All Politics is Local

Beatrix and I drive past the Governor's Mansion on Summit usually several times a day, and when we drove past today, Governor Dayton was throwing the ball for Mingo in the front yard. Beatrix was super-excited to see them, so we stopped and walked up to the fence for a closer look. When Governor Dayton saw us, he put the leash on Mingo, then picked up the new puppy Itasca and brought him to the front steps so that Beatrix could see and pet him. Beatrix was beyond thrilled, and when I mentioned that this made her day (you'll remember a couple of months back she was on a kick about wanting to have dinner at the Governor's house because her friend Ravi's parents had) he said we should stop by and ring the doorbell anytime.

You know, over the years, I've heard a lot of people say that they voted for Bush (or similar candidates) because they were the "kind of guy you could sit down and have a beer with." But Governor Dayton is truly that kind of guy, as exemplified by our interaction today, and I could not be more impressed with him.

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We continued on to our destination, which was Lookout Park, for a year-end gardening session, which got me thinking about LGA. That park, the Holly Tot Lot, and several of the other parks we frequent, are always packed with people. Other community facilities are equally important, as are government subsidies for the arts, community development, and other things that make the places we live truly places where people want to be. Yet they are necessarily the first places to get cut when LGA is slashed, and the city can't even consider expansion of green spaces or public amenities.

I love working on these kind of projects with my friends and think it's important to demonstrate community values to Beatrix. I don't mind working at the park, or on Holcombe Circle, or keeping up the urns over Ayd Mill Road. But it seems we are all richer when we have more of those kinds of places, and I wish my city had the funding to do it.

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Finally (as I cut down the rose bushes at my own house later this afternoon), I thought a lot about consumed resources. Rahm Emanuel has suggested a congestion fee for Chicago in his next budget, and to some extent it really makes sense. I have always lived in neighborhoods that attract people, where people go to walk, to shop, to hang out, to eat and drink and otherwise appreciate. I've lived in these places, and paid more in living costs, because I appreciate these things and want to be near them. But when people chose to live somewhere else, places that are cheaper because the community does not have these amenities, and then come to my neighborhood to consume the items, shouldn't they share in some of the cost?

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