For people like us
In places like this
We need all the hope
That we can get
Oh, I still believe
As I heard that song on the radio yesterday I thought, corny as it sounds, that is why I'm running for city council. I still believe this can be a better city.
Few people can be as outraged as I on the state of politics at the national level. I went to peace vigils before the invasion of Iraq and have been disgusted as the number of dead in this war built on a foundation of lies has grown ever larger. The number of U.S. dead is 3,194. The number of dead Iraqis is truly unknown.
In most ways I can have little impact on the direction of the nation; few of us do. On the other hand, I belive committed, open-minded people can have a great effect on local issues. As the saying goes, "Think globally. Act locally." So I have decided to run for City Council as an at-large candidate.
I am running as a Democrat because my conscience allows no other choice. I recognize, however, that local issues are not truly defined in terms of party politics and I hope to not contribute to poisoning the groundwater of political discourse through hyperbolic rhetoric.
The best service we, as governmental representatives, can perform is to bring our entire background to the task of making informed decisions for the benefit of the entire community. The perspective of some candidates may draw from their work background, whatever that may be; certainly mine will. But an additional perspective I would like to bring to the task is that of a long-time environmentalist. I want local decisions run through an "environmental filter" to see that any resulting actions are as consistent with environmental health as possible. I don't mean simply that recycling is addressed as a goal or stormwater runoff is handled wisely, but that we seriously consider what types of "progress" we want to encourage. Not all growth is good, and not all economic activity is worth pursuing.
A few of the issues I want to explore throughout this campaign or as a sitting councilman are: dealing with sign clutter, lessening light pollution, taking a good look at the health quality of our drinking water, addressing sustainability as a precept of all of our decisions. I attended a city council meeting recently and saw a local merchant, the owner of the scuba shop on State Street, recount how he was passed over during the purchasing process of diving equipment for the city. ( I think the equipment was instead purchased in Louisville.) Do we have guidelines in place that give extra emphasis to local purchasing of goods and services? Noted environmental writer Bill McKibben has a "one store" rule. If he needs somthing that can't be purchased from an independent business having just one store, he does not buy the item. I'm not suggesting such purity of purpose, but locally based business is the true measure of any city's tangible wealth.
If this blog elicits sufficient interest from anyone, I will try to focus on issues as we go forward toward election day.
One issue to be addressed soon (Tuesday March 13th 7:00 PM at the Calumet Club) is the possible change of traffic patterns to make some currently one-way streets into two-way streets.
The proposed change to two-way traffic is a good one. This is one type of traffic-calming. Other traffic-calming methods are things such as speed bumps, speed tables, and islands built into the street necessitating a driver to slow down to make a swerving dodge of the island. Traffic-calming is not the only reason for a reversion to two-way streets. A real result of two-way traffic is a reordering of the street from simply a thruway into an integrated part of the neighborhood. A further step needs to be taken to make the street more a part of the neighborhood and less an obstacle course: on-street parking. An example of two way-traffic that does not promote integration of the street into the neighborhood is the section of Spring Street east of Vincennes Street. The absence of on-street parking makes this part of Spring car-friendly, not people-friendly.
The things we do on a daily, local basis have the cumulative effect of steering our nation in a certain way. In many ways, the place we have arrived as a nation is not acceptable. I hope to look for ways we, right here in New Albany, can make small changes that resist unwise national trends or, better, begin the positive change we need today and tomorrow.