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It's good to try something new

We'll never know if innovative ideas would have led to a better airport

A Federal Aviation Administration decision to seek new bids for the Medford airport terminal construction was described by the local airport director as a bit of a step backwards.

Because 80 percent of the funding for the &

36;35 million project comes from federal grants and ticket taxes, it's understandable that Bern Case has to be diplomatic in describing the change of direction. And, in truth, the rebid is expected to delay the project by only a few months, which is not much after living with a too-small terminal for decades.

But the real loss may not be measurable in months or in the final cost of the project. It may be measured in the little things that make the difference between a cost-effective project and an innovative, cost-effective project.

The FAA overturned a decision to award the contract to a Utah construction company and an Idaho architectural firm, which planned to bring the terminal project together through a unified approach. That approach would have bundled the work into one package, creating what the proponents hoped would be a collaborative, team effort that would help reduce or eliminate the usual cost overruns and miscommunication.

But the idea of using a collaborative team ' something the business world has been doing for decades ' was outside the comfort zone of the FAA. Agency officials instead want each stage of the project bid out separately, something they believe will reduce costs.

Those cost savings may be illusionary. The contractor who had been picked for the job said all the components already had been bid out separately by the contractors, and the FAA's move would basically duplicate what had already been done.

The bigger loss may be in the elimination of a team that would see the project through from start to conclusion. Certainly, there still will be a general contractor on the job, but it will be in the traditional role of managing subcontractors as they come and go.

This project will promises great things for both the airport and the community and the change hopefully won't diminish that. But we may never know what we lost when the FAA decided that the old ways are still the best ways.

Give Santa a break

When businesses make decisions that upset the public, usually there are some good reasons that forced them into a corner.

But we can't imagine what good reason Target stores has in deciding to no longer allow Salvation Army bell ringers to collect money at the stores during the Christmas season.

We certainly understand that businesses have the right to set their own rules. A local Salvation Army representative said he was told the decision was made because Target did not want to allow some charities onto the store property when it was denying the same access to other charities.

The decision was made at the corporate level ' Target Corp. operates 1,272 stores in 47 states. But it will hit home at the local level, where contributions at the Medford Target last year totaled &

36;8,000 of the &

36;100,000 in total kettle income.

We don't see any winner in this. Salvation Army loses in its fund-raising efforts. The agency's clients lose when services are reduced. Target loses valuable public relations points (if you doubt that, you weren't listening to conservative talk radio shows Thursday).

This is a lose-lose-lose situation. We hope the corporate powers-that-be at Target rethink the policy and once again allow the bells to ring at their stores.