Charlottesville, Community Engagement about Policing, and Transportation
August 13, 2017
I am deeply concerned by the news of violent attacks on peaceful counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, VA. There is no place for the ugly spectre of white supremacy in any democratic society.
We must acknowledge the truth of history and come together as a beloved community to assert that all people are valued equally. At 1:00 pm today (Sunday), there will be a vigil in Peace Park, in solidarity for lives shattered by intolerance and hate.
Community Engagement about Policing
On Tuesday, August 22nd (7:00 - 9:00 pm), Columbia NAACP will host a public forum at Second Missionary Baptist Church, titled Community Engagement On Policing, Equity And Civility - more information here.
I very much appreciate the NAACP’s work in coordinating this event, and encourage you to attend. Over recent months, there has been growing community desire to participate in the planning and operations of the Columbia Police Department and also to lean into uncomfortable discussions about race and equity. At the July 17th City Council meeting, dozens of residents and stakeholders provided public input on a proposal brought forward by Michael Trapp and myself to hire consultants to convene and facilitate a city-sponsored community engagement process about policing.
While there were concerns about this specific proposal, two important points became abundantly clear:
- Almost everyone thinks that conducting some sort of community engagement process about policing is an extremely high priority for the city
- Almost no-one supports asking voters to approve a tax increase before conducting this process
The City Manager is currently consulting with all Council members and community stakeholders to develop a new proposal for the City’s next step towards better public engagement and a comprehensive community policing program.
Finally, on this topic, check out this article about the East Neighborhood community BBQ.
The Public Transit Advisory Commission and Central Missouri Community Action are facilitating a Transportation Simulation on Tuesday, August 15th, 2:00 - 5:00 pm at Missouri United Methodist Church (204 S 9th St, in downtown Columbia).
A transportation simulation is similar to a poverty simulation, with a focus on the transportation needs of people without a reliable personal vehicle. Please come along to this event to find out how hard it is to manage work, daycare, and shopping in Columbia by bus and walking - more information here.
Campus Transportation and Parking
As the University of Missouri’s 2017-18 school year gets underway, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Vice Chancellor Gary Ward and Parking and Transportation Director Mike Sokoff on making some very difficult decisions this summer.
Recent studies have demonstrated that MU’s strategy on transportation and parking is financially unsustainable, as well as creating serious problems on campus and in the community. An over-emphasis on private automobiles, at the expense of other options, has led to excessive traffic congestion, safety issues, campus carbon footprint, and student debt.
I am delighted that, according to Mike Sokoff, “officials hope to encourage more carpooling, bike commuting and use of public transportation.” While some of the first steps in this cultural shift, such as increasing the cost of parking and reducing availability, will create challenges for students, staff, and faculty, the long-term benefits will be substantial.
In particular, I encourage leaders with the Missouri Students Association to study programs at other universities in which every student receives a free public transit pass. The University of Florida and the University of Illinois are two excellent examples of this approach, which provides convenient, affordable transportation, reduces car ownership by students, and improves community safety.
Rollins Road Traffic Calming Project
On Wednesday, August 23rd (6:00 - 7:00 pm), there will be an “Interested Parties Meeting” at Russell Boulevard Elementary School for the Rollins Road Traffic Calming Project.
City staff will present a general overview of traffic calming and some of the speed and volume data they have collected for Rollins Road, and then invite input from those in attendance about problem areas they see and possible countermeasures.
Thursday Walking Groups
Columbia Parks and Recreation Department is holding Thursday Walking Groups (6:00 - 7:00 pm) in Indian Hills Park (8/17, 9/7, 9/21, 10/5, 10/19) and Auburn Hills Park (8/24, 9/14, 9/28, 10/12, 10/26).
Come along for one of these organized walks to meet members of your communty or neighborhood, experience the physical and mental health benefits of walking, and enjoy Columbia’s awesome parks. If you like, get a group of friends and come together!
Contact Caleb Floyd or call 817-5077 for more information.
Total Solar Eclipse
Shortly after 1:00 pm on Monday, August 21st, the sun, moon, and earth will line up precisely such that our location in Columbia, Missouri will be in darkness for 2 minutes and 37 seconds.
Everyone must obtain a pair of safety glasses before viewing the eclipse. While it is safe to view the period of totality without glasses, any exposure to direct sunlight is very dangerous for the naked eye - more information here.
I will hold Constituent Conversations this afternoon (August 13th), and again on Sundays September 3rd and 24th, 2-4pm at Dunn Bros. Coffee. Dates for Constituent Conversations are always available at my web site.