I attended my first city council meeting last night.
It turned out to be pretty much what I expected; a lot of public comments about a heated issue, one or two people who are upset at the city, and even one who just wanted to be heard on an issue that wasn’t even related to anything.
My attendance to the meeting was mandatory for my news reporting class but I was glad I went. I’m sure I will be going to more in the future, especially if I plan to write for a city newspaper. The note taking part was easy but deciphering always takes time. The class was dismissed after three hours, and we went to our respective homes to write a news story by 10:30 p.m.
It was an interesting assignment and a good one. I’m used to writing on deadline. As a journalist, there’s nothing more challenging as interviewing, drafting, editing and submitting in the course of an hour. I love it. It shows me that if I can do this, I can do pretty much anything that is thrown at me. I pride myself on that.
But it was on my way home that I began to think about what our city council represents. Yes, I was at the meeting to write a story but I was also witness to something that is happening to our city. A medical district is being planned in the middle of our city and many people were upset by it. The city voted to close part of a street that goes through downtown. There were many good sides to the argument but in the end, the vote was 6-3 in favor of the closure.
I have lived in Cedar Rapids for 47 years, my whole life. I have seen the changes that have occurred but these changes have come to a stand-still in recent years. The Flood of 2008 hasn’t helped those matters, but the city wasn’t doing much to build itself up even before that happened.
Some people want to keep Cedar Rapids’ small-town charm but in doing so, they are keeping us from moving forward. People were upset when the interstate forged a path through town. Now they probably couldn’t live without it. A new convention center is being built. I think that’s great. Cedar Rapids has lay dormant for too long. It’s time to start doing something to give it character, to bring people into the city and create new jobs for Cedar Rapids’ citizens.
While I was driving toward downtown on the interstate last night, I looked at the bringt and luminiscent lights of Cedar Rapids. They were beautiful. Small in number, but still beautiful. I don’t want Cedar Rapids to become so big that we get lost in it but I do think that Cedar Rapids needs to keep moving forward.