A Year In ‘Rear View’

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Two movies—one a dark comedy, the other a mockumentary—are Top 10 Netflix films using fiction to make statements about the moment of history we are now in. Image credit: Netflix

It was like 2020, but one year worse

By Eric Valentine

By now you’ve probably come across more than your fair share of year-in-review articles or Top (fill in the number and category here) of 2021 show segments. But have you talked to anyone recently about time? It’s like our memory banks have taken the equivalent of a gap year, but the cruel joke is that it’s actually two.

If you’re keeping track:

The “insurrection” happened this year, in 2021

The George Floyd vigils/protests/riots happened last year, in 2020

The novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 happened in 2019—that’s what the “19” is for

And what do all three of those things have in common? A collective, agreed-upon reality is not found there. Enter the media—and not necessarily the journalistic kind—to help us ponder all the goings on of our time. Movies like “Don’t Look Up” are less about their plot—our horrifying reaction to the horrifying news that a planet-killer comet is hurtling toward Earth, and more about their metaphor—our horrifying reaction to the current pandemic.

So, what follows are some Valley highlights from 2021 that make it clear it was a really, really weird year, again. Cheers to 2022 and getting a grasp on reality, for a change. Now, back to the question of the day:

Q. How would you behave if scientists and the government told you a comet was going to destroy Earth?

A. Look through this year in rear view, and you might have an idea of what you’d do or not do.

Officer TikTok

In April, in a clear and dare-it-be-said even understandable venting session—on video and not for the first time—about the assumptions civilians make about officer behavior in the line of duty, Bellevue deputy marshal Nate Silvester’s opinions went viral. While on duty and in uniform and in his police car, Silvester pretended to be responding to a violent knife assault while checking in by phone with LeBron James on how best to handle the matter. So far, so close to the line.

Silvester crossed that line when his fictitious version of the NBA star asked what color the guy with the knife was. Silvester, in character, asked James why that should matter and went about trying to handle the make-believe situation to the best of his ability while handcuffed by political correctness. What all of it showed was that Silvester may have been handcuffed by his own assumptions—specifically, about those who speak out against instances of law enforcement’s excessive use of force. It’s not hard then to imagine the assumptions that were made by May.

Silvester garnered well over half a million dollars from a GoFundMe campaign put together in his honor. By May, he also garnered a book deal from Houston-based DiAngelo Publications and a firing from the City of Bellevue for a series of alleged policy violations.

Nothing To Fear But Fire Itself

Severe drought conditions. Plenty of “fuel” to burn. Increased population and activity in the region. And winds and temperatures that could make a climate-change denier think scientists may be on to something. Those were the conditions in 2021 that had local leaders and fire officials sounding a pre-emptive alarm preparing the Valley for the worst—a wildfire raging through town.

Fire department officials across the Valley made public presentations on fire safety. County commissioners made it a crime to shoot off fireworks and to shoot at exploding targets. But—or thanks to all that safety prep—the most dangerous fires never came to the Valley during the late summer months and into October, aka fire season. And in November neither did approval for a $17 million bond to build a new fire station for firefighters with Wood River Fire & Rescue who find themselves cramped and not at optimal operating conditions, they say, in their current digs.

It’s The Stupid, Economy

“It’s the economy, stupid,” is a phrase that Democratic political consultant James Carville made popular—and overused—last century. Last year, the behavior of the economy was something that could make a person feel a little stupid, especially if they were explaining it right.

For one thing, we entered a pandemic with an economy that was—if using a number of classic indicators—very strong. Low unemployment? Check. High stock prices? Check. Housing market strong? Check. In other words, collectively at least, the nation was set up to, at best, handle the storm and to, at worst, take a serious hit it could still recover from (maybe even build back better). Where on that “best of times, worst of times” spectrum our fiscal reality actually lies depends on who you’re asking.

For small businesses, the tsunami of labor shortages and plenty of COVID restrictions was something not even a PPP loan could help keep a business afloat. For any government entity, the boom in population—permanent or otherwise—spelled higher revenue from things like property taxes and sales taxes, such as local-option-tax (LOT) receipts.

Save The Plan

The plan to preserve 65 acres of open space in perpetuity at what’s commonly known as Warm Springs Ranch means off-leash dog access, creek and habitat restoration, new water-conscious irrigation system, walking trails, informal gatherings and activities, Nordic ski and snowshoe trails, and public restrooms could find their forever homes there soon. And development, organized sports and reserved private or commercial events would be severely restricted or forever denied.

But time—and generosity—is of the essence. There are only days left to meet the $1 million match on donations received by Dec. 31, which would lead to a $1 million reduction in the sales price of the Warm Springs Preserve property. Match donations now total $807,572, leaving $192,428 needed to meet this critical goal, the City of Ketchum said in a press release from Tuesday.

With a campaign committee member’s recent pledge to match up to $1 million in donations received before that deadline, the chances of getting the price reduction are promising. Combined, these two incentives mean that donations made by Dec. 31, 2021, are essentially tripled. The total fundraising goal would then be $9 million instead of $10 million; $8 million for the property acquisition and $1 million for irrigation and essential site improvements.

“Thanks to our community and the pledge for a matching donation, we are dollars away from reaching the $1 million match,” said Mayor Neil Bradshaw. “There is not much time left, but I feel confident that we will meet this goal through generous year-end giving from those who cherish this property.”

And what a nice view that is.

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