Federal frustration

I sit here waiting for my first cup of coffee. Waiting and wondering about a couple of things actually; namely the federal government and water tests. “For the love of God” or “for Hell sakes” I wonder which exclamation best pleads the ineptness of our federal government, as for the last 11 days RSCI waits to be paid from the United States Department of Agriculture (Rural Development Program) for work completed over the last few months; or be it the United States Attorney’s office and their ability to open their doors and provide the city with the deed and keys to the Silver Horseshoe Bar. Both branches of our federal government have apparently been furloughed, as no one that used to work there answers the phone or responds to e-mail.

Some may think good riddance, but you may want to read further before you actually say it, especially if you live in the City of American Falls. The city’s contract with RSCI requires that we pay them, just like you would if someone did work for you. I thought the city had a deal with the federal government as they loaned us the money to complete the construction of the new wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). But, apparently the word of our Congressional leadership is subject to change from one manufactured crisis to the next or from budget issue to budget issue as the funding for the project has stopped, at least for now, because the employees who administer the funds are on an unpaid vacation. Ya, they are collecting unemployment, but ask yourself who pays for that? The city’s contract with RSCI states that they are to receive payment for an approved pay request within 30 days, just like you need to pay most of your bills in the same time frame. Well, with the federal government in its state of impotence, that debt is the city’s to pay. The good news is we can pay this payment out of our wastewater capital improvement fund and it won’t affect you. The bad news is that the following payments will affect you if things do not change in Washington D.C. Isn’t that a pleasant thought?

My prediction, based on their past track records, is that those in Washington D.C. will put a Band-aide on a longtime festering wound. They won’t solve any problem, and by Oct. 17, 2013, we will be able to make the required payments to RSCI. Why October 17, because that is when the debt ceiling needs to be raised or our country defaults on our word and many of our monetary obligations. As my Grandpa Griswold, a lifelong Republican, would have said, “It is a piss-poor way to do business.” He would have been right. A side note of interest is that the funding is still available for the downtown project and that branch of the federal government, Federal Highways, is still working. Apparently to those in D.C., it is more important that we be able to drive to the store for our groceries than process what happens to our groceries once they have been consumed and are subsequently conveyed to the WWTP. Go figure?

Although the deed and keys to the Horseshoe are less critical than the payment required at the WWTP we cannot work forward on that project until we have both. In a roundabout way the payment of RSCI affects the Horseshoe project as well though; if they are forced to wonder if they will be paid for their work on the WWTP I would understand if they were to be less willing to help the city out in the demolition of the Horseshoe on a voluntary or minimal fee basis. I have received numerous calls about the Horseshoe and its contents. It is the intent of the council to salvage anything of value from the property. The cattle brands that were on the walls will somehow be returned to those who have a family interest in them if they still exist or given to the Museum. The bar itself was at one time very valuable, as was the sign out front. There are possibilities for both I think. We, like you, are just wondering and waiting to see what those possibilities may be.

Progress continues with the downtown project; although Total Coliform Bacteria (TCB) counts persist in the new mainlines on Tyhee, Idaho and Roosevelt causing further delays in the installation of concrete on the north side of Idaho Street as the private water services cannot be connected to the affected waterline until the water remains pure for two consecutive test dates. The tests on all three streets were completely absent of TCB on Friday, but minute traces of TCB were found in Saturday’s test results (colony counts of 1 and 2, as compared to 200-300 before Friday). Progress, I have no cheerier metaphor, slow but sure. Roosevelt and Tyhee are nearly ready for sub-base material as those streets are continuing to be prepared for asphalt, curb and gutter, along with sidewalk. Very favorable comments have been directed to city hall on the appearance of the landscaping that is being installed by the city crews and I have passed those comments on to those doing the work; a special thank you to Karl Mauch who brought us doughnuts Friday as we planted on Idaho Street. Beyond Monday of this week the weather looks favorable so I expect progress to continue. I wish I had better news for you, but c’est la vie!

Until next week…

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