I’m one of the new mods/writers for the City Barbs Blog selected to fill in for Lynn Fazekas after she took the office of City Clerk. While some readers already know me, I thought it would be best to introduce myself.
So, firstly, I’m an NIU alum who majored in computer science. Yes, sadly I didn’t major in journalism. But if it makes you feel any better, I once pursued an associate degree in philosophy before I realized that it wasn’t going to make me money any time soon. On the plus side, there is likely to be data in posts of mine if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ve written several letters to the editor and attended/watched some city council meetings in the past. Lynn would tell you she picked me because of my commitment to the truth, but I’m doing this because I’m easily bribed with food (just kidding, sorta). What else? I’m an Air Force veteran where I worked in metrology; I have interests in the 1st Amendment, OMA, FOIA, local history, and education; and I used to catch plagiarism in computer programming courses for a living when I worked as a teaching assistant, so I can pay quite a bit attention to detail.
I’ve been conversing with Lynn and Bessie over the past few weeks to get an understanding of the forum rules, the origins and the role of the blog, current issues, etc. while we transition the responsibility of running this gig. Please forgive us for any delays as Bessie is still learning how to use the newfangled Facebook thing, and I’ve been somewhat apprehensive to act independently and make snap judgments. We appreciate your patience while we try to get things settled, and I can assure that all of us have the same desire to maintain a forum of political discussion where everyone feels welcome to participate. We do have some posts planned for this month but let us know if there’s anything you’d like us to focus on.
I also want to say something about the State of the City Address held last week. I had planned to attend and had taken the day off from work, but I was turned away because they didn’t have a card reader at the door. While it has been pointed out that the address was recorded and posted online, the event itself was nevertheless one of breaking bread and a mingling of minds. There was more there than the statements of a couple government officials, there were conversations – ones of not just economic importance but social and cultural as well. As a citizen journalist who wishes to be informed of matters so that I might in turn better facilitate discussion, I am now less able to do so. And considering the relatively steep price of the event and the fact that this was done prior to the official State of the City Address, the impression given (hopefully inadvertently) is that the interests of the community at large are less of a priority than solely business interests. In the future, the City should make every effort to avoid barriers which prevent all members of the public from listening and contributing to such conversations, and if it wishes to continue holding these events with the Chamber of Commerce, then I would recommend hosting it in the commons to avoid even the semblance of impropriety.