Monday, October 14, 2013

Through the Past, Darkly: The Law of Intended Consequences

It was six years ago yesterday that I took to the blogosphere (still a stupid word no matter how many times I use it) to try to maintain and retain my sanity (I hear you: 'a miss is as good as a mile.' Stop thinking so loudly). 

Despite my sincere belief that much has changed, when I look around my corner of the world, as I'm sure happens when you look around yours, I'm not so sure that such an assertion is true. 

Here's where I was 2,195 days ago. The word I'm thinking of to describe the progress: glacial.

I Read the News Today, oh boy: Was less than surprised this morning to read a front page story in the Norwich Bulletin on how comments solicited during a Thursday candidates' forum could impact how the next city council votes on the "Washington Street Rezoning Application."

Was disappointed the forum moderator, advised BEFORE the forum's start about the prohibition suggested by corporation counsel on comment, noted that he still intended to ask all candidates about the project (and damn the consequences?).

Big Flick: When the process of governance is structured so that the members, and potential members, of the City Council cannot speak to and with the people whose votes they seek on an issue of importance to all of us (the Council, by City Charter, also serves as the Zoning Board of Appeals), then the process is BROKEN and needs to be repaired-not patched and not worked around.

That a local newspaper reporter would, regardless of consequences, still attempt to solicit (some might say 'provoke') comments that could disqualify members of Council from participating in this decision after the next Council is seated is, and should be, shameful for the reporter, his newspaper that hosted the forum and this blog (for that matter) and for all of us in Norwich.

Half-full or half-empty: I counted close to seventy people at Thursday night's forum (don't know how many were friends, spouses or parole officers of the candidates) which, in light of turnout at other forums in the past is heartening, I guess. 

Except, Norwich is a city of close to 37,000 residents-leading me to wonder where everyone else was/is. Was that new episode of "Ugly Betty" really that important you had to stay home and watch it?

Shape of things to come: Turnout in recent elections, to include hotly contested Congressional races rarely exceeds 25% of all registered voters. And yet the callers to local radio shows on a daily basis overwhelm the switchboards as they offer insight and insist on their right to be heard (and heeded, I suspect). 

It takes a lot more energy to be a light than a horn a mechanic once told me. Perhaps call-in radio programs need to develop a test to make sure callers have actually voted in elections before they get to voice their opinions. Democracy is a contact sport and you cannot win if you do not play.

Here & Now: "In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand At the mongrel dogs who teach. Fearing not that I’d become my enemy In the instant that I preach. My pathway led by confusion boats, Mutiny from stern to bow.
Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now."
-bill kenny

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