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Can Congress make democratic governance work?

By Lee H. Hamilton

This is a time of great testing for Congress. As it considers responses to the nation’s health and economic crises, it faces close scrutiny by ordinary Americans, financial markets, and businesses large and small across the country. The pressure to move quickly is intense, and it is not an institution built for that purpose.

Yet Congress acts with unaccustomed swiftness when needed. The House passed the first relief measure—providing paid leave, enhanced unemployment benefits, free coronavirus testing, and food and health care aid—while the administration was still coming to grips with the dimensions of the crisis. The Senate acted the following week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s words to the GOP caucus were instructive: “I do not believe we should let perfection be the enemy of something that will help even a subset of workers,” he said. In other words: Do this now. And clearly, lawmakers took the need for speed to heart, and in a bipartisan way. The measures passed overwhelmingly in both houses.

There’s a key but basic fact to remember about how Congress works: it’s governed by a majority. This seems like a very simple thing to say, but the reality is that it is not always easy to achieve. I lost track of the number of times, when I served in the House, that I counted members, looking for ways to get to 218 votes (a majority of the 435 members) for a bill I supported. It was a constant question within the party leadership: “How many votes do we have? Can we go to the floor and expect to win?” This is compounded when, as now, each chamber is under the control of a different party. Still, while there are never any guarantees, at times of national crisis the math becomes much easier to achieve.

That’s despite the fact that members can vote any way they want to, and Congress is where all the crosscurrents and needs of a complicated nation converge. Congress—at all times, but especially now—is beset by organized interests weighing in. Industry, professional groups, labor unions, farm organizations, veterans’ groups, and hundreds of others all have something to say. These groups are highly organized, effective, and sophisticated. They and their lobbyists are powerful, talented, and deeply knowledgeable of the process. Members of Congress are also listening to the no-doubt urgent messages they’re getting from their constituents and making the political calculations that, even at the most dire times, are very much in the mix on Capitol Hill. You can see why arriving at agreements swiftly is such difficult work.

Which is why, now more than ever, everything depends on the leadership. Even in calm times, the key to the functioning of Congress rests overwhelmingly with the presiding officers of the House and Senate, and with their teams. At the moment, both McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are conveying that they intend to keep Congress on an even keel as they work on relief and stimulus legislation. Nonetheless, it is also up to ordinary Americans to keep pressure on the politicians, and especially their own representatives, to make sure that Congress performs as we need it to. I don’t think people are unrealistic about what can be done—they don’t expect miracles. But members of the public do need to remind elected officials that our eyes are on them.

This is obviously a time of great peril, with immense stakes. We are a democracy, unlike the more centrally governed countries that have reacted forcefully to their own crises. Our challenge—and Congress’s in particular—is to respond as the situation demands while preserving the best that democratic governance offers: solutions to the country’s problems that reflect the best thinking and collective wisdom of a great, diverse, and creative nation. It is not written in the stars that Congress can make it work, especially as members grapple with illness in their own ranks. But the evidence so far is that in this crisis, when we need it to come through, Congress can do important work well and do it in a bipartisan way.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Update on hours due to corona virus

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What Congress represents

Lee Hamilton

By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative

In one of the US Capitol hallways that House members pass through regularly to get to the chambers, there’s an inscription of a comment by Alexander Hamilton. It comes from his 1788 remarks to the New York convention on ratifying the Constitution, and reads simply, “Here, Sir, the people govern.”

I’ve always thought that was a pretty good summation of what Congress represents: it is a repository of the thoughts and will of the American people. And my impression is that a lot of Americans think highly of that idea, too. I’ve held a lot of public meetings over the years, and even in recent times, when Congress’s public standing has been low, people often speak approvingly of the history of the institution itself; they’re disappointed in how Congress performs, not in its role within our system. In all that time, I can’t ever remember anyone saying we’d be better off without it.

My experience in the House bore that belief out. Though there were always flaws, the process the House followed was focused on deliberation, debate, discussion, and then choosing a solution based more often than not on a rough consensus of its members. Even if I didn’t agree with the results, I’d often listen to the debates and think, “I like the way this institution works.”

I still remember the time that Wilbur Mills, the powerful chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, came before the Democratic caucus to talk about the upcoming vote on establishing Medicare. I was a new, young representative, and when Mills told us that we easily had enough votes to ram the measure through over Republican objections, I and many others thought we should do exactly that. Mills, however, did not. He asked us to give him an opportunity to negotiate with Republicans and find ground that both sides could agree on, so that the bill could win support on both sides of the aisle. And that is exactly what he did.

Mills knew something that often gets forgotten these days, which is that the more broadly a piece of legislation reflects the American people, the greater its acceptability, effectiveness, and staying power. If you’re in Congress, you’re reminded pretty much every day that giving a say to this diverse country is a choice. The body is made up of members who fiercely advocate for their views through speeches, contacts of all kinds and descriptions, public appearances, and trying to win the media over to their side. And the whole institution is a focal point for competing interests weighing in on difficult problems. It is a real cauldron.

All of these beliefs are represented in the Congress, and the legislative process is a key part of how the country works through that cacophony of competing interests. Debate, deliberation, calculation, and compromise—it’s an inefficient process that, for difficult issues, can go on for a long time. But over the course of our history, it’s been reasonably productive. 

This is why those of us who value the institution of the Congress—who actually believe in Hamilton’s words—have lamented the trend of recent decades ceding power to the presidency. The Constitution is explicit: legislative power is vested in Congress. But if that power is not protected or goes unused, it does not merely evaporate; in our system, it flows to the presidency or the judiciary. And in doing so, it passes out of the hands of the body that most closely represents the American people.

When President Trump talks of the presidency as if there were no check on it, as if, as president, he is beyond the reach of the law or of Congress, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle rightly disagree. Sometimes they serve effectively as a check, sometimes not. Sometimes partisanship gets the better of them. But for better or worse, Congress remains the spot where the crosscurrents of American popular opinion have their best chance of being heard, listened to, and acted upon. That’s one power members should never give up.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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What to value about America


By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative

Sometimes, you just need to step back. The political conversations I hear these days are strikingly negative, dominated by what’s amiss in Washington, by the deep divisions in the country, by President Trump’s actions and the aftermath of his impeachment, and by the difficult problems we face but seem to make little progress toward resolving. There’s a lot of discouragement out there.

I’ve done my share of carping, too. But at times like these, I find it helpful to draw back and look for the positives, as a reminder not to lose sight of the benefits we all share as Americans.

For one thing, in the great game of world politics I’m pleased to be able to identify with the United States. We are not always right as a nation, though often we are. We have an economy that remains the envy of the world. Even if it’s not the record-breaking marvel the President claims, we’ve enjoyed economic growth over a long period, and despite our problems with wage stagnation, inequality, and rising concern about affordability, our overall performance—both political and economic—holds up well against our chief global rivals, Russia and China.

That is why our economy continues to attract outside investment and why our shores remain a top destination for refugees and immigrants. And it is why, quite remarkably for a superpower, we have friends, allies, and partners whose ties are voluntary, based on shared ideals and values.

We can always do better, of course. Some of our alliances have become frayed of late. And it may be that we’re no longer at the pinnacle of global power we once enjoyed. But we’ve been able to protect our standing without descending into outright war, and though our global challenges are sobering and we have to appreciate the constraints on our power—we’re not going to make every country in the world peaceful, prosperous, and democratic—we can still have a profound influence for the better on the world around us.

This is in part due to the nature of our democracy. I don’t buy into the view that our country is collapsing. Yes, I understand that we have a vigorous public debate that goes on between the right and the left, and that as liberals, conservatives, and moderates all compete aggressively for power, sometimes the competition gets out of hand. It’s not a perfect process, but it has served us well on the whole. Most notably, we have a longstanding tradition of free and fair elections, a free press, separation of powers, the rule of law (though some of these are under stress right now) and an active civil society.

All of these produce a feature of our democracy that constantly impresses me: our capacity for reform. Our freedoms give us the capability to stand back, watch the process unfold, search for the truth, try to understand what’s happening in the country and the world, and then make decisions based on the information we have in front of us. If we make a mistake, which is hardly uncommon, we have the ability to correct it – usually by working through the system to change course. True, popular protests in this country occasionally turn violent, but more often than not we sort out our problems peaceably by working together. 

This is why I don’t share the gloom I see in a lot of the predictions about where we’re headed. Since our founding—in fact, it’s right there at the start of the Constitution—we have striven to achieve “a more perfect union,” and though that goal has suffered setbacks and at times seemed beyond reach, over the course of our history we’ve always been able to advance toward it. It takes hard work to overcome the challenges and to bounce back, but our capacity for self-renewal is strong and no less vital now than it ever was. We should remember that.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Great turnout for Velzy Park fundraiser


Once again the community of Cedar Springs and the surrounding area has amazed me by the generosity shown at every turn. On Friday, February 7, Solon Township’s Velzy Park had their fifth annual spaghetti dinner and dessert auction. Upwards of 70 people showed up to support the park. The dinner and dessert auction combined netted the park over $2,100 towards playground equipment. 

Many people participated through planning, volunteering, donating and attending. I’ve seen the same support again and again in many areas of the community. This is an awesome place to live! Thank you.

Vicky Babcock, Solon Township


POST Scripts NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Without Civility, Our System Doesn’t Work

 By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative

When he was just a young teenage schoolboy, George Washington sat down and copied out 110 “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.” Many of these had to do with simple manners. “Cleanse not your teeth with the tablecloth, napkin, fork or knife,” reads Rule 100. Good advice at any time.

But the first rule the future president wrote down and followed for the rest of his life was especially notable: “Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.” There are times when I find myself wishing that all of us—public officials and ordinary citizens alike—would adopt the civil behavior of that particular teenager.

In a democracy like ours, the key challenge is to foster a debate that respects all voices, even those of dissent and protest, and create an environment that enables the agreements we need to advance the common good.
—Lee Hamilton

Our politics today too often are strident and polarized.  To put it mildly, we do not always show respect to those present, as Washington did, and try to make them comfortable. Often, it’s just the opposite. We live in a polity that seems to reward in-your-face rhetoric and confrontational behavior.

Yet civility—respecting the rights and dignity of others—uplifts our common life. It makes engaging in politics more pleasant, more appealing, and ultimately, more fruitful.

I’m well aware that calls for civility in the past have been used by political “haves” to try to rein in those seeking entree to power. And Americans have an interesting, conflicted view on the topic. On the one hand, a Georgetown University poll found last fall, Americans across the political spectrum “agree with the premise that our political culture has become too uncivil and lacks a focus on solutions, and that common ground and compromise should be the goal for political leaders.” Yet they often tolerate, if not encourage, incivility, and want their leaders to “stand up to the other side.”

But stressing respect for one’s opponents does not mean we need to agree with one another. Far from it. At its heart, our system was built as a means of managing disagreement without coming to blows. Treating one another civilly is how people who don’t agree still manage to weigh issues carefully and find common ground. The founding fathers did not expect all Americans would become friends, but they did expect that we could all be respectful and civil to each other.

And there’s no question that incivility has consequences. It makes the work of democracy more difficult: building consensus, reconciling competing views, enticing ordinary Americans to give up some of their private lives to devote themselves to the public good. It makes key institutions like Congress less effective. Walking into a room or chamber where the differences are sharply drawn and finding a way to bring people together is political skill of the highest order. And it’s pretty much impossible to exercise without civility.

Where many of us grew up—and still, to this day—talking easily, comfortably, and courteously with one another is the way we resolve our problems. Especially at the state and local level, political leaders mostly recognize that they have a responsibility to respect the dignity of the people they’re bound to encounter on a regular basis.

This is not always easy. Civility takes discipline and patience. Especially when faced with incivility, the temptation is to lash right back. But aside from some kind of momentary satisfaction, it’s hard to see how this is an effective tactic if our purpose is to get things done.

Because in a democracy like ours, the key challenge is to foster a debate that respects all voices, even those of dissent and protest, and create an environment that enables the agreements we need to advance the common good. The future and the effectiveness of our representative democracy require that we get the balance between civility and dissent right. 

The reassuring thing is that bringing this country closer to the political behavior that George Washington had in mind is not a matter of enacting laws or passing new regulations. It’s simply a matter of encouraging respectful behavior, one person at a time. If we can do that and reverse the course we’ve embarked on in recent years, then we can still show that a government of, for, and by the people works.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Leadership matters


By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative

At the time of the American Revolution, the future United States was a small, colonial backwater on the world stage. There were an estimated 2-3 million people living here. Yet it somehow produced an array of talented, creative thinkers and politicians—Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, and others—who forged this republic we still inhabit.

It’s not just that they began the effort of crafting a new nation. They also designed it: the multiple sources of power, the delineation into federal, state, and local levels, and the idea that there ought to be a balance among legislative, executive, and judicial equals. We’ve never really matched the convergence of political creativity and insight produced by that era.

To be sure, there are plenty of what-ifs and caveats. The leaders of that time failed to confront and find a way past the stain of slavery. Their blind spot when it came to the treatment of Indians was just as troubling. And one of the great what-ifs of American history is what this country would have looked like had women been able to hold and exercise political power: What if Abigail Adams, Phyllis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren, and Elizabeth Willing Powel—the Philadelphia salon hostess who brought together and often advised the men whose names we all know—had been more than wise counsel?

Nonetheless, when I think of the history of political leadership in this country, I’m struck by how the founders still stand out after almost two-and-a-half centuries. So I’ve been going back to read up on them, and as I do, another thing strikes me: the qualities of leadership I think I discern in their biographies have never really gone out of style. At least, I see reflections of them in my experience of memorable political leaders in our time.

For one thing, above all else great leaders of democracies seek to build a consensus. They’re inclusive. They don’t try to shut people out of the process. They’re good listeners, and not especially interested in coming into a room and trying to dominate it or impress everybody. They ask a lot of questions. They’re quick to grasp the consequences of problems that have been left unaddressed, and to try to think through the impact of what they’re proposing.

For the most part, they’re articulate: describing problems understandably and approachably is a key part of leadership, as is persuading others that you’re right. They usually think in terms of practical options: what’s the problem, what are the facts, what options do we have for dealing with the problem?

Most of them, though by no means all, know how to deal with people. And many of our greatest leaders have had a kind of energy that most of us can only admire—the sort of drive, perseverance, and wide-ranging breadth of effort that people like John Adams displayed. Politics is not a game for low-energy people.

Especially because leaders are responsible for the performance of the groups they lead. They set the agenda, they identify the problems and issues to be tackled, the priorities for action, and the style: Will it be an inclusive or exclusive effort? Will it be a pure exercise in wielding power or focused on building broad support by identifying the problems and the resources to deal with them, and by forging common ground?

It’s both a paradox and a gift of our system that we have a form of government that encourages ordinary people to solve the problems of their communities, states, and the nation as a whole, and yet effective leadership is vital. It mattered at our founding, and it’s mattered at every step of the way. Representative democracy is not a spectator sport: we all have to be involved. Yet to get anything done, to harness the collective energy and wisdom of ordinary Americans, we need leaders who possess at least some of the qualities and conscious public-spiritedness of our founders.

I don’t know if we’ll ever produce another generation of leaders like our founding generation. What I do know, however, is that every time we enter a voting booth, we have the opportunity to try.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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In praise of competence


By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative

Not long ago, I was in a meeting to talk about a public policy issue. It was a little complex, and as we considered the various angles I began to think about what it would take to translate talk into change on the ground. I wasn’t analyzing the politics of it; I was focused on the types of people who’d have to roll up their sleeves.

What I came away with was a list of skills, none of them unusual, but all of them vital to getting things done in the increasingly complicated world that government faces. Here’s some of what it takes:

You need a legislative draftsman, someone who understands the specialized language of bill-writing and how to translate ideas into law;

You’ll almost certainly need several lawyers involved to steer clear of legal shoals, as well as budget experts who can handle cost estimates and projections;

It’s helpful to have someone who understands what constitutes ethical and unethical behavior in the field you’re addressing;

There are a lot of subject matters that play a role in almost any major problem: environmental, financial, security and military, logistics, health, education, international dimensions—and you’ll want to be able to consult with experts in all of them;

Because, almost invariably, you’re dealing with computer systems or actual machinery, it’s helpful to have the appropriate types of engineers on hand; 

It’s often helpful to work with a historian or two who can put the problem in context;

You need people who are familiar with the private sector and understand what businesses and corporations can and cannot reasonably achieve, since so many issues today involve both the public and private sectors;

You have to be able to understand and cover the politics of your approach, meaning you need people who can bridge the White House and Congress or the governor’s office and the legislature;

Somewhere along the line you’ll need PR experts who understand radio, print, TV, and social media, since you’ll have to enlist the public, or at least win its support;

And, of course, you’ll need to figure out how to raise the money you’ll need, both through the public purse and from the private and nonprofit worlds.

My point is simple: To make our system and this country work, we need a lot of experts and competent bureaucrats to deal with the problems that come cascading down on government. And here’s what I can tell you, after decades of close contact with federal civil servants: We have them. By and large, this country is served by a professional and dedicated group of public employees, whether you’re talking about the National Weather Service, the Foreign Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Defense Department… We’re blessed with a lot of talented people.

 Which is why I’ve never shared the contempt and outright hostility toward federal bureaucrats that is so often expressed in the public arena these days. They deal with very tough problems and they’re usually good at what they do. They just don’t toot their own horns about it.

This was on full display in the recent House Intelligence Committee hearings on impeachment. As New York Times columnist David Brooks put it recently, “[T]he civil servant witnesses answering questions inspired a lot more confidence than the elected officials who were asking them.” He went on to quote political scientist Hugh Heclo, “It is when you deal with someone who does not perform in a ‘professional’ manner that you learn to appreciate those who do.”

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some bad apples within the bureaucracy. There always are, but they’re rare. And most of the time, inspectors general, administrative processes, and, when it’s working, congressional oversight address the problems reasonably well. Attacking cabinet officials and civil service employees publicly, the way President Trump seems to enjoy doing, seems counter-productive. These are, after all, the very people he has to depend on to move his programs forward.

In the face of the many challenges we confront, the professionalism, talent, and competence of our civil servants matter. We’ve been fortunate: many of them have withstood attacks on themselves and the systems they depend on for support. So far.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Why trust matters


By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Congressman

To me, it was a thunderclap. Years ago, when I was in Congress, we were in the midst of a tense, contentious debate. Members had gotten irritated, levying charges back and forth, and tempers were rising. Then one member stood up, asked for our attention, and said to us, “Let’s remember: trust is the coin of the realm.”

His statement at that moment hit me broadside: If we were to have any hope of progress, we had to have some faith in one another—even our opponents. It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

Our system rests on all sorts of values: open-mindedness, an informed citizenry, honesty, civility, competence. But at its heart, representative democracy is about how we resolve our differences, and if the parties lack trust, then it becomes hugely more difficult to do so.

A representative democracy rests on a straightforward premise: Because nothing gets done without others, you have to have confidence in people and believe that they will do what they say they will do. Without that trust, you simply can’t engage productively in negotiations, compromise, debate, and all the mechanisms we use to resolve differences in our society.

When we don’t trust one another—or don’t trust one another’s facts — reaching agreement and drafting laws becomes infinitely more difficult. The result is that often, cynicism, suspicion, and lack of confidence in the system hamstring our democracy.

To be sure, healthy skepticism about adversaries is natural and appropriate, but you can’t let it override everything and bring progress to a screeching halt. I would argue that one reason our government no longer works as well as it once did and should now, is that our trust in one another has diminished.

So what can we do about this? I think it’s vital that elected officials — especially of opposing parties — spend time with one another, learning to see one another as human beings who all, regardless of party, care deeply about the country. Similarly, the more ordinary people participate regularly in organizations, political parties, and even ad hoc efforts to improve their communities and states, the more likely they are to learn the fundamental importance of trust.

The fact is: In a system that depends on negotiation, compromise, and cooperation to achieve our goals, finding ways to build trust is essential. Without it, our democracy simply won’t work.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Ask City to opt out of marijuana businesses


Under the leadership of Manager Mike Womack, and invaluable input from City Planner Tim Johnson, Cedar Springs has made great progress in becoming business friendly. We’ve seen old restrictive ordinances changed to encourage business and Main Street filled with new restaurants and beautiful shops as a result. The CBDT has been instrumental in building a library, an amphitheater and parks, creating beautiful spaces for people to enjoy. Homes have been renovated, yards cleaned up and new people are excited to move here. 

It’s taken a lot of hard work to make Cedar Springs a family friendly place to live, work and play. Our City Council holds the power to keep it family friendly, a place where people want to raise a family, to retire and to live in peace and safety. That brings us to a decision they will be asked to make in the near future, whether or not to allow recreational marijuana businesses.

Current rules on recreational marijuana are emergency rules; they are in flux. A popular misconception is that millions of dollars would flow into our city; there is no data supporting that. Will enforcement or medical costs increase for taxpayers to bear? Will more easily accessible product have an impact on safety, on noxious odors, on family relationships, on children? How would it impact the character of our community? Plenty of cities are getting on board, will they live to regret it? Let’s move slowly and see how those cities are affected before taking the “everybody is doing it” attitude.

At the November 15 public forum we were given options on what types of businesses, in which zoning districts, and how many types of each business the City should consider allowing.  The option of completely opting out was missing, therefore, it appeared that allowing marijuana businesses in our fair city was a done deal. It is not. The decision to allow or disallow any such facilities lies with the City Council.

Ask the Council to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities in Cedar Springs by e-mailing City Manager Mike Womack at: manager@cityofcedarsprings.org  

The next public forum will be held on December 12 from 5:30 to 7 p,m, at the Cedar Springs Public Library.

Kathy A. Bremmer

City of Cedar Springs

Post Scripts NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election. 

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