Policy Statement and Call to Action on Transit
February 3, 2019
It was great to see so many of you Tuesday at Shakespeare's West for my Campaign Policy Rally, and lay out what I see as City Council priorities for the next few years. Top of that list is the urgent need to fix Columbia's public transit system.
My appreciation goes out to Carolyn Amparan, Gretchen Maune, and Dylan Cain, who spoke about the importance and community benefits of a strong transit system from three different perspectives:
- Dylan, a masters student at MU, discussed the benefits of affordable transportation for young people and students, especially international students and those without financial security;
- Gretchen, who is blind and serves on the City's Disabilities Commission, spoke about the independence and dignity afforded to people with disabilities, when they can reliably and safely travel throughout the community;
- And Carolyn, a member of the Mayor's Climate Action Task Force, explained that transportation is responsible for almost one-third of Columbia's carbon emissions and we are going to have to embrace public transit in order to achieve our climate goals.
I also mentioned that leaders in the business community support improving transit because it is very difficult for low-wage workers to get to work; that transit-oriented development is one of the most effective ways to stimulate the local economy; that Columbia's faith community is about to unveil its "moral agenda" which will include a call for public transit improvements; and that communities with strong transit systems have better health and far fewer traffic crashes.
Policy Statement: It's Time to Fix Columbia's Transit System
Health, safety, the economy, the environment, access, and equity - it is very rare for City Council to be able to deliver so many important community benefits with a single policy strategy.
We need to do fix Columbia's transit system for:
- Columbia's poorest families
- Workers and the business community, and the local economy
- People with physical and developmental disabilities
- Older adults, whose driving skills may be declining
- Young people and students, who don't want to drive
- Future generations
We can do this. It's not an intractible problem and there are multiple ways to fix it. We just need some political leadership and vocal community support.
And that's where you come in. ...
Call to Action: If You Care about Transit, Ride the Bus and Blog in February
During last fall's budget discussions, I heard overwhelming support for transit. "Columbia must have a strong transit system," you said, but many of you went on to say, "Although, actually, I never ride the bus."
Now is the time to change that! Ride the bus in February, gain first-hand experience, talk to the driver and other passengers, and blog about it!
Post your pictures and stories on social media or send them to me and I'll post them.
Congratulations to Geoff Jones, Interim Police Chief
I am delighted with John Glascock's decision to appoint Geoff Jones as Columbia’s Interim Police Chief (see Tribune article).
Through twenty years of service with the Columbia Police Department (CPD), Lt. Jones has consistently demonstrated strong and courageous leadership – especially in his unwavering commitment to the philosophy of community policing. When questioned yesterday about his approach to communications with the public and news media, in the wake of CPD's previous poor performance in these areas, Lt. Jones responded with integrity and honesty that the first order of business will be to address deeply-ingrained internal communications problems within the Department.
I am tremendously encouraged that he commands broad support from rank and file officers, the Columbia Police Officers Association, and community groups such as Race Matters, Friends. This decision puts CPD on the right path forward - I have never felt as optimistic about the future of policing in Columbia as I do now.
City Manager Recruitment and Hiring Process
The City Council is moving forward with plans to recruit and hire Columbia's next City Manager. It is very important that we facilitate an authentic and robust public engagement process to identify the characteristics we are looking for as a community.
With that in mind, I encourage to attend one of the following community forums, which will be facilitated by the firm we have hired to help us with our City Manager search, CPS HR Consulting:
- Wednesday, Feb. 6 (5:30 - 7:30 pm) at the ARC, 1701 West Ash Street
- Thursday, Feb. 7 (11:30 am - 1:30 pm) at City Hall, 701 East Broadway (this meeting will be broadcast/live streamed and recorded)
You can follow the City Manager hiring process at this web page, where an online survey will be available for additional input from Friday, Feb. 8 through Thursday, Feb. 28.
Finally, we have invited the following stakeholders to participate in individual or small-group interviews with the consultants:
- Boone County
- Columbia Public Schools
- University of Missouri
- Columbia College
- Stephens College
- Columbia Housing Authority
- Heart of Missouri United Way
- Men's Minority Network
- Race Matters, Friends
- Columbia NAACP
- Columbia Faith Voices
- Columbia Chamber of Commerce
- Columbia Board of Realtors
- Regional Economic Development, Inc.
- Finance Advisory and Audit Committee
- Planning and Zoning Commission
- Water and Light Advisory Board
- Columbia Police Officers Association
- IAFF Local 1055
- Local 773
Response to Cold Weather Emergency
Finally, I want to thank and congratulate the non-profit community and the City of Columbia for strong and decisive acts of compassion last week that ensured shelter was available for all of Columbia's homeless residents.
Room at the Inn, the Salvation Army, and other winter shelters were full and overflowing as temperatures dropped into negative territory Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The City's Departments of Human Services, Economic Development, and Public Transit mobilized staff and volunteers to create additional shelters at the REDI "Hub" and Wabash Bus Station, and provide necessary transportation.
Stacey Button, Steve Hollis, Leah Christian, and John Glascock are among many City workers who stepped up to provide essential assistance. I am very proud of the City of Columbia's response to this situation.
My next Constituent Conversations will be held today (February 3rd), 2-4pm at Dunn Bros. Coffee and again on Sunday, February 17th, same time, same place! Upcoming dates are always available at my web site.