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Letters to the Editor
Lincoln Daily News
601 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL  62656

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Moving Lincoln Forward

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To the editor:

If we are moving Lincoln forward, then why are people flatly saying, “that is not happening.” In my search to understand and relate to what people are expressing about their perception of what is going on in Lincoln, I ran across an article that targeted what is being felt in this community. In the Stanford SOCIAL INNOVATION Review, April, 2014, the article started out with how people “described the community as ‘jaded’ and ‘frustrated’.” Richard C. Harwood, continued , “The community said that there was too little trust between people to make progress that stuck, that endless turf battles inevitably cripple efforts, and that there weren’t enough credible leaders and organizations to move forward. The community was tired of initiatives starting one day and fading away the next; this undermined people’s confidence in accomplishing anything significant. They asserted that the prevailing way of doing business was to do things to people rather than with people. “

Is it possible to move forward if trust and confidence are missing within the community especially with a lack of credible leaders? Some of our citizens have even stated that the ultimate goal of current city leadership is to take political control of the community and county for their personal benefit. This general feeling concurs with Harwood, “the prevailing way of doing business is doing things to people rather than with people”. Who instigated the alleged turf battles and did the UOC actually cause more problems with more dissention which cripple efforts to move forward? Can leaders be credible if the founded perceptions of those individuals are based on far-fetched ideas and misrepresented accounts of activities? People have even stated some leaders are just downright deceitful and can’t be trusted. The main question here might be ‘how heavily do perceptions weigh in on a person’s thinking?’ Whether the thought is based on factual evidence or perceived evidence because of observed behaviors, the prevailing mindset is incredibility. Trust and confidence are missing.

The key word above is founded. As time elapses, first-hand knowledge of specific activities is tied to individuals and passed on to others. People within the community are smart enough to analyze and observe. They understand what is going on better and discover more as the time passes. They interpret and realize the significance of certain behaviors. They are making conclusions because they have formed a logical judgment considering everything known about the direction the city is going. Harwood has defined it as robust notions. And, yes the citizens of Lincoln have robust notions.

[to top of second column in this letter]

I apologize for using someone else’s work to help explain what, in my opinion, is the direction of Lincoln, IL. In order for our efforts and endeavors to be successful, the essence or civic culture of the community must be taken into consideration. How does trust form? Why and how do people engage with one another? Are people ready and wanting change? What kind of change do they want? What creates the right enabling environment for change to take root and accelerate? Is a dictatorial climate wanted? Is it a ”competency based” imposing mindset that is needed? Who determines the competencies and who is judge? If the community is misread and the civic culture is misinterpreted, then, according to Harwood, “the tendency is to remain stuck or treading water and ultimately slide backward.”

Within the mix of these founded perceptions are factual observations.

  • Spending, spending, spending by city government
  • Selective enforcement of building codes which ignores real hazards while persecuting others for minor violations
  • The building and code officer and staff going up and down streets and alleys, taking pictures of people’s property and harassing citizens to pay more fines
  • A growing government with a decline in populations
  • A decline in income with an increase in taxes
  • A decrease in citizen involvement resulting in a recycling of people on committees and boards because no one else is encouraged or cares to be involved.

The robust notions of the citizens of Lincoln, in my opinion, is that Lincoln is treading water and in need of new leadership that represents the community as a whole, is innovative, and sees the big picture that extends into the future.

Wanda Lee Rohlfs

[Posted November 15, 2014 ]

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