diversification is approved and accepted by the governmental entities, it is incumbent upon the elected officials to allow the board(s) the latitude to succeed. Stated politically incorrectly, “micromanaging” will be “verboten.”
• I supported the MCTA, CMEDP and the MCLMD in their working together to develop and present a plan of “their own making” to the City of Craig, town of Dinosaur and Moffat County on how they would work together to efficiently and effectively utilize the taxpayers’ dollars they receive.
• This is a democratic society, and politics is a part of our daily lives.
• Whenever local economic collaborative development plans succeed — where local tax dollars are involved, which local governments are responsible for — the community wins and prospers, and credit should be shared with the appointed board(s). When economic development plans fail or are not implemented effectively, especially those that are using local tax dollars, it is the fault of our local governments, and we should be held accountable.
In closing, I am a servant and advocate for the people of Moffat County. Your message of “please help grow, strengthen and diversify our economy and help ensure our tax dollars are spent wisely, efficiently and effectively” has been heard.”
As expected and forewarned, I have indeed received recent criticism for these efforts for standing up on behalf of the Moffat County citizens and taxpayers.
The proverbial idiom comes to mind, “The pot calling the kettle black.”
Even with all this distraction, we must remember what is most important here, and that is to serve all the citizens of Moffat County to the best of our ability and work for full economic success for everyone here.
We are all lucky we live in such a great area with incredibly passionate people, as well as natural resources that are wide-ranging and far-reaching. We all need to work together for what is best for everyone. We have 63 other counties in the state of Colorado, as well as 49 other states in the country that we are competing with economically. We must work together and collaborate to meet and even beat this competition to be more successful and move our local economy forward.
I will continue to put all of my efforts into working for the betterment of every Moffat County taxpayer.
Following is the article in its entirety, as mentioned previously.
As a community, we will no longer be able to (subscribe to the philosophy of) cutting our way to economic prosperity and vitality. We have accumulated so much deferred maintenance in our community, economically and socially, that, although we have budgeted to live within our means, and at the same time are trying to better our current economic situation, we also must invest in our community now to achieve prosperity.
What does investing mean in this case? It means having and earning a predetermined rate of return on our investment.
Over the years, we have all heard the evolution of the statement, “It’s the economy!” “It’s still the economy!” “It’s the economy, stupid!” And the overreaching and eternal one, “It is and will always be the economy!”
Knowing and understanding the difference between success, status quo or failure of our local economy will help determine the amount of tax dollars available to operate our local government bodies. Our local economy and expansion of tourism, economic development and diversification are the top priority for the people Moffat County.
The people of Moffat County are saying that all of the economic planning, analyzing, studying, contemplating etc. over the years needs to be turned into tangible, measurable and visible economic development and diversification results. They are demanding to see implementation.
When the people of Moffat County see the dwindling budgets of local government(s) and the prospects of reduction of services to them, they are crying out, “Now is the time to get it done!” economically.
Yes, now is truly the time. The sands in our economic hourglass are expiring. We have three years left in President Donald Trump’s first term. The reason this is so important is that we now have a federal government that is more willing to allow our county to use our natural resources for the betterment of our people. The last eight years under the previous administration has taken its toll on us, economically, because of our local economy’s dependence on energy. The clock is also ticking on Tristate Generation and Transmission’s Craig Station Unit One’s decommissioning. We can’t afford to let the next seven years of Unit 1’s life expectancy fly by without taking our own economic futures into our own hands.
The local government bodies of Moffat County, the city of Craig and the town of Dinosaur are responsible for appointing local tourism and economic boards. These boards function with appointees from around the county who do the people’s work and who, along with local government, have participated in making and approving tourism and economic budgets, as well as operating plans using taxpayers’ dollars. However, the governing bodies are ultimately responsible and accountable for the outcome and the results of these boards.
Much has been said over the years and presently that tourism, economic development and diversification has not happened or cannot happen without completely removing local government and politics from these boards. I find this concept is not practical and not acceptable for the following reasons:
“If you are crazy enough to work in the public arena, decisions will be made politically. It is hypocritical to work in the public arena and to bitch about politics. It is as hypocritical as insisting on being a pilot and then bitching about gravity. I have spent a lot of time in aviation, and I have never seen a pilot walk away from a bad landing and say, ‘I could have handled that if it wasn’t for gravity. If gravity would only get off my back.’ But I have seen public officials working in the public arena, city managers and administrators, say, ‘I could have handled it if it wasn’t for politics.’ Because, as long as you work in the public arena your work has to make it through the political fire. It has to survive the political debate”.
This quote is an excerpt from the one hour and 9 minute YouTube video titled “Democracy and the Art of Building Consent, The Systematic Development of Informed Consent Process,” by Hans Bleiker.
The way forward requires a sense of urgency and a duty of collaboration, an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all of the key players. We must utilize a predetermined, measurable, accountable plan with budget and timelines for completion, citing the desired results.
It is inconceivable that local governments — in this case, the city of Craig, the town of Dinosaur and Moffat County — would not be a participant and team member in helping shape the economic future of our area.
Other key local government entities who will need to be participants and are key players are the Moffat County School District, Memorial Regional Health and Colorado Northwest Community College. They are integral members and economic drivers of our community’s economic team.
Other government agencies whose resources we will need to embrace and partnership with to reach our lofty goals include federal government agencies: the Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development and Housing and Urban Development and state of Colorado agencies: Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Colorado Workforce Center, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
All these government agencies involve politics and are political bodies.
A prime example of successful local government and politics involved in tourism, economic development and diversification is our bordering county of Rio Blanco.
As it is presently and going forward, Moffat County will need to be a team member and player, a collaborator — a follower when it’s our time to follow and a leader when it’s our time to lead — in the overall tourism expansion, economic development and diversification of and for our community.
This is a priority because Moffat County needs these tax dollars generated by a strong, vibrant, dynamic economy, which will enable it to continue to operate efficiently and facilitate the services the people desire.
Whenever local economic collaborative development plans succeed — where local tax dollars are involved, which local governments are responsible for — the community wins and prospers, and credit should be shared with the appointed board(s). When economic development plans fail or are not implemented effectively, especially those that are using local tax dollars, it is the fault of our local governments, and we should be held accountable.
Going forward, once the mutually developed and agreed upon budget and operating plan is approved by the government entities, it is incumbent upon the elected officials to allow the board(s) the latitude to succeed. We need to offer the boards the necessary support and resources to enable them to accomplish the agreed-upon goals. Stated politically incorrectly, “micro-managing” will be “verboten.”
It is during the time of the required quarterly reports that each government entity will be updated on the status of the budget and the board’s operating plan and status of current projects.
Accomplishments should be acknowledged with gratitude and praise, while those items not completed are discussed and dealt with. Everyone must keep in mind the governing entities have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers, and oversight is appropriate.
Am I able to say that, as a county commissioner, the tax dollars expended in the past or to be invested in the future are or will be fruitful in stabilizing, diversifying and growing our county’s economy?
I can tell you that I have the greatest faith that our local government bodies, tourism and economic boards, and the individuals who serve, now have the message and that we are all tasked with implementation which will only happen with collaboration.
Even with this confidence, as the Board of County Commissioners liaison to the Moffat County Tourism Association, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and Moffat County Local Marketing District, I have some suggestions, and I would like to propose to the BOCC to wait to approve the proposed 2018 Moffat County Local Marketing District operating plan and budget at this time as presented on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
I am also proposing the BOCC readdress the MCTA’s 2018 budget and operating plan.
I am proposing the following to the BOCC.
At this time, there are two entities, namely the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and the Moffat County Local Marketing District working on economic development. Moffat County has supported both groups in the past and present and desires for them and the people of the county to have one unified operating plan and budget going forward. Both groups are working with limited financial resources, and we, as a community, have a limited time to achieve the desired stabilization and growth of our economy.
The BOCC is aware that the Craig/ Moffat County Economic Development Partnership voted on Oct. 23 to reach out to MCLMD for merger talks. Their first merger discussions were held Oct. 23.
We support the merger and are requesting that the groups present a plan, of their own making, for approval and endorsement to the city of Craig, the town of Dinosaur and Moffat County detailing the combination. We have received legal advice that this can happen through memorandum of understandings and other legal actions.
We are also asking that, when the director, as outlined in the proposed 2018 MCLMD operating budget and operating plan, is hired within 90 days, we are presented an updated operating plan and budget for approval by the city, town and county, based upon the experience and knowledge of that individual for the balance of 2018.
As outlined in the bylaws, a quarterly update is to be presented to the city, town and county with an opportunity for discussion and comments between the entities. We are suggesting these presentations happen in the months of April, July, October and January.
With these requests being satisfied, I propose and recommend the BOCC approve the 2018 MCLMD/CMEDP merged and unified operating plan and budget.
When the last building blocks of Branding and the Opportunity Tool Kit are in place, our community will see implementation progress.
Franklin A. Moe is a Moffat county commissioner representing District 3.