A Passionate Appeal for a Sidewalk

With the election cycle in full swing, we turn our attention not to the national scene, where two people we will refer to only as BO and MR are bombarding the nation with empty promises in hopes that the dangling chads in November will fall their way, but to more pressing local matters.

Here at The Mint, we recognize that the natural operation of anarchy renders much of what happens at the highest levels of government, which in the US means those seated at the State and Federal levels increasingly irrelevant.  While they have the potential to do great harm, government on a large-scale generally suffers from a form of paralysis which makes their decisions increasingly meaningless to the average Joe.  They have grown to the point where they are nothing more than an amoeba, which at best should be ignored and at worst, actively avoided.

As such, we consider it a great waste of time to obsess over them.

Government at the local level, meaning the City and, more importantly, the County level, has a much greater direct impact on the lives of its constituents.  As such, we see government at the City and County level as absolutely necessary to the smooth functioning of society.  We also present, for your consideration, that participation in government at a local level is not only time well spent, it can be profitable.

A great opportunity to guide public policy at a local level is presented frequently at events that are generally referred to as requests for public comment.  While in some cases, these events are held to give an air of legitimacy to an already planned action, some of them present a grand opportunity to sway local policy and public resource investment decisions.  Given this grand opportunity, it may come as a surprise that these events are often overlooked, even by those who would be directly affected by the action being considered.

For your perusal and enjoyment, we present the following example of yours truly taking advantage of such an opportunity presented by our County’s Minor Betterment Project Committee.

Each year, the committee is presented with a list of potential minor public works projects which have been vetted by overpaid consultants and assigned a ranking based on a point system which is theoretically designed by the consultant to capture potential public benefit of a project in a tidy little number.

This is like the BCS for your tax dollars, and, as any NCAA coach knows, it never hurts to lobby your case, especially when the voting is tight.

We recently found out that a much-needed improvement project, one that could modestly increase our property value, had made the “Top 20” of the latest version of the public works BCS.

Pompeii Sidewalk by Paul Vlaar
The ancients had sidewalks, why can’t we? photo of sidewalks in Pompeii by Paul Vlaar

Like any good coach, we picked up our digital writing implement and began to lobby for our own, local, pet project.  The result of this activity is what we call “A Passionate Appeal for a Sidewalk,” a transcript of which follows:

As both a property owner and frequent pedestrian of this stretch of Madison Road, I can attest to the large-scale safety hazard that the lack of a pedestrian walkway on this stretch of road presents daily.  Not only to the school children who wait for the bus on the thoroughfare during the morning, but all manner of pedestrians, bicyclists, school bus drivers, and vehicle operators who daily traverse it.  Were it not for the vigilance of the drivers on this stretch of road, this perilous route would no doubt be the site of a lamentable tally of traffic fatalities.

For those who have not seen it, Madison road is narrow and increasingly relied upon by all manner of commuters (pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists) during rush hours.  During these peak times, it is commonplace to see cars nearly miss a head on collision with each other as they make a noble attempt to give way for pedestrians (a majority of which are school children) who literally have no choice but to walk along the 12 inch border of the existing roadway alloted to them.  Alternative routes for this pedestrian trail are far enough away to that they are not viable options, and, as we mentioned before, pedestrian traffic on this stretch of road continues to increase.

While the sidewalk project proposed to remedy this dangerous situation is the most expensive on the list, and can hardly be considered minor, the money spent will likely spare a tragedy involving the dangerous mix of vehicles and school children which is present every day of the school year.  If the goal of these projects is to increase the safety of the community, this project has perhaps the greatest potential to do just that.  In a sense, it is long overdue.

We, your neighbors along this deceptively dangerous stretch of Madison road, appreciate the committee’s attention to this matter.

What do you think, will our impassioned plea sway the committee to divert funds into our pet project?  We should know by late October whether or not ours comes out on top.  Either way, civic involvement, on a local level, is necessary given the proximity of the governing body.  While the body and budget itself is small, its potential to wreak havoc on your everyday life is too big to ignore, just ask anyone who has found themselves on the wrong end of a dispute with an activist home owners association board.

As for the State and Federal versions of Government, in their late, degenerate, bankrupt form they can do little more than create the illusion of watching your every move and controlling the details of your life.  Despite their large-scale propaganda and their presence at the airport gate, they are mostly harmless.  Your impassioned pleas and time spent informing yourself on issues are best spent at the local level.

Who knows?  You may even save a life or make the world a better place, all while increasing your property value at the government’s expense.

It is the closest thing to Nirvana that the governed can experience.