28 June 2006

Wither Duluth

Two stories from today's news, both about Duluth, the one-time bustling, prosperous inland port and gateway to the Scandinavian Riviera. I think you can connect the dots without too much prodding by me. First we have this:
Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson is calling for big layoffs of municipal employees. He says cuts are needed to cover the costs of health care for retired city employees. The cuts would eliminate eleven police officers and five firefighters. Duluth Fire Chief John Strongitharm says he's already seven firefighters short. And Police Chief Roger Waller says it would amount to nearly an entire shift of police officers. He says that would be "a devastating blow to public safety."
and then we have this:

Duluth is one of the first three U.S. cities to become Eco Municipalities, a promise to become part of the Swedish-born sustainability program. Last month, the Duluth City Council passed a resolution pledging to move toward the four basic principles of sustainability drafted in the Natural Step program:

- Use fewer natural resources.
- Use fewer man-made or synthetic chemicals.
- Cause no additional degradation to the Earth.
- Meet all human needs (WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL EXACTLY?)

The council's action was a "resolution of intent" to move Duluth toward ustainability, said Sandy Sweeney, Duluth's energy coordinator. Facing a huge budget shortfall, the city has little or no money for new programs, even those that might be popular and environmentally sound. But that hasn't stopped the effort.

The Duluth municipal pension system is so shot, they're laying off cops and firemen, but don't let that stop the hair-brained sustainability dogma from overrunnig Miller Hill.

Duluth is being run by people who are not serious. If the civic entity that is Duluth is to be saved, it needs to have its decisions made by serious people. You want sustainability? Try sustaining the balance sheet of your big Play Town.

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