Monday, March 12, 2007

Stop the Municipal Insanity!

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

- Benjamin Franklin

One of the sad symptoms of economic decay here in Emporia, Kansas is the emergence of “payday lenders.” One of my morning routes takes me from my house, through downtown, and then along Sixth Avenue and Merchant Street to Prairie Street, which is about two miles from downtown. As I do, the payday lenders are the most prominent business ventures I see. There are five of them, and another one or two over on Industrial Road, which is the “growth” area here in town. They, along with the four pawnshops in the downtown area reveal the decline that has taken place. Anyone can see them and realize that something is wrong. Unfortunately, our city fathers must not be doing much walking these days, because they say everything here is fine.

I’ve been saying since the early days of my campaign that we need change here in Emporia, Kansas. We’ve got low median household incomes, high poverty, low wages, high taxes, low voter turnout, and businesses leaving town. The pawnshops and payday loan businesses aren’t there because this city is in the midst of an economic revival. The reason they’re gaining is a foothold is that a significant number of Emporians can’t make ends meet and put themselves at the mercy of predatory lenders. As I mention these things the incumbents cast me as being negative and anti-Emporia.

There’s not a lick of truth in what they say.

In a meeting with firefighters earlier this week commissioner Tom Myers said that Emporia doesn’t have the skill-sets for a 21st century economy. I told the firefighters that I didn’t believe that for a millisecond. Emporians are hard working, intelligent, decent people. They’re eminently trainable. In fact, I believe that the 21st century economy is there for Emporia’s taking. We’ve got the skill-sets and work ethic to get the job done. We’ve got a great university and a great technical college.

Who, then, under these circumstances, is really anti-Emporia? Who is being negative?

There’s only one reason Emporia is not succeeding. It’s inertia in our municipal government. Emporia can once again be a flourishing, first class city. This is the same city that once was proud to say it had an opera house (it sat about a half block from where a payday loan shop now sits). Just a generation ago Emporia’s downtown was vibrant. With a change of direction it can once again be a commercial and cultural star. And, it can be done without competing with development in other parts of the city.

In the weekend edition of the Emporia Gazette, Bobbi Mlynar did a feature on Ottawa, Kansas, which is about fifty miles north of us. Ottawa is in the midst of an economic boom and some Emporians are cashing in. Rather than growing their businesses here, they’re moving up the highway. Why? Simply put, the business environment here in Emporia is prohibitive. People don’t have disposable income and business taxes are high. Jerry McCalla, an Emporia businessman, put his decision to purchase an extension of his business in Ottawa this way:

“McCalla saw the purchase as an opportunity.”

“...(T)hat’s a going, good business in an area that’s growing,” McCalla said. “With everything that’s going in that community, that area will have to grow.”

“So, it was just a matter of here we are losing people in Emporia and they’re gaining companies that are 300 and 500 people they’ll be bringing to town.”

Some have said that I’m an anti-retail, anti-business candidate. It’s simply not true. An anti-retail, anti business candidate wouldn’t recommend lowering the tax levy on Emporians. I have and will continue to do so! An anti-retail, anti-business candidate wouldn’t care about the economic plight of Emporians living on low incomes. I do care about Emporia’s working class. I want them to succeed and the 21st century economy is the place they can. I want to adance educational opportunity. I want retail to succeed here in Emporia and in order for that to happen we must find our way into the new economy, bring jobs that will increase our median household incomes, and reduce the high level of poverty that is the sad truth of Emporia today.

When it comes right down to it, I’m the one candidate in this race that is pro-business, pro-retail, pro-growth, and pro-Emporia. We can succeed! I’m convinced of it. All we need to do is change course and abandon the insanity that has brought us to where we are!

1 comment:

James Fletcher Baxter said...

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of variety. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes
his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall
that his other features are but vehicles of experi-
ence intent on the development of perceptive
awareness and the following acts of decision and
choice. Note that the products of man cannot define
him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-
making process and include the cognition of self,
the utility of experience, the development of value-
measuring systems and language, and the accultur-
ation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
creative process, is a choice-making process. His
articles, constructs, and commodities, however
marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idol-
atry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth's own
highest expression of the creative process.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and
significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean
fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the
forces of cause and effect to an elected level of qual-
ity and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a
natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and
bestows earth's title, The Choicemaker, on his
singular and plural brow.


As I recall, Emporians are human.

semper fidelis