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by Mike Ceremello
Jan 20, 2005
THE BATTLE LINES ARE BEING DRAWN
Odd things are happening down at the old council chambers. Seems that people are starting to question the way things have been done. Of course, none of this sits too well with those who thought they were in control.
Take the mayor for instance. Twice on Tuesday night her best laid plans were disrupted. Unfortunately, those on the dais still don’t follow through when they see the problem staring them in the face.
The council was to consider granting the Chamber of Commerce $30,000 for economic development. Two problems with this were apparent to anyone listening and thinking. One, the chamber didn’t have a plan and two, the money was garnered from AKT or Wal-Mart because of Wal-Mart’s feared impact on local businesses.
Not only was it abundantly apparent from Jack Batchelor’s 40 minute “open debate” with the council that the Chamber was looking for a blank check, it was obvious without Courville’s admission about meeting with Chamber members, that she was all for granting the funds. This is the behind the scenes dealing which elicits my perpetual complaints.
Luckily, others on the dais have more sense than Courville. I was impressed with Loren Ferrero’s logic on why the city should not be a chamber member. I was impressed that Vega and Mike Smith backed him. I was especially impressed that Smith was able to delineate other uses for these funds, such as their appropriate use in aiding Hometown Market deal with its survival in the face of the looming expansion of Wal-Mart into a “super store” selling groceries.
What bothered me was Courville again attempting to halt valid discussion, this time by a councilman. If this wasn’t the appropriate time to discuss exactly what the purpose of these funds is to accomplish and actual ideas for their use, I don’t know when would be better.
Later in the meeting, during the discussion on adding a section on “ex parte contacts” to the council guidelines, I suggested once again that the council give their views on the issue before them before opening it up for public comment. This would allow citizens to either agree or disagree with the logic and arguments of the council members.
Courville took this negatively, saying “I am still somewhat confused, and I don’t want to have a discussion tonight about this idea, that you want me to give my opinion of how I am going to vote, then give you the opportunity to come up here and criticize me about how I am voting.”
Confused is an understatement. At the end of the meeting I offered to meet with the mayor to discuss my intentions. All I got was a “I will think about it” with her head down. Reflecting on this interaction it suddenly became abundantly clear what the problem is: fear.
I am not asking anyone on the council to relate how they are going to vote. I asked them to discuss their views. Remember, they aren’t supposed to know how they are going to vote until after they have heard public comment on the item. To me, this is an admission that the mayor has her mind made up before this occurs. She has confused two very different aspects, discussion and decision.
As for the fear component, when looking good is more important than making the right decision, you have no business conducting the public’s business. If your arguments can’t hold water, you should expect to be criticized. Despite the fact that you think you are the “Queen” or the “boss” of Dixon, you are no more immune to criticism than I am.
Input from sources who disagree with you is healthy and gives you the opportunity to think about all aspects of an issue. This community abounds with intelligent people who refuse to waste their time speaking before you because they know you aren’t listening. This is a waste and does Dixon a disservice.
* * * * *
One of the first complaints you hear from the goody two shoes of our town is t;hat you have done nothing for Dixon. This might come up when you run for office. It might occur while these same people attempt to destroy your credibility. As I have said more than once, it is hard contributing when they won’t let you participate.
Angela Meisenheimer, the DDBA’s reigning diva, told the council the other night that she didn’t want me associating with high school students due to comments I had made at the high school during my campaign. As this has come up more than once, I think it is time to clear the air.
First off, the position of the Libertarian party on drinking and drugs was what Lorraine Brownell, one of the Dixon High school Civics teachers, wanted explained. As it is a rarity to find a third party individual, she wanted the alternative to the major parties’ viewpoints. The topics were also initiated by the students who felt, as many of us in the past have felt, that it is unfair to send 18 year olds to war but not allow them to drink.
The Libertarian party’s belief is that you should be free to choose what you do without government interference. In the case of marijuana, libertarians believe it should be legalized as with all other drugs. It is the individual’s responsibility to know the drugs effects through their own research.
As for drinking, America is one of the few countries with age limits. It is hypocritical to ask our youth to put their life on the line, but not allow them the right to imbibe at 18.
You take away the allure of the forbidden by making them legal.
Libertarians don’t believe in drugs or alcohol as a good thing or a bad thing. We don’t see them as something to which very young children should have access. We see them as choices. Choices to be made from an educated basis and also understanding the repercussions if you harm someone while under the influence.
If I was guilty of anything it was treating young adults as adults. I didn’t lie to them. I didn’t try to hide from them. And I don’t believe in the type of censorship that Meisenheimer, and many teachers at the high school, advocate. Education is a far more valuable tool than “just saying no”.
We have done it your way, Angela and Mary Ann, and guess what? Drug use in Dixon is still rampant, fights are occurring, kids are still drinking and smoking dope, and educational success is still minimal. How much longer do we have to continue doing things your way when we know they don’t work?
While Angela was all aglow about the Youth Resources Officer program, which she called “invaluable” a number of times, anyone looking at this effort without their rose colored glasses blinding them would call it an abject failure.
Which gets us back to the second lost control item of Courville’s evening. Like Angela, Courville refuses to see that the program is next to worthless. Seven fights in two months, one involving only female students with officers present who did nothing to break it up, and with teachers running away from the encounters. Instead of addressing whether it is valid to continue the program, Courville focused on the fact that the program has operated without the MOU for some 6 months.
I loved the comment, by the mayor, that you can’t expect the police to be at the high school on a regular basis as there are 7 campuses they have to cover. Other than PR work to indoctrinate our smallest students, I see no reason that you need police on elementary school campuses. Do you actually believe that children this young have gang type fights?
Instead of police these campuses need psychiatrists. They could deal with the fact that many parents abandon their children’s discipline to teachers who aren’t allowed to do this. There are few repercussions and they only come after prolonged episodes of anti-social behavior.
The system is broken. Quit attempting to defend it. It is time to look for new solutions and maybe even go back to what use to work.
For all the violence, male chauvinism, and other problems associated with public school education of my day, we had few of the horrendous problems we see in today’s schools.
As a male chauvinistic pig, all I can say is “oink”...
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