Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Directions: Truly New or Just Different?

Sat through a goodly portion of both a community conversation on acquisition of the former Norwich State Hospital property from the State of Connecticut as well as the first in what I hope is a weekly series of mayoral debates. Though, hand on my heart, I will not be surprised if that doesn't happen.

The presentation on the state hospital property has implications in the here and now and in the sweet bye and bye. Right now, with the economy the way it is, there is no stream of developers, sincere smiles glued to their faces, waiting to talk about what they'd like to do with about four hundred acres (a lot of it is in neighboring Preston, the remainder about sixty-odd acres are in Norwich) of land that is seconds from the interstate and mere moments away from either casino.

And that's not a bad thing as we don't know what we don't know, but judging from last night's turnout and involvement, we're getting smarter all the time and that's a good thing. We have a ways yet to go before we have to make a decision, and I can only hope, as Preston did, we , too, will have an opportunity to vote on an acquisition action.

And maybe we can figure out a way to give people who have attended the committee's meetings more votes than the folks who just read the newspaper stories and then offer a comment at the bottom of the page. I'm kidding of course. This is a democracy where your researched and well-informed decision can be negated in totality and perpetuity by my unknowing and clueless vote opposing yours. Maybe that's why it's called the 'miracle' of democracy. ;-)

As for last night's debate, perhaps the organizers should be awarded a prize, perhaps a watch, so that at the next one, we can all know in advance what time it should start. And then maybe it will. I can only assume that the confusion on the start time had something to do with the number of folks who showed up (and/or didn't show up) and I don't want to hear any rationalizations or explanations for the number of attendees present.

With the number of registered voters in Norwich, we should have to dress warmly and head up to Dodd Stadium to accommodate all the interested citizenry. Of course, we both know that isn't going to happen and, point in fact, if you meet in the course of today more than one of the next fifty people who even realized there was a mayoral debate last night, we're doing great. I encountered someone yesterday afternoon who thought 'the debate has something to do with who we're electing to be the next City Manager.' Yeah, thanks for playing. I convinced that person to stay home having failed to persuade them to move.

The difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the habit. Speaking of which, voter apathy is a habit we here in The Rose City can no longer afford. No need to wait for help, there's nobody coming this time. Downtown is what happens while we see what happens (and there's a word we can substitute for 'downtown' and we both know it). Deux ex government is a dream that's become a nightmare. We are all we can depend on and that's fine because we are all we have ever needed. If not now, then when? If not us, then who?
-bill kenny

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