Blogs are typically, and this one is certainly, a small platform from which to speak. Several people have cautioned me against writing these posts and others have said they "stay away from the blogs". The latter sentiment uttered, I suspect, to shore up the notion that this is no sensible forum. Judging by the tit-for-tat exchanges in the Tribune, I have to wonder where does one locate a sensible forum for local political debate.
I have posted here for nearly nine months and have generally found it to be gratifying. My editor has discouraged the deviations from the path of "local issues" to which I am often tempted. My reasons for expounding on non-local issues are that sometimes a larger issue seemed more compelling, or that I believe any issue is a local issue if it elicits a local response, or that anything which happens in the world is of concern here because, and I can prove this, we are part of the world. Beyond that, it seems to me that if a reader has a look at what I believe on broader issues, it may give a better idea of how I might vote on a purely local issue.
I don't know what size sewer pipe is required in which part of town or how deep to dig a drainage ditch for storm water runoff. But I can recognize some of the things that are wrong with this town and I have definite ideas of what can be done to approach a solution. The ideal New Albany, or the ideal Anytown, is always out of reach, always on the horizon, but the ideal New Albany is a city continuously striving to reach that horizon. The journey, in this small town, must be one that includes anyone who wants to come along. On this small planet, it must include concern for people above profit; tomorrow must be as important as today.
I've heard quite a few people talk of the need for beautification of our city. This is an undeniable need. The main entry points into New Albany are, in fact, among the most unattractive sights to be seen in the entire town. The aesthetics need to be addressed, but I think a more pressing need is the deficit in minor maintenance. Taken as a litany of individual problems, the deficit may not seem so bad-a broken sidewalk here, a missing railing there, or a public area littered and overgrown.
I think an attainable solution to this widespread inattention is a small team of city workers dedicated to looking for problems in need of correctioin; something along the lines of a maintenance man for a building or factory. The problems this crew would deal with would be small in comparison to street repairs or sewer repairs. The small scale of the repairs is very likely the reason they are put off for another time.
Walking home from Oak Street along State to Captain Frank recently, I passed no fewer than four patches of sidewalk that were not only cracked, but hazardous to pedestrians. The minor maintenance crew could repair these bad sections. The same crew could cut limbs away from stop signs or street signs. Neighborhood groups might be a good place to collect a list of maintenance problems for a particular part of town. Individuals could call a City Council representative or the general City switchboard. At any rate, the minor things that collectively paint the town as run down or neglected could be dealt with before they become larger problems. No, it wouldn't have prevented the problems with the sewers, nor would it have paved the streets. But it just might make people take more pride in their city, and further, make them feel they are getting something for their taxes.
If I don't write again before the election November 6, please remember to vote.