You Can See It From The Moon

The City of Morgantown park system, BOPARC, needs additional funding that a direct democracy referendum levy should bring.

You can see it from the moon.

Neighborhood infrastructure needs more funding.

You can see it from the moon.

Neighborhood services need more funding.

You can see it from the moon.

The Woodburn schoolgrounds community center needs more funding.

You can see it from the moon.

A Morgantown green space acquisition agency needs to be founded and funded in an area booming in population and haphazard development: unzoned, unchecked, largely unregulated near-county lands.

You can see it from the moon.

The Morgantown fire department has been calling for more money.

You can hear it from the moon.

The Morgantown library system needs more funding, bigger and better services and resources.

These needs can be seen from the moon.

This covers a lot of longstanding, neglected public needs. Money in all these areas could be well spent immediately, well tracked, and well accounted for.

You could see it from the moon.

The public has a profound right to directly consider and to vote for taxes that would meet their public needs. The Morgantown City Council should cease blocking that right of the people to vote directly on their funding solutions.

You can see it from the moon.

Even Monongalia County – the County! – the supposedly “Don’t tax me!” county passed 4 of 6 levied taxes by popular referendum in 2016, two years ago. Even the 2 levies that failed received more than 50 percent of the vote, barely missing the 60 percent needed to pass. These direct vote taxes passed for parks and rec, mass transit, fire protection, and the library system, and narrowly missed passing for the fairs, and youth baseball combined with the botanic garden.

Even if Morgantown puts up a raft of levies that all miss the 60 percent mark needed to pass, the city would at least benefit from seeing a tangible guage of popular concern and interest, and thus be more informed in how to proceed. And a failed levy in the November election doesn’t mean a revote wouldn’t pass in the April city election.

The City of Morgantown has pretended for too long, to not be able to see what most anyone can see from the moon.

The inadequate public funding for the city has been visible from the moon for decades.

And the solutions to inadequate funding have also been visible from the moon for decades.

And the city has not acted. The city needs to act now. Things have changed. Shall we recount the ways?

In elections: a sweep of Council.

Things have changed.

In urgency: badly degraded conditions, especially compared to other cities.

Things have changed. 

In public involvement: on the sharp rise, in large part due to social media.

Things have changed.

In public awareness: also on the sharp rise, due to the information and resources provided by broadband internet access (and social media).

Things have changed.

In public maturity (yes) and consciousness: on the significant upswing, due largely to social media and broadband internet access.

Things have changed. 

In the public ability to act and influence officials and each other: see the public teachers strike here in West Virginia and nationwide, and, again, this is due to a more knowing and active public.

Things have changed. You can see it from the moon.

You don’t do a study on how to proceed, when the ways forward can be seen clear and bright from the moon, and beyond. You act based on what is clear now, and you study the effects of what you are doing as you go.

That’s the way forward. 

It can be seen from the moon.

For a brief moment, 2 months, say, we can even set aside the long-strangled need of the City of Morgantown to extend its borders, and to the grossly delayed process of submitting simultaneous annexation petitions.

The gaping need for annexation is no small thing. That can be seen from the moon too. In fact, this problem of the public can be seen from Jupiter.

Those who cannot see before them in the City of Morgantown what can be seen from the moon have no business sitting in Council chambers. They may as well take their dysfunctional eyes and go sit somewhere else. Three Councilors definitively received that message in the previous city election. Maybe more should receive it definitively in the next one. It’s time to do something of size. Things have changed. Look back, if you want, but you shouldn’t bother, and better not to ask why. Looking forward and moving forward, as elected to do, as badly needed to do, and now, is the only way to progress. You study as you go, and you correct course as need be.

That can be seen from the moon.

It is certainly easy to criticize City Council, or the County Commission, or the state or federal government or any governing body. So it should be recognized that a criticism of an elected governing body is also criticism of everyone, of the public at large. Though individual people and individual officials bear responsibility to varying degrees for the conditions of the public, the fact is that governing bodies like a city council are an extension of the public at large. And so the Morgantown City Council’s failure to move forward is everyone’s failure, to one degree or another.

That too can be seen from the moon.

Any efforts and success of City Council in moving forward can only be the public’s efforts and success. And in that vein, there is zero indication that City Council has lost any of its popularity from the previous election. As far as anyone knows, or can know, the Council remains as popular now as then. So there’s no reason to not act decisively, by now.

That can be seen from the moon. 

Let’s pick it up, let’s not revert to old ways, to the old slow-down to nowhere, to the conscious and unconscious screech of the brakes at the first little bump in the road. There’s nothing for the public in that. There never was, and there never will be.

You can see it from the moon.

There’s one more thing that should be mentioned:

Buying Haymaker Forest for $5.2 million is a steal.

You can see it from the moon.

A mature forest virtually the size of Marilla Park, connecting multiple neighborhoods, parks, and trail systems for little more than the price of an area elementary school’s vacant lot? You take that deal. Vacant lots are a dime a dozen. A mature forest, a park and trail system, a refuge for the wild, a green buffer for multiple neighborhoods and the south side of the city, for the near county and beyond? You take that deal. The Haymaker Forest, at price, was, is, and remains a steal. You would be adding another entire Marilla park to the community, of far greater ecological and environmental value. It would be both a travesty and a tragedy not to secure the forest, for all time.

You can see it from the moon.

This City Council has proven that it can be wonderfully responsive to public needs, to a point. What a ridiculous and outrageous missed opportunity a lost forest would be. The opportunity to establish an eternal legacy and a permanent public good the size and value of a vibrant wilderness does not come around to the City every day. If we continue to treat Earth as a garbage can, then we might as well shoot ourselves to the moon to try to live on that barren, lifeless, and noxious rock. In that case, the City Council might as well preside on the moon.

Slow gear is no gear, at this point, long since.

You can see it from the moon.

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