The Alchemists

What is truly spectacular in the 12010 is how we expect to flourish as a city while merely mining the same worn, disproven, tired, — and I could go on — arguments. Literally, we expect to create gold from the basest of mindsets. We love alchemy so I should not be surprised but then, here I am.

First, we have a headline article on the issues at FasTrac. Let’s pause a second on FasTrac a bit and really, really think about how this situation came to be.

FasTrac was around the corner in my old neighborhood where I grew up and even many years later. I’ll admit to not remembering precise dates — never my strong suit — but sometime in the 1970s a number of homes were destroyed to make way for the McDonalds. Progress!

Well, for the families that lived there, it was hardly progress as many of the same issues plaguing FasTrac established their roots at the McDonalds. When your father makes you pick up discarded beer bottles and BigMac wrappers on a Saturday morning, you really don’t feel like a Happy Meal.

But hey, we have a McDonald’s! Progress, right?

So then years later, the FasTrac or whatever it was before got built drawing even more car-based traffic and establishing a hangout. But hey, that’s more progress, no?

And then even later when FasTrac was allowed to multiply its footprint of asphalt and banality on where proud Victorians once stood, we had even more progress.

The point to emphasize here is that FasTrac is a construct of our own making: the gloriousness of sprawl, the disregard for once proud neighborhoods and an utter lack of planning consistent with zoning. I hate to remind people but FasTrac needed permission to expand and to build — permission certainly not denied.

How can folks be in an uproar at the state of FasTrac given that it is a 24/7 operation precisely geared to attracting the very element with which there is so much concern? How can that possibly be a surprise?

The best part of course is that we now have what I consider widespread support for eroding your civil liberties just a bit more as more and more of the city fall under surveillance. Maybe our new motto should be Small City, Big Lens?

It’s nice to know my purchase of Coke in a can will be subject to scrutiny as I happen to stop in before a late night at the office.

But alchemy is a fine art in the city– the alchemists never rest. Which brings me to the GASD.

I would think by now that the larger public of the 12010 would recognize the governance board of the GASD as what it is clearly demonstrated to be: disingenuous, negligent, cronyistic[sp],– and I could go on. But somehow, like the fact that building a sprawling convenience mart may create livability issues– the accountability for these issues rests on the very same public.

Perhaps my frustration with the GASD , accumulated over numerous public and private spats with said institution, weighs heavily here but it’s hard to seriously consider the outrage expressed by those complicit in electing the body of governance at the GASD.

Indeed, it’s without question that ruinous policies by the board get a warm embrace by the community. It’s also more than clear that the larger public cares little at governance of the board. No, what the larger public demands and readily consumes is continued pablum on the part of the board at how the care for “the taxpayers”. Funny, I thought I was a tax payer too.

But the public fumes and festers at the least egregious of the collective actions of the board. Meanwhile, the board does nothing and cares little for the true mission on public education and stewardship of the district , all the while receiving not the tiniest of outrage or pushback for its dereliction of executing the core mission of the school.

I could deconstruct further but then it may distract from the larger point: the public owns the governance of the board every bit as much as the members of the board. And just like FasTrac, you can see how things play out if you just take a little bit of time and thought.

But then, the alchemists would have to deal with the consequences of the reality they helped created. That would be painful.

Better for them to continue toiling on transforming a 48oz Slurpee into a fine Pinot Grigio than deal with objective reality.

Make sure you look for me on camera; I’ll be the guy with a can of Coke and a Mounds bar –a/k/a Public Enemy #1.

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