Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday: About the Ash Street Project,
and a Petition

One of my neighbors came over this morning, with a petition about how the Ash Street project in town is being handled.

He's none too happy: and that's putting it rather mildly.

Some background about the part of the Ash Street project that has this neighborhood's close attention is in "Friday: Sidewalks, Street Lighting, and Homeowners" (January 11, 2008).

I put a text copy of the petition on my Sauk Centre Journal.

I didn't sign the petition: not because I think it's inaccurate, but because I've got some rules for that sort of thing.
  • The current petition doesn't call for any action. It's an expression of displeasure over a decision made, and how the decision was made.
    • I'm willing to put my signature on a practical recommendation.
    • But, once a decision has been made, it's been made.
    • I might communicate on my own, about how it was made, but not as part of a group.
  • Although I am quite sure that the petition is factually correct, it does not accurately express my own emotional response to the Ash Street project's decision-making process.
As an example of the second point, the petition's identified as being from "The Disheartened People on the 900 block of Ash Street.

I was never "heartened," so I could hardly be "disheartened." It's been well over 35 years since I first tried to influence the decision of a city council, and I've been to quite a number of those 'citizen feedback' meetings since then.

My first encounter with 'city hall,' in another municipality, was educational. Someone had taken the trouble to do a great deal of research, clearly demonstrating that an industrial plant would require a substantial upgrade of the city's water and waste treatment system. Also, that although one of the reasons given for extending tax-free status to the plant was that it would provide jobs for the city's people, in fact there were relatively few jobs: and they would be filled by staff already working for the company.

At each step along the way, a council member would interrupt this flow of reason with "just what point are you trying to make?" - in a tone appropriate for an annoyed executive being interrupted by a third assistant under-flunky's interruption of a board meeting.

That time, the industrial plant went in, the water and sewer systems were upgraded, at the expense of property owners other than the industrial plant, and life went on.

'Citizen input meetings?' I've stopped going to them, unless there's a serious need to know what reasons and/or excuses are being used to explain some course of action.

Sorry if this sounds cynical.

I've decided that, however "democratic" and "responsive" this society's political institutions are, people in leadership positions tend to decide what they want to do, do it, and pass the bill on to the people who pay their salary.

The good news is that, these days, we have elections regularly, and can vote for some of the officials who decide how much we'll pay, and for what.

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles
Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

On Twitter, I'm Aluwir