A delightful baby unicorn has been visiting my 2nd story deck for about 10 days now. We think he might be attracted to the orange umbrella but we don’t know much about unicorns so that’s just a guess. Some folks (pedants!) might call the little visitor a monarch butterfly, but words and their meanings are so tedious and I don’t want to tell you what to think.

And so the Steering “if you say so” Committee’s first meeting was mostly aggravating. Frankly, all the issues we identified could have been captured in a suggestion box at Ed’s Way. Same goes for the solutions, excuse me, I mean the “goals and objectives.”

The mayor talked for a few minutes and gave us free reign to be comprehensive and creative. He may have said ‘there are no stupid questions’ but I’m not sure. Carrie Hansen of Images, Inc. explained that comprehensive planning is a lengthy and complex process and will include all stakeholders, and other stuff.

Did you know there would be a two hour workshop of problem identification and problem solving? Me neither.

We were asked to write our “issues and concerns” within these vast categories on post-it notes:

  • land use
  • future development opportunities
  • transportation
  • economic development
  • safety
  • environmental
  • parks/open spaces
  • other

What? We’re not tackling global warming this evening?

Then we had to find “goals and objectives” to match our “issues and concerns” and I have no idea what that even means. What is the goal of your issue? What is the objective of your concern? I guess the old standby problem/solution way of thinking is considered oppressive.

The preparation for this work came via the invite: “At the end, a workshop will be held to solicit your input on planning issues and opportunities.” The meeting started at 7 p.m., the workshop was rolling by 7:45 p.m. and we finished at 10 p.m.

I could go on, and I will. Please consider not using 3″x3″ post it notes with scribbled thoughts in six different handwritings for an easel 4-6 feet away. We spent the better part of two hours squinting and saying to each other “what does that say?” “what does that mean?” in order to decide which “planning opportunity” category it fit in.

Each and every volunteer in that room arrived earnest and enthused and could have done an infinitely better job of identifying their “concerns” and possible “goals” if they had been given a clue as to the night’s real work.

I felt like a LUSR! (Land Use Steering for Stupids, Suckers and Rubes) and I wasn’t the only one. This was not our best work, this was CRAP! (Contrived Routine to Assuage the Players)

Why didn’t you give us a healthy shot at it? Why didn’t you give us the list of categories before the assignment? Ignorance and un-preparedness does not give birth to brilliant ideas, but seat-of-the-pants crap that needs miles of reworking.

At one point in the exercise, a member of my group said, “We need data!” by which he meant each of the “objectives” of our “concerns” needed tons of research to find viable solutions. Ain’t that the truth, and your guess is as good as mine as to where the necessary data will come from.

So now the CRAP goes to the Plan Commission and village council, and then to the Youth Committee, and then we’ll meet again sometime in the fall for some reason, and then who-knows-who will be ‘refining’ our crappy work for the next two years. There weren’t a lot of specifics tossed out at this meeting.

Answer honestly — would you allow this group to steer the ship your family is traveling on? No, you would not.

Words matter. If not, I’m the mayor and Tony Calderone is a columnist for the Forest Park Review.

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