I have a very good friend who knows me better than almost anyone else I can name and she has said several times lately that she “just can’t believe” that I’m “so into politics now!” Honestly, there are days when I’m amazed too. My friends on social media must be wondering who has hacked my feeds. As my posts about squirrels and food have become increasingly mixed with notices about council meetings and ordinances my friend list constantly evolves. Some folks reach out to connect and others run for the hills. (The record for friend/unfriend turn around currently sits at about 48 hours.)
I’ve been an active voter since my eighteenth birthday, but my political involvement each year ended with a few checked boxes and an “I voted!” sticker. What changed? Why do I spend hours every week studying ordinances and resolutions? Why am I researching Tax Increment Financing? Why is the Indiana Code now one of my most visited web pages?
I went to a City Council Meeting on August 22, 2017. That’s why.
I began listening instead of merely hearing.
It’s impossible to pay attention and NOT want to get involved in Charlestown politics. It’s also very scary to do so. Like many others in town, I’ve now lost friendships because I decided being silent was not good enough.
But how can I be silent when the City institutes an inspection program targeting only one of our neighborhoods and writes or changes codes to ensure that the properties being inspected fail, while simultaneously working out back-door deals with an out of town developer to take possession of those properties? How can I ignore a City stealing property from residents?
How can I continue to turn a blind eye to the black, foul water that pours from my faucets after I learn that plans to give us all good quality water have been ignored for over a decade in favor of pet projects and aesthetic design? Why is safety second to appearance?
How can I sit and listen to City administrators mock, ridicule, publicly embarrass, and shame residents who have legitimate questions or concerns?
I can’t! And I honestly believe that if more people did what I have, and began really looking and listening, they wouldn’t be able to either.
I began this blog with every intention of keeping a neutral position. I wanted it to be a place where I could share information for those who have commitments that prevent them from attending our public meetings. The Mayor’s and City Attorney’s behavior at the last public meeting I attended have made it clear that my goal is going to be incredibly difficult to achieve. I find it impossible to be honest AND neutral, because what’s going on in our beautiful little city is wrong…and that’s the truth. The policies of our current administration place our future generations in extremely risky financial situations, ignore private property rights, and demonstrate a complete disregard for constitutional protections.
I hate that I have friends and acquaintances who do not feel comfortable being seen with me, who limit our contact, or who have ended our relationships, but in the end these losses are a small price to pay for the guilty conscience I would have if I didn’t use my voice, my skills, and my heart to help bring attention to the abuses going on in our town.
If you’re still reading, and you haven’t yet done so but are able, PLEASE come to the council meetings. The next one will be April 2nd at 6:30. You don’t have to sit by me if it makes you uncomfortable, but please come see for yourself the way that things are being done. That way, you won’t be surprised when a future ordinance targets you. But if you don’t, rest assured that I’ll keep going…and posting…and being loud on your behalf.