This was Saturday morning’s front page headline in the CdA Press. It put City Hall into a panic. The official line from the city is that the council often disagrees with each other but they are professionals. Behind the scenes, however, they are scrambling and sending their cronies out to change the subject in the local media. They will do anything to divert attention away from the topic of a public VOTE.
The hubbub all started last Thursday noon when I was the speaker at the Reagan Republican meeting at Fedora’s. The place was packed and they even had to open the partition wall and bring in more seating. Thank you to all who attended.
I was surprised to see Ron Edinger enter the room. He politely greeted me and I told him I was glad he was there.
It was great meeting with intense discussion about the history and rights of the citizens of our town. My entire focus was on the public’s right to VOTE on the McEuen plan. Over and over again I stated that whether people agree with the proposed plan, or disagree with it, in whole or in part, we can come together on the issue of the public’s right to VOTE as the final decision.
There were many people who wanted to talk about Tubbs Hill (don’t touch it), the ball fields and especially the boat launch (leave them alone or at least replace them elsewhere with equal or better first, before any removals).
But mostly we talked about a VOTE. We reviewed the history of the Hagadone Gardens project in 2004 and Mayor Bloem’s insistence then that the public have a VOTE, even when no public money was to be used; all of it, including ongoing upkeep, was to be privately funded. She insisted on the VOTE because traffic would be rerouted and the project would change to look of downtown. She said the people had the right to VOTE on that decision.
This new McEuen plan has all those same impacts: It reroutes traffic, will change the look of downtown, and it has an even more significant impact: It will cost a huge amount of public money! And it will continue to cost public money for operations and maintenance into the future.
Please also remember that all LCDC money is public money. And all LCDC debt is public debt.
The proposed McEuen expenditure is far beyond the “ordinary and necessary” operations of the city, the basic governance for which the mayor and council were elected. Ron knows that.
At the meeting, Ron expressed his dismay at major portions of the plan. He wants Tubbs to be left alone, he wants the boat launch to stay and the American Legion ball field as well. Then, when asked directly if he would support a public vote on whatever the final plan might be, Ron said, “Yes, I would”. We all gave him a big round of applause.
Let me state again, that whether you love the plan or hate the plan, or anything in between, we must stand together in our support for a public VOTE.
Here’s how I see the public McEuen VOTE happening: The committee continues to have public meetings, answer questions and gather input. They also research costs and funding possibilities. When it’s ready, they go to the council and present a cohesive plan, complete with prices, time lines and funding mechanisms. The council deliberates, makes any changes necessary and then they endorse final plan “XYZ” for McEuen and send it on to the November ballot for the city election. (Three of the current city council members are up for re-election in November: Al Hassell, John Bruning and Ron Edinger. So there will already be an election and the McEuen decision could be on the ballot as well.)
The ballot could say something to the effect of: “Do you agree that the City of CdA should implement and be financially responsible for the plan to remodel McEuen Field, such plan as was endorsed by the city council on such-and-such date and is known as plan “XYZ” ?” (actual plan name and legal wording to be added of course)
The citizens would have time to review the costs, benefits and impacts before the election and then we, the voters, would make the final decision.
If you agree that a VOTE is our right as citizens and taxpayers, please join me in the plan of action I proposed at the meeting last week:
We will get as many people as possible to attend the next two McEuen meetings. We will bring homemade signs that say: Public VOTE, or I Want My VOTE , or Give Us a VOTE or anything along those lines. Use only a few words and make the biggest word “VOTE”. These don’t have to be big signs, they can be a simple piece of paper. (And please don’t use sticks on your signs because the city can deem sticks to be weapons...I’m not kidding.)
The next two McEuen meetings are this Thursday, Feb. 3rd at 6:00pm at Woodland Middle School, and the following Thursday, Feb.10th at 6:00pm, also at Woodland.
This Thursday’s meeting will be a replay of the first one where we could not ask questions. I will be there silently holding my sign. Will you join me?
The second meeting, on the 10th, is where people will be able to ask questions, but we don’t yet know the format. I hope they don’t mess around and try to control, shape or limit the questions with some pseudo-sophisticated methodology. Just put a microphone on a stand and let people line up and ask their questions! We’re not scary. If someone is rude, they will look like the fool. (Remember, we will need to have our signs for this meeting too.)
Stick your sign on your car’s dashboard when you park it. Put a sign in your front yard or your window. Let’s send the message loud and clear, people: We want our VOTE!
This is it, folks. You can’t let someone else do this for you. Stand now and demand your rights or forever hold your peace.
See you Thursday at Woodland. --Mary
PS: If you see blue ribbons tied on cars, it’s people in defense of keeping the 3rd Street Launch. If you want to join in, just tie any blue ribbon onto your car.