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  • Last modified 2292 days ago (June 14, 2012)

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It's time for the city to park it

All this talk about serenity, wisdom, and courage inevitably leads to the City of Marion, where all three sometimes seem in short supply.

A senior official remarked to a reporter after Monday’s City Council meeting that last week’s editorial about vehicles being parked on lawns all over town was fine and dandy, but what could the city do about it?

The Serenity Prayer isn’t just for substance abusers. It’s about leadership. And leadership means taking action.

Rewriting city ordinances to forbid parking anywhere but on improved parking lots, with paved or gravel pads, would be a significant start.

Limiting such lots to non-residential areas would be another.

So would enforcement of requirements for zoning and building permits and banishment of casual agreements not endorsed by elected officials.

The most indelible characteristic of Marion city government is that it’s government on the fly. With no master plan, everything seems to be a one-of deal, designed to address current concerns in wheeler-dealer fashion without any concept for future consequences.

Residency requirements are another good example. In the war to prevent brain-drain from one community to another, Marion unilaterally disarmed itself by abandoning all rules designed to encourage public officials to live inside the jurisdictions they serve.

The city’s key argument against residency was that a town might be able to attract better qualified candidates if it didn’t force them to live there.

The problem in Marion’s case is that it rarely has appointed top officials from outside. All its top officials seem to learn on the job. It’s quite a contrast from Hillsboro, which has a residency requirement and which tends to hire top officials only if they have prior experience doing exactly what it is they are hired to do.

Did Marion decide its residency rules on the basis on overall policy considerations or on the basis of what’s convenient for familiar, current officials?

The parking dispute works the same way. The issue isn’t about what individuals have or don’t have a case to park a truck somewhere. It’s about whether the city wants to become a shabby, overgrown parking lot.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified June 14, 2012

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