Blight, Ward Gerrymandering, Odlesaurus zoning, the Providence Rd. fiasco -- and an exhausted electorate
COLUMBIA, 4/1/13 (Op Ed) -- Blight it! No -- un-Blight it. Gerrymander it! No -- don't gerrymander it! Tear historic houses down to widen Providence Road! No -- better not. City Hall failed to engage stakeholders. People don't like the idea.
Commercial zoning downtown that encourages gargantuan student apartments? Better change that -- people are up in arms.
My head is spinning from all these Columbia City Council "do overs." Brought to you by the McDavid administration, this new phenomena -- the 180 degree turn on issue after issue -- has left an exhausted electorate shaking with angst over the next shoe to drop from City Hall.
It's also left voters wondering if another do-over is necessary: Boot three incumbents who've put CoMo through the wringer in favor of new faces on Tuesday.
Based on what this writer has observed at several candidate forums, policymaking in Columbia will be considerably more thoughtful should Ian Thomas or Bill Weitkemper succeed Daryl Dudley; should Karl Skala succeed Gary Kespohl; should Sid Sullivan succeed Bob McDavid.
These Council Do-Overs start like this: A few guys (as few as two or three) with a lot of power get together and hatch a dumb plan to make someone a lot of money.
Mike Brooks + Dave Griggs = EEZ Blight.
Robbie Price + John Ott + John Glascock = The Providence Road Improvement project.
Daryl Dudley + Rob Monsees = Ward Gerrymandering.
Bruce, Jon, and Nathan Odle + Craig van Matre = Odlesaurus giganticus apartmentus 1, 2, 3, and 4 (plus another baby Garagezilla at the College and Walnut apartments. Ain't she a beauty?)
With no other warning than the Council agenda posted Friday before the Monday meeting, these bad ideas get writ in stone and all too often, approved with virtually no public involvement.
That is, until the public rises up and revolts. Until all the stakeholders left in the dark -- the neighborhoods, the citizen commissions, John and Jane Q Public -- stand up and say, "We were never consulted about this. No one told us you were fixin' to blight 60% of the city."
That's just the way democracy and engaged citizens work, Mayor McDavid said with his trademark smile at Thursday's Keep Columbia Free/MoCLA candidate forum.
But I've got news for our retired physician Mayor: He may have the time and money to jump into all these political hurricanes, but most of us do not.
Many folks wonder just how much democracy we have here in CoMo, when 2 or 3 guys can make dumb idea law.  That sounds more like a shadow government. What power these chosen few must have, to force thousands of the rest of us to rise up for months against them just to be heard -- often for the first time.