by M. Stewart
Several ORL readers recently have posted comments about the condition of our streets and sidewalks in East Liverpool. No one at city hall is taking responsibility for the condition of the streets; instead, we have been told the same thing we're told every year--that it's someone else's fault.
Quoted in an April 21 story in The Review, city Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell said, "Most hot patch plants don't start making that material until the end of April." According to Estell, the city has a "patchmobile" that uses "a type of dry limestone that is in high demand and tough to find." He went on to say that the device would be used "as soon as we can find the material."
I don't doubt that Ryan is telling the truth, but there are a few obvious questions:
Who is responsible for purchasing road maintenance machinery that uses a material so rare that it can't be located by the city service-safety director?
If regular old hot patch is so difficult to find, why doesn't someone local go into the hot patch business and begin manufacturing the stuff in East Liverpool? Assuming that what Estell said is true, a person stands to make millions in such a business. This could be the elusive gold-mine industry people in our city have been waiting on for decades.
Since we have no materials to work with, what exactly do full-time street department employees do during the 40-hour work week? Virtually everyone I talk around town wants to know. If our guys really are working hard, tell us what they're doing. Even after years of intense public criticism, no one at city hall wants to answer that question directly.
We're told that to fix the paralysis, all we need to do is support a 3-mill street improvement levy. In the same story quoted above, The Review told us that passage of the levy "would mean a property owner with a home valued at $40,000 would see an additional $36.75 [per] year in taxes."
A $40,000 home? That's the price of a decent car. Is our city housing stock so bad that the newspaper offers tax estimates based upon a $40k home? It boggles the mind. No matter, I think we citizens would be willing to support a 10-mill levy if we thought it would give us decent streets.
The problem is that city hall and the street department have serious credibility problems when it comes to this issue. Given a long history of street department ineffectiveness, the chance of passing the 3-mill levy is zero. The only difference will be that when the levy doesn't pass, city hall will be able to blame the citizens--not the hot patch people--for the paralysis.
When a problem arises and the only thing you hear is people explaining why it can't be solved, you have a more serious problem than you started with.
Yes, it takes money to run a city, and East Liverpool isn't exactly rolling in it, but effective city management also requires accountability, and people aren't about to throw money at a problem when the buck so clearly stops nowhere at city hall. Put simply, people are tired of excuses from elected officials and city workers when it comes to the condition of our streets. The only thing that matters is action. Did you or did you not get the job done? That's what voters ask, and it is exactly the right question.
To change the subject ...
Check out this interesting piece by Tim Wise called Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black. It certainly brings home the point that if blacks or any other "colored" minority were to do and say what Tea Party people do and say, they would be considered traitors to the nation. Good stuff, Tim. You are absolutely right. Thanks to Liz Lundberg for the link.