I’m sitting at the Loews Hotel, watching the Ferris Wheel cycle through a holiday series of lights. There’s the holiday lights on the pier that are in the shape of a tree and a light fog is creeping in off the water. Another gorgeous weekend is coming to a close and then I look out to see a parade of bicyclists on the bike path making their way up and down the coast. They were unmissable in their LED illuminated glory.
This is why the holidays and midwinter are such a wonderful time of year here. The chill of winter and the fun of a community coming together to celebrate life is what makes this is a remarkable time.
I wasn’t at the tree lighting this year on the Promenade, I guess my invitation was misplaced, but I did have the opportunity this Friday to stroll and enjoy the holiday lighting and decorations. Another great job was done. This type of community decoration adds value to our lives not just in that reminds us of the time of year, but in creating a place that people want to visit, and that we enjoy. The maintenance of our city’s attractions is one of the benefits we have by having a vibrant and active Chamber of Commerce, a Conventions and Visitors Bureau, Business Interest Districts and a forward-thinking city government.
Now I don’t always agree with their decisions, although for the most part I think they do a great job of keeping this an attractive place to visit and live – I do wish they would give more thought to the traffic issues and traffic patterns – but in general they’re doing their job.
I’ve spent the last quarter of the year travelling a great deal. I’ve been to big cities and small cities. From New York to Naples, Fla, I’ve seen how a thriving metropolis handles security, traffic and trash in Times Square. I’ve also seen how small towns with an engaged and active population keeps up their boulevards and plans for a future that is chock full of residents.
We need to have further discussions about the future of our city. They need to be productive and not just the name calling, victim blaming, development driven, anger fueled insanity that was the LV campaign. Both sides were engaged in rhetoric. Both sides probably crossed lines they shouldn’t have. Both sides were coming from dug in positions of righteousness.
The fact is that our wonderful city is changing, has changed and will continue to change further. The question we need to be asking is how will our leadership begin to demonstrate the unity and outreach they need to, in order to bring us together to find a future that allows for the high quality of life that we currently enjoy to remain, if not improve.
We didn’t have a wholesale changing of the guard in this past election at the city level. In fact, we had no changes. This can be read to mean that most people are basically happy with the leadership, since they were re-elected. Or it can mean that we had poor turnout and those who are most disgusted with the political process have given up on participating.
Based on the Presidential election results, it’s fair to say that there was a significant majority of our country that has given up. That played out as well in our city elections. We didn’t have a large turnout. In order of popularity it was Terry, Tony, Ted and Gleam. Yet none of them took over 20,000 votes. When you consider that we have over 68,000 voters registered, that’s a pretty sad turnout – especially in a Presidential Election year.
The truth is we have to re-engage people at all levels of our government. Not just engage in name calling, but we need to have discussions with people who come from all stations in life to craft solutions that will not, and cannot, satisfy all demands, but at least take into account and consideration all demands and concerns.
The No On LV people had wide support – maybe it was the right decision, maybe it wasn’t. The Yes on LV people had a significant body of supporters – even if the legislation was poorly crafted, and I have no opinion on that, the fact is that there are many people who are upset and concerned about the way our city is going.
It’s easy to sit back and just enjoy the city while it changes around us. Especially this time of year when it is so magical. And I want to encourage people to enjoy it today, but be ready to fight for it in January. Because the hard work of keeping it going, is up to us all.