…But Words Will Never Hurt You

I’ve been watching the catastrophe unfold in our library board meetings from afar. Seeing the absolutely horrific implementation of an already horrific idea come to fruition in the most obvious of ways. But I’m not one to take to social media and yell about it, nor am I one to attend meetings which obviously serve no purpose for the public. This incoming board had an agenda, and despite the fact that our community is overwhelming centrist in its views on social norms, they were going to stick to it no matter what happened.

There are two aspects I’m going to cover with this and it will not be focusing on the specific books that have been mentioned. While we all have our ideas of what constitutes appropriate books for various ages, in my mind that is not what needs to be argued. The library already had systems in place to appropriately select and place each book within its system, in addition to the actual words on a page, context of the work are also taken into account. Ironically, as the Board seeked to place John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars back into the teen section (the audience is was written for) they talked about context. No, this was never the issue and as the Library Board director pointed out, the policy as written would always result in this situation. The newly appointed Board hadn’t walked into a vacuum, they stepped into a system dating back to 1778 and thought they (with no experience at all) could do it better. They Failed.

So why does this still matter? The first lesson to be learned here is that every board, be in elected or appointed needs to listen to the community. Not the bubble they enjoy but the actual community. Spending public dollars without true public support will result in the disastrous waste of $300,000 like we saw here. Not to mention the unaccounted for nearly $10k in legal fees. Without public support a board spending so recklessly amounts to theft in my mind. And I will throw in the countless dollars in investment our community will not see because of our tarnished image!

Most importantly to me though is the fact that our public institutions should never seek in any way to censor expression and speech. Before some of you out there jump in, suppressing access (even by simply placing it in an inappropriate section) is censoring. Those seeking to ban access have always been able to argue that ‘if they want it they can find it somewhere else’. The point though is that this is a PUBLIC institution and therefore the selection and placement of books should never be about content. It should be about context. That includes the intention of the author, importance of the work, popularity, and many other criteria that the Library already uses. The words “fuck”, “shit”, and “pussy” hold no power outside of their context (quoting the board policy). Sex is a real thing most people experience before they reach adulthood. It is up to parents to set additional context for their kids to read through books with. It is also up to them to limit what they have access to. If any organization would like to have a limited selection they are absolutely free to create one. That is also one of the wonderful freedoms we enjoy. But a public institution cannot censor and frankly arguing anything different is the most un-American thing I can imagine.

So with all that in mind I believe it is time we show off our support of free expression. Their bubble needs popped and they need to see us. Not just in a board meeting but everywhere they go. I know the majority of this city does not support censorship. And to help with that I’ve created a fun sign to place in your yard. I’m a 90s kids who grew up in the library borrowing books, tapes, audiobooks, movies, magazines and anything else they had. Today kids have so much more access but our libraries remain an important foundation in our community. Please donate below so I can create as many of these as possible. I will also be making a donation with the proceeds to Friends of HEPL for the support of our library programs!

Click This Link to Secure a Sign Today

August’s Meeting… Ending On a Positive?

I just got home from tonights city council meeting and boy do I have some thoughts. Most of them unfortunately do not have to do with the substance of the meeting itself. So before I move on to that I want to spend a few words on what we came there to see.

Mayor Fadness presented his vision for the 2024 budget and what’s to come in the city for next year and beyond. They will be releasing this presentation shortly. The presentation was thorough, detailed and very well done. So I’d like to congratulate the Mayor and his team as my view was very positive on the overall plans. It was great to hear the word transparency invoked so many times and Councilor Weingardt invited the public to the Finance Committee meeting this Wednesday to learn more details.

Some takeaways include hiring more FPD and FFD personnel to lighten the burden on our first responders, a ramp up in fixing sidewalks and connecting our pedestrian paths, and finally finishing 141st/SR37. There was a good deal of time spent on a new initiative to support teachers. He is setting aside $500k to fund teachers looking for innovative approaches to learning. Details weren’t there yet but it is good to see some real investment directly in our teachers. As he mentioned, the schools are the core of our city.

There’s so much to get in to with the vision presented but I want to share my perspective on how the meeting ended. During the public comment period, after some perennial issues like road repair were covered we had a trio of commenters that brought the focus to the current political season directly. The first two offered a good summary on each side of the current debate happening around our library. Both Chad and Stephanie were respectful and offered a heartfelt personal plea that the city of Fishers support our children. While I certainly align my views with Stephanie and HSEqual I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Chad and his wife after the meeting. We may not agree on the details but I support their voice and heard their perspective with open ears. Both sides of the isle need to do more of this. Issues can get difficult, never more so than when we are worried about our kids. It is the job of a leader to find the sensible middle ground. I know that is possible and will always work to draw down conflict and aim for sensibility.

The main reason I’m staying up late to get these thoughts out while fresh in my mind is the last public comment, which came from Doug Allman. I mention Doug by name because while I don’t know him personally I know he is a well respected member of our community who currently serves as the Fall Creek Township Trustee. When he spoke I listened to his words with respect for his history in this community, which he has earned.

I’ll start with a short summary of Doug’s points. He spoke from a historical perspective and aimed to show how this community is changing, particularly in this current political environment heading into this election. He mentioned his 37 years as a resident of Fishers and how he has never seen the sort of strife he’s seeing play out, particularly online. He brought up the tactics he’s seen from people outside our community ramping up tension, including seeing photos of his wife posted online. He quipped about people spending so many hours online posting negative things. He finished up with a warning that some have voiced thoughts of moving away.

You know what, on many of his points, he’s right! Those of you who know me closely know I rarely spend time on social media. This is why, I don’t enjoy it. It brings out the worst in us, both sides ratcheting each other up. Yes, it is vitally important that we hold officials accountable and sharing your opinion online is one way to do that. Going to meetings and speaking is another way. But we’ve moved beyond that and Doug is not wrong to wish for something better. And yes, we’ve seen people come from outside the community and rile up meetings. The right did it last year with the school board and with a change in leadership we are seeing it come from the left on the library board.

I get it, I have the same feelings over here Doug, it’s too much. But there’s a piece to this puzzle you didn’t mention.

The reason things were quiet and calm before is very obvious and very simple. For its entire existence, the people of Fishers have only had one choice for their representation. Do you believe that there truly wasn’t a large group of people that see things differently? Of course not, but with no one to vote for they stayed home and they stayed quiet but they didn’t stop keeping score. This isn’t just a left/right split. Trust me, I know from talking to people on their doorsteps that there’s a big undercurrent of Republican voters that also want things done differently. This isn’t simply an issue of outside forces or online name calling. People want choice and Fishers has changed. Mayor Fadness has worked hard to attract the best and the brightest, now they are here and come with all sorts of new perspectives.

All that said, I do not believe this negativity is good for our community. So I’ll share an observation publicly that I’ve shared privately many times. John Weingardt is the candidate who will be your other choice if you live in the South Central district. And the truth is, he’s a really amazing guy. We’ve shared many conversations, he’s helped out my neighborhood when I reached out to him, he genuinely nice and he has a great family who I’ve also met. His heart is in the right place as a community servant, and if I do win this seat I hope he will be available as a mentor. That may sound crazy but the thing is I’m running for something, not against someone. We don’t agree on some things that are particularly important if you are guiding a city, and that’s where it ends. After the meeting we shook hands as he have many times before and commiserated about the current state of affairs. 

And John invited me to get some coffee. I’ll be there John.


Fishers Needs Your Help

I’m reaching out to you because Fishers needs your help. I’m sure you’re tired of the hyperbole from the hundreds of political emails you receive and I get it. So I will try to keep it brief and to the point.

A Worrying Shift…

4 Years ago when I ran for City Council the focus was on the fundamentals; transparency, fostering growth and development, etc. In the years since we’ve seen a shift in the community that worries many of us. Outside voices have stoked fear and hate within our residents. Our vibrant open community has made alarming moves towards a far right agenda that has spread throughout our leadership. What started with screaming in our school board meetings spread to our libraries and is now taking aim at our City Council.

How We Can Win This

We are facing a Republican slate incumbents who know what’s at stake. Our strong slate of candidates and our supporters are stepping up to finally break their one party rule and bring a new type of government to the City of Fishers. Never before have Democratic residents had so many reasons to get to the polls for their municipal election. First and foremost we expect strong support for the public school system with a funding referendum on the ballot. Second, we will be pushing back hard against the policies our leaders have created to push people out of our city. We will stand up for our libraries, welcome visitors to our parks, fight for our students. Lastly, we will meet our neighbors at their doors to show them that true leaders aren’t afraid to listen.