Thursday, May 6, 2010

Let the People Decide

Something new at the Council Meeting tonight: Aldermen actually taking into consideration constituent desires and voting that way!

It came on a street paving issue. The street was below standards, so bad that Rick Jones, DPW Director and Chief Shove It Down Our Throats perpetrator, says “DPW won’t waste taxpayers money by repairing the street.” Three aldermen, Ron Hart, Bob Mozol and Sandy Weidner, all supported Dennis Wiser’s amendment to remove Rosalind Avenue from the order because “If the people on the street don’t want their street repaired, why do it?”

I have rarely seen such actions as this. I have heard aldermen voice concerns of their constituency before, many time. But they were only paying lip service to their constituents, generally voting against that constituency preference anyway unless they agreed with what that constituent wanted.

I cannot remember a time, however, when that many aldermen spoke up for someone else’s constituency just because the constituency wanted it that way—and then vote that way. And then to actually have the council support that opinion with a majority vote? That’s news!

The main opposition to the “constituent preference” vote (other than the Rick Jones contemplation) is the lawsuit argument. If someone has an accident because of the condition of the street, will the city be liable?

It’s an interesting question. That could be a liability. I am not sure. The only threats of street related lawsuits that I have heard of come from the pot hole issue. And I think that those taxpayers on that street pay enough taxes to have Rick Jones’ DPW at least patch the pot holes.

Another option to consider is to make the owner of that section of street liable for any lawsuit commenced as a result of the street condition. Your property line goes to the middle of the street anyway. If owners want to make the choice on whether or not to repair, then they should also be responsible for whatever goes on at their portion of the street.

I would take that responsibility for my area of the street. And then I would make sure that the potholes were filled and my section of the street was safe.

It really doesn’t cost that much to fill a pot hole with some asphalt anyway. And I might just go to the trouble of mixing up a bag of concrete and use that, making it an even better repair that what the City would do.