Monday, February 25, 2013

Why the silence

At the joint City Council/Planning Commission meeting two weeks ago, the topic of financial impacts of development was discussed at my request. You can see the minutes from the discussion below...

 photo CC-PCmeetingminutes.jpg

I have been struggling with this for two weeks. Is it really inappropriate for me, as a sitting member of the Planning Commission, to continue to speak out publicly on this issue? I can understand how city officials don't appreciate being chided for for simply doing their jobs as believe best, but to ask me to stop seems wrong.

When I agreed to stop talking on the point about financial impacts of development, I let myself, and the purpose behind "A Place in Mound", down. I apologize to all of you who have participated in the conversations here.


  1. Absolutely not. You are a volunteer not a paid employee. You are entitled to your opinion. By blogging about land use and development issues you are doing a community service. We know no one attends public meetings. You are a vehicle for residents to stay informed and like minded residents to express their opinion. You have your opinion and your entitled to express it. In fact that is your job as an planner.

    Your job is to express your opinion as part of the decision making process of a unit that is tasked with making formal non-binding recommendations to an elected board.

    What position is "Hanson"... fellow planner? Manager? Councilperson? I question his definition of a public official. Public officials whether elected or appointed are in positions to make binding decisions. You sit on an advisory board as an appointed volunteer. (assuming its same setup as Pennsylvania) I do not think you are public official.

    Are planners compensated in your muni?

  2. I'm sorry to hear that some people don't care about the financial health of their own city, and actively try to get other people to stop caring as well.

    Here's a quote for you to perhaps encourage you to fight the good fight:
    "First they came for the communists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me."
    Not that it is perhaps as serious enough to warrent that since no one is being dragged off kicking and screaming. I'd say that if you were elected to the position then it is the responsibility of the people to not elect you next time if they don't like what you are saying, but as along as you are part of the Planning Commission then you should speak your mind (I'm assuming the other Planning Commissioner doesn't keep his own tongue on issue that are of interest to him or does he?).

    Actually, Charles Marohn posted an article by James Howard Kunstler on the Strong Towns Network ( that gives an excelent reason why someone would invest in a property to make it worth less. Basicly there is a tax incentive to let your property decay, the more your property decays the more it depreciates (and they can use that depreciation to offset their income taxes), plus if you build a building of lower quality you pay less taxes, because the building is taxed primarily and not the land.

    ...but lets get back to what he said. In summary, economic theory (not real world observations) say that no one would invest in a property to lower the value of the property, and besides even if in the real world that does happen it doesn't matter because 'I think' we shouldn't factor wise financial decisions (Return On Public Investment) into our land use decisions.

  3. George - Stay strong. Reading over the Planning Commission notes, it sounds so crazy that it'd be hinted that you shouldn't express contrary opinions. I thought that was the idea of democracy? Anyways George, I hope all is well. You've got my support. Best -Nate