Monday, October 18, 2010

Missed Opportunity With Street Bond Opposition!

Now that early voting has begun, a news story about one of Durham’s political action groups opposing the street bonds left me a bit puzzled.  If the newspaper report is accurate and complete, I understand the reason given, just not the reasoning.

Apparently the group doesn’t want residents to approve the final catch-up on street maintenance during a period, as columnist Ezra Klein noted recently, when it will be much less expensive than it would have been five years ago or than it will be five years from

The reason given now is that the group wants more information on the status of the current efforts.  Nothing wrong with that rationale, but unless I’m missing something, street and block by block information about what’s been completed, what’s underway and what’s under contract has been up on the Internet now for several weeks. 

Two months ago, a report quoted the group’s leader as opposing the bond because of underlying problems in the economy but in plenty of time to inform the group’s decision otherwise, a new study shows that infrastructure work is one of the quickest ways to stimulate economic development.

As Klein notes, there is absolutely no difference between the debt from government borrowing money and the debt resulting from deferring maintenance.  It is the same reason Congress should rapidly approve the President’s proposal to use this economic lull to take care of long-overdue Federal infrastructure upgrades.

So now is the time, regardless of where we are with the remnants of bonds currently being deployed from previous voter approvals.

If I were to suggest stipulations that the Durham group could have leveraged instead of a blanket opposition, they would include:

  • Insist that the contractors selected during the bidding process be Durham contractors or have a Durham presence but whether local or otherwise,


  • Insist that the contractors employ Durham residents to do the work.  The Raleigh residents working on the crew in front of my house this past summer had plenty of ‘tude about the Bull City and employing non-residents means the work did little for our economy.


It seems proposing these stipulations would have been more productive than opposing the overall bond referendum, which if it fails will result in little other than driving up the costs when the projects are ultimately executed.

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