Monday, December 29, 2014

Burlington: platform for preservation and change

Despite developer pressure and sweetheart deals on a variety of public-private partnerships and plans, real public input and sufficient time to consider all the options should be more than a formality, especially when the stakes are so high. Before rushing to sell or redevelop, inclusive alternatives and long-term impacts need to be more seriously considered.

We can't over-build our way out of problems. We must make the time to explore possibilities that create positive outcomes for all residents.

A Platform for Preservation and Change
Stop fast-track redevelopment 
Set standards for partnerships
Affordable housing * Raise the minimum wage
Keep BT Local * Preserve open spaces
Empower neighborhoods: funding for NPAs
Review police conduct * Legalize marijuana
Prevent bedding of F-35s at the airport

Burlington College: Unless the Mayor and City gets more involved very soon, more than 25 acres of land along the waterfront owned by Burlington College will be sold for the school to survive and intensively developed with commercial-rate housing. Mayor Weinberger claims that any development on this property must balance "conservation, public use, and housing." But the current plan calls for 400 units and little open space. With real city engagement, however, the current offer could be matched by a popular partnership between conservation groups, private investors, the college and the city to combine a small college campus, preservation of public access and open space, and compatible education purposes.

Climate Change: Burlington has seen a local increase of 7% in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, yet current redevelopment plans will only make the situation worse. Before we give the waterfront a gentrified makeover we need to rethink our infrastructure and transportation system for the 21st century.

Burlington Telecom: In its first 30 years of operation, the Burlington airport received about $100 million in transfers from the general fund. As infrastructure, Burlington Telecom is just as important today and, if we hold onto it, can provide long term benefits to thousands of citizens - but only if we look beyond short-term relief, resist the push to privatize, and protect this invaluable asset for future generations.

Democracy and Participation: One-party rule can be dangerous, especially when it gives the mayor a rubber stamp for whatever he or she wants. In the past Burlington has been known as a place with three viable parties where issues were discussed openly. But recently debate has been sidetracked on climate change, redevelopment and neighborhood concerns. We can do better. We need more democracy, not less.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Reframing Reality: Finding the Words

Part 27 of Prisoners of the Real

If relationships between human beings, not to mention between humanity and nature, are to be transformed so must the language used to describe them. We simply can't expect to change and evolve without more fitting forms of expression.

      Abraham Maslow, who provided the intellectual foundation for what became known as humanistic psychology, understood this dilemma. The archaic language of science couldn't encompass his new view of human nature. How could the subjective and private nature of a peak experience, for example, be adequately discussed in an "objective" or analytical way? The formal, academic style of psychological journals, he realized, was inconsistent with the unconventional and highly personal ideas he was pursuing.
      "Journals, books and conferences," Maslow wrote, "are primarily suitable for the communication and discussion of the rational, the abstract, the logical, the public, the impersonal, the nomothetic, the repeatable, the objective, the unemotional. They thereby assume the very things that we 'personal psychologists' are trying to change."
     Maslow's approach, a 'third force' combining Gestalt theory and health-and-growth psychology, demanded a more personal language, one that acknowledged and respected the inner world. Like many artists and a growing number of scientists, Maslow saw that the worship of facts had become the disease of "enlightened" humanity, and turned to personal testimony in the hope of sharing the fruits of his quest. If a philosophy of science that included experiential knowledge was to be constructed, he concluded, communication would have to candidly express its assumptions.
       "Most of our 'objective' work is simultaneously subjective," he noted near the end of his life. Since the external problems that we usually approach scientifically are often also our internal problems, Maslow believed, our solutions are also self-therapies in the broadest sense.
       Acutely aware of the depersonalizing effects of extreme rationalism – flight from impulse, emotion, and the personal – Maslow traced the cause to the Aristotelian framework. The separation of subject and object discouraged fusion and forbade integration. "Respecting the rational, verbal and logical as the only language of truth," he wrote, "inhibits us in our necessary study of the non-rational, of the poetic, the mystic, the vague, the primary process, the dreamlike."
       Despite his warnings and those of other subsequent critics, however, most discussion and literature in the field of psychology, leadership and organization theory since Maslow has remained impersonal and "objective." But a gradual transformation has been underway in the fields of journalism and fiction writing. Over the last haf century both forms of expression have provided increased space for speculation. In journalism, the process began during the 1960s, just as fiction was drifting away from social realism. The so-called "new journalism" that emerged was a break with the reporting of isolated events. Reporters began to consider society as a whole.
       Adopting techniques of literary realism, journalists developed devices that gave their writings an immediacy and emotional impact missing in "objective" reporting and surrealist fiction. For a time subjectivity returned to reporting under the banners of "advocacy journalism" and the non-fiction novel. According to Tom Wolfe, a move from news reporting to this field led naturally to the discovery "that the basic reporting unit is no longer the datum, the piece of information, but the scene, since most of the sophisticated strategies of prose depend upon scenes." The old rules no longer apply when a journalist takes this leap, said Wolfe, "it is completely a test of his personality."
       Speculative reporters turned from the "objective" concerns for verification, specificity and readability that dominated conventional journalism to the uniqueness of each experience and the writer's own observations and intentions. The presentation ranged from the polemic to the dramatic, as these media pioneers pondered their subjects in various aspects and relations.
       This journalistic revolution didn't significantly alter the way the mainstream press dealt with events. It did, however, subtly expand the range of permissible expression, paralleling trends in documentary film making, where the subjective point of view became a powerful tool, as well as in non-fiction writing. As the 1960s began, few authors dared to bring their personal experiences into the consideration of issues in areas such as politics, sociology, and psychology. Today "testimonial" touches are commonplace. In certain fields, notable pop psychology, they have virtually become a requirement.
       Meanwhile, speculative fiction – an outgrowth of science fiction and fantasy – moved from the margins to the mainstream. The merging of surrealism and sci fi began with writers such as Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula LeGuin, Samuel Delany, Harlan Ellison, Romain Gary and others who explored current and potential realities. Since then speculative fiction has become a highly popular genre, often affirming the view that the arithmetically predictable model of the world is only one of many possibilities.

       Among the most direct early expressions of this view was Colin Wilson's synthesis of H.P. Lovecraft, H.G. Wells and his own theory of evolutionary existentialism in The Mind Parasites. With this breakthrough novel, Wilson attacked both the notion of "objective" reality and the assumption that humans have only a few avenues of interaction with the external world. 
      Wilson's story follows two archeologists who, gradually drawn into research on psychokinesis (PK), discover that throughout human history "mind parasites" have been holding us back. The parasites have infected the best minds on the planet with "a deep feeling of psychological insecurity that made them grasp eagerly at the idea of science as 'purely objective' knowledge." Through the "direct action of mind upon matter," however, humanity begins to fight back:
       “There was immense exhilaration as our minds combined, such a sense of power as I have never known before. All at once, I knew what is meant by the phrase: we are 'members of one another', but in a deeper, realler sense than before. I had a vision of the whole human race in constant telepathic contact, and able to combine their psychic powers in this manner. Man as a 'human' being would cease to exist; the vistas of power would be infinite.
       “Our wills locked like a great searchlight beam, and stabbed out at the moon...It was suddenly as if we were in the middle of the noisiest crowd the world has ever known. The disturbing vibrations from the moon were transmitted directly along the taut cable of force that stretched between us.”
       With the combined will of a group, says Wilson's tale, even the moon can be moved. Ultimately, the beams of psychic energy that the parasites have for so long been directing at the Earth are pointed away into space. PK is also used to shield the Earth from these destructive emanations, and even to push the moon toward the sun, so that its "bodiless inhabitants might once again be free."
       Mixing philosophy, myth and science fantasy, Wilson created a mood of existential realism, the novelist's version of Alfred North Whitehead's speculative philosophy. In Adventures of Ideas, Whitehead explained that such a philosophy "guards our higher intuitions from base alliances by its suggestions of ultimate meanings, disengaged from the facts of current modes of behavior."   

       Our discussions cannot be restricted solely to evidence provided by the five senses, Whitehead explained, or by acts of conscious introspective analysis. The sources of evidence must include also language, social institutions and action, fused together through a language that interprets the other two.
       The evidence of language is delivered through the meaning of words, the grammatical forms, and other meanings miraculously revealed in great literature. These insights, said Whitehead, provide us with new meanings, linguistic expressions for meanings as yet unexpressed, a triumph of dramatic intuition over temperamental skepticism. In Whitehead's view, as long as the imperfect nature of language is recognized, it can be a convivial tool rather than a master. In particular, speculative expression can reestablish the human circuit of instinct and intelligence, asserting that inherent flashes of spontaneity are valuable parts of human wisdom.
       Or, as Whitehead put it, in judging the rise, culmination and decay of social institutions, "we have to estimate the types of instinct, of intelligence, and of wisdom which have cooperated with natural forces to develop the story. The folly of intelligent people, the clear-headed and narrow-visioned, has precipitated many catastrophes."

Next: Glimpses of Uncertainty

To read other chapters, go to Prisoners of the Real: An Odyssey

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Back to the Seventies: Leaving Burlington College

The original name -- Vermont Institute of Community Involvement -- was unusual for a college, and a little misleading – especially if you assume involvement means a deep engagement with local politics. What VICI founder Steward LaCasce had in mind was more modest and much more practical, the use of local venues – libraries, galleries, public buildings, other schools and so on – as meeting spaces for its classes. Involvement was primarily a matter of location for what was called “a school without walls.”

After four years VICI - which later changed that unwieldy name to Burlington College (BC) -- had about 100 students, 15 faculty members, and an annual budget of around $200,000. In addition to using existing community spaces for classes rather than focusing on "bricks and mortar," it allowed students to design their own academic experience, and used qualitative, written evaluations rather than grades to assess performance.

Author as
Vanguard Press Editor, 1980
In 1976, however, enrollment in the school’s associate degree program dropped for the first time. LaCasce, a professor of literature who had launched VICI with a group of friends in 1972, attributed the financial troubles to a decrease in the number of veterans enrolling and a delay in degree-granting privileges for its new B.A. program.

Faced with a growing deficit, he told the board of trustees in February 1977 that either staff salaries needed to be cut or the school might be forced to close. VICI survived that early brush with insolvency and won full accreditation in 1982. Over the next decades it became Burlington College, bought property on North Avenue to accommodate a growing staff and provide some in-house classroom space, and doubled the student body. In 2011 it moved to much larger campus on land purchased from the Catholic Diocese for $10 million. Today the college is fighting for survival.

At first the admissions strategy was to attract what were then called “non-traditional” learners, a catch-all for anyone not between 18 and 22 or who wanted an alternative to conventional academic restrictions. About a third of the first students were young Vietnam era vets. Others were single parents and “adult learners,” people returning to school after a break.

At the 1976 annual meeting the previous October, I'd joined the board of trustees as one of two elected faculty members. There were also two student board members. After approving a series of bylaws amendments, we voted to have the chair set up a special committee to evaluate the president’s performance, since he was coming to the end of a five-year term.

Shortly after that, I was elected to the executive committee, which led to an unusual assignment. I was tasked to complete a system analysis of the college’s administrative structure and processes, in line with other bylaws changes being considered and, especially, the concern that the school might face budget cuts in the near future. As part of my due diligence I reviewed documents, observed meetings, and conducted interviews with the staff.

The result was a report, issued in early January, concluding that the administration was divided, morale was low, and the president was viewed as mistrustful and isolated. The problems had been brewing, but this put them on paper. My concern, mentioned at the end of a summary, was that “organizational health may soon be jeopardized.”

A month later, as Lou Colasanti became the school’s first recipient of a bachelor of arts degree, LaCasce responded with an analysis of his own during a “special meeting” of the trustees. He acknowledged an atmosphere he described with words like “conflict,” “demoralization” and “confusion.” But his main point was that fewer vets were applying and the associate degree program had been neglected in favor of the new psychology and self-designed B.A. programs.

The result was a serious, survival-threatening situation. As LaCasce outlined it to the board of trustees in his Feb. 5 report, there were three choices:

1. Cut all staff salaries by 10 percent, but increase a half-time institutional services position to full time to improve morale. That would mean more work over the next months to balance the budget;

2. Eliminate almost all staff positions, with the president and a few others taking on more work. This would be even more demoralizing, he admitted, and would require that the board of trustees begin fundraising; or

3.Close the college on June 30, 1977.

But not only that. Unless the school was going to close LaCasce wanted “the authority to suspend the current College committee structure until the Spring Meeting of the Board.” It was a bold move to quiet criticism of his performance and quell discontent among faculty and students.

Two days later he asked me into his office and explained that I was being fired – for three reasons. First, during the previous week I had participated in a student meeting that he considered disruptive. Second, I had said at a meeting that I was willing to accept a reduced salary due to the budget problems. This undermined other staff members, he explained. And third, unity was necessary and other staff members didn’t trust me.

Afterward, I asked around and learned that his decision had been unilateral. No member of the staff or board had requested my dismissal. In fact, the core staff objected since, in the long term, if he could do this any of them might be next. As it worked out, several more soon left.

Over the next few days a petition circulated and a community meeting was arranged. The idea was to combine my firing with some proactive ideas, including a fundraising project and more student involvement in recruitment, curriculum and development. In the meantime, LaCasce sent me two letters. The first was an official, immediate dismissal, although it ended with this:

“I’m extremely sorry that things have worked out this way, and I believe that many of your ideas will, in time, be incorporated as part of VICI.” I can't say that the prediction was true.

The second letter was dated Feb. 10, the day before a community meeting at which we would both appear. “Many of your friends and students have asked me for specific details to support my decision,” he wrote. “I have said that I thought you could not work constructively within VICI this spring to help us reorganize the College and reach the goals that our trustees set at their February 5th meeting.”

He was willing to attend, however, and said he would be more specific in public. When he did appear nothing much more was revealed. The real motivation for such an abrupt dismissal, I’ve concluded, was most likely a course I had added to my load — Systems and Change — and its long-term group project, to conduct a deeper analysis of the school.

I could have sued and did confer with a lawyer. But what was the point? To win a few thousand dollars after years of legal sparring and potentially deeper bitterness. That felt like the optimistic forecast. No, I still loved the idea of the school. It seemed better for now to let it go.

A few weeks later I turned 30. As a birthday present I decided to give myself a vacation, the first in years and also the first outside North America. (The destination was Haiti but that’s another story.) In less than two years I was editing a new weekly newspaper called The Vermont Vanguard Press, and also back teaching at the college.
. . . and the story continues...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Campus Lost: Burlington College & the Church

Anatomy of an Untimely Sale

UPDATE: Exclusive Radio Interview with the new BC President

Outside BC's main building
In spring 2011, when Burlington College gathered to honor the 34 members of its graduating class at a new campus, then-President Jane Sanders acknowledged that the only man who could have brokered such a land deal with the Roman Catholic Diocese was real estate mogul Antonio Pomerleau.

A prominent local Catholic, Pomerleau had been a prime target of Bernie Sanders’ attacks when he first became Burlington mayor. But at the graduation ceremonies decades later, Jane Sanders revised that assessment. "He understands relationships," she said, "not just ‘who you know,’ but an understanding that leads to a reputation, and to trust.”

Due to more than two dozen lawsuits, the Catholic Diocese was in a spot, on the hook for $17.65 million in settlements. The property initially went on the market for $12.5 million. Although the $10 million asking price was presented as a bargain, not everyone was impressed. According to Erick Hoekstra, a local developer, the city may have overvalued the property. Even if 200 housing units were someday built on the land -- not far from the Farrell plan -- a more realistic price was probably $5 million to $7 million.

The school's leaders evidently hoped that better facilities, more majors and a larger land base would make BC dramatically more attractive to students -- and their parents. But the solution was also a marked departure from the school’s original intent – academic freedom, self-designed studies and community involvement rather than a traditional "bricks and mortar" emphasis.

Almost immediately, the $10 million purchase, along with a commitment to more than $3 million in renovations, put the college under serious financial, management and academic pressure.

Four years and three presidents later, serious questions remain.  For example, why did the board believe that Sanders' enrollment goal -- 500 students within five years -- was reasonable? It was double the highest figure in the school’s history. For decades, enrollment fluctuated between 100 and 250. To double enrollment in five years, it would have to increase by 12 percent or more every year, way beyond the national average or the school’s track record.

Prior to the purchase enrollment was actually on the decline. Between 2001 and 2008, it dropped by about 40 percent, down to 156. It has risen since, again reaching somewhere around 200 students. But there is dispute about the figures --for example, how many are full-time. -- and no sign of a surge ahead. With the loss of all but about 7 acres out of 33, building enrollment becomes more challenging.

Yet, with new leadership and a concerted effort by local stakeholders, this valuable institution may yet continue to serve as an affordable education alternative -- a community-based college, and incorporate its original mission in a vision for the future -- a college that is more than its walls, for free-spirited, engaged, sometimes "non-traditional" students.

For more on BC's past and present:
Radiator Interview

Monday, December 8, 2014

DONS OF TIME: Make the Jump, Buy the Book

"A fast-paced sci-fi thriller featuring 
time travel to Victorian England."

Sept. 27, 2013
Greg Guma’s latest novel stars Tonio Wolfe, who discovers that his company, TELPORT, can use “Remote Viewing” to open wormholes to the past. After his co-workers Danny and Angel let him use the technology to search for Jack the Ripper, Tonio travels to Victorian England and tracks the killer while falling in love with radical leader Annie Besant. Meanwhile, Tonio tries to keep the knowledge of Remote Viewing from his father, ruthless Serbian mob boss Shelley, who owns and wants to exploit TELPORT for commercial use. 

The novel tracks the growth of Tonio’s political consciousness, from apathetic Mafia scion to committed opponent of institutional injustice, thanks to the influence of Annie and Tonio’s college friend Harry, a member of Occupy Wall Street. The scenes in Victorian England have an impressive amount of historical detail and include conversations among historical figures such as the playwright George Bernard Shaw and populist leader Ignatius Donnelly. Many of the novel’s subplots knit together, with Tonio’s quest to discover the true identity of Jack the Ripper mirroring his relationship with his father and his discovery of repressed memories from childhood. 

While the novel raises questions about government surveillance, it disappointingly doesn’t follow up on the implications, with the government acting as a sort of deus ex machina to help Tonio. Still, fans of historical fiction and sci-fi should enjoy this novel. It’s not deep, but it’s well-researched and entertaining, and even readers familiar with the Victorian era will learn about some interesting characters along the way.

Well-constructed, action-flooded sci-fi set in a realistic historical world.

& Fomite Press *

From the mouths of Dons

Peter Lynch, DoD/DARCAP –  "Everything we know is open to revision."

Annie Besant – "What we need is a movement of love and self-sacrifice, inspiring us to give rather than take."

Athena Metsova Wolfe – "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

Helena Blavatrsky – "What writes history is the power of ideas. And every moment offers the potential to write something new."

Ignatius Donnelly – "There is a battle underway in the world, between intelligence and concentrated ignorance."

Danny Webster, TELPORT inventor, on obeying Time Commandments – "Things tend to get worse when you screw around with the past."

George Bernard Shaw to Tonio Wolfe – “Humanity has a dark side, a shadow self, an impulse toward destruction and evil."

Gianni Wolfe – ”God may not play dice with the universe, but if he won't roll somebody better step up.”

Truthsquad Collective – "We've done the digging; the next step is up to you. Nothing is inevitable."

Tonio Wolfe – “I don’t know all the details. I’m more like the canary in the coalmine or a chimp in some capsule shot into space.”

Find out their secrets and more....

"Wherever you look there you are"

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Re-Imagining Burlington: Mayoral Election Update

Nine Reasons to Replace the Mayor
(order subject to change)

9. Fair Wages -- It's been mostly empty promises on enforcing a livable wage. And discussion of a higher local miminum wage? Forget it. Mayor Weinberger didn't even object to exempting business outlets at the airport from the city’s livable-wage ordinance.

8. F-35s - Weinberger has actively supported basing the F-35 fighter bomber at the city-owned airport from the start. It’s an environmental assault that will make some people’s homes unlivable.

7. Marijuana Legalization -- He has remained silent and non-committal, even after voters said yes overwhelmingly to a nonbinding referendum to regulate and tax pot sales.

6. Police Conduct -- He refused to encourage an independent review of police conduct after the rubber-round shooting of protesters and has ignored complaints about profiling and the use of force.

5. Privatization - On the Moran Plant and Burlington Telecom, Weinberger has refused to pledge that public assets will remain publicly owned.

4. Gun Control -- There has been no effective follow-up on a city council resolution calling for a Burlington ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammo clips.

3. Fiscal Stability -- The Stability Bonds that the mayor pushed through may turn out to be a poor deal. Taxpayers will pay big in the short term on the promise of paying less down the road.

2. Democracy and Participation -- One-party rule can be dangerous. It gives the mayor a rubber stamp for whatever he wants. In the past Burlington has been known as a place with three strong parties where political issues were discussed openly. But debate has been recently sidetracked on climate change, redevelopment and neighborhood concerns. We need more democracy, not less.

1. Priorities -- Too many residents struggle to find and keep affordable housing and jobs that pay a livable wage, but the mayor's top priority appears to be commercial development. He wants to give the city an extreme makeover. But that does make some sense. He's a developer, after all, and business interests have a strong voice in his administration. As a result, deals are being fast-tracked without meaningful public input. 

Now it's your turn...
Thanks to everyone who has provided advice, support and feedback about my possible run for Burlington mayor. From people like Ann Taylor, whose civil disobedience on the bike path was a poignant wake up call, and Matt Cropp, whose insights on neighborhoods helped clarify how a challenge on the issues could work, to passionate protesters, artists, students, teachers, parents, and many others turning out these days for marches and meetings, I've learned much and renewed my hope for the future. In person, on the phone, and through dozens of online chats, public and private, I've heard about promising ideas, determined efforts, and needed initiatives -- sometimes in the face of limited resources or looming deadlines.

Despite the current pressure for "speedy" action on a variety of public-private partnerships and plans -- to rebuild the "town center" mall, gentrify south end studio spaces, bring condos and a hotel to the shore of the waterfront, develop most of the land around Burlington College, privatize Burlington Telecom, and sell Farrington's Mobil Home Park for commercial development, to mention the obvious -- real public input and time to consider all options should be more than a formality, especially when the stakes are so high. Before rushing to sell or redevelop, inclusive alternatives and long-term impacts need to be more seriously considered. We can't over-build our way out of problems. We must make the time to explore possibilities that create positive outcomes for all residents.

That said, I haven't attracted sufficient support yet to begin a campaign at this time. Although many people encouraged me to run, others want just a Progressive Party candidate or have different, non-electoral priorities. My work with community groups and projects will, of course, continue. I'll also speak up -- about local issues like housing, affordability and gentrification, global problems like economic inequality, racial injustice and climate change, the lessons of history and the choices ahead.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Re-Imagining Burlington: on the air, on the record

Here is a post-Thanksgiving phone interview on Burlington and the mayoral race: 30 minutes on the air -- political parties, Progressive mistakes, Mayor Weinberger's priorities, redevelopment choices, affordability, climate change, keeping BT as a public utility, and protecting open government at a time of rapid change. Aired 11/28, 11:30 a.m. on The Howie Rose Variety Show, WOMM-FM, 105.9 in Burlington and live streaming. 

Statement on the future of Burlington Telecom, presented at the 11/17 City Council meeting: Good evening. I've lived in Burlington for about 40 years and am currently a member of the BT Cable Advisory Council. The plan for BT to become an enterprise with a commission sounds like common sense. But in my view, as it stands the current proposal for sale would reduce, not enhance, the prospects for recouping most of the $17 million spent to date. In fact, Burlington could end up with very little --  no public stake or influence and about the same amount of money as the current managers.

What will the city get? No more that 25 percent of what has been invested, it appears, probably much less. To get all of the money back BT would have to be sold again for something like $70 million, which is, let's say, unlikely.

In short, the current plan won't help the city recoup most of its investment -- unless there are clear criteria for a future owner or partner. Otherwise, a public asset with great potential for future growth will become totally private.

I think we can improve on the current proposal. How? By establishing ownership standards and putting more administration support behind what is already in motion -- the development of a non-profit entity to buy BT. Not only is this the way to insure long term local control, it's also more likely to help repay the city.... Because a non-profit or a coop can use future revenues to pay back Burlington rather than generating profits for an outside owner.

What's not being stressed is that BT's financial picture has improved substantially in recent years. In September, for example, its revenues were $637,000, with a surplus of $74,000 before the debt payment. And let's not forget why this network was created in the first place -- for long term economic development and to create real competition and choice.

This is still a very young asset -- less than a decade old. In its first 30 years of operation, the Burlington airport received about $100 million in transfers from the general fund.* As infrastructure, BT is just as important today and, if we hold onto it, it can provide long term benefits, better service and more choices for businesses and thousands of residents - but only if we look beyond short-term relief, resist the push to privatize, and preserve this invaluable public asset for future generations.