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So many questions, so few answers

Call me stupid if you will — and I’m certain someone in the gang of bullies on anti-social media will do just that — but a lot of things leave me scratching my head.

Driving along Lawrence St. in Marion the other night, I almost ran into a group of people walking almost invisibly in the middle of the very dark street. I don’t get it. The city spent a small fortune in grant money making sure Lawrence had proper sidewalks for pedestrian safety. Why not use them? Were they walking dogs and didn’t bother bringing a pooper-scooper?

If some people won’t use sidewalks, why is there such a clamor to use yet more grant money to create a neighborhood walking path that goes not to anyplace pretty or historic but to a Marion Ridge housing development that’s unlikely to be built? Is the path mainly a way to generate business for engineering and construction firms? Why not put it instead along the banks of Luta Creek or in former river channels, where walkers could enjoy nature and perhaps learn about ancient indigenous people known to have had significant settlements in those areas?

As for the Marion Ridge project, why is a notice of its groundbreaking still posted on the city’s website a year and a half after the first of two times in which the state rejected the project? And why wasn’t the project ever considered for the valley, where it could have helped revitalize an often-forgotten area, instead of for the far northeast corner of town, on land never properly annexed from Centre Township?

Not far off Lawrence St. on my recent drive, I continually struggled to get by vehicles obviously parked for more than a day on both sides of streets and near intersections. Even my tiny car — much less an ambulance or fire engine —had great difficulty navigating around them. Most towns I’ve lived in have even-odd parking. Park on the side of the street with even house numbers on even-numbered days and on the other side on other days. Couldn’t something like that not only make our streets wider, especially for emergency vehicles, but also guarantee that streets aren’t being used as unsightly long-term parking lots?

And what about that urgent problem with a bridge on Locust St.? Is it ever going to be fixed, or are orange danger cones going to become a fixture there?

All of us love to talk about our community having a great work ethic and being filled with people who go out of their way to help others. Why, then, did no one from either the Hillsboro or Marion post offices bother to give us a call last week after one of our delivery people accidentally left a tub of papers destined for Marion at the Hillsboro post office?

Postal workers noted our problem at 3 p.m. Wednesday, in time for us to correct it. But rather than take 30 seconds to give us a call so we could fix it, they silently sent dozens of papers to Wichita then Kansas City, where they languished until at least Monday before coming to Marion.

Speaking of mail, those slick cards nearly everyone received a few weeks back from our congressman and our state legislator also are head-scratchers. Both looked like campaign flyers, not newsletters. But both were printed and mailed not at campaign expense but at taxpayer expense. The congressman’s admitted that in fine print. The legislator’s didn’t.

Legislators are trying to get even more taxpayer money to send even more printed material like that to their electorates. That seems odd at a time in which they also are arguing that print is dead and legal notices should be online — the same hacker-infested swamp where the state’s court records were held ransom for more than three months.

Then again, politics always has been baffling. I may never come to understand how radical minorities manage to take over leadership in Congress and the legislature and keep level-headed congressmen and legislators off balance by threatening to take away committee seats.

It’s no less baffling locally. We voted last year to create a commission and a district to oversee recreation. We even gave them ballparks and a park so they would have someplace to do it. But when someone in the community wanted to put in pickleball courts for recreation, the recreation commission not only said no; the school district it is based on also gave the park where the courts would be back to the city. Was our vote really about recreation or about creating yet another way to siphon off taxpayer money? The schools loved pickleball when proposing a bond issue for a new building but never completed the volley when it came to spending a lot less to create courts in the park.

I also can’t figure out what happened to Christmas lights downtown this year. Last year, large sections of them were off most days. But last year’s irresolvable problem now seems to be solved. (Thanks, city crews!) But why can’t we seem to solve the problem with county roads, maybe by bringing in outside experts to train our road crews? Why do we outsource so many government tasks, like the printing and mailing of bills, but never seem to reduce government workforces when we do? Why do taxes always seem to defy the logic that what goes up must eventually come down?

I could go on and on, but I appreciate my still-full head of hair (gray though it may be) and worry that additional head-scratching might lead to bald spots. The real question is, why don’t average folks raise more of these questions? The truth laid bald is that if we’re all willing to accept whatever happens without questioning it, we might as well move to Russia. Answers don’t come unless questions are asked, and asking them is everyone’s responsibility, not something that we should condemn people as naysayers for doing.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Jan. 11, 2024

 

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