Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dogs in parks - referendum possibly coming this spring

According to today's Oshkosh Northwestern, Deputy Mayor Tony Palmeri plans to bring an advisory referendum question to the Common Council at its meeting this Tuesday night which, if approved, would give voters a chance to say whether they’d like to see dogs allowed in city parks or not.

One school of thought out there asks why bring something like this to the people when we’re not asked how we feel about spending millions of dollars on certain projects and the like. I see where those folks are coming from. But I also question another aspect of this, and it has to do with advisory referendums, in and of themselves.

I applaud Mr. Palmeri for bringing this forward and if the Common Council approves this referendum question to go on the ballot, it suggests to me they are concerned about what the people think. But, if they’re truly concerned about what the people think and want, why bother with an advisory referendum? Put their money where their mouths are, so to speak, and do the bold thing, the right thing: Make the referendum binding and be done with it. Otherwise they are wasting people’s time at the polls and taxpayer money to put the question on the ballot because they can still do the exact opposite of what the majority of voters want (and likely would). In which case, wasn’t it all an exercise in futility? Or they could do an even bolder thing: Look at how dogs in parks are working out already in the parks and trails in our area where they are allowed. Talk to other communities who’ve allowed dogs in parks for years and see how they’re making it work for ALL citizens. Then make the decision at the council level to stop living in the dark ages and drag Oshkosh into the 21st century and allow dogs in parks like they are in so many other communities, not to mention state parks, national forests and beaches across the United States. It’s an idea whose time has not only come; it’s long overdue.

P.S. Since there is such passion about animals, maybe we should put a second referendum on the ballot having to do with whether the people in Oshkosh support future deer cullings or not. Of course, I doubt the council would listen to that opinion either.


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