April 17, 2024

LETTER: Feeble attempt

Matt Olive


I attended the Jan. 8 meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors. It was a long meeting with many topics discussed and budgets evaluated. I would encourage members of the public to attend these meetings when possible. They are very interesting.

The agenda item that concerned me the most was: “Discussion and Possible Action on approval of Comprehensive Plan”. It was reported that Confluence had updated their bid. Their bid to do the remainder of the plan was $57,000. The county would be responsible for $50,000 and the city for $7,000. This bid excluded the $11,500 already spent for updating the renewable energy portion of the Comprehensive Plan.

It was reported that the Southwest Iowa Council of Governments’ (SICOG) bid back in June was $35,000, and that was to do the entirety of the plan. Our contact person from the board of supervisors (BOS) reported that his contact from SICOG was sick, and therefore, hasn’t been able to confirm what SICOG’s final updated bid might be. The BOS agreed to give SICOG a week to respond. If they don’t, then BOS will proceed to vote whether to accept Confluence’s bid on Jan. 16. Informing SICOG of this new deadline for submission of a proposal was not discussed by BOS though. Our BOS contact person is also on the board of SICOG. It seems quite peculiar the BOS is in such a hurry to vote when an apparent $22,000 difference is on the line, especially when one considers that updating comprehensive plans is something SICOG is tasked to do. It makes me ask: “Is SICOG ducking the BOS or is the BOS not interested in confirming the bid from SICOG?”

Public comments are still prohibited. If public comments were allowed, I would have asked some questions concerning the previous paragraph. And if I still had some time left, I would have expressed my dissatisfaction with the six-question survey presented by Confluence and paid for by taxpayers. The first question is frivolous and the other five questions solicit our “concerns” relative to wind and solar projects. Presenting a survey asking that the respondents to express their concerns in long-hand is hard to measure and quantify. A proper survey would ask questions in a manner the results can be measured and quantified, that is why the majority of surveys dealing with public policy are presented in the form of multiple-choice questions.

I’m concerned about who consolidates, classifies, measures, quantifies and interprets the results of this essay-style survey. Any teacher will confirm that a multiple-choice test is easier to measure and grade accurately than an essay test. The compiler and interpreter of this essay-style survey has much more freedom to edit, slant and sway the results. With a well-constructed multiple-choice survey, the results would speak for themselves and measurable facts would anchor the survey.

If leadership sincerely wanted input from their constituents, they would take the time to create their own multiple-choice survey; or better, form a citizen’s committee to create one. Or best, they could pause, take the most responsible action, and simply update the entirety of the comprehensive plan. Quickly amending a portion of it, in order to open the door to wind turbine expansion and close the door on the potential legal liabilities of industrial scatter, appear to be a desperate attempt to whitewash. And taking the “half-step” to present a frivolous survey, at best, seems to be a feeble attempt to muddy the waters, and at worst, a cynical attempt to understate the will of the majority.