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After sitting through yet another discussion of the Comprehensive Plan revision, I was struck by some aspects of human nature that never change.  People assume.  Often without taking the time first to find out.  Folks may not pay attention, and then, when they do, they assume that all that has gone before they perked up must not have happened.  Because they were not aware.  Second are the folks who argue the same point over and over, apparently on the grounds that repeating the same thing over and over will overwhelm the folks who may not agree. To me they are thre same as people who speak very loudly to foreigners in the belief that volume will make a non-English speaker understand them better.  Third are the folks who have made an earnest effort to analyse and offer positive suggestions.  They are in the minority.  And they fit into two categories: those who make useful contributions in a timely manner and those who don't.*

While it is true that municipalities are often under fire for not communicating effectively, the truth is that there are systems in place for citizens to learn what their governments are doing, not the least of which is the Open Meetings law.  If you care deeply about what is going on in your community you can find out when the meetings are -- it's not hard.  Even I can do it -- and go to them.  The public has a chance to speak at these meetings, and their comments are placed in the official minutes, theoretically considered seriously by municipal officials.

I think, therefore I am.  Therefore, if something happened before I started paying attention it didn't happen.  And municipal officials should surely be blamed for that.

From a 2007 editorial:
Lansing Disease [Lan-sing diss-eez]

 -noun Pathology  Abbr: LD

 [Latin: Micro Manangitus]

A chronic, progressive disease marked by too many smart people micromanaging everything.
Symptoms: Inability to get large school or municipal projects done, hemorrhaging of school officials, endless meetings leading to a result of more meetings.

The disorder causes muscle weakness and atrophy, depression, and involuntary muscle movement.  Large municipal projects are endlessly second-guessed, while administrators are paid large sums to be likewise second-guessed.

Transmitted by mouth

Side Effects: High blood pressure, low sewer pressure, leaky school roofs

Treatment & Care:  While there is no known cure, LD can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including coronary artery disease and high blood pressure if left untreated.  Strict application of Robert’s Rules of Order is recommended.
I remember being a part of a programmers message board where the newcomers were quick to jump in and answer questions with Google results that the questioners had already seen.  Being computer programmers they were fairly tech savvy, if you can apply that high minded a label to conducting a measly Google search.  Between the uninformed answers, the answers without the context of earlier discussions, and the 'me too, I have the same problem' answers the actually useful replies were lost in the flurry.  Just observing quietly for a month or so before speaking out would have made that online forum a lot more useful to everyone.

Most of the comments at this point are not new.  They are focusing on a few specific issues like the fate of the 'Bell Station' land, or Ag zoning.  it's not that these are not important topics.  It's just that discussing them over and over will not erase earlier conversations, and will not likely impact the outcome at this point.  The discussion, yes.  The repetition, no.  

When I worked in theater we all knew that the curtain was going to go up whether we were ready or not, so we all tried to be ready before that happened.  At some point you have to  acknowledge that we're people and humans aren't perfect.  You decide it is time to be done, fully realizing more changes are not only possible in the future, but are mandated.  Maybe that's the problem with Lansing's process -- there is no opening night scheduled.  Maybe that should be written into a Comprehensive Plan mandate - that all comprehensive plans should be updated every 10 (or fill in your number) years, and municipalities who do not precisely meet that deadline will be fined.

Part of the discussion Wednesday night was that Lansing IS being fined - in a way.  A half million dollar grant to improve Myers Park is quickly reaching a deadline, and Lansing will be ineligible if the Comp Plan hasn't been approved.  I also think, though our town planner has told me I am wrong and he knows a lot more about this stuff than I do, that development has been stunted by the absence of the plan revision.  If I amended my theory to say that the right kind of development has been stunted I might be less wrong.

This is what I see happening in the Comp Plan discussion.  It was interesting that when the Town Board said they wanted a May deadline that it looked like it may not be so easy to make it, even after -- what? seven? - years of discussion.  It's not that there aren't a few issues to iron out.  But now there is a rush to iron them out within two weeks.  Two weeks versus roughly 364 weeks of prior deliberation...

The piece of this that I can't wrap my mind around is that the plan is not a law.  It is a guide for making laws in the future, but not a binding one.  So in one sense there are no real consequences to it.  If it said Lansing desires to build molehills and ant colonies to drive out all the residents it would be embarrassing, but would not necessarily drive out all the humans.  Before that could be done zoning and other laws would have to be changed, during which time required public hearings and elections would pretty much assure that the moles and ants don't get to take over our town.

No matter how information is disseminated, someone thinks it is not effective.  At what point to we all have to take responsibility for not knowing what is going on in the world, and especially in our community?

Also, the issue of trust and respect was brought up Wednesday.  The Town (and the Village) engaged a professional company to administer a scientific survey.  A number of people, not in that line of work, questioned the science.  Anecdotal public comment was solicited and recieved.  A number of people complained that input wasn't scientific.  The Planning Board removed some language about rezoning Bell Station.  Some people want it back, others say the language would have put the Town at risk because it would be a 'taking' from the current owner (Ibedrola, which owns NYSEG).

Here's the thing... if we don't trust the town officials and many citizens and professionals who have weighed in on this plan, who will we trust to finish it?  If the answer is no one, and evidently it is for some people, then why did we even start this process with no hope of sucess?

Realistically there is going to be something in the plan that everybody hates.  It just won't be the same thing for each person.  Likewise there will be a lot for people to like.

Poet John Lydgate famously wrote, "You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all of the time."  That should be acknowledged, and the Town should move on.

Again, this is not an indictment of earnest citizens.  People caring enough to speak out is a good thing for municipalities.  It's just that the process in the Town of Lansing has clearly gotten out of control.  We all have had well over half a decade to weigh in on this thing.  Time to raise the curtain.  The show must go on.

* That reminds me of the old joke: there are two kinds of people: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't.

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