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Opening Arguments

Here and now

Those who get frustated at the lack of cooperation by Fort Wayne and Allen County public officials should count themselves lucky for at least not living in northwest Indiana. Here, a Gary Post-Tribune columnist is driven over the edge by all the initiatives that are brought forth with great fanfare, then sent to task forces to die:

Talk, talk, talk.

I'm tired of all the talking -- and lack of real action -- by region officials regarding key issues facing Northwest Indiana. Come on, you know who you are.

For years, possibly decades, you have mastered the illusion of action by creating countless (and cleverly named) focus groups, special meetings, planning workshops, fancy symposiums, roundtable discussions and newfangled initiatives.

Blah, blah, blah.

This is what I hear when one of these new initiatives is launched to find a solution for this region's problem with, say, race relations, community disconnectedness, public transportation, political transparency, or "creating region unity."

What finally set him off, after covering dozens of meeings where "sharply dressed participants mingle over breakfast" to "briefly touch on several 'key issues' through focus groups" before "developing 'formal responses' and calling it a day,"  was a new warfront against substance abuse unveiled by Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas:

"We're committing resources, organization and enthusiasm to creating an environment where our young people know better and do better," Costas said in a statement last week. "It starts here. It starts now."

"It starts here. It starts now." This is a great sound byte, and a catchy quote, no doubt. But will this newest initiative actually "find long-term solutions to the drug problem" uniting schools, businesses, not-for-profits and law enforcement agencies? Or will it only look good on paper, and in the paper?

"It starts here, it starts now" sounds like the perfect all-purpose slogan, though, doesn't it? It could be especically effective against anything perceived as a long-term problem that generations have failed at solving. Hey, all those other people were just kidding about this, but we're serious! And the beauty of it is that it's also an absolutely meaningless sentence, promising, basically, not a thing.

One word of caution for the columnist: Be careful what you ask for. As maddening as it is to have to put up with politicians who constantly substitute talk for action, at least talk doesn't hurt anything. If those politicians ever actually do anything, you might soon wish it could be undone.

OK, I'm done with the post, so I'm going to end it. It starts here. It starts now.


Bob G.
Wed, 12/02/2009 - 10:46am

I will say one thing about all this, other than being privy to much of the SAME in the Summit City...
Actions DO speak louder than mere words, but INACTION usually screams at the tops of it's lungs.

(So let it be written...so let it be done.)