The Park Levy – And Other Lessons

Working to get that park levy passed is a good reminder our political system works - and that we have a voice.

Working to get that park levy passed is a good reminder our political system works – and that we have a voice.

I stood about 100 feet away from the doors of the voting building as instructed.  I had taken the day off and was clutching my literature, wearing my logoed badge and holding a sign that was of proper size.  I was dressed for the chilly autumn air and had a thermos of coffee at my side.  It was 6 a.m.  I had been given a sheet of “do’s and don’ts” and had no intention of violating the trust that had been given to me to represent my company and our Issue 80 levy request.

An outside agency had run the campaign and they were very thorough.  They made sure to make contact with us through home phone numbers, home computer addresses and on evenings and weekends.  This was all intended to insure that we maintained a transparent distance from the campaign during business hours.  I can honestly say people were absolutely diligent in that task.

During my campaigning watch at the polls, I was visited by other volunteers who had also taken a day off.  They brought additional literature and made sure those of us standing post had everything we needed.  Our company is big, has a lot of departments, a lot of specialties and a lot of financial responsibility.  We also have been given a lot of trust to spend taxpayer money responsibly. Our 10-year levy had expired and we were seeking a replacement for that and additional dollars to run a number of lakefront properties we had absorbed in the previous several months. Public opinion polls let us know that our efforts were appreciated and we were doing what the people wanted us to do. Our intentions were to do what the public indicated they wanted us to do.  We explained that in the press, in our campaign speeches and in every piece of literature that accompanied our outreach efforts.  It has always been the pledge of this company to spend the taxpayer’s money as if it is our own.

Without the public trust – there can be no real accomplishments in this arena.

This company is a result of a cry from the public that emerged almost 100 years ago when people saw the natural lands succumbing to the urban sprawl and development at an alarming rate. They passed legislation to insure the natural beauty of these reserves would be maintained forever. There is no way that mandate could be translated into an agenda that merely served the personal interests of any one of the employees, board members, etc.  We serve at the pleasure of those that keep us here. We supplement some of that support with fees from services like golf, zoo visitation, reserved-room events, etc. but without the taxpayer dollar, we would not survive. We are ever-conscious of that.

Our levy passed by a 70 – 30% margin. We are honored to get such an indication of trust. It will remain the driving force of each and every day going forward.

This past week, past month, past year, past decade we have turned a wary eye to Capitol Hill; another place that is supported by the taxpayers and the sweat of the brow of respect-deserving Americans.  But I am seeing those that work for our dollars up on that hill seem to have forgotten who they are serving, who they work for, what their real job should be. And I mean they didn’t just forget – they seem to have totally abandoned the core principles that brought them into a life of public service in the first place; democrats and republicans alike.

See I have to believe when someone becomes a public servant there is a part of them that reaches deep inside and decides, “I can make a difference. I want to do some good simply for the pleasure of doing right, serving my fellow man and doing the right thing.”

I look at them today and ask, “How did things get so out of hand?”

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