Saturday, February 09, 2008

"Attaboy" Time

At last week's Council session on the CG/CH zoning changes, I addressed Council asking once again for a zoning/permits/development ombudsman, something I have regularly advised for several years. Last week, in a comment to JWT's article, "What We Have Here", I said, "As JWT told you, I gave Mr. Lewis my card, asked him for some details, and promised that I was just as glad to give the city "attaboys" in public as to criticize. Have not heard yet, but if I do, and this is for real, I'll be the first to acknowledge it here."

I've been out of town this week and this is my first chance to follow up on that promise. I am here to give the city a big "attaboy", and eat a healthy portion of crow. If one looks to the comment following mine to last week's article, it is entered as anonymous, for ease of access I suppose, as it is signed at the bottom. I cannot recall when last I was more politely, thoroughly, and deservedly chewed out. For that matter, the embarrassment aside, I don't recall being so glad to admit, "Got me!"

The author of that comment, Amanda Fawver, is the city's Development Coordinator, a position created last April which comes so close to the "one person, one phone number" job description I have been requesting as not to be worth quibbling over details. The position she holds, complemented by the new Development Review Committee, will make the path from "bright idea" to final approval substantially smoother for business investors. As she points out, it has already helped 30-some projects.

Development Coordinator Fawver was so diplomatic, she even deleted from her public comment an especially embarrassing-to-me section of the e-mail she sent. I not only saw, and should have recalled, the April 21, 2007 Standard-Times article announcing this position, I commented favorably on the gosanangelo site. Not only do some folk downtown read my stuff, they sometimes remember it better than I do! Seriously, that was a deft touch which should serve well in a "first-contact" position.

This new approach is truly substantive. Unnecessary zoning/permits hoops to jump through are not only inconvenient for a prospective business, they cost real money in time and effort. To a business, the money saved on that end is just as real as the money on the cash-payment economic incentive end. From this forgetful author, a great big "attaboy" all 'round to staff and Ms. Fawver in particular. Talk about your economic multipliers, whatever the pay scale for this position, it is money well spent.


  1. I am as pleased as Jim Ryan about the development coordinator position. This fills a critical need and should remove major impediments to growth and development.

    The city's communication should also improve now that statement billing for the water bill is up and running. We have been asking for increased information on the water bill for a long time, and now they can provide it. Add on the capability to add an insert to the bill easily as they are doing on the rezoning, and you have multiple wins. I hope valuable inserts become the norm in the water bill.

  2. Mr. Ryan--

    I am pleased that we were able to cross paths, and I assure you my intent was not to chew you out at all! I am pleased to share the information...the more people who know, the more people I can hopefully help.

    My only addition to your complimentary article would be to add that, for those trying to contact me at the office, they will have much more luck asking for AJ Fawver, as that is what I go by. Thanks for your interest in this matter, and please let me know if I can be of future assistance.