Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Invisible Sun

It's still early in the calendar year but also already late in the day for the short and long range decisions we'll be working on this month, and beyond in The Rose of New England. The Board of Education offered us our first opportunity to look at the 2011-2012 proposed budget yesterday. It's a work in progress and will get more specific and detailed as a result of every informed suggestion, comment and opinion voiced by members of the community.

I emphasized informed in that sentence deliberately as there's much to be said for immediate and visceral reactions but since I think we'd all agree together we're smarter than we are individually, it's only common sense that you get a copy of the proposed budget so when changes start to happen, you can remain seated while the room is in motion.

And based on some of what's gone on in years past in terms of budget formulation for both the the Board and the City, if we can keep the posturing and polemic to a manageable level, it'll be easier for all of us to articulate desired outcomes and identify the resources needed to achieve them. We would do well to remember that across the spectrum from eduction through public safety to infrastructure investment, everything has a price as well as a cost. Agreement is where we can find the balance

Norwich isn't alone in Connecticut or the USA in struggling with hand to mouth revenue streams, and if it seems like it's been a long time since voters approved downtown economic development bonds to enhance the grand list and improve the city's bottom line, you're right (it was last fall). But anything worth doing is worth doing right and getting from glittering generalities to defined detail involves hard work.

Sometimes we confuse deliberate with slow and other times we can get in our own way when we should summarize a plan of action and begin implementation. We're not always as honest with one another when we disagree as we should be, sometimes being more troubled by a proposal that's NFH, not from here, more than any individual aspect of the proposal. I'm not sure we can afford that affectation of local pride anymore.

Norwich is very proud of its history-and sometimes we allow our own take on what happened yesterday to get in the way of that we want to do tomorrow. Some of us are slow to forgive or to forget and while lessons learned are important to growth, refusing to move on because of previous history isn't always in our city's best interests.

There's something attractive, I guess, in believing 'if I don't do anything, I can't do anything wrong' except at the end of the day, or the week or the fiscal year, we haven't advanced and in the world in which we live, failing to move forward is falling back. The cliche says we never have time to do things right the first time, but we always find time to do them over. What if it turns out our watches are wrong and our time is more rationed than we thought?

With events like this Saturday's Team Norwich meeting on overall economic development (starting at nine in the conference room of NCDC at 77 Main Street) , two more public hearings specifically on the downtown economic development plan, Wednesday night at seven, March 23 in the NCDC offices and then the following Monday, March 28, also at seven in Council chambers, we will have had, I hope, enough opportunities for everyone who wanted to make a positive contribution to the revitalization of Norwich to be able to do so.

The time for speaking without thinking first and for listening without hearing needs to be a part of our past that we never revisit. It's time to stop talking about doing and do.
-bill kenny

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