Our cities and towns, those who live in them and the merchants and businesses who serve them are struggling to stay afloat as governmental fiscal red ink spreads.
Connecticut faces actual and projected budget deficits whose exact figures are still being discussed and calculated (and which seem to change nearly every day and never for the better) but whose impact should already be clear for everyone who lives here.
For those in elected leadership in every municipality across The Nutmeg State, blaming folks in the higher levels of government is all well and good, but blame 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 receive them.
Here in Norwich, even as our City Council struggles to dot the I's and cross the T's on yet another annual budget that no one is happy about, from either the ‘too many cuts’ or the ‘too little reductions’ camps, 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 need patience and political courage more than just dollars?
Can we afford to not invest in ourselves? Our schools, a vibrant downtown, historical and recreational opportunities, a low-cost mass transportation system and quality emergency services we all agree are needed to attract new businesses and growth, where does that start if not with 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. Obviously, 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 be 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 no matter who voted for them must take a leadership role for all of us in the city. And we, restive and restless must learn to believe in them as in ourselves
If not now, When? If not us, Who?