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Here’s To… A New Decade

Tom PattonIt is amazing to think that we have reached the end of the first decade of the 21st century. It seems like it was not so long ago that we were all scrambling to prevent the Y2K disaster, and a tip of the cap to those IT professionals who made sure that our technology didn’t come crashing down when the clock ticked over to 2000.

The end of one year and the beginning of another are always time for reflection, and looking forward. So with this, the final column of the year, here are some of my hopes, not predictions mind you, for the coming year.

A series of toasts, if you will, as we look ahead to 2010…

Here’s to… our city leadership trying to find a way through our financial duress. With every prediction being that there will be less, or at least not more, money to spend in the coming fiscal year, the Mayor and Council should capitalize on the momentum that came from the JCCI City Budget Study and work towards a budget process that is transparent, inclusive, and not compressed into a two-month window. A billion-dollar-plus budget simply needs more time, and should be city government’s top priority.

Here’s to… a civil campaign season. With elections for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, Governor, Cabinet Officers, and School Board all this year, and the campaigns for Mayor, Sheriff, and City Council all coming in early in 2011, (I’m sure I’ve missed some, but you get my meaning) it is going to be a year filled with politics at every level. If the campaign for the District 8 State Senate seat was any indication, they are going to be hard fought at every level. But we should hope that the campaigns will be about real issues pertinent to the offices and not about personalities. And here’s hoping, too, that candidates will engage in debate. Voters need and deserve to see all of the candidates at forums and events designed to encourage reasoned discourse. No one likes to see a forum with an empty chair where the incumbent or leader in the polls should have been sitting.

Here’s to… a successful conclusion to the police and fire pension negotiations that honors and respects the sacrifices made my those who keep us safe, but also does not threaten to jeopardize our ability to move forward as a city. I don’t think it’s any secret that in a negotiation such as this, with budgets stretched thin, neither side is going to get everything they want, and concessions will almost certainly have to be made on both sides of the table.

Here’s to… more jobs. I know this one sounds easy and is very difficult, but we all know, or know of, a half dozen people who need a job and maybe a half dozen more who need a better job just to get even. And since we know government doesn’t really create jobs beyond those few civil service positions over which they exercise control, government’s role needs to be that they create a climate for the private sector to have the confidence to add workers. No small, medium, or large business is going to add employees if they’re afraid the faltering economy will make them the next to fail.

And finally, here’s to… people getting engaged. No, not to be married, but if you’re of a mind… No, here’s to people becoming involved in something about which they’re passionate. People learning about city, state, and national issues, becoming informed voters, and getting to the polls. Everybody should, but that’s not realistic, so here’s hoping more will.

In the coming decade, it’s going to take more than just sitting back and saying “somebody ought to do something.” If the first decade of the 21st century has taught us anything, it’s that almost nothing is certain. Each of us has to decide, then, how we want to address the next decade.

Will we wait for someone to make our lives better, or will we get in there and do what we can to try to make it better?

Well, here’s to making the choice that’s right for you.

Happy New Year.

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