The First Condition of Progress is the Removal of Censorship: An Editorial

If we hold this quote to be true, the amount of censoring that is taking place in this community is directly correlated with the decline of this community.  Sadly, rather than addressing issues that are raised, many residents and elected officials choose to ignore the difficulties facing our community.  If one attends any type of city meeting, one would get the impression that the issues of tall grass, derelict vehicles, and fireworks are the main issues facing our community.  Time and time again, these issues are brought up and discussed at length.  Why?  These issues are merely a distraction circulated by many of our elected officials as a means to avoid discussing and resolving major issues that are impacting Bellefontaine Neighbors.  


LANDED ARISTOCRACY


From my experience, there is a sense of entitlement that some of our residents who have lived in the community for decades possess.  While having a sense of ownership is helpful in the stabilization of neighborhoods, it is equally important to appreciate and capitalize on the diversity of this community.  However, it is this sense of entitlement that stifles our community and does not allow for the progression of the community.  It is an extremely archaic view to believe that an individual must be a property owner in order for their views to be deemed important and considered (we all know this reasoning is just another ploy to avoid the issue(s) being raised).


But for the sake of this discussion, maybe the real question should be why residents should rely upon the advice of individuals who major investment in their life (i.e., their home) has lost a significant amount of its value.  As an example, I checked the St. Louis County Assessor's website.  In 1999, a home in Bellefontaine Neighbors sold for $57,000.  In 2016, that home is currently valued at $44,700.  That is a $12,300 or 21% loss of value.   You want residents to take the financial advice and trust the financial direction of individuals who are in this aforementioned situation?  It is no wonder that there is very little economic development in this community---we trust people with little to no financial competency.  Had it not been for the illegal ticket quota that was endorsed by many of our elected officials, this community would have been in the red years ago.


I use to believe that there were a lot of ignorant people moving into Bellefontaine Neighbors.  Now, I realize it is the ignorant people who have lived here for decades and who did not have the financial savviness to leave that have been left behind in Bellefontaine Neighbors, which cold be an explanation of how some individuals become upset with relevant issues being raised and focus on attacking the person instead of actually discussing the issue.  In my opinion, it is these same individuals who have been the greatest contributors to the decline of this community with their corrupt and nepotistic practices to benefit themselves.


Another contributor to this decline has been due to our landed aristocracy.  Many "elected" officials have been placed on or elected to the BOA based upon their social networks---similar to a middle school student council election.  This selectivity has  lead to an inbreeding and stagnation of political thought amongst our elected officials.  Consequently, this lack of sophistication, inbreeding, and stagnation on the part of our landed aristocracy has been another contributing factor to this decline of the community.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


The economic development of our community cannot be getting a portion of 270 that runs through our community declared a "Safety Zone" and having our officers write an unlimited amount of traffic tickets in order to balance our budget.  This plan demonstrates a lack of leadership that is needed in our community.  In addition, this practice is predatory and based upon a bunch of smoke and mirrors reasoning.  If safety is the primary concern of having our officers patrol 270, there would have been police officers on Ashbrook, Coburg Lands, etc. writing tickets and ensuring the safety of our neighborhoods.  However, this has not been the case.


Additionally, the economic development plan of this community cannot be solely for the benefit of some of our elected officials and their circle of friends or landed aristocracy.  This corruption strangles our community.  Who else would be benefiting from $2500 a month in legal fees in a 7-year contract negotiation?  It is not the residents of this community---nor is it the police officers of this city.


We need individuals of different and opposing views, opinions, beliefs, etc. (and not the same individuals holding the same stagnating ideas that have manifested themselves in our community) to come to the table to assist in the development a viable economic development plan---hiring a city administrator would be a good first step in this direction.


APATHY ADDS UP, IN THE LONG RUN, TO COWARDICE


Unfortunately, many residents I have spoken with cannot even name their Alderperson.  I don't know what is more pathetic---some of our Alderperson's lack of involvement with residents in our community or the apathy and ignorance of the residents who continue to elect these officials.  This lack of involvement maybe due to the poor health of some of our elected officials---one is using a walker and the other appears so overly medicated that they don't appear to know where they are or what is going on.  However, it speaks volumes about the political illiteracy and denseness of residents who are willing to elect three (out of five) Alderpersons to the BOA who put forth no position, agenda, or goals regarding what they want to accomplish while in office---we wonder why our community is like a ship adrift without a rudder.  



WHAT IS NEEDED


Instead of the corrupt and self-serving elected officials who have driven our community into the ground, our community is in need of elected officials who are truly concerned about the community (the 2016 Bellefontaine Neighbors and not the 1978 Bellefontaine Neighbors) and can demonstrate free and creative thinking to develop a plan to tackle the issues our community is currently faced.  This plan should include greater transparency regarding city governance, an economic development plan (to include a marketing plan to attract residents to this community) and the hiring of a city administrator, listening opportunities by our police department regarding residents' concerns, a sustainability plan, and a comprehensive review of issues of racism in this community. 


The attempts to silence and censor individuals just highlights the lack of progress and regression of this community.