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Saturday, April 18, 2015
Tom Utley reflects on a year of writing
I was looking through this year's scribblingbyUtley and was struck by the diversity of who I connect with. Lots of reports, web content, financing, marketing and business plans; and many, many County and State related papers that tend budget, politics and the challenges of economic development.
And yes, there were a fair number of editorials. These were for you. My hope is they improved your perspective on Montgomery County in some meaningful way.
I peck on my editorial keyboard when compelled by events or emotion. Usually, subjects spring from facts or opinions that I think you'll find valuable if I can just find the special angle or insight that delivers the light. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not so much.
Good and bad feedback ranges from friendly sidewalk conversations to hateful public letters. Controversy is never a goal. I ignore the haters but I don't avoid unpopular subjects. Public perceptions are tough to sway, but little of worth was ever achieved staying safe. I often say, "people can smell the truth", so I tell you what you need to hear and trust your instincts.
Some things I don't tell.
Councilman offers advice to current candidates
Following the upcoming election, there will be at least 3 new members on the Montgomery County Council. When that happens, I won't be the most junior guy with the secret handshake. For the new men (why no women??), here are a few tips from someone who not very long ago was exactly where you will very soon be.
County must adapt to new ways
It's an objective fact. Communities create jobs in whole new ways compared to just a few years ago. It's important that we in Montgomery County adapt to that reality or we risk becoming a place where nobody wants to be.
Definition of 'Republican' was disturbing
Last week, Republican Party President John Pickerill informed the County's party faithful that unless you think exactly as he does-we no longer have the right to call ourselves Republicans. I'm curious how you feel about that kind of divisiveness, but having been a fiscally conservative, small government Republican for more than four decades-I find that sanctimonious drivel disturbing.
County needs to competitively grow economy
People frequently ask me, "What's the biggest challenge facing Montgomery County?" My answer is consistent and irrefutable. Unless Montgomery County competitively grows its economy in the coming years, we will inevitably devolve into a rural backwater of poverty, declining schools, growing crime, deteriorating infrastructure, and eroding quality of life. No Pollyanna there.
Campaign mistakes that winners will avoid
Once again, we're into the election season. Like the other councilman who are not campaigning for this election cycle, I'm apprehensive over outcomes that might tamper with the county's advantageous cooperation with Crawfordsville, or our continuing fiscal efficiency which has weathered the economic roller coaster ride of the past few years.
As a devout optimist, I'm always confident come election time that voters will tap the most clear-thinking and capable to represent their interests. But, admittedly, all too often my confidence has been foiled by good candidates with failed campaign strategies. So this year, I predict that victorious Montgomery County candidates will not make these five campaign strategy gaffes:
Looking at the impending split
I've been contemplating the impending split in the local Republican Party.
Economic development logical role for county
The most pressing dilemma confronting the County Council is how to continue providing the current level of County services with ever-diminishing revenues. There was a point when trimming the fat made excellent sense, but after years of belt-tightening, personnel cuts and all manner of financial juggling we've now reached the point where if we don't find new income pretty soon - roads don't get properly repaired, public safety gets compromised and traditional government services predictably falter.
What's government role in economic development?
What is the opposite of progress?
County Councilmen are thinking creatively about that question. Why?
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