Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Unequal Halves (Tuesday LINKS)

One of the more interesting things to watch in the play-out of the Inner Arbor Plan and vote is the manner in which the "two sides" have been portrayed in the media.  More specifically, the two co-existing hang-ups in the press to presume two equal sides on any issue and over-play opposition.

Obviously, being someone for the Plan, I am biased in this regard, but I don't think a neutral observer would have much to disagree with.  The Board has received over 20 e-mails from the public, at least 15 of which have supported the Plan.  There is a petition circulating with 207 (last checked) signatures supporting the Plan.  Three members of the County Council and the County Executive have come out in favor of the Plan.  I fully acknowledge that opponents have won the numbers battle in Resident Speak-out and Letters to the Flier, but not by much.

Yet, if you read just about any article about the subject, things are "split" down the middle.

In a way, that's good.  I've always believed that the best way to find some measure of "truth" in politics is by way of a vigorous debate between two equally informed sides.  Lies and misconceptions relied upon by one will quickly be torn asunder by the zealous critique of the other.  But nevertheless, this construct presumes some measure of cooperation between the two sides.  They want the truth; not just a scalp.  When these sides aren't addressing each other, and instead a neutral sounding board, lies and misconceptions win the day.  "If I'm losing, lie.  If I'm winning, lie.  Just never admit I'm wrong."

In the Symphony Woods context, this has resulted in a significant portion of the public (although not as large as may be represented in the newspaper) believing that Cy Paumier's Plan is a shovel and hard-hat away from construction.  Maybe I have no credibility on this because I favor the Inner Arbor Plan, but the plain truth is that this Plan is far from construction and may never be approved.  What is most odd is that some of the exact same people who spoke against Cy's Plan at Resident Speak-Out are now supporting the plan as originally configured.

I appreciate the opportunity to hear the views of those who oppose the Inner Arbor Plan.  This opposition has fractured into different objections now, most of which I hope can be addressed to some measure of satisfaction (to the extent such satisfaction is sought).  But in my work to hear from as many people as possible about this Plan and the future of Symphony Woods, I have heard from far more people who are looking hopefully to the Board for action on this Plan and no other.  It is a shame that support, and positive community emotion, is not getting a full hearing in the press.


Council-members Calvin Ball and Mary Kay Sigaty signed a joint letter to the editor in the Flier supporting the Inner Arbor Plan and the Trust.

Although the article is not yet up, the Council voted 4-1 last night to approve the growth tiers compromise worked out between the County Executive and County Council.  Regardless of the terms, this is an unquestionable win for the County Executive.  Unfortunately, this also would appear to be an unmitigated alienation of the rural West.  They were strenuously opposed to this bill going through and thought they may have won one when the Council voted on its first map 4-1, allowing more properties the opportunity to develop and pull equity from the value of develop-able land.  I am always one to appreciate a compromise, but I sincerely hope that all of the negative consequences predicted by some do not come true.

Delegate Tony McConkey (R) seems like a real winner.  He aggressively lobbied for a bill that would make it easier for him to regain his real estate license (after being ordered to pay a $75,000 fine that he sought to cap with legislation) without disclosing his conflict of interest.  In fact, while lobbying for this bill, he had to be restrained and removed from the office of another Delegate by the police. 

As you may notice from the banner ad, Evening in the Stacks is fast approaching.  In order to get a head start on fundraising, I will be starting a book referral service.  If you donate to the Library (including my name under "Special Instructions") and forward me your PayPal receipt - tcoale@gmail.com (any amount) with the body of the e-mail including your favorite book, I will recommend another book for you to try.  Typing that all out, it seems a little complicated, but let's give it a try.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: WB urges everyone to stand up and be counted on the Inner Arbor Plan, similarly skeptical of the false dichotomy presented in the newspaper.

That's all for today.  Have a great Tuesday doing what you love.  I am sure a number of you will be going to the parade.  Sadly, I had made a commitment for the exact same time this morning and will not be able to attend, despite the parade running right next to my office Downtown.  That's all I have to say about that.