Monday, June 2, 2008

Change, not just for couch cushions anymore

I sometimes wonder if "change" is anything like Sam Phillips' definition of rock and roll, "I know it when I hear it." I think there are different amounts and types of change--in our personal behavior, in our relationships, in our places of residence and work and in our perceptions of our government (and that might also have something to do with the level as well, I'm not sure).

Change is one of those 'let's try to nail Jell-O to the wall' exercises when it comes to a definition--it can be easier to measure than describe. And sometimes talking about change is a little bit like singing about football. At other times, sadly, we convince ourselves that talking about change and change itself are the same thing. I think that's why we get a little frustrated with ourselves in how our lives unfold.

Tonight, in my town, Norwich CT, our City Council, in all likelihood, will approve a budget that they know now, even before the meeting begins, will NOT make everyone happy (and it may not make ANYone happy, oh boy). We the people, wherever we live, are a lot like Goldilocks when it comes to our expectations of municipal leadership. Unlike the three bears who had to manage her whims in series, our City Council members have to deal with us in parallel and sometimes the polarity (especially the bi-polarity) can be a bit intense.

Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. As a resident, I want my trash picked up, my police equipped to do their jobs, all the firemen we need ('Dalmatian dogs and accessories sold separately'), bright shiny schools populated by driven professional educators working tirelessly with energetic and engaged children to reinvent the world's oldest continuous democracy as an ongoing success story among the nations of the earth. And, if you please, I'd like all of this to happen with a budget that has no increase in taxes at worst and, ideally, actually lowers my taxes. Should I put you down for one of those budgets, too? Yeah, of course, we're human--it's what we do. Our desires increase exponentially as our means do so arithmetically.

Meanwhile back at the Norwich City Council, we have a total of seven people, five of whom were just hired (okay, elected, but you knew that) this past November almost all on a promise to change just about every aspect of the Rose City, except the Rose itself. And they're doing what they can, when they can. We are baby birds in the nest, never sated, and they've discovered being elected to the Council has opened up a can of worms at way more levels than can be discussed here.

So, as you watch on public excess (sorry, Comcast folks, I meant access though most of the time I was right the first time) or if you attend the Council meeting tonight, realize neither of us will be thrilled by everything that's in the budget, or not in the budget. That's how this goes, I know, but it can be hard to be philosophical about the miracle of representative democracy when it's always my ox being gored. Be careful what you wish for (said the guy who always wishes for pony rides for his birthday). Just remember, we wanted change--now we have to decide how much and how fast, and for whom, come to think of it.......
-bill kenny

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