Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias �And The Lord said to Moses, �I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel; say to them, ?At twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread ?�

Every kid who attended Sunday school can recall the story of when, one could imagine, even the good Lord got fed up with all the complaining.

And so, to settle the grumbling stomachs of the Israelites during their long journey through the wilderness, he provided them bread.

Their reaction, in contemporary terms: What the heck is that stuff?

They called it manna. The word is derived from the Hebrew words meaning �What is it?�

I�m sure many of the people who first encountered it said those words in pure wonder. Others, noting that they were still stuck in the desert with the equivalent of dry rice cakes to eat, probably asked the question in a much more sardonic tone.

Vermillion citizens � the most vocal ones, at least � seem to fall into that latter category.

That at least is the impression one easily could have reached after attending the two-hour grumblefest in the city fire station�s meeting room Monday night.

Why do so many people hold such sour feelings about their own community, nestled here in the land of milk and honey? Some people, I suppose, just can�t help it � they look to the west at Yankton, to the south at Sioux City, to the north at Sioux Falls, and wonder, why can�t we be like them?

These feelings of self pity twine and flourish like creeping jenny along an unattended fence line and as was so evident Monday, lead to mistrust and rumor-mongering and downright vicious attacks.

Mayor Roger Kozak, for example, is a liar. He holds secret meetings. He won�t share his pizza during the council�s noon work sessions. He puts his own �spin� on information provided to the public.

The Vermillion City Council members are all a bunch of liars, too. You can bet they�ve fudged all the budget figures. They are only interested in meeting at noon and during executive session and can�t stop themselves from spending money on things like streets. Thank goodness we came to our senses and stopped them from bankrupting the city by purchasing the Community First bank building.

And just what makes the feeble and the handicapped so special anyway? Who cares that they can�t get into city hall to pay their light bill or talk to a city employee?

Those city employees, naturally, are all getting fat off our backs. Why should we buy them a fancy new place to work?

We can get some satisfaction, though, when city workers have to go out in the cold to clear our streets, climb down a hole filled with muck to fix a broken sewer line, or visit an accident scene during a storm while we�re snug in bed. That�ll show them.

�Okay, Dave, you jokester,� you�re probably thinking. �Thanks for the good laugh.�

There�s just one problem. I�m not trying to be funny.

I�m sorry to say, much of the above accurately reflects the mood in town these days.

Is the city council perfect? Certainly not. Does it need help? You bet.

Hopefully something will be gleaned from the information gathered by the Vermillion Conflict Resolution Center Monday to get us on a more progressive track.

Don�t get me wrong. I�m a realist. I know we�re not going to suddenly hold hands, sing Skip to My Lou and say everything is okay.

But things must change. It would be nice, for example, if aldermen simply talked more among themselves during meetings, just to give the public a clearer understanding of what�s going on. It�s apparent that the process of city government needs to be more clearly defined for many Vermillion citizens.

It�s also time for some townsfolk to stop fixating on things that were done not months, but years ago. There�s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy skepticism of government, but get your facts straight before you spread misinformation all over the community.

Otherwise, we�ll find ourselves mired in mistrust longer than the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.

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