Two more readers questions answered: Infrastructure and human rights.

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Dear Larry,

Your opening question was answered here. Following are the answers to your next two questions.

Q. What is your position on infrastructure projects and the funding thereof? What projects take priority?

A. In terms of city council service, my primary interest in policy matters is the principle of localization, whether this is taken to imply economic matters (local investment; buying locally; keeping money at home; using economic development funds to empower local businesses), moving to fight the good fight necessary to implement a high degree of local autonomy to retain and enhance grassroots decision-making, or restoring neighborhoods as the most vital building blocks of localized living and a genuinely civil society.

Two factors will preface all of my considerations of infrastructure long before the first dollar is spent: Inter-connected imperatives of sustainable green development and redevelopment, and quantifiable elevation of quality of life for the people inhabiting this city.

The city’s infrastructure begins with a blade of grass. As extreme weather events surely have indicated, mankind’s superstructure originates in the natural environment, previously trumpeted in the heroic American ethos as something obstructive, to be tamed and molded to our often temporary infrastructure needs, while ignoring the long-term effects on the quality of human life.

Here in New Albany, we have paved the earth, neglected the forest canopy and designed haphazardly, and then shaken our fists at predictable results such as storm water drainage problems and ensuing flooding, demanding Soviet-bloc sized engineering solutions even as we refuse to pay their cost. This cannot continue, because the result is an ineffective Band-Aid.

It is far better to begin implementing long-term, holistic and sustainable remedies for storm water drainage, including house by house and block-by-block remediation. Can we do more to encourage and reward permeable surfaces? Can we pull up unneeded pavement and asphalt? Can we plant trees to replace the ones lost? Obviously, we can’t do everything at once, but nothing can be accomplished unless we first begin the effort.

Thanks to the EPA’s monitoring of the results of decades of shortsightedness, we still lack complete autonomy over the sanitary sewer system, and what control we have constantly is deployed to perpetuate politically dysfunctional tribal conflict. I’m guardedly optimistic that this era of EPA control is about to come to a close. I believe we must bear the costs of the sewer utility’s conforming to high environmental standards, and do so without political subsidies from EDIT funds. This is better accomplished by a council willing to consider expert testimony and able to understand it, rather than contriving sewer system calculations based on the previous election’s vote totals.

As infrastructure pertains to roadway and traffic projects great and small, the Ohio River Bridges debacle clearly illustrates what can happen when everyday human needs and quality of life considerations are tossed aside in favor of compounding historic auto-envy with an oligarch’s largesse-and-reward system that perpetuates design flaws to maintain Holy Profit Writ.

I intend to subject all roadway infrastructure plans to a simple means test: Do humans, as opposed to their cars, fit into the plan, and to what extent? The greater the extent of consideration for human needs, the better to go forward with the project. The better the roadway design, the less need for subsequent enhanced enforcement regimes, and also, the roadway design/redesign can help achieve other goals.

Especially downtown, city streets should be two-way, traffic calmed, more allowance for walking and bicycling made, and all traffic projects implemented with surrounding neighborhoods in mind, not merely the traffic engineer’s need to move autos more quickly to the other side of the city.

More specific infrastructure questions? Please ask.

Q. What is your position on a Human Rights Commission? What is your position on extending Equal Opportunity Employment protections for sexual orientation and gender identity? What is your position on extending protections against discriminatory housing practices for sexual orientation and gender identity? What is your position on extending protections against hate crimes for sexual orientation and gender identity?

A. Human rights are incapable of quantification through market pricing. If memory serves, I began advocating for a reconstituted Human Rights Commission in 2005. It is statutorily enabled, and yet moribund. A revived Human Rights Commission is the obvious first step toward consideration of your three specific questions. I am in openly and unapologetically in favor of each, although still unsure as to how the city council can help implement them. The often neglected bully pulpit is always available, and I will use it.

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