EDITOR’S NOTE: Dallas Hyland is a developing columnist for St. George News and blogs as The Amateur Broad Thinker. The opinions stated in this article are solely his own and not those of St. George News.
“What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
So says Ralph Waldo Emerson and those words are ones to be lived by, especially with the upcoming elections September 13.
There are three seats on our City Council up for election and I wholeheartedly encourage you all not only to vote, but to do proper diligence in knowing the candidates and the issues at hand in our quaint little town.
But remember to keep things in perspective and to be mindful of the larger picture. While we are citizens of this community, we are first and foremost citizens of this nation; and as such, we should hold our elected officials to the rigid standards set by our constitution, as well as our state and local laws.
It would be a safe wager that what is foremost on the minds of people in our town, as well as our country, is the state of our economy and what our elected officials are doing or not doing to improve this situation.
It is said that a problem cannot be solved by operating from the same mindset we were in when we created it. Nothing could be more painfully true than the state of our economy and how we got here. A lethal mixture of irresponsible consumers who were pacified by new gadgets and houses, while corporate conglomerates and banks used the unprecedented buying power our purchases gave them to shape legislation in their favor and allow them to get away with the biggest scam on the American people in our short history as a nation.
Now, as the dust settles, and we are able to see clearly where we are, we are engaged in vigorous debates as to who is to blame while those in charge press forward in trying to restore things to “the way they were;” to create the illusion of a promised security.
The problem with this is the maddening prospect of insisting on trying to make this already flawed system work. That is, doing the same foolish and irresponsible things as before and thinking it will get better.
Borrowing money to pay off borrowed money prolongs and exacerbates the problem – period. Frivolous and reckless spending to cheer ourselves up is not the answer.
This is where the words versus actions paradigm comes in handy for voters nationally and here in St. George.
Last month, the St. George City Council held a meeting and convened as the Redevelopment Agency to amend the RDA budget allowing for the expenditure of $300,000 for the carousel now in town square. That was June 16. Between that day and July 4, the project was purchased and built in expert and expedient fashion in the likes of a project that had been planned for quite some time.
On June 30, the City Council ratified that amendment unanimously and laid out a well-written business plan showing how the purchase was not only prudent, but it would pay for itself in as short as seven to 10 years.
Understand, all of this was done on at least the semblance of the up and up. RDA funds are appropriated for the purpose they were used for and the city council would have you know that emphatically.
To recap, on June 16, a $300,000 project was pre-approved and in less than two weeks, was purchased and constructed, then approved on June 30, and held its grand opening on July 4. Call it cynical if you will but does this not seem a little expedient for a project of this nature and expense?
Furthermore, and this is the question: Was it a good decision? Some time line questions notwithstanding, was it a rushed decision?
Lets say I borrow $20 from a friend. He is struggling himself but helps me nonetheless, and while he waits patiently for me to repay him, he sees me at Starbucks downing a $5 drink. He’s got every right to wonder where my head is. I know he is hurting, but I have money to spend on things that are hardly necessary.
It is this kind of behavior that has become so commonplace in our government it goes virtually unchecked.
This is definitely something to keep in mind as a tangible example of the mindset of your elected officials here in St. George. But before you go off feeling self righteous about it think on this: The City Council held a public hearing on this. Protests after the fact are just that, people, they mean nothing unless you participate in the process.
While it is possible that this was anything but a good decision, it is also possible that our officials were acting on what they believed in earnest to be in the best interest and will of their constituency.
Raising the bar in this situation is going to require a much more informed presence on the behalf of voters; given how easily this thing passed, virtually uncontested, it might be an uphill fight.
I have questions. So should you.
See you out there.