My Top 5 Priorities

March 31, 2006 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

In my earlier entry Which Office Would You Choose?, I asked which public post you would want to hold if you could be guaranteed election or appointment to that post. I said I would choose Mayor. Plain Patriot then challenged me:

So Mr. Wilson….if you were Mayor today.  Give me your top 5 priorities.

Well, I’m not Mayor today, nor do I plan to run for Mayor any time soon. Still, I think it is perfectly fair of Plain Patriot to put me on the spot.  A guy who says he would like to be Mayor needs to be ready for those sorts of questions, right? The list I compiled is relatively broad. I debated whether a list of specifics or generalities was better, and I choose the latter. So here we go, my top five priorities at this particular moment:

1) Clarify government’s role as being responsible to the citizens.
A government is subservient to its people, not the other way around. An attitude shift is needed in local government—indeed, in all levels of government—emphasizing that point. In some ways it’s like emphasizing customer service, except citizens are not customers (and government is not a business). It begins with two related concepts: communication and transparency. Lincoln does a much better than average job of hosting community informational meetings on various topics, but that is not enough. Local government needs to do a better job communicating with the citizens and with itself, and citizens need to have more and better tools available to communicate with local government. I also very strongly believe in transparency, which means that public information needs to be made easily accessible to the public. Ultimately, when the government-wide attitude is not that of dominating over the populace, but being responsive and responsible to the citizens, the system is more efficient and more effective.

2) Improve Lincoln’s economic development climate.
Lincoln’s reputation as being a difficult place to do business is well-known. Whether that reputation is deserved or not, it needs to be undone. One part of my proposed solution is a three-part business recruitment and retention plan, consisting of: a) creating or facilitating the creation of new business incubators, entrepreneurial training programs, and new business mentorship programs; b) courting existing local businesses (of all sizes) that are especially valuable to the community, and finding new and innovative ways for the businesses and the community to help each other; and c) aggressively pursuing new medium and large businesses interested in locating in the region. Other pieces include reevaluating our ordinances and policies in areas like zoning, code enforcement, and so on.

3) Clarify what we owe and how we’re going to pay it off.
Lincoln has assembled for itself a large list of ongoing, committed, and proposed community projects. They include things like Downtown redevelopment, the Antelope Valley Project, the South and East Beltways, the school bond, and more mundane projects like sewer and water improvements. What’s the one thing they have all in common? They’re all really, really expensive. I am not aware of any comprehensive listing of all of our committed projects and their cumulative effects on the citizens’ wallets, nor am I aware of any comprehensive plan to pay for it all. The community needs to have an honest discussion evaluating the costs and benefits of the projects we have to complete, the projects we would like to complete, and the projects that can either wait or be skipped altogether. But that discussion cannot happen without a broad understanding of the costs—and not just the financial costs—involved. We have already planned for billions of dollars in spending in the coming years. Are we ready to take that on?

4) Improve the transportation infrastructure.
Lincolnites love to complain about the local traffic situation just like they love to complain about the weather. Although I think some of the “traffic is awful!” and “parking is awful (Downtown)!” hype is overblown, there are important elements of truth in most of the complaints. The solution is not necessarily to build more and wider roads, but more and wider roads do play a role. We also need to look at more intelligent and context-aware traffic signals, signal-less intersections (traffic circles), traffic calming techniques, and priority lanes for bicycles and perhaps even scooters and motorcycles. On the public transit side of things, I have been a long-time Star Tran critic and a proponent of discarding the single-hub hub-and-spoke bus route model, although I am aware that Lincolnites have historically been reluctant to support mass transit with their money or their patronage.

5) Think big.
I want to challenge Lincolnites to think big and come up with a solid plan to achieve an outcome the effects of which will endure for generations. Big doesn’t necessarily mean big in acreage or big in cost, but big in potential. Wilderness Park was big. Sunken Garden was big. Lincoln’s original commitment to building bike trails was big. The Antelope Valley Project might be big. (Or it might just be a big ditch.) Does this sound hokey? To a lot of people it will. But I make two contentions. The first is that the lasting impact of big ideas vastly outweighs the hokey factor. The second is that the process is just as important as the outcome, if not more so. Big ideas beget big ideas and medium ideas and little ideas, and hopefully a few of those ideas turn into projects that make Lincoln a better place. Your big idea for building a spaceport at the Lincoln Municipal Airport might be a big flop, but maybe through the process it inspires a tech company or two to come to town. I would call that a success. A good leader inspires excitement, leadership, and entrepreneurship in others. That’s the point of this priority.

There you go, folks. Remember to vote for Mr. Wilson on Tuesday (several years from now)!

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The Comments

PTG April 4, 2006 at 5:10pm

I think everyone who wants to run for public office is suspect; either they are out to steal my stuff or they are crazy.  I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are just temporarily crazy.

As for doing something for posterity, try writing your name in a bucket of water.

Mr. Wilson April 4, 2006 at 5:24pm

<em>...either they are out to steal my stuff or they are crazy.  I

Plain Patriot April 5, 2006 at 4:45am

I can write my name in the snow…does that count for anything?

Mr. Wilson April 5, 2006 at 12:26pm

I can write my name in the snow…does that count for anything?

Yeah, but can you do it with no hands?

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