A Plea for Common Sense


A Plea for Common Sense


ecently, my wife and I had appointments at a top medical clinic in the Midwest. One of the items on her bucket list is to visit all 50 state capitols. So, we thought this would be a great opportunity to view capitol buildings in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. At the same time, we needed a new car, so I had a business trip in Pennsylvania, and rented a Tesla to give an EV a test. It was, in a word, disappointing. 

Common sense seems to suggest that shopkeepers and restaurant owners should have the right to protect themselves from theft.

Don’t get me wrong, Teslas are scary fast. But the iPad control console was not, for me, user friendly, and the stated range was a joke. Coming back to Maryland, with the air conditioning on and driving through the mountains, I ran out of battery after about 240 miles, not the 300 miles Tesla advertises. When I told my wife, she said, “Let’s use common sense and get a plug-in hybrid.” And that is exactly what we did. Our Hyundai Santa Fe has enough battery for all our in-town driving, and we never have range anxiety on the road.

At one of stops along the way, I stopped in a Walgreens Drug store and noticed that many items were kept under lock and key. I asked the manager, who told me that kids come in, help themselves to whatever they want, and simply walk out. Employees are instructed not to stop them, because the shoplifters might be armed. Even private security guards don’t deter the brazen shoplifters. 

Then, that evening, we dined at an Asian restaurant near a capitol building. The owner told me that he doesn’t leave take-out orders on the counter anymore. The reason, thieves walk in, steal the bags of food, and leave.

We noticed that many business districts have yet to recover from COVID, but at the same time, local officials are removing on-street parking and substituting bus lanes and bike lanes. Again, my wife asked me, where is the common sense? Neither of us ride or own a bike. We have a few friends who do, but they don’t use their bikes for shopping purposes. We decided to use public transportation in a couple of cities, but we found the buses nearly empty. When we asked bus riders about it, some said they were afraid to ride the bus most of the time because of rowdy passengers and occasional threats. 

So, let’s summarize: business districts are the lifeblood of our communities. Commercial districts pay more in municipal taxes than they consume in city services. Most small businesses are the major job creators, and these small businesses often represent the life savings of the owner. 

Wouldn’t it make common sense for elected officials, planning professionals, and transportation staff to want to do everything possible to create an environment where small businesses can thrive? To offer clean, safe, attractive streets where customers can find a place to park (because most customers are arriving by car)? When I was involved in a parking study in Fort Collins, Colo. some years ago, I calculated that each on-street parking space contributed $300,000 annually in sales to the block where it was located. 

Finally, wouldn’t it make common sense for local officials and the business community to show some respect for police and fire fighters who protect our lives and property, and who put their lives on the line every day to do so? Defund the police? A remarkably dumb idea. 

In closing, I would urge our readers to visit the 9/11 museum in New York, to understand how police and firefighters lost their lives trying to save the workers in the Twin Towers. There is an excellent documentary on YouTube called “Chief” and everyone who works with police and firefighters should watch it. The chief in this case died, but showed an extraordinary amount of both courage and common sense. And by the way, his name was Bill Feehan.

David Feehan is President and CEO of Civitas Consultants LLC,  a consulting firm that focuses on downtown development. He can be reached at dadpsych.mac.com


Article contributed by:
David M. Feehan
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