Sunday, March 26, 2006

Civilized Human Dignity

For us here at Freedom of Speech democracy is a question of human dignity. And human dignity is political freedom; the right to freely express opinion and the right to be allowed to criticize and form opinions.

I just read today's posting on FOS; Our Thoughts...On This Sunday Morning, and I felt the need to respond to a few of their comments. Since one can't comment at that site, I have to do it on my own.

The best defense for the public good is aggressiveness, the aggressiveness of the involved citizen

While I agree with the basic premise that one has the right as well as the responsiblity in a democracy to express one's view on given issues, I question the idea that doing so aggressively is dignified in any way.

I think we all agree that words have power and if so we could also agree that misuse of words can be an abuse of power. So let's go to the dictionary and see what they mean.

Agress-to attack; to start a quarrel

Aggression-the practice or habit of being aggressive or quarrelsome

Aggressive-inclined to starting fights or quarrels

Civilize-to come out of a primitive or savage condition and into a state of civilization;to improve in habits or manners; to refine

Criticize-to analyze and judge as a critic; to judge disapprovingly; find fault

Dignity-the quality of being worthy of esteem; worthiness

Human or in this usage, Humane-having what are considered the best qualities of mankind; rational, sympathetic, civilized

Responsible-answerable; accountable; to think and act rationally, and hence accountable for one's behavior, actions, speech

So now we conclude that to be aggressive in matters of civil discussion is only to spoil for a fight. It results in nothing remotely reminiscent of civility nor human dignity.

Is there a time or place for aggressive action? Most certainly, when one's person or property or that of another is threatened with physical harm, aggressive action is a legitimate course of action. But in terms of attempting to create unity in a community, I find it not only harsh but counterproductive as well!

There is a term that I prefer to use that I find to be just as effective without being so inciteful/hateful!

Assertive-characterized by assertion; positive or confident in a persistent way

Assert-to state positivly; declare; affirm; to maintain or defend; to insist on one's rights or on being recognized

As a professional CDL holder, I like to believe that I am an assertive driver as opposed to an aggressive driver. Although it is a subtle distinction as veiwed by the compact car riding in my blindspot, it does in fact result in the little four wheeler still being able to roll on after I have changed lanes. Bear with me while I explain.

The aggressive driver may or may not signal his/her intention to initiate a lane change and more often than not will do so without looking to see what else is in close proximity. Anyone who drives in rush hour knows exactly what I'm referring to. The only concious thought in that person's skull is to hit the ramp for the timeclock has already clicked past start time. He/she feels that they have every right to that exit at that instant and it's the responsibility of the rest of us to not get in the way. (Yeah! A pet peeve of mine!!)

On the other hand, the assertive driver will plan his/her move and signal intent with enough warning to alert those around them. I'll ride in the center lane until I clear the exit just prior to the one I want. I will then signal my intent, wait a few car lengths, and then start crowding the other lane ever so slightly all the while watching for the reaction of the vechicles in that lane. In most cases the intimidation of a 70 foot rig will cause them to either speed up to get ahead of me or back off and let me slide over. In the event neither happens I am prepared to abort the move and find an alternate path.

Another example of this same sort of assertiveness was Dale Earnhardt, Sr. He made an art form of crowding his opponents to the point they would give way and he did it successfully without causing them to wreck more often than anyone in the history of motorsports. It earned him the respect of all who competed with him as well as the nickname of The Intimidator.

How does all that apply to our original thought? Only this. I agree that open discussion of issues is a must in our society. We all have concerns for our individual as well as collective futures. How are we going to pay for it? Who can we trust? What's to be gained or lost? How do we best protect our interests? All valid questions that demand honest answers.

To acquire those honest answers, we must by all means be assertive, diligent and responsible in asking the questions! However, when we turn assertiveness into outright aggression, when we fail to see the message due to fear of or hate for the messenger, when we can no longer be reasonably polite and civil in our discourse, the enemy has won and we are lost!

Question the actions or lack thereof at will and do so with passion! But take care not to throw the baby out with the bathwater in attacking personalities. It serves no constructive purpose save to insure that the way things are is the way things will remain. And that, freinds and neighbors, is exactly what those who are the hinderance to progress are counting on.

Are we going to let them watch us beat ourselves and chuckle while we do it?,

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Linden Meadows Debate

Being a relative newcomer to many of these meat and potatoes issues I'm trying my best to catch up. Crossing up to three time zones and that many or more weather fronts in a 24hr. period for years on end, nets one being out of touch locally.

Linden Meadows is another one that seems to have a lot of individuals up in arms but for no discernable good reason as far as I can tell.

Here is what I know or at least what I think I know;

A) There were houses standing on property that the hospital wanted to build on.

B) The houses were in too good of shape to just bulldoze into oblivian.

C) Said houses got moved to a vacant area that the City of New Albany owns/owned.

D) They are now in the process of being put back on foundations with the intention of selling them to first time low to medium income buyers.

E) The desired affect of this to provide people who are now renting an opportunity to become tax paying homeowners that will take pride in not only their home but the surrounding neighborhood as well.

DAMN!! What genuis ever thought this would work?? Almost sounds like something that someone as out of touch as me would think up!

Any way, on to the objections I've heard/ read;

1) There should be a (another) city park on that property!

MY REPLY) Just how many parks does a city our size really need? From what I've seen, there is sporadic use of the one's already in existance. In addition, I understand there to be other city owned land already set aside for this purpose to replace what was lost at this location. Furthermore, if the city continues to drag it's feet on building inspections and code inforcement, there are going to greenways aplenty about due to structures imploding in on themselves and nature reclaiming the space!

2) The adjoining neighborhood has to endure the unsightly mess and noise of construction during this process!

MY REPLY) Yeah, that is a predictable side affect of building in any area. It occurred at the hospital, Walmart, and every jobsite along Charlestown Road, both commercial and residential. So what exactly is the point of that objection?

I'm sure there are more serious life changing reasons for not wanting this project to go forward so if any of you could fill me in, I'd be grateful.

As for me, I think that anytime you can decrease the percentage of rental property and increase homeownership in a community, it is a win/win for everybody. Owners pay taxes and taxes fuel the economy. Owners also take care of that which they are paying for. Renters do not!

So here I shall leave it for the moment and look forward to you folks out there to fill in the blanks for me.

Oh, and please if you will, just the facts ma'am! I've heard enough emotional rhetoric about building, sewers and the like in our fair city. Thanks!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

SEJ Meeting Report

I've just returned from my first ever monthly meeting of the S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association and I must say, I was impressed. Attendance was slight due in part to the weather but those who were there were as friendly a group of folks you'll find anywhere.

The speaker was one Danny Flanigan of New Directions Housing Corporation. He gave us an overview of their Repair Affair program for Louisville and Southern Indiana. It is basically a program that uses grant money, local business donations, and community volunteers to do home repairs for the elderly, indigent, and handicapped people in Jefferson Co., Ky and Clark & Floyd Co. in Indiana.

The eligibility requirements for consideration is as follows;

A) The candidate must either own the home or be in the process of buying it.

B) They must be single.

C) Their annual income must be $ 20,000 or less.

D) They must be 60 years of age.

The goal of the program is to repair 150+ homes per year and in the process improve the quality of life for those who by no falut of their own, other than growing old, cannot do for themselves. By using neighborhood volunteers, both professional and inexperienced, it also serves to bring people together to complete a project. The far reaching potential ramifications of this alone can do nothing but good for any community!

The breakdown is about 115 homes in Ky. and 40 to 50 in In.

The repair list includes minor plumbing & electrical, painting, wheelchair ramps, window & door replacement, and roofing to name a few. The candidates are recommended by individuals, neighborhood asociations, churches and others. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Danny was invited to the April 4th Forum and seemed interested in attending. for more information he can be reached at 502-371-4906.

See you all the 4th!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Procrastination + Politicization + Negative Motivation = Cerebral Constipation

Ok I know! Lots of big words to begin with so I'll follow with a vocabulary lesson lest I be totally misundertood.

Procrastinate; to habitually put off doing something unpleasant or burdensome until a future time. ( ie; table the motion)

Politicize; to make political in tone, character, ect. ( ie; the other side said _______!)

Motive; Some inner drive, impulse, intention, etc. that causes one to do something or act in a certain way. ( ie; think outside the box)

Constipation; Backed up, stopped up, unable to move. ( I had to sterilize this one for the kiddies, but you get the idea)

Now on to today's lesson! I have been going to New Albany City council meetings with as much regularity as my schedule will allow and I have observed a couple of themes that seem to be repetitive throughout them all.

The most prevailant is quote " This is the first I've ever heard about this issue !"

The second, which is being mouthed before the first is even completed, is quote " This occurred prior to my arriving here!"

This first is, in my humble opinion, a total copout. If one is serving in a public office and can't find the time to accquire the needed information to serve his/her constituency, that person would better serve the public by sticking to his/her dayjob. In today's world, lack of information can only be attributed to a lack of motivation to look for it. It only requires one to know what questions to ask. Every blog, coffee shop, and water cooler in the world is discussing in livid detail the issues that are on the peoples minds on a particular street corner. If one will only listen, one will learn what's on the peoples minds.

The second is in many ways even more lame. The fact that one's predecessor dropped the ball has nothing to do with the now. The question before us is what's the plan for going forward while dealing in as positive way as possible in cleaning up the broken glass simultaneously. And, by the way, doing both in such a manner as to minimize the possibility of the former mistakes repeating themselves.

Tall order? Damned right!! But it is what we in the real world have to deal with on a moment by moment basis in our daily functions of trying to make a living and hopefully enjoy the fruits of our labor. For those who represent our interests in government to be allowed to get by with a lesser standard is unacceptable.

Poignant examples of both afore mentioned issues arose at last Thursday's City Council meeting. When the subject of the 2004 budget audit came up there were laments applenty from all sectors of elected officialdom stating that "I haven't got a copy of it yet!" At this point a private citizen came forward with enough copies for each of the council members to have one of their very own.

Albeit I know first hand the dangers of assuming anything, I have no reason at this point to doubt the authenticity of said documents. How and from whom it was procured I know not. Was there an agenda at work in the process? Probably, but the fact that it took away an excuse for the council members to deny knowledge of it in the future is a plus as far as I'm concerned. Their only fallback position now is going to be that they will not or cannot read it!

On a personal note, I would have taken the high road and given the Mayor a copy as well but since I had no input in the action, I can't speak to why he didn't get one.

Following that, the Mayor arose to defend his position and did so very well considering he too was apparently hampered by lack of current information. Although I acquiesce to the fact that this debacle is not of his making, I tire of hearing it as an excuse for not moving forward. I prefer to hear a specific hardwired plan for cleaning up the mess while moving forward.

Now this is thinking out of the box. We have in this area a variety of schools of higher learning at our disposal. What if a student or group of students whose major was business from one or more of these institutions were to work with city officals to research and correct the long history of acccounting snafus? The students could do it as a grade enhancement in their field, get some hands on experience, and have no reason to deal in anything other than the facts before them. The city would be out very little if any money for the project, and just to keep it aboveboard one or more city councilmen could participate in the process along side of the administration and the students. What a novel concept!

No! I haven't been drinking! Maybe that's a detriment here.

Class Over! Discussion anyone??

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Forward Ho!!

It seems that an issue of common interest has appeared before us at long last. That being how to deal with the out of control run down residential housing throughout our community. Many of us have finally realized that although the blight is worse in some areas than in others, it degrades the whole in terms of safety, property values, and how we are seen by the outside world.

The topic has generated enough interest over the past few weeks that a public forum has been scheduled for April 4, 2006.

I hope that the public as well as the city councilmen will turn out in force to exchange ideas and form a plan to constructively address the problem. Property inspection and code enforcement is needed and " the till is empty" is too lame an excuse to even waste breath on. This is one that we can't afford to not move forward on.

Come one/ come all and please bring fresh, positive ideas with you. Let's leave what used to be at home and look instead at what is currently versus what can and must be in the future.

See you there!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Absence Makes the Heart Grow......?

Hello bloggers & readers! Sorry for the long gap but Mother Nature's weird sense of humor finally caught up with me. The drastic shifts in temperature resulted in a couple of weeks of this years version of the cough & hack runny nose junk that's going around. Getting thru the work day and dragging my carcess into bed were about all I got done.

I did however observe that the "this is the first I've heard about this issuse" excuse runs all the way from the local level (ie; CM Coffey) to the hallowed halls of the White House ( ie; George W. concerning the UAE port deal). I guess there is more than a little truth to the old saw that one can't see the forest for the trees. Or could it possibly be that the eyes have to be open in order for the image to register in the brain.

In the Nation section of this morning's CJ there was a short clip entitled " Pentagon pulls plane from port plan critic" It seems that even the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, One Rep. Peter King of New York, cannot question the validity of such action without having his knuckles rapped with a ruler. He is a republican by the way. Long story short it seems that his scheduled congressional delegation trip to Iraq and other parts in the middle east had to be canceled because of a lack of resources at the Pentagon ( there isn't a plane available for the trip)! Congressman King was reluctant to talk about it but did go so far as to say it was just coincidental. If anyone believes that I have some oceanfront property in Arizona for sale at a very inflated price.

Anywho, it seems that the only thing I have really missed in my absence is the second weekend of Gravity Head. Damn the luck!

Wait! There was one positive developement. Roger tells me that my block is now part of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association. Hurrah and thank you!

Carry on bloggers! I'll catch up!!