The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bessemer Citizens Have Power

But first, we are smack dab in the middle of Lent, and Catholic or not (not) it is time to think of a new beginning. Spring is coming, but winter is trying to hold on. What better flower to find blooming than the lenten rose.
Crocuses (croci?) spring up unexpectedly and offer a nice surprise.

This is nice, and I forget it is here because I didn't plant it. I don't remember it blooming this early, but I guess it does.

Winter annuals try to hang on.

Those who read the Western Tribune last week may have read this:

In the 2000 movie Chocolat a cold north wind blows through town bringing change during the Lenten season. The people of the town struggle to find a balance between their tradition of faith and the acceptance of excess which in this story comes in the form of chocolate, brought by a woman of questionable reputation.

The Lenten season is a time for preparation, originally a time of prayer and fasting for those waiting to be baptized into the faith at the Easter vigil. And for those who do not observe Lent in a formal, religious manner, this season can be thought of as a time for preparation for the rebirth that comes each Spring.

In Bessemer, we could use this time for reflection about how we each contribute to the good of our community and to prepare for the change that will be coming.

Change? But there is not a local election until 2010. Correct, but change is coming never the less. For one thing, the attitude of the city council is changing. After a recent meeting when tempers flared and harsh words were exchanged, one councilor admitted she was embarrassed and another indicated he would be more diligent in making sure that our cities finances were handled with more accountability. The new council president shows signs of realizing the council is accountable to the citizens.

Change is also coming in the form of citizen advocacy. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association has helped bring back a feeling among citizens that they do have a voice and that they can influence the actions of the council. People who want to join this effort can start by attending the Association meeting Monday night at the Food World Community Room where the Bessemer Water Service and GUSC will be the topic.

Change may also be coming by way of the justice system. One council person has already been investigated and the case turned over to the attorney general. Sources say that more investigations are underway, and while city officials can not undo their actions of the past (try as they may) the feeling of someone looking over their shoulder may cause them to act more responsibly in the future.

While we don’t have a new “chocolaterie” in town (and we consider chocolate more of a necessity than an excess), we do have an opportunity to move this city forward. Let’s see what we can do about it.

When I wrote that I had no idea that change would come so quickly. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association is concerned about the Bessemer Water Service and GUSC and the upcoming bond issue and all, and we often wonder aloud at meetings why it seems that bonds are let according to favoritism rather than being bid. At our last two meetings this concern has been especially evident, and the mayor's assistant has been present to hear these concerns.

Well now the mayor has decided that bids are the way to go. Ed May has suggested "the city seek competitive bids on bond issues."

Council members are "open" to the idea.

Shouldn't they be jumping all over this? Oh wait...they had their friends too, remember the last uprising, uh, bond issue (and it had to do with water also).

At any rate, more and more citizens are becoming informed through BNA meetings, this blog, The Western Tribune, and word of mouth, and I think the mayor and council are aware of this.

The power belongs to the citizens. They just have to assume it.