This blog post is serving as a bookmark for the recently deactivated podcast and website at RichmondNewsReview.com, which I used to produce and maintain. In 2006 I created a podcast called The Richmond News Review. It consisted of 15-30 minute shows where I commented on news and events in and around Richmond, Indiana, sometimes interviewing newsmakers, politicians and - Read More-
I'm reading with sadness the news coming out of Norway. Apparently, 32-year old Anders Behring Breivik decided that his Christian beliefs were so threatened by cultural shifts, minorities, immigration and multiculturalism that he needed to bomb and shoot people in order to address that threat. The killings were politically motivated: the bomb was detonated at the Primer Minister's office and Breivik then stalked and shot at close range people at a political retreat.
Some will talk about the dangers of having weapons of various sorts and sizes available to individuals like Breivik and passionately implore for tighter controls and regulation of firearms or other weapon-making materials. Indeed, we should be asking hard questions about when, where and why we create weapons designed to kill other human beings, and how we allow them to be used.
Some will talk about how this is a clear cut example that acts of terrorism are an ongoing threat and need to be safeguarded against using increased governmental or military power to fight terrorists and prevent attacks. Indeed, we should be asking hard questions about whether current efforts to prevent acts of terrorism are effective, and what else could be done.
Some will speak of a lone madman who was mentally ill, and how we must find better ways to diagnose and treat mental illness of this sort before an individual's darkness can turn into violence. Indeed, we should be asking hard questions about how those among us who suffer from mental illness are treated and how they are helped.
But we must not forget that behind all of these interrelated paths to such awful acts of violence, there is a singular cause that no amount of weapons control, military might or psychological analysis can predict or prevent:
Somehow, this man was able to construct a worldview for himself in which it was permissible to murder other people because of their political views.
The article does a good job of summarizing the challenges of blight as amplified by rough economic times: property owners who might already struggle with maintenance and upkeep are even more at risk of letting a given structure or piece of land fall into disrepair when finances get tight and layoffs and foreclosures are looming. With such a high percentage of Richmond's residences being rentals, there's possibility for further disconnect between the state of the property and the owner's involvement in it.
My impression from the article and from the conversations I've had with city leaders is that Richmond is generally doing what it can to respond to the impact of decaying properties. But it can be discouraging to know that the process of getting a blighted property owner's attention is often drawn out over a long time and a lot of paperwork, not to mention expenditure of taxpayer dollars: wait for the property to be reported as blighted, flag it, mow it or repair it and bill the property owner, wait for the bill to go unpaid, place a lein on the property, and THEN there MIGHT be a financial incentive for some action. This routine may bear the customary government trademarks of caution and glacial due process, but it doesn't recognize very well the shorter-term impacts (financial and social) of a property falling into disrepair, and the ripple effect it can have on other areas nearby.
As a fun project a few weekends ago, I created the website 47374.info. It automatically pulls together news and headlines from a variety of different news sources in the Richmond/Wayne County Indiana area. The site has a simple display of those headlines that's automatically updated as they're made available throughout the day, and you can - Read More-
I've blogged before about my political aspirations, and now I'm happy to announce that I'm running for a political office. Earlier today, I filed for candidacy for an At-Large seat on Richmond, Indiana's Common Council. I've spent much of my time and energy over the last decade of my life investing myself in Richmond in - Read More-
Educators in Virginia are wondering what to do with the thousands of copies of an error-ridden history textbook that the school districts there have purchased:
A panel of historians has found an "appalling" number of factual errors in a new fourth-grade history textbook used in many Virginia school districts, one of the experts said...The historical inaccuracies "are appalling in number,"...the book needs more than 140 corrections.
I hope they don't throw them away. This seems like a great opportunity to teach students in Virginia and beyond some important lessons about education (things I wish I'd been more cognizant of in the early days of my education):
The document leaking website Wikileaks has continued to make headlines in recent weeks as they distribute hundreds of thousands of leaked US diplomatic communications. The story is somewhat irresistible: political intrigue, government cover-ups, a mysterious geek on the run - this will be on the big screen in 5 years or less, I'm sure. But beyond the basic elements of narrative that make it so interesting, there's some really important and serious stuff going on here.
Wikileaks has brought to light a powerful and confusing kind of inner conflict for anyone who considers themselves a patriot, or at least a person who cares about the actions of the federal government taken on our behalf.
I believe the time has finally come to cancel my subscription to the local newspaper, The Palladium-Item. It's a decision I've wrestled with even as I've supported and found excitement in the possibilities for renewal at the paper (and blogged about some of that thinking here, here, here, and here), and it's not something I'll do lightly.
I've gone from subscribing to the paper seven days a week, to just the Friday/Saturday/Sunday package, to just the Sunday edition. Here's why I'm going to finally let go of receiving a print edition altogether:
Jason Truitt at the Richmond Palladium-Item has requested input from the paper's readers on its current strategic planning conversations, saying "we want to do a better news operation in 2010." As I've done in the past, I'd like to try to answer some of Jason's specific questions here, and while they're somewhat particular to our community, my recommendations might be useful for other papers too:
1. Watchdog journalism involves writing stories that hold public officials accountable for their actions or stories that help to right wrongs in the community, for example. In what ways could we improve in this area?
If you've visited Richmond, Indiana via interstate 70 recently, it's likely you've seen a new addition to our most prominent landmarks: a 110-foot vinyl-sided cross right next to the highway exit on our east side. The cross was erected at a cost of US$150,000 by New Creations Chapel, Inc., which has a website dedicated to the project's history and progress. Their hope is that it "will give hope, direction, light from above, and encouragement to all those people traveling Interstate 70 and passing New Creations Chapel."
Richmond already has a number of issues with public perception when it comes to tourism and first impressions. All discussions of religion and symbology aside, I think this new fixture probably doesn't help with that. But the main question that came up in the casual discussions I've had with people about it is "how does such a thing go up without the community having any input on it?" To answer that question I contacted Scott Zimmerman, who works as a City Planner with the City of Richmond.
Here's what he had to say: - Read More -