10 May 2011

Provincialism vs. Progress

In an obvious ploy to garner campaign support from the COAST and NAACP ass clown posses, Charlie Winburn has scheduled a special Council session tomorrow, May 11, at 6pm to hoot 'n' holla about the streetcar. Griff and Quimbob have already called out this outrageous use of public resources for a personal campaign.

This is my 13th year as a downtown resident. Unlike most of the "pioneers" who have moved downtown in the past few years, I do NOT think OTR is the greatest, coolest neighborhood ever and I am NOT gung-ho about the streetcar. It thought it was a fair criticism to say it had a "if you build it they will come" aspect.

So although I am not gung-ho and uppity, I do support it 100%. Three key things (I guess you could say six) factored into my perspective:

(1) For the first time in recent history, 3 key stakeholder groups are on the same page about downtown's future: the public (which already voted FOR the streetcar), the business community (of which many groups and individuals have expressed support) and public officials.

(2) OTR is a long-neglected historic gem. Is any neighborhood more in need of revitalization? OTR should be an area with desirable residential, business and recreational opportunities. The streetcar provides incentive to develop these opportunities and that is why property owners and businesses support it. All of these developments increase the tax base. A streetcar system is an investment, not an expenditure.

(3) A streetcar system gets more people to more places more often. The more people there are in an area, the safer it will be. Anyone who has walked around Chicago or NYC late at night knows this. While anything can happen anywhere, the basic rule is that criminals don't want to be in busy places. A streetcar system will increase "people density" and force criminals to go elsewhere. And let's be honest, many criminals will get priced out of the neighborhood before the first streetcar makes its run anyway.

So there it is. I see the streetcar system as an investment that attracts residents and businesses, an investment that increases the tax base and increases public safety (which itself reduces tax spending). This is an idea that makes sense, regardless of whether it makes a downtown newbie feel hip and cool.

In a way, there is no better endorsement of the streetcar than to look at who opposes it: COAST, WBDZ/NAACP, FOP, Kasich. This is a pantheon of clownish, self-righteous ignorance. It would be so disappointing to have to include GOP in that list but Amy Murray and Wayne Lippert have already joined Winburn. I think Ghiz will, too.

Few things in politics are black & white but I think the battle over the streetcar comes down to provincialism vs. progress. I have a stake in this and it is not acceptable for a small but vocal fringe minority of visionless, ignorant blowhards to continually impede this city's progress.

I will be at City Hall tomorrow evening and if you choose progress over provincialism, you should be there, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said. I think it's perfectly okay to be somewhat cautious with our enthusiasm towards things, while still being in support of them.

And, as a West Ender, I always get a little antsy about the cleaning up of OTR. It's a selfish, but real fear that the bad will simply reconvene, even more so, in my own neighborhood.