Thursday, April 5, 2007

LAST CHANCE! We need YOUR ideas for RRROC's Strategic Plan.

Seriously. THE DEADLINE IS APRIL 8th! That's THIS SUNDAY! Go to, download the form (it's a Microsoft Word document), fill it in & email it to ASAP. If you don't have MS Word or an Internet connection, have a friend print it out for you & snail mail it to the address on the form. I'll explain what's going on & how to fill in the form in the following text (I do find the language employed to be rather peculiar ... particularly their stated "Submittal deadline").

Oooh, those sneaky little devils at RRROC ... I was unable to attend the latest round of "Community Visioning" events or the last RRROC meeting due to scheduling conflicts. Then I perused the RRROC meeting agenda which was posted on the bulletin board by my post office a few days ago & noticed that the agenda looked suspiciously short & that the information seemed rather vague, even by RRROC meeting agenda standards.

So I started asking around & eagerly tore open my copy of the Russian River Monthly, which arrived in my mailbox only YESTERDAY, & discovered that RRROC will be voting on the FINAL VERSION of the Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan document will define the goals & vision we have for our community & hence how future RRROC funds will be prioritized & spent for infrastructure & development. Basically, we're talking about THE ENTIRE FUTURE OF OUR COMMUNITY!

Luckily, RRROC & CDC are still seeking input from us River Rats & Rattinas. At least until THIS SUNDAY.

If you have any desire for ideas & suggestions for community improvements, NOW is your chance to be heard. So go ahead & ask RRROC to fund causes near & dear to your heart, like: environmental preservation; housing for the homeless; speed-bumps & sidewalks on your street; upgrades & repairs for your neighborhood park & playground; funds for spiffing up storefronts (fresh coats of paint & touch ups for dilapidated signs) so our downtowns look more attractive; community gardens; financial incentives for home/business improvements that promote ecologically sustainable living; a community center with a pool & activities for youth & the elderly; etc.

The language on the form is rather odd. It lists a series of community goals (gathered from the visioning sessions) -- like "Public Health & Safety" & "Social Issues" -- but rather intimidatingly refers to them as "Key Result Areas." Don't worry about that. Just scan the form & write ideas down for any items that resonate with you, provide your name & phone number &/or email address at the bottom of the form & send it back.

You may wonder why you're sending your form to people in "Fountain Hills, Arizona." RRROC & CDC have hired a consulting firm which specializes in redevelopment & community planning. They do a good job, but they're not the ones in charge.

I am excited about most of the projects that RRROC has chosen to fund, & I am grateful for all of the committee members' hard work (& also the diligence of the folks from the CDC). Yet I also feel that it is too early to vote on a final version of the Strategic Plan document. RRROC has employed absolutely ZERO publicity for the Web site, the existence of the community input form, & the April 8th deadline for, um, "submittals."

RRROC Chairman Dan Fein is a nice, intelligent, well-spoken & highly competent gentleman who cares about the community & REALLY wants to get things done. Alas, the poor guy seems to have little patience for the creeping, banana slug-like rate of progress which is inherent to incrementally building community consensus & support. I can't blame him, because it would drive ME totally crazy too.

Yet, Mr. Fein needs to know that he has alienated a substantial segment of folks who live & work along the Russian River & has ticked them off to the point where they repeatedly & vehemently mutter their suspicions & invectives for even the most seemingly innocent & worthy RRROC-funded projects. These people think that Mr. Fein wants to squelch public input & ram projects through that will attract tourists at the expense of local needs. I feel that this is only partially true (since attracting tourism WILL give us the wherewithal to meet local needs & also because tourists & locals often appreciate the exact same stuff), but I can easily understand why people see him this way.

Mr. Fein, I advise you to spend time with us River Rats & Rattinas & give us some warm fuzzies. When your friend Mike Reilly, the County Supervisor retires or moves on & you seek election for his job, you'll definitely want our votes.

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