Well, St. Pete Mothers and Fathers, you didn't want to listen to the folks in the peanut gallery (uh, the citizens), whose interests you allegedly represent. And you pooh-poohed the fact-driven plea, to vote Nay, from one of your own. Wengay had it right, didn't he? But, then, you knew that too, at the time. Turns out, he was also the only one with a fully-functioning moral compass that evening. Too bad he didn't realize the RLC "debate" had nothing whatsoever to do with making our city streets safer for the motoring public. He coulda stood in bed.
After reviewing the body of evidence here, see if you all will now 'fess up and concede that this whole RLC caper was a grift from the git-go – in terms of both fleecing and endangering the citizens; especially you, Mr. Mayor.
Failure to disclose your prior communication with a RLC equipment distributor, who stood to profit from the council's Yea vote might have been an oversight on your part, but is troubling, nonetheless. However, I do wonder why you didn't make that clear to the public prior to the vote that evening. I also wonder if you had prior knowledge that your RLC dude would speak in favor of the measure. After this fellow spoke as the measure's sole supporter (the citizen speakers all saw it for the dirty deal it was), regaling us with vivid (and lurid) detail about gathering up his brother's various body parts ("... I had to go back for his legs, sob...") after that horrendous crash with a red-light runner (reportage of which even the mighty resources of our own SPT failed to unearth, and why do you think that was, Mr. Mayor?), do you think it might have been appropriate to declare your relationship with the speaker after his 3 minutes of fame were up that night?
I don't know where the truth lies here, but, I think you'll agree, it sure doesn't speak well for your much-ballyhooed, open-and-above-board government.
After you've reviewed these studies, as a citizen of this fair town, I request that you, forthwith, repeal this insulting, confiscatory, kleptocratic and 24-caret, bogus fraud on the people. Re-time the damn lights and stop trying to pick the people's pockets to make up for the ill-gotten gains of the miscreants on Wall Street (and I include the approx 33% drop in local property values since Mid-2007).
If there's a two-second, 360-degree, red light overlap (everybody stops), at least then you'll know you have genuine red-light runners, not just ones you've invented to replenish the city's coffers. You'll sleep better too :-) Turns out, these critters actually make the roads less safe, in the bargain. So, rescinding is a twofer (for the citizenry anyway).
But, this letter is in no way meant to belittle your efforts. I know you're a hard-working and caring crew. On the assumption that most of you made the best decision you could on this issue, given the info at hand, allow me to now move on to the positive.
As anyone with informed, intellectually-honest gray matter has figured out, this economy is going nowhere until at least 2015 (if then), I'd like to suggest a Vision 2020-type series of town meetings. The subject? How to transition St Pete to a sustainable community by 2020; one that might, if we get it right, serve as a national model for what can be accomplished by a government working in true cooperation with it's people. I realize that's a novel and breathtaking proposal in this day and age, given the deluge of autocrats and sociopaths that pass for our so-called leaders these days, but, call me a cockeyed optimist.
What sort of grist do I have in mind for this mill, you ask?
How about starting with civil alternatives to bring the city's budget in line with a gradually declining revenue stream. Perhaps such benighted lands as Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan would take note that their way is no way to run anything (except into the ground). This would consider finding ways to maintain the features of our town that make it worthwhile to want to be here. No kicking folks when they're down: the homeless; the unemployed; the dispossessed; the foreclosed upon; etc. No closing schools or libraries until every other option has been fully explored. They are the loci of any neighborhood, plus their absence is most felt by the least powerful among your constituencies: children and the aged. No, the kids can't vote for you now, but, they may end up being in charge of your respirator in the nursing home. Paybacks are hell.
With this in mind, perhaps a few bucks could fund a delegation to visit more enlightened locales and get a reminder of what governments "of the people" are doing in these penny-pinching times. Places like my son's hometown of Portland, Oregon; where they did not tear up the heart of the black communities( in Tampa and St Pete) to make way for the Interstate system in the 60s and 70s; where bike paths have been a feature of the landscape for a quarter century and whose general ethos has been one of "ask first, then do." No Rays backroom deals here.
Or, maybe Vermont, my ex's home state, where a reverence for the majesty of nature is in most pols DNA; where we've seen constant citizen and government push-back against the worst excesses of our damned profit-uber-alles, deus ex machina: only state without a Wal-Mart; polluters actually see the insides of courtrooms; where 40 years means, well, 40 years, if you happen to own a nuclear plant that boils water and was built with the same technology as Fuk'shima.
Really instructive edumacation along these lines would entail trips to Western Europe, Japan and Brazil, among others. But, I don't want to press my luck (or the municipal budget).
I could go for fees for previously free public facilities, but, let's not leave behind those who go there now because they have no money to go elsewhere. You guys do a great job with the events in the parks, but, many of them carry way too high tariffs for folks who are out of work, on Social, etc. What about a set-aside for folks who can prove their relative poverty with a food stamp voucher, unemployment stub or Social Security statement? How about a few special trolleys on major event days that would pick up folks at, say, 2-hour intervals at Wal-Mart in Pinellas Park, Publix at 19 & Bayway and the Tyrone area. Folks save gas, don't endlessly circle for hen's-teeth parking spots in Northeast and bring money into the city after folks in Clearwater, Largo and Pinellas Park get the word that they don't have to drive all the way in to the CBD. But, that's just a feel.
More low-price events like Sylvia Rusche's classic films would also be a winner, though I'd like to see her type of show go on the road to other parts of St Pete.
What we (and every other community in this bassackwards, highly propagandized former republic) really need to start working on is how we're going to function as a viable entity when gas goes to $7-8-9 a gallon, when the industrial food chain slips a gear, or two, or three, when we find we must have alternate ways to get around, eat, things like that.
How about faster progress on the bike trails. Gizmag.com
Give incentives to encourage Tata Motors (India) and Song (China) to open dealerships here. Both have cars under $10K, get fantastic mileage (50-60mpg) and are about the size of a Mini (stripped, 18K). After awhile you'll need to stripe sections with smaller spaces in city lots. There's a slew of other mini-auto manufacturers.
Redouble your efforts on a light rail axis with Tampa and Clearwater. Feel free to ignore the antediluvian Paleo-Miscreant in the statehouse. He worships at the altar of a god in its death throes. This
How about a few PermaCulture forums? We're going to have to save ourselves. The Fed's too busy ginning up wars to support one our last major, intact industries, than to bother with piddling details like the home front, and the state, well.... (see previous paragraph).
You "kids" on the Council might not remember them, but, we need to bring back backyard Victory Gardens. Only, this time it's not to beat the Axis, but rather, to save ourselves. Can you see giving a property tax break to folks who 'grow their own" (don't get me started on that subject), then contribute a portion of their produce to feed those down on their luck, or even give to the city to raise revenue by selling the local produce at Saturday Market, thereby keeping the bux in town.
The best part is, the only expense to the city will be employing the extra gendarmes to hold the Monsanto goons at bay.
And, Mr. Mayor, as you may be aware, a part of the sprawling global effort that is the permaculture movement is the concept of sharing (the in-depth subject of an upcoming post here → http://orbizenmemo.blogspot.com/
Live and learn, right?
The main drawback with sharing stuff is, ahem, nobody makes a dime from most of this! Absurd, right? But, I promise you, this social tsunami will be coming real soon to neighborhoods and communities in your very own toddling town. P.S., it's already here.
And, did I mention the booming trend of sharing living quarters? Thank goodness for the Civil Rights Act, eh? All that legal shacking up. Oh, the humanity!
In short (pun), there's plenty to discuss in a free-and-open dialogue setting. And I'm just one person noodling away. Imagine the ideas with a half-dozen ongoing workshops! We all need to ditch our egos and politics and understand that we are well down the road towards our own "exceptionally American" version of Dystopia. More enlightened places will have a better go of it.
And, since I have your attention, one more item: try to do the right thing, by the people, every chance you get. Don't screw them. Don't play them. Don't dissemble. Play fair. Easy. Just follow your natural instincts and apply the still-Golden Rule.
When you don't, know they are just as smart as you are; have the same inherent sense of justice and fair-play as you should have. They figure it out, and once they do, they'll just resent you because they may not have the power, temporarily, to right the wrong. Hell, most of us will forgive and forget if we think you did your best and still got it wrong.
I've talked to enough folks; they all know the RLC is a scam. And they don't need a bunch of "studies" to tell them it is.
Unless one's in the path zone (psycho, socio), we all know what "the right thing" is when we see it (also when there appears to be no clear path to one right thing – then we're stuck with figuring out the least wrong thing). Don't be shy if you need some help. If it's a tough call, get some input from the people. They hired you guys to decide wisely in their behalf, not rule them. Talk to them. Don't just get their votes, then forget they exist. You might be surprised by the innate wisdom even the humblest among us can impart. If you believe, as I do, that this governing thing is a community effort, then seek the counsel of your "subjects" now and then.
I encourage you to not indulge in this sort of betrayal:
Last year (2010) the City Purchasing Department generated a Request For Information (RFI) No. 7000 961-15 Concessions: Mirror Lake Complex sought utilization proposals for the entire Mirror Lake Recreation Complex. The Shuffleboard Club (and other existing stakeholders of the facility) were not invited to participate in the process, nor informed until the opportunity to participate had closed. That process generated two submissions, both of which focus on the heart of the Shuffleboard Club - the Clubhouse, Solarium and Cue House.
As a casual observer of the city's bag of tricks and traps, I have to wonder what the hell you folks are thinking about when you agree to keep such civic affairs secret; are you, for that moment of voting, channeling Stalin? Michael Douglas' Star Chamber? What?
Were you not elected to, among other things, provide public fora for matters of concern to the citizenry, precisely like the issue indented above? Do any of you ever apply The Golden Rule – or an equivalent value – in your personal lives? And if so, why would such an admirable trait stop at the portals of City Hall?
You-all hold the offices you do because you have enough fire in the belly to put up with folks like me writing letters like this. I'll bet a few of you even relish getting them (you know who you are).
I'd personally like to see mini-townhalls in the 'hoods several times a year. The agenda would be a collaboration between the shared concerns of both citizens and their council member.
Well, that's enough. Please don't take this as a lecture (though, upon review, it coulda been a term paper, maybe even a novella). It's always easier to level criticism, especially when you don't have to make the hard calls. Just sharing some thoughts with you.
We're all going to need one another to lean on as this soul train heads into the tunnel.
Not enough evidence for you? Here's more
And this just in... http://www.click2houston.com/news/28271978/detail.html
The site even tracks speed traps – here are a few in St Pete
Nigel Watson freethinker 727.493.1990 skype orbizen2
Blog: ORBizen Memo http://orbizenmemo.blogspot.com/
"There is no greater disaster than greed." – Lao-tzu
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - Krishnamurti