Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tying Fate Between Our Teeth

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I'm told. And for many in Norwich, throughout the state of Connecticut and across the United States these are (close to) desperate times. Our cities and towns, and the families who live in them and the merchants and businesses who serve aren't ever considered too small, too fragile or too beleaguered to fail.

Instead, our government which we created to do for us that which we could not do for ourselves rescues corporate behemoths who are deemed too big to fail, though in some instances much of the current discord and disquiet in financial markets can be traced back to those same corporate operators' cupidity and stupidity. My point is there are finite dollars to be invested and some of us may feel that the decision on whom to help was less than well-thought out.

Connecticut faces actual and projected budget deficits whose exact figures are still being discussed and calculated but whose impact should already be clear for everyone who lives here. For those in elected leadership in the one hundred and sixty three municipalities across The Nutmeg State, blaming folks in the higher levels of government is all well and good, but it won't get the education budget accomplished, put emergency services personnel on the street, get the roads repaired or help those in need of social services get them.

Here in Norwich, even as the City Council works to dot the I's and cross the t's on a community and economic development plan they've worked on for months, the alderpersons have found themselves saying no to services and functions of municipal government to which they might otherwise have said yes. When they listen to 'we, the people' they hear two distinct and different messages. Many residents feel Norwich cannot afford to spend more money on any aspect of city government but what if we turn that question on its head, can we afford to NOT spend money by investing in ourselves?

The schools, the vibrant downtown, the historical and recreational opportunities, the low cost mass transportation system and quality emergency services we believe our proposed plan of development will attract to our city, where will that all come from if not from us? How can we continue to hope for a White Knight to do for us what we are unable and unwilling to do for ourselves.

There is no advantage, and less reason, to live on our knees. Let's be clear: times are tough and no one has any idea about when they may improve, or by how much. While we continue to live hand to mouth, we are slowly eating our own fingers--businesses close, families walk away from mortgages and houses, schoolrooms slowly empty as children disappear. And still we're unwilling to put our own money where our mouths are and believe in ourselves.

If this cycle of despair and disarray is to stop and turned around, it has to be here, and it needs to be now. All we can do is our best and choose to not only believe we can make a difference but to decide to be that difference. The City Council was elected by all of us who voted to be our better angels--the men and women on this Council need to lead and we need to believe in them, and in ourselves. If not now, When? If not us, Who?
-bill kenny

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