Sell off our future before it’s too late

What are we waiting for?

If all Richmond needs to do is raise some cash to take care of a few things, we have some great options! There are tons of companies out there waiting to take over management of our land, our green spaces, our parks, our roads, our buildings, our fiber optic network, our landfill, our jails, our healthcare, our water, our power generation, the very air we breathe.

All we have to do is sign on the dotted line and promise to let those companies act in ways that always, always maximize their profits, no matter what the impact on our community or our way of life. Simple!

Who cares if every household sees an occasional bump in our utility and trash disposal costs? Who wouldn’t mind paying a small toll to use US-40 every day? Who’s really going to notice if we store some toxic chemicals under Glen Miller Park? Who would really mind additional semi truck traffic coming in to town at all hours? It’s cash in the bank, folks!

And as long as the private companies agree to hire current city employees initially, we can just awkwardly look the other way a year or two from now when those jobs are eliminated or transferred out of town. Thanks for your service!

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Legislating neighborliness

The recent headlines about a proposed change to Richmond’s barking dog ordinance highlights a lesson that I think many communities still have to learn: if you’ve come to the point of legislating neighborliness, you’ve already lost.

The moment after we codify specific quiet hours and acceptable barking durations into law, someone will point out a scenario or an exception where the law doesn’t make sense. What about someone who works third shift and is sleeping during the day? What about parents desperately trying to get a young child to sleep for a mid-day nap? What about…

It’s probably important to have some kind of ordinance on the books that empowers the City to handle the most egregious offenders. But I would hope that before turning to the legalistic imperatives of a law in order to get someone living near us to reduce the noise their dog (or lawnmower, or leaf blower, or party guests) is making, we would start a little more simply: with a direct conversation.

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Discrimination protection

The debate continues about the Indiana General Assembly’s recent passage of S.B. 101, a.k.a. the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Co-sponsored by Wayne County’s own Representative Richard Hamm and signed into law by Governor Mike Pence, the law is designed to be a loophole in recent progress affirming and protecting civil rights, under cover of seeking to minimize government disruption in the practice of religious beliefs. The bill and bumbling attempts to defend or “clarify” it have been an embarrassment to the State of Indiana, and to all who seek to promote diversity and inclusion in the region.

It’s been gratifying to see so many people, organizations and businesses in our local community speak out against the discrimination this new law facilitates. These pronouncements have come from across the political spectrum and many different cross-sections of our city. They help us see that the agenda of bigoted lawmakers and lobbyists does not represent the will of Richmond, Indiana.

Still, Richmond has a troubled past when it comes to protecting people from discrimination. If we truly want to show that our town is against discrimination, that past is one we probably need to confront and heal as a part of moving forward.

For example: In October of 2000 the City of Richmond government was considering an updated affirmative action ordinance, which states policies and goals around hiring and managing city employees without regard to their “race, creed, sex, color, religion, or national origin.”

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