Wednesday, May 15, 2013

From Status Quo to Quo Vadis

In the last couple of weeks around here we've seen the part about small town life I've never been especially fond of, the small people. You know who I mean. The ones who don't have a dream of their own anymore so they enjoy stepping on those of other people, questioning their motives and motivations, abilities and aptitudes and their courage and competences.

Across the pages of our local newspapers we've had folks, on-line anonymous assassins offering pellets of poison and arch advice to those struggling to help fix problems they didn't create. And right now, in terms of 20/20 hindsight, it's a target rich environment for all those who not only know everything but know everything better.

As you may have noticed, we're in quite a pickle with our municipal budget. Not intending to dazzle you with my mad math skills, let's just say it appears our wants and appetites have grown geometrically but our means and abilities to pay have only increased arithmetically.

In that gap between the desire and the deliverable is where we are, and no one seems very happy about it to include the City Manager, the City Council and at every public hearing on the budget so far, nearly everyone of those who will have to pay for all of it, the residents.

It's probably a trick of my memory (and yours as well), but every year it seems we are told 'this year's budget will be very challenging' or 'economic conditions aren't right' for some big, new initiative for public education, public safety or economic development.

We're counselled "when things pick up" we can have a discussion about restoring foreign languages to schools, adding an additional fire-fighter or maybe paving another street that's turning into a wilderness trail. Never a word about pony rides.

We weren't doing all that well when times were good. We did not need a Not So Great Depression (or market correction or other, more obscene name for the last half a decade) experts are telling us we are slowing climbing out of to fall so far behind in our lives that giving up or giving in seem like the only two options.

Everyone knows a neighbor who's lost a house or who packed and left in the middle of the night. You know we didn't get in this mess overnight and we're not going to get out of it without working very hard. And you think you're working hard, and you are but we still have a long way to go. We can plan our work and work our plan or pray for a simple solution and whine when it doesn't happen. But we can't keep doing both because we really suck at that and the constant practice isn't helping.

If talking about a better tomorrow made it happen, we'd be there already because we love to yak. Ideas? Please! We have them by the bushel but are we willing to offer them aloud and work to make them real? I go to a lot of meetings and rarely hear any idea except "don't."

"Don't" is not a great way way to live your life, but it's an especially lousy way to run a city. And when we add a heaping helping of 'if only' to create a hypothetical situation so bizarre it's painful I start to believe if my mother had married a Kennedy, I'd be living in the White House, but she didn't so I'm not and that's why I didn't wish her a Happy Mother's Day on Sunday because she ruined my life.
It certainly beats accepting that responsibility myself.
-bill kenny

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