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!

Continue reading Sell off our future before it’s too late

Help wanted, Director of IT

The City of Richmond needs to hire a Director of Information Technology. The position description is here, applications go to as noted here.

The person in this role will have some great opportunities to help shape how local government uses technology tools to be more efficient and effective. Yes, there are some things about the current infrastructure to clean up and no, IT in the public sector is probably not going to be as lucrative as it might be in the private sector. But it’s important work in the service of a city that can get caught up and then get ahead, and for a Mayor who has a strong appreciation for good technology management and its importance to running the City well.

I hope you’ll share the position opening with qualified IT professionals that you know, and help us get the right person in the job.

Hope for a new time

The Reverend Kelly Burk, who also happens to be my wife, offered these words of invocation at today’s (lovely, well-attended, energizing, inspiring) inauguration of Richmond’s elected officials:

I invite all who wish to participate in prayer to join in these words addressed to God.

Creating and uniting God, we give thanks for your presence among us as we gather this hour to recognize and bless those elected to lead the city of Richmond. We are grateful for the privilege and responsibility of selecting those who govern us. Give us grace to put aside party loyalties and join together in the joy of this event.

In these troubled times when images of violence, prejudice and hate dominate the daily news, and when poverty, illness, grief and suffering pervade the lives of those we love, guide our leaders as they strive to govern with integrity and justice. Help them to be attentive and wise, creative and bold. Enable our leaders to propel change that benefits our city and improves the lives of all – regardless of how we look, what we believe, or who we love.

Empower us as citizens of this community to be full participants in strengthening Richmond that it may be a place of mutual support, respect, beauty, and the pursuit of the common good.

On this day of new beginnings, we pray with hope. We pray in peace. Amen.

May it be so.

(Adapted from a prayer by Laurence Hull Stookey in Let the Whole Church Say Amen! A Guide for Those Who Pray in Public, 2001 Abington Press.)

Nullifying local CAFO rules

From the Pal-Item, Bill would limit local control of CAFOs:

The legislation would nullify zoning rules in many Indiana counties, including Wayne and Union counties, which have rules governing the placement of livestock facilities.

Using state power to take away local control of zoning and environmental regulation is a big deal.

The rationale given by the bill’s sponsors – that we need consistency for the sake of agricultural job growth – is far from compelling.

If we were talking about an issue where there were commonly accepted practices and state law was needed to smooth out a hodge-podge of local variations, that would be one thing. But the debate over the negative impacts of industrial livestock facilities – health, environmental, economic, etc – is far from decided locally let alone state-wide, and to shut it off as a favor to one industry is clear government overreach.

I agree with Wayne County Commissioner Ken Paust, who said, “We want local control. Every county has a different situation. Individual counties ought to have that control.”