Sunday, September 4, 2011

MORE COUNCIL MUSCLE: Central Columbia neighborhoods need more Council votes, not less

Why Ward reapportionment plans should not consolidate central city neighborhoods
 
COLUMBIA, 9/4/11  (Op-Ed) --  Central city neighbors need Council muscle. 
 
Precisely because of the interests they share, older neighborhoods in Columbia's central city need more representation on the Columbia City Council, not less. 
 
For as long as anyone can remember, central city infrastructure has lagged the rest of Columbia.  Even downtown's wealthiest pioneers and patrons -- historic preservationist John Ott, for instance -- have had to fight City Hall to improve basic infrastructure.  Without Council votes, such fights are in vain. 
 
Presently, three Columbia City Council members represent most central city residents:  Fred Schmidt in the First Ward; Gary Kespohl in the Third Ward; and Daryl Dudley in the Fourth Ward.  (Parts of the Grasslands and East Campus may also qualify as central city neighborhoods, adding areas in Wards 5 and 6).   But Columbia's Ward Reapportionment Committee -- established to balance population changes in light of the 2010 Census -- has introduced plans which would reduce that Council representation substantially.
 
Plan A would take Benton-Stephens out of the Third Ward, add it to the First Ward, and reduce central city Council representation by one vote.  Plan D would take Benton-Stephens out of the Third Ward and the Old Southwest out of the Fourth Ward, consolidating both neighborhoods into the First Ward and reducing central city Council representation by two votes
 
Newly-introduced Plan F would take Westmount, the Grasslands, the Old Southwest, Quarry Heights, and Park Hill out of the 4th and 5th Wards and place them into the First Ward, again reducing central city Council representation. 
 
Supporters who have emerged for these plans argue that central city neighborhoods "share" similar characteristics, and so should be grouped.   If those characteristics were all milk and honey, that idea might fly.  But they aren't. 
 
Others who oppose the consolidation plans know that to get anything done requires a majority of City Council votes
 
If central city residents want better stormwater systems, they'll need votes on the Council.  If they want better police and fire protection -- without city management seeking to close fire stations in their neighborhoods -- they'll need Council votes.  If they want better street lighting, improved code enforcement, or sidewalks for the first time in their history, central city neighbors need Council muscle. 
 
Without it, taxpayer dollars tend toward the newly-developed outskirts of town.   
 
Real change, particularly in a provincially-minded political establishment, also requires the moral authority of a majority.  When pundits attack -- as Columbia Daily Tribune publisher Hank Waters did when he personalized the reapportionment debate as a fight between supporters of former Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala and his successor, Gary Kespohl -- only real Council muscle stands a chance of fighting back. 
 
For these reasons, central city neighbors stand rightly opposed to any reapportionment schemes that threaten to reduce their Council representation.
 
[Ed. Note:  The author lives in the Old Southwest.]
 
-- Mike Martin for the Columbia Heart Beat

1 comment:

  1. I like the plan a friend presented of using Chief Burton's Patrol area map as the Ward Lay out,creating The District as a Special Ward and with this model throwing politics,racial divides and everything to do with both of the latter out the door completely.

    Each new Ward would have a Patrol Representative of the Columbia Police Department,A Fire Commander from the Columbia Fire Department,a City Public Works Representative and one vote on City Council and allow for the Wards yes to be smaller but more properly represented all around.

    All of these other plans are ALL political driven and the First Ward it would seem after reading much about past history on this issue is Racial Voter Political driven.

    Throw politics,population stats and the Race Card out the door once and for all in this process and let's get this city properly represented for a change instead of at the whims of the Old Boys and Girls Political Cabals entrenched firmly into their old stagnated ways of doing business that does not properly represent this community.

    Oh but that would make far too much sense wouldn't it so all City Departments could potentially take care of any issues better,distribute funding to the areas that actually need it,plan repairs better and all else that makes a City run more efficiently.

    We just could not have more efficiency could we. Or could we? o_0

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