We've been meeting to move our online discussions from email to the blog. This will allow us to preserve them, perhaps for reference later, but also to reduce the email load for all of us.
So let's try that here. I've copied the text of the discussion below. If anyone wants to contribute, please make a comment. (I have!)
Dear “A Better Shreveport” Members,
Legislation to eliminate funding for federally funded biking and walking programs will be introduced in the House of Representatives shortly.
A link is provided in the attachment below that will direct a letter to our representatives. There is a prerecorded message but you are welcome to edit the message however you would like. You are encouraged to highlight how the programs apply or may apply directly to you in your community. The “Take Action!” link will direct you to another page.
I know many in the organization are strong proponents for enhanced connectivity and I thought I would pass along the message.
Will Loe, ASLA
Are we really considering even going forward on this? With the current economic situation, shouldn't we also being doing our part to control federal spending? I know that this is a minute portion of the enormous federal deficit and with upcoming budget cuts looking at medicaid and medicare; I feel we should examine ways to offset those cuts so deserving seniors can get the quality care they need.
Bobby R. Lister
I'd argue it doesn't save money cut spending on things that eventually earn or save us more money. Think about how a good transportation system--including a well planned pedestrian and bicycle component--attracts people to living and investing in a city. And think about how it would save on health care costs down the road. For example, seniors deserve a safe environment to walk in; if they had it, they'd walk more and need less health care. (You should see the situation my 75 year old mother is in! I can't get her out of the house for a walk!)
- Loren Demerath
I don’t disagree with your sentiment and agree that every federally funded program should be scrutinized.
Personally I believe the gesture is political and the amount allocated toward the Enhancements is a crumb of a crumb of a crumb. A great deal of effort went into getting that crumb however and in my opinion most of the projects that benefit from the provision create quality of life improvements that most would support and could not happen otherwise.
Obviously I am in favor of Transportation Enhancements but you are welcome to use the link to voice your opinion. You will want to erase the preprinted message and then you can type anything you like. Regardless it’s nice to have a say.
Will Loe, ASLA
This is the challenge of cutting government budgets. We all believe our passion should be funded. I agree with Bobby, but it will be painful.
Take Minnesota. First things to go are fishing licenses and beer. It's the government's way of making a point.
I believe in biking and walking programs. I don't know if the inefficiencies of federal funding are the best way to make them happen.
- David Young
Mr. Loe, I just have to wonder how many "crumbs" are out there across this country? I would rather see this funding go away than to keep this and cut the previously mentioned programs that our seniors, veterans and disabled citizens depend on for assistance. I don't mean to step on your toes, I realize this is near and dear to you. I can only reference what FDR had to face and the way the people pulled together and everybody sacrificed to get this country back on its feet. Sure wish we had that same spirit now! Just one man's opinion.....
Bobby R. Lister
The FDR administration was responsible for the greatest parks and recreation building program this country has ever undertaken. Trail construction and park facilities across the country were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), employing thousands of out of work laborers. From 1933-1942 the CCC planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.
The CCC performed 300 possible types of work projects within ten approved general classifications:
• Structural Improvements: bridges, fire lookout towers, service buildings; • Transportation: truck trails, minor roads, foot trails and airport landing fields; • Erosion Control: check dams, terracing and vegetable covering; • Flood Control: irrigation, drainage, dams, ditching, channel work, riprapping; • Forest Culture: planting trees and shrubs, timber stand improvement, seed collection, nursery work; • Forest Protection: fire prevention, fire pre-suppression, fire fighting, insect and disease control; • Landscape and Recreation: public camp and picnic ground development, lake and pond site clearing and development; • Range: stock driveways, elimination of predatory animals; • Wildlife: stream improvement, fish stocking, food and cover planting; • Miscellaneous: emergency work, surveys, mosquito control
The CCC was the most popular of all programs instituted during the New Deal. We still benefit today from this work program. Ever been to Caddo Lake State Park?
Sir, I am not sure that all those whom you feel might be entitled a priority during this current fiscal crisis would necessarily agree with your sentiments. That spirit of cooperation and shared sacrifice does exist, though it seems everywhere but Washington, DC. Thank you for expressing your opinion. Have a good day.
You make good points and I agree on the need for those results. However, we've got to stop turning to the Feds for all of our funding needs. More and more of these beneficial projects need to be undertaken by local and/or private investments. If Shreveport was seen as a city that recognizes these issues and addresses them ourselves, we'd enhance our quality of living here even more.
Our City (public and nonprofits) is beginning to walk down the path of recognizing issues and working to address them. SRAC just got a grant that will include employing local artists to create artsy bike racks, the DDA and ABS helped Sportran decide on bike rack locations for downtown, and the DDA has initiated a public/private committee to oversee the Edwards Streetscape project.
But the funding of bike paths requires a lot more funds than a $2500 bike rack. To put it into perspective, the Preston Extension trail cost was $180,000. Local funds DO match these investments from 5% to 50%, depending on the program.
Would you suggest that we raise the money privately to fund the paths? Perhaps a Bike Trust Fund?
Since you ask, yes. My personal perspective is that communities are healthiest (in all aspects) if they are promoted and supported from w/in. Having involvement by the people who benefit from the said project encourages a sense of ownership, pride, accomplishment and more. Which are additional social "good" not achieved by receiving funding from a detached uninvolved entity. I believe it would benefit our community more if the grants you speak of came from local entities and not from a federal government department. If ABS was able to solicit and encourage private entities to contribute these funds (matching or otherwise) we'd have even greater civic-pride and improved quality of life than we are already pursuing.
Point well-made, Dan!
Bobby, Dan, et al.,
First, what a great exchange!
I've got some semi-philosophical questions: what's the correct use of public vs. private wealth? When should something be publically vs. privately funded? Does it depend on one's philosophy, the needs of the moment, or something else? I'm generally pro-public funding; for example, I'm glad my taxes went to building a skate-board park, even though I don't skate board.
Another question: is government necessarily "inefficient," as Dan implies? Might not private funding properly be seen as just as inefficient, considering the profit that's taken? And can't there be good, efficient, accountable government? I'll Dan could provide examples from his air force career of both good and bad government administration, but that doesn't mean the bad has to be there, does it?
But my biggest question is about where we get the money. Isn't it up to our government officials to raise that money from us by making a good argument for it? And that's their job, not mine. That's how we get more "crumbs".
I agree with Bobby, though, that it seems like people were willing to sacrifice more in the FDR era. Too bad. We accomplish a lot if we donate a few crumbs for public goods. I would love to pay an increase in taxes, for example, that went to build systems of bike paths that could be used for transportation.
Wow, those are some heady questions. I'll respond briefly since most of the questions were directed towards me.
1. Public wealth is private wealth redirected, whose use should be constrained to established essential functions of government operations independent of personal philosophy or moment. 2. Anything outside of the essential operations should be privately funded. 3. Yes, I'm generally pro-private funding for the reasons expressed earlier in the thread. 4. Private funding, by its nature, is generally more efficient because the profits that are being donated for public use were made by a private business taking a great risk and therefore are less apt to be spent frivolously. 5. The USAF has many times been the example of good "administration" (I think you meant efficient operation) and sometimes not. But it is always accountable to the direction of its civilian leadership. 6. Yes, money is the question (many times) and I believe ABS is a large part of the solution. Let's take "bike paths" as a generic topic. I believe the funds should first be solicited from the ones who'll most benefit from the solution. An incomplete list would include, bike dealers, sporting equipment retailers, bike clubs, athletic nutrition retailers, national-scale athletic goods & services manufacturers, heath-care providers, fitness promoters, etc. These are the entities that ABS should be reaching out to for funding. This is an area where ABS could really make its mark on the city and champion the promotion of private-funding for public good. 7. As expressed, it is not government officials' job to make arguments to raise and spend more of our money. It is to execute the required government functions in the most efficient manner possible - preferably on less (crumbs) tax revenue. 8. I believe the recently passed bond will give you an opportunity to contribute more of your private wealth for those worthy causes as well as provide opportunities for private investment in complimentary endeavors.
I hope I've provided some solutions beneficial to the discussion.
Dan, your list in #6 shows the bias we have had in bike facilities in Shreveport. All recreation and fitness. That's why the trails didn't connect useful destinations. ABS wants bike ped facilities for transportation. The arguments you list would be great if you also believed in private funding for auto centric facilities. Do you?
And I'm posting my response as a comment to this post. For a while at least, we'll try using the blog for these discussions.