Note to Planners in Utah: Are You Producing or Consuming UtahAPA?
March 13th, 2020
Admittedly, when we’re all focused on germs, earthquakes, evaporating 401k accounts, and praying mightily that our Netflix keeps streaming … the issue of our investment in UtahAPA probably isn’t top-of-mind. However, professional planners should be the first to realize that the way to get where we want to be in the future is to actively take steps in the right direction today. The last legislative session should serve as a wake-up call that as planners in Utah, we can do better at that.
Enter the tale of two appropriation requests…
There were two appropriation requests in the last session, and they both were asking for about one million dollars as an investment in community planning. The first one was designed to be a simple planning grant program that would provide ongoing financial support for communities. Almost all of the policy elements of the second one were really weak (bureaucratic salaries, low-quality / high-cost plans, redundant program, etc), but there was a good element in it that would create real-world experience opportunities for students.
Fortunately, the good one passed, and the bad one didn’t. Unfortunately, almost no one knew about either request – and those that did know, didn’t bring it to the Chapter before the session. This means that the proposals were essentially competing against each other, which unnecessarily increased the risk that both would fail. With involvement from the Chapter, it would have been self-evident that the best way for the state to invest in community planning would be through a simple passthrough program that required student internships as a condition of receiving the grant. Further, as members of the Chapter, we could then endorse the strategy to our local legislators (which would result in support from all areas of the state).
The bottom line is that we can’t expect Judi, Wilf, Angela, or Ted to know everything and be everywhere. There’s more to supporting a professional association than just paying dues, flipping through every other magazine, and going to part of a conference. We each need to be part of the conversation. Earlier this year, the Chapter made a call to all of us to increase our participation. There are elected positions that need candidates, and there are open positions with the local Chapter that always need to be filled.
Everyone is busy; but just as ‘many eyes make better policy’, many hands make light(er) work.