Sikes In '08

In the political world having the year of an election follow your name is generally a campaign slogan. For Michelle Sikes ’08 is the year for the Olympics and the destination is Beijing. Nickie Antonio (at large) and Mayor Thomas George submitted a resolution honoring the Lakewood High graduate recognizing her participation in the World Games in Osaka, Japan. She ran in the 5,000 meter run. Since Sikes was en route home when the September 4th resolution was passed her parents and her former LHS coach Rick Ventura accepted on her behalf. The resolution kicked off a week of celebrations honoring Sikes who is also one of three Rhodes Scholars that Lakewood has produced.

Antonio then offered a resolution “calling on the United States Government to commit to and develop a firm strategy and timetable to begin the orderly and comprehensive withdrawal of U.S. military personnel and bases from Iraq.” She pointed out that the war has a direct effect on local communities and therefore it’s of prime interest to local governments. Mayor George pointed out that Lakewood lost a serviceman due to the war.

Speaking on behalf of the resolution was Alton Yarian, retired Lakewood High School astronomy teacher. Judy Gallo of Edgewater Drive and announced congressional candidate Rosemary Palmer also spoke out in favor of the resolution.

Council members voted in favor of it with Ryan Demro (ward two) abstaining.

Demro then read a letter to council requesting that the rush hour parking bans on Clifton Boulevard be suspended for the duration of the water main construction project. He contends that residents trying to find alternative on street parking are stymied if they can’t park on the south side of the street under penalty of having their cars towed. George indicated that prior to any large street project that the City Engineer and police anticipate and plan for traffic changes with the maintenance of safety being the first priority. Clifton, he said, poses additional temporary problems because of the bus lanes. Michael Dever (at large) indicated that any traffic issues should be discussed in the Public Works Committee. Demro claimed that the disruption constituted an emergency and made a motion to suspend the rules in order to vote on lifting the ban that evening.

The motion to suspend did not garner a second and failed.

All cities are required to submit a tax budget resolution to the County Auditor annually. This is a projection of expenditures and revenues for the upcoming year. Finance Director Jennifer Pae submitted the resolution which called for no increase in property taxes.

Local elections can raise the tempo and temperature of public discourse. Sometimes campaigning can move from strictly campaign events into public meetings. Thus has been the nature of democracy in our country since its inception. The tempo, or pace, seems to pick up several months before and election. And, the temperature, at least as it is felt by some individuals seems to rise, also.

This fall will see an election for mayor and the ward council seats. A couple of months ago, an unsigned piece of literature was circulated in stores and on porches encouraging people to attend council meetings to express praise or concerns. One sentence reads: “It is not too late to keep Lakewood the city we love!” Another closing sentence reads: “Is Lakewood better off now than it was four years ago.” Although this is a paraphrase of Ronald Reagan’s closing debate question in the 1980 presidential campaign it is also the same slogan used by mayoral hopefuls Ryan Demro and Edward Fitzgerald (at large). It was eventually discovered that no mayoral hopefuls distributed the literature.

Some campaigns for the above seats have focused on crime as an issue and have linked crime in Lakewood to “Section 8 Residents.” This has become political shorthand for recipients of housing vouchers. There are some who also think it is shorthand for blacks, or minorities.

One such person is Sabrina Otis of Elbur Avenue. In open citizen comments after the regular business meeting she indicated that at the last Public Safety Committee meeting she heard comments such as “now, they’re in our city.” Otis asked, “Is this supposed to refer to blacks? You guys running for council and mayor keep referring to Section 8. This is not 1953 Birmingham, Alabama. This is 2007 Lakewood.”

Council President Robert Seelie adjourned the meeting at 9:35. Go Sikes in ’08!

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Volume 3, Issue 19, Posted 11:36 AM, 09.14.2007