A chance in the regional chair
During 2011, Clark hopes to make PPACG ‘importance’ clearer to citizens
When Sallie Clark was on City Council from 2001-2003, she admits she didn't know a lot about the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG). Only a few
council members get to serve on the board of the regional planning agency, and the chance never came her way.
That's changed since the Westside resident and business owner became a county commissioner in 2005. She has represented the county on the PPACG board since then, serving at different times as its treasurer and vice chair. And, at its Jan. 12 meeting, fellow board members voted her its chairperson for 2011.
“It took me a while to realize how important the PPACG is,” she said in a recent interview. “Most people don't understand how the federal money comes through it, the influence PPACG has on state funding and how it affects issues such as aging, the military and stormwater.”
As the chair, she has the opportunity to “set the process,” as she put it, of the board. One of her first acts as chair at the Jan. 12 meeting was to insist on PPACG staff doing a better job of communicating to citizens. Right now she thinks most citizens know little or nothing about PPACG or what it does. One idea she's considering is a kind of “speakers bureau,” in which people from the agency would go out and make public presentations about their work.
She also believes there should be more transparency in the agency's activities. Also at the Jan. 12 meeting, she raised questions about how well PPACG staffers were spreading the word about the ongoing regional transportation plan update. “It's important to reach out,” she said. “People need to understand what's happening and the input they can have into the plans.”
Another priority for Clark is ensuring that PPACG board policies make good sense. For instance, the draft transportation plan includes a number of environmental proposals that have prompted questions from Clark and some others on the board regarding their economic impacts and potential for over-regulation. She said she wants to make sure that “we set goals that are visionary but reasonable.”
For example, she is not sold on the draft transportation plan's call to incrementally cut regional greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels in the years ahead and to attain a 30 percent cut by 2035. What's important to remember is that “there's not an unlimited amount of money” available, she said. “It's nice to have dreams, but you have to be aware of what it costs us.” Especially, she added, “when you know you can't meet them” [the proposed levels] without forcing changes in people's behavior.
In essence, Clark believes that “the government shouldn't be controlling every aspect of people's lives. I'm not hearing that people want more regulation. They want less, or at least a reasonable amount.”
On the PPACG board, Clark works with other elected officials. They represent 16 government entities from the El Paso, Park and Teller county region.
The PPACG offices are on the Westside, off Pikes Peak Avenue between Seventh and Chestnut streets. The PPACG board meets monthly (the second Wednesday at 9 a.m.), with agendas posted in the office lobby or on line at ppacg.org.
“Formed in 1967 under Colorado law, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) is a voluntary organization of municipal and county governments serving a regional community,” explains the “About Us” section on the ppacg.org website. “For 40 years PPACG has worked to ensure that all communities - big and small - have a forum to discuss issues that cross their political boundaries, identify shared opportunities and challenges, and develop collaborative strategies for action. These intercommunity relationships underpin the concept of regionalism and the mission of PPACG.”
Westside Pioneer article