Political Activism – 102

I am hearing a lot of chatter on the island about things people are not happy about.  Coyotes.  Street signs.  The new Parking Plan.  Lots of phone calls, emails and Facebook postings.

Only city council can pass ordinances that will effect change.  Period, end of story.

So, you basically have 2 options:

  1. Run for city council, propose an ordinance, and get 5 of 9 councilmembers to vote for it.
  2. Organize a sizable group of people to show up at council meetings and speak directly to council about their concerns.  Alternately, you can organize a petition drive.

Any, and everything else, while it may make you feel better, is not going to bring about change.

Here is what doesn’t work:

  1. Posting a bunch of stuff on Facebook.
  2. Sending out emails to all your friends.
  3. Posting stuff on the website Nextdoor.
  4. Calling an old IOPNA member to see if the IOPNA will lead the charge.  (For the record, the IOPNA has been dead for years – killed off by apathy.)

What do all the above methods that don’t work have in common?  They don’t require much, if any, effort.  You can use these tools to organize a petition drive or to get a group of people to speak before council, but anything else is wishful thinking.

You see, to change something takes effort.  And what most people are doing is putting their concerns out there and hoping someone else will run with the ball while they get back to watching some television show.

Again I repeat the words of Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert:  Passion is bullshit.  What matters is personal energy.

IOP Parking Garage

The Post and Courier reported this week that IOP has been approached by an out of state company interested in possibly building a parking garage for beach visitors.

Any mention of a parking garage in the past has been dismissed in a nanosecond by virtually every resident of the IOP.

But think about this for 2 nanoseconds:  Would you be in favor of such a building if it eliminated all other daytripper parking on the island?

I don’t know if that is feasible, lawful, whatever.  But if it could be done, well, what would you think then?

Sandy “Fiscal” Ferencz

This year the city gave all full time employees a $700 bonus.  Full time is defined as a city employee who works at least 30 hours a week.

The Public Works Department uses men from a staffing agency to augment their full time employees.  These 5 mean are employed by the staffing agency and not the city of IOP.

Ms. Ferencz wanted to give each of them $700 as well.

The IOP Observer is not taking sides on this issue, rather just reporting what it has heard as you can be sure this won’t be in any minutes…if and when they ever get published.

The Isle of Atheists?

What do you notice as you drive or walk around the island every Christmas?  No snow?  Of course.  But also no Christmas lights, or at least not very many of them.

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Why are there so few houses with lights on them?

Is the IOP full of atheists?  Muslims?  Jews?  No wait, Zoroastrians?

Of course not.  The reason there are so few lights is that no one lives here.  The homes on the IOP are 1/3 owner occupied.  An empty house is not going to decorate itself.

Which brings me to my question.  If there are so few of us living here, why can’t we get the kind of city we want to live in?

Why won’t our councilmembers do something about the congestion on Palm Blvd?  (Which, by the way, is only going to get worse?)

Why does council take care of the rich investors on Ocean Blvd but not the rest of us?

Why do we have to pay to launch our boats from a ramp we bought and own?

Why aren’t we guaranteed a parking spot at the marina that we bought and own?

Why can’t we have a nicer business district that appears to this writer to be mainly focused on maximizing parking?

I could go on, but this is Christmas time.  If you have anything you would like to add to the list, hit the reply button.

Just What is Morgan Creek Grill?

Is it a restaurant?  Is it a bar?  Is it a live music venue?  Is it all three?

What does its lease with the city say it is?

Below are some pics of the new bandstand completed several months ago.

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The bandstand is basically a plywood box with some insulation on the inside.  Now, I am not a contractor, but for the life of me I can’t see how this cost $20k!  But that is none of my business.

It appears to have mitigated the noise which is great.  My question is this:  Does MCG’s lease with the city include provisions for running an outdoor live entertainment venue?  I mean, this is not really part of the business of running a restaurant.

I applaud MCG for being an aggressive business, that is what this country is all about.  They clearly did this to make more money.  I’m all for it.  But if this is not in the original contract with the city, that contract needs to be modified so that the city is getting an appropriate piece of the pie.

People who have never seen these contracts will say, “Well, as the leasee makes more money, the city gets percentage, so the city makes more money, too.”

Technically this is true.  But from the time I was on city council 4 years ago, I can tell you the city gets a pittance of the increased revenue.  If you don’t believe me, go to City Hall and ask to see the contract.  You have a right to see it and they will give you a copy.

You will be shocked.

There is nothing more lucrative than government contracting…at any level of government.

IOP Parking Expo

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IOP held a very informative expo at the Rec Center on Dec 3.  City administration was present to answer questions as was our city attorney.  Most of the city councilmembers were there and available for chatting.  A shout out to Councilmember Bettelli who backed parking on the “sacred” Ocean Blvd.

Look at the map below:

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Streets in red are for beach parking by anyone.  Streets in green require a residential permit to park in the easement.

But, look closely.  There are some streets that are white.  For example, a good long stretch of Waterway leading up to the marina.  Who can park there?

Anyone!

The IOP Marina, bought and paid for by the citizens of IOP needs to make sure they have tons of parking to service all those people who do not live here.

Not only does a property we bought and own charge us to launch our boats, they actively encourage off island residents to come here and generate more traffic.

It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  How about you?

IOP Parking Plan Unveiling

The city will unveil the new parking plan on Thursday, Dec 3 at 5:30 pm at the Rec Center.

Will questions from the audience be taken and answered?

If yes, will someone ask why and when Ocean Blvd had sacred status bestowed on it?

If there is only parking permitted on the cross streets to Ocean Blvd, why can’t the same thing be done on Palm Blvd?  A simple question that has never been answered.

A Survey of IOP Blogs

Here is a list of the blogs/websites currently offering commentary on the IOP:

http://www.ioptoday.com  This is realtor and councilmember Jimmy Carroll’s website.  He usually posts the agendas of upcoming meetings and will, from time to time, write a nice concise summary of issues before council.  I find his summaries to be unbiased and informative.

The website invites comments and has a form to enter them but never posts them.  This editor has posted 2 comments (both reasonable and sincere) and neither was published.  I don’t believe any other comments have ever been published.

Of note, he does not miss an opportunity to let the reader know the island rental market is subsidizing our lifestyle (and, of course, much more so, his!).  Speaking only for myself, I don’t want or need someone to subsidize my lifestyle; I am perfectly capable of paying for the lifestyle I choose.

http://www.iopdaily.com  This blog is produced by former councilmember Tom Gear.  He turns a nice phrase and puts up some good photos, but only seems to do so about twice a year.  A contest he started last summer still has not posted any winners and losers.  The site is running out of gas and that’s too bad.

http://www.ryanbuckhannon.com  This site was touted as “The Conservative Voice of the Islands” later changed to “Your common sense voice of the islands.”  The site appears to have gone dead as there is no content listed.

Send the observer an email if you know of other websites or blogs and we will get them recognition.

The Plastic Bag Ban – Political Activism 101

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.  Margaret Mead

This quote came to mind as I was thinking about the recent IOP legislation to ban plastic bags.  This post is NOT about whether this law is a good or bad idea.  I am agnostic on the issue as I can see both sides.  These bags are certainly detrimental to wildlife.  On the other hand, this is using the strong arm of the government to regulate businesses because of the irresponsible actions of a few people.

That being said, my sense is that most of the citizens of the IOP do not have a burning passion about this issue.  I don’t think there was ever an overwhelming tidal wave of people supporting this initiative, at least not in my neighborhood.

And that brings me to this discussion: how to advance your cause and get a law passed dealing with something you are passionate about.  My hat is off to this group of folks who pushed this ban through in record time and got council to approve the ban with unanimous votes.

Here is how you do it:

First, find a small group of people passionate about an issue. Have them regularly write letters to the editor of the local papers so that the letters appear every week.

Then, MOST importantly, come before city council and speak.  And don’t have just one person show up because that does not carry much weight.  Try to get 8-10 people to be there at the beginning of the meeting and speak for several minutes each.  Do this for several months in a row.  Repetition is important because it reinforces your concerns in the mind of city council.

And then the coup de grace: get some children to speak.  Children are innocent and just want what is best.

Let me be clear, this is not a sarcastic or cynical post.  As a political observer I truly admire how they pulled this off.  They were brilliant.

As the great philosopher Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) wrote in his autobiography, “Passion is bullshit. What matters is personal energy.”  He is exactly right.  A lot of folks are passionate about stuff but too lazy to get up and do something.

These folks were able to Git-R-Done, and for that, I salute them.