Bring your manners to city’s public forums

Bring your manners to city's public forums by the Plain Talk The Vermillion City Council, like the Wright Brothers following a crash of their flying machine, is picking itself up, dusting itself off, and trying again.

They have made it clear that all options concerning the city hall issue are open at this point.

What's surprising is the resistance that a couple of critics expressed at Monday's City Council meeting. Come to think of it, maybe it's not ALL that surprising � these individuals battled the city long and hard on the Chestnut Street project and lost. It's clear they're not too fond of the mayor and certain council members.

The council was criticized for even considering whether or not to give the city hall issue additional discussion. One critic, Lynette Melby, cited several reasons for the city to nix further talk about it.

The community needs to heal, she said.

This is apparently a direct reference to the three-year-long Chestnut Street shenanigans that Melby and others caused. It only delayed the project and made it more expensive for all Vermillion citizens.

Melby also noted that the school district had to make a large cut to its budget, as if the city council were somehow responsible.

She never mentioned that local taxpayers basically made that decision by not approving the board's attempt to opt-out of the property tax freeze.

Critical remarks that are hardest to swallow are those made in reference to the city election last month in which voters decided against the city council's resolution to purchase and remodel the Community First Bank building.

"People have spoken loud and clear," the critics declared.

No they haven't. They've, at best, expressed a whimper concerning the city's prior proposal.

Only 16.76 percent of eligible voters went to the polls last month. Of the 1,011 people who cast ballots, 614 voted against the resolution to purchase and remodel the bank building.

The measure received support from 397 voters.

The election is history. Its outcome, at best, serves as a minor reference point as the city charts its future. It tells us not to take that path again, nothing more.

It's time to turn the page and move on.

The city council wants to know how the 83 percent of voters who didn't participate in the city hall election truly feel about this issue.

This easily conjures up images of the numerous Chestnut Street forums held while that issue was still undecided. There was no healthy give and take at those meetings � they were used largely as vehicles for critics to express mistrust and spread misinformation.

For the search of the public sentiment on this issue to truly be successful, it's time for all us to come to agreement on at least one point.

Government is not the enemy. People who remember truly hard times have come to realize that.

During the Dirty Thirties and the Great Depression, there were great needs facing our country and the government responded through New Deal programs.

Government is simply a tool that can be used wisely or unwisely.

It's time for us to be wise.

Is the city proposing to raise our taxes to fund the city hall project?

No.

Is the city going to be reckless and cause a budget deficit to fund the city hall project?

No.

Has the city announced massive budget cuts in some areas to gather together the funds needed for the city hall project?

No.

The city has devoted considerable attention to the city hall issue, mainly because the present building has grown inadequate. And, as it has with practically all areas of its budget, it has relied on a "pay as you go" approach to avoid deficits.

If you're handicapped and want to attend a city council meeting, tough luck. Unless you don't mind submitting yourself to the thrill of being carried up�a narrow stairway in your wheelchair.

Critics claim a remodeling project will fix that problem. Frankly, we question whether investing more money into a building that has known structural challenges is prudent.

But that's just our opinion.

We urge Vermillion citizens to take advantage of forums, surveys and other means the city may employ to get public feedback.

And leave the the name-calling, the cynicism, the misinformation and rude behavior at the door.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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