In every community when issues emerge there are always those who are "insiders" and know the real story about what is going on. They know what the "real" issues are, who the power brokers are, what their motivations are, who is on what side of an issue, and why.
Then there is the rest of the community; informed only by the media and casual conversations with friends. This group is interested in having a community that is run efficiently and effectively, and one where decisions are made in the best interest of the town.
These people observe what is happening but, quite frankly, often are left with a lot of confusion and unanswered questions. Take, for example, the recent decision about rezoning for affordable housing and all the favorable treatment that appears to have been given to current homeowners at the airport. A group of casual, but interested and concerned, observers might be heard to raise some of the following questions:
Realtor: "I understand the mayor has decided that housing between $80,000 and $100,000 is not 'affordable.' If not, at what price does it become affordable?"
Builder: "What can you build for less than $80,000?"
Retired government employee: "I can't believe that there could be a task force on affordable housing that worked with the town, a planning commission and a town council all dealing with this issue and nobody has thought to define the term.
"The mayor says it's what a minimum wage person living alone could afford. Others say it's for teachers, police and other public servants. Shouldn't there be an agreed-upon definition before an issue gets this far?"
Fixed income retiree: "There sure seems to be a lot of favorable treatment for the folks at the airport. Just about all the street construction money is going to serve the airport residents.
"Now this zoning decision goes in their favor. When did it become the responsibility of the town to maintain the property values of those who own homes at the airport and ensure that there are lots of buyers lined up for those who decide to sell?"
Single mom: "I agree. It sure seems to be a higher priority than ensuring that there is adequate housing for low-income people."
Data Analyst: "What does the town have against using comparative data to make decisions and allocate resources? The town manager says 'lots' of people live out by the airport. Could we maybe be a little more precise and compare the actual utilization of Airport Road to some others in town badly in need of being upgraded?"
Accountant: "If the airport is generating as much money for the town of Payson as everyone says, how come we have to put tax dollars into running it. Very few Payson residents get any benefit from it."
Trusting observer: "Well, you folks have sure raised some good points. But remember, we're just outside observers. I'm sure the 'insiders' who have the power to make decisions have all this sorted out. After all, they have task forces working on this, a competent town staff, planners, and all the latest technology needed for sound, data-based decision making.
"There are very likely good, logical, unbiased reasons for their decisions. Outside observers like us tend to oversimplify. We don't understand the complexity of the issues like they do. Don't worry, folks. Those roads are paved with good intentions."