John Dickinson

(candidate for 2003 Moscow City Council (4 year seat))

1. Do you believe the bequest from the Hamilton estate was spent wisely in the construction and maintenance of the new gym? If not, why not—and how would you avoid a similar problem in the future?
You can tell that something is wrong when the children of Moscow are given a large gift and the community is unhappy with the result.
Early on, the City asked for and received a lot of input and information from community groups on ways that Moscow's youth could benefit from the Hamilton gift. At that point, it appears that a building was designed that met the vision held by decision makers and some members of the community. Building contracts were signed and presented to City Council before the rest of the community was on board.
I don't think the Hamilton money was spent wisely. There were flaws in the process that short-circuited many of the good ideas presented at the beginning. The final plan for the gymnasium excluded many groups who had been involved early on, resulting in a lot of displeasure with the final concept of a gymnasium. The resulting building will likely serve the needs of a minority of those involved in the community discussion.
I would make sure that children were the largest voice in the planning process for a similar gift in the future.

2. As a Council member, what would be your questions, concerns, and requirements if you were asked to vote for a zoning variance that would allow a large business (employing 100 workers) to be built on the outskirts of Moscow? Use that example to define your vision of economic growth for Moscow.
My questions would include the following:
Why are they asking for a variance instead of building somewhere that is already zoned appropriately?
How would a zone variance affect the current land use?
What type of business is it?
What services/resources do they require from the City?
What size facility is planned?
Will they be providing new jobs for Moscow residents? What kind of jobs?

The zoning code and map is part of a planning process and should be followed, unless there are compelling reasons to modify the zones. The comprehensive plan has already defined areas for commercial and industrial facilities to locate. If a facility is built on the outskirts of Moscow, bordering on County land, there is an added challenge to make sure it's compatible with future growth of the city.

My vision for economic growth includes a vital downtown and a variety of diverse companies that utilize the creative people of the community and do not require significant amounts of our valuable natural resources.

3. Are you concerned with the continuing depletion of the Grande Ronde aquifer, and if you are, what specific steps would you want the city to take to conserve that water source?
Yes, I am concerned about the depletion of the lower aquifer. A long-term solution may involve alternative sources of water, but in the short term, the community needs to embrace water conservation techniques. The City should take a leadership role in this. Demonstration projects could include xeriscape gardens around City Hall and other public buildings, low water or no water restroom facilities, and grey water irrigation systems. The City should also initiate a residential water rate scale that rewards low water use families and encourages others to conserve. Water conservation activities throughout the City will increase once the community sees that beautiful landscaping and water conservation are fully compatible.

4. Should Moscow encourage, and begin planning now for, the creation of a new route for Highway 95 that bypasses the city?
Definitely the planning should begin now. At some point, in the future a by-pass may be necessary, and Moscow and its residents should have control over the route. The Transportation Commission has discussed a by-pass for Moscow, and has studied potential routes. There is consensus that if a by-pass is constructed, it should go to the west of Moscow, even if this means that it crosses into Washington.

5. As a Council member, how would you use email, websites, or any other communication tools to inform Moscow residents about city programs or to gather input from those residents?
It's great that the City has a Web site and that Council agendas are sent to public forums such as Vision2020. However, only the Council agendas are on-line and none of the background information is available. The City's Web site should provide access to all public records, documents, and maps.

The World Wide Web started a decade ago when I was Chair of the Computer Science department at the University of Idaho. We built one of the first 100 Web servers in the world. I've had extensive experience creating and managing numerous Web sites during my career as a computer scientist. I'm happy to provide advice on organizing and automating the process of putting information about the City fully on the Web. A comprehensive Web site with current and historical information would be a valuable resource for the community. For example, the John Dickinson campaign Web site has sections devoted to past articles and letters from the newspaper, photos taken during the campaign, an interactive virtual yard sign section that calls for visitor's participation, and listings of upcoming campaign events.

But the Web is only one source of information and is not easily accessible to everyone. The City needs to be active in every communication media because the residents of Moscow use them all. So radio, newspaper, television, and information mailed directly to homes must all be utilized to create a fully informed and engaged community.

6. Please include biographical information about yourself and any other message or contact information you want to share with Moscow voters.
I've lived in Moscow since 1973 and spent 29 years at the University of Idaho. I was the Department Chair of Computer Science for 15 of those years. I have three children who were all raised in Moscow. Living in Moscow for many years, I have had ample time to enjoy the things I love about Moscow-Friendship Square, the Farmers' Market, the Chipman Trail, the Kenworthy Theatre, and the restoration of Paradise Creek. As a professor, I spent most of those years focused on a specific task of creating a world-class computer science department at the University of Idaho. This past year, I took advantage of early retirement, and have had an opportunity to look more carefully at aspects of our community that affect our lives. I have a deep interest in the health and well being of the people in our community, how we relate to one another, and how we as a community face our future together. I believe I have something unique to offer our community-a desire and the skill necessary to bring people together and work toward common goals.

Contact Information:
Name: John Dickinson
Phone: (208) 882-7977
Mail: PO Box 8762, Moscow, ID 83843
Campaign Treasurer: Pam Palmer

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