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Keep the change?

You can’t run a city with a show of hands. But a wise city always counts the hands that are showing and takes them into account. Recent events have had residents waving the at the City Commission and its staff for seemingly disparate issues that actually have a great deal in common.

First, Amazon, and its air traffic, which some citizens feel is out of control, followed by the school traffic at Lakeland Christian School which is seen as dangerous to people and property.

In both cases, many believe that “more” isn’t necessarily better.

The underlying circumstances leave little apparent room for satisfactory mitigation for the most ardent among the protestors. Amazon has a contract with the City which allows its expansion and which cannot realistically - or legally - be undone. The school traffic, overloading existing roadways during drop-off and pick-up times, is driven by its population, which is more likely to grow than shrink.

In the face of such immovable objects, what force can the citizenship bring to bear?

Argue with the umpire!

My brother played baseball in Little League and into his teens. He was passionate and serious about it, and took what I always considered to be the toughest position to play: catcher - a position nobody much wants. His hero was Johnny Bench.

It often fell to him to challenge the plate umpire’s call, whether on a pitch, or a slide home. He never won. No one does. Ever. So I asked him why bother and he told me.

“The challenge - the argument - is never about that play. It’s over. It’s called. Move on. But the back and forth puts the official on notice and gives him a chance to be more judicious the next time that play comes around. So, no, you can’t win an argument with the umpire, but you can influence future calls that might save the game.”

If citizens decline to challenge the City’s actions and activities because they don’t believe anything will change, we will all lose the likelihood that anything ever will.

When the most affected band of residents came to the R.P. Funding Center to listen and speak to the FAA and the City’s Airport Manager about the noise of Amazon’s jets, they faced long odds of prevailing. But the choices that must be made to manage a city’s growth, progress, and quality of life do not add up to a zero sum. Stasis is not sustainable.

Imagine what would happen if no-one showed up to raise their hand and voice their concerns. The City and the FAA would be left to believe that there were no issues to be resolved.

The Amazon deal cannot be undone, but the noise made by the people in attendance will help ensure that all responsible parties will be inclined to find ways to mitigate the impact. That’s a win which leaves a net positive result.

Raise your hand. Raise your concern. Stand up. Speak up. They can’t hear you shaking your head.


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