Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Council’

Rails to Trails Moving Along

January 29, 2009

   

Making room for Rails-to-Trails, removed ties at Burger King on Warm Springs Road

Making room for Rails-to-Trails, removed ties at Burger King on Warm Springs Road

 Rails to Trails is edging closer to reality.  Rick Jones, Columbus City Planner,  told members of the Coalition for Sound Growth that the rails and ties have been taken up, and that the company charged with the removal is paying $500,000  for them.  Bids on construction will be let next month.  He thinks construction can start in May and hopes the trail may be opened early next year.

This news was greeted with enthusiasm by the Collation since the more people who use their bikes to get around the less pollution their cars will add to the air problem in Columbus.  One Coalition member told me after the meeting that she plans to ride her bike the whole 11 miles from Psalmond Road, where she lives, to her job in downtown Columbus.   She said she looks forward to it.

Jack Lockwood, Coalition for Sound Growth, Spencer Environmental Center, Columbus, GA

Jack Lockwood, standing, right top, Coalition for Sound Growth, Spencer Environmental Center, Columbus, GA

And speaking of riding your bike to work,  Jack Lockwood of Environmental Health – West central Georgia District – asked everyone to help promote “Bike to Work Day”  on May 15th.  Can’t you just see those hundreds of bikes parked in the AFLAC and TSYS parking lots!  bike-to-eork_0804

I can remember when I rode my bike darn near everywhere.  I was eleven-years-old and lived in downtown Columbus, which was really jumping with a lot of cars back then so we mainly rode on the sidewalks,  and nobody complained.  After all,  you had to ride on the sidewalks when you “threw papers” on front porches, which everybody had then.   My Columbus Ledger route was on 2nd Avenue.

I remember one Boy Scout bike trip that was 28 miles roundtrip, but that one was on the roads that had some pretty steep hills.   I was sore in unmentional places for days.  I am sure 28 miles is nothing to today’s riders.

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Is Moving the Columbus Council Public Agenda a Move to Chill Free Speech?

September 3, 2008

   The Ledger-Enquirer’s Ben Wright writes (I know I used that phrase before, but I like it) that Columbus Council public agenda regulars Paul Olson, Bert Coker, and Bill Madison oppose moving the public agenda to the end of the meetings, with Madison also opposing the use of a traffic light to keep speakers within the 5-minute limit. The only problem I see with moving it is the perception that it is a move to chill free speech.  Whether it really is or not is debatable. And, as far as I am concerned, I have no problem with holding speakers to a five-minute limit.  If 5 minutes isn’t enough to get your message across, send an email.  All councilors have email addresses.

  Columbus Council is to be commended for giving time to citizens to speak to them. Not to do it will require a new ordinance, because the public agenda is placed right before the city manager agenda by an ordinance that Council passed years ago. Council could vote not to have a public agenda at all if it wished to do that.  The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but it doesn’t specify where, when, or how much time a speaker gets. And, as my good friend, former Bob Barr Jordan High band member (he played great trumpet)  and fellow Rotarian, Robert George says, “it doesn’t require that anyone has to listen.”

Council votes on the proposal to move the public agenda next week.

In Defense of The Hell Raisers

August 30, 2008

  The Ledger-Enquirer’s Ben Wright writes that Columbus Council may move the public agenda to the end of the meeting again. Naturally, the gadflies who make weekly appearances are raising hell about it, which is fine. It’s the hell raisers who often right wrongs. To name a few: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Voltaire, and Martin Luther King, Jr. for a start. That’s not to say that any of the weekly complainers who come before Columbus City Council are in that league. It’s only natural to get the idea that they are seeking attention.  Whatever their motive, it’s their right to speak in my view.

  Which, brings us, as you knew I would get around to, the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of free speech to all Americans.  But, the big catch to that is that, as a number of thinkers have said, free speech isn’t free. What good does it do to speak freely about an important issue if nobody hears what you say? If you are T. Boone Pickens you can buy millions of dollars of TV commercials to tell the country that drilling is not the answer to freeing our country’s dependency on foreign oil. “Drill, drill, drill, but it’s not going going to stop the flow of American dollars to countries that don’t even like us.” He’s selling wind power and natural gas and he has the right idea, in my view, but that’s not the point.  The point is that he is being heard because he has the money to be heard. Also, I like this definition of freedom of the press: “Freedom of the press only belongs to those who own the presses.”

  One great answer to this inequity is what I am doing right now.  People all over the world can read this – that doesn’t mean they will, because I don’t have the money to promote the website address – however, some people are reading it and the cost is almost nothing. That’s why the Internet is so important to the concept of free speech and we can really be thankful for it.

  Power does need to be spoken to, because the old saw about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely has a lot of truth to it. So, we have to put up with those who sometimes seem to be gratifying their egos, and who were probably sent to the principals office a lot when they were young kids because they acted out to get attention, but that’s one price we have to pay for free speech.  It’s worth it.

  Council can move the public agenda to the end of the meeting, but it will be considered a move to stifle free speech, to prevent the speaking to power which is very important in keeping a society free, especially when it is speaking truth to power.