Monday, October 1, 2007

We Have a Challenge Ahead

The purpose of this blog is to bring attention to the problem of illegal rooming houses in Bellingham. I am not unaware that the enforcement of the Bellingham Municipal Code with regard to these illegal establishments will present a challenge to our city leaders. I am troubled, however, by comments I have received which point out the difficulties that lie ahead as if they were an absolute impediment to resolving the issue and, therefore, the illegal rooming house matter should be put in the “too hard to do” column. The following may prove instructive.

In 1998, I was temporarily assigned to the National Partnership for Re-inventing Government in the Office of the Vice President. The office was staffed by 30-40 government workers from secretaries and clerks to members of the Senior Executive Service. We were challenged by the Vice-President to change the manner in which government worked in order to reduce the time and money it took to get things done. This involved proposing ideas which, at first, seemed anathema to department heads and managers, many of whom squealed like stuck pigs. However, once the political muscle was placed behind the process, there was a shift from “we can’t do it because…” to “we will find a way to do it because the status quo is not working.” The successes were many (click here for some examples) and lasting.

In Bellingham the status quo means an increased number of illegal rooming houses, loss of faith in our leadership, growth and neighborhood plans which are meaningless, deteriorating neighborhoods, devalued property and a lower quality of life. We can choose that or we can move forward. Moving forward will call for political strength and creative leadership. With that, I am sure there is no end to the solutions available from our imaginative city workers, managers and citizens.

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