Carson Perspective: Lead, follow or get thee to some other public forum

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last week’s meeting of Carson City’s Board of Supervisors drew an overflow crowd and resulted in a decision to tear down sidewalk fences along downtown Carson Street, but not to go immediately from four lanes to two lanes of traffic and allow parallel parking. Perhaps later in the year ... or decade.

Next Thursday’s meeting of the same board in the same Community Center Sierra Room, starting at 8:30 a.m., will tackle budget matters for fiscal year 2013-14 both for city government and the Redevelopment Authority. The authority is made up of the same membership.

Thousands of words were uttered during last Thursday’s evening session, but most were of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” quality. The arguments were passionate, sometimes even valid on each side, but many were repetitive and virtually irrelevant.

The job of the fly-on-the-wall observer is to take note when relevancy rears its rare head.

Often the Carson Street debate prompts the query, “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” or some variation of that silly non-Zen koan. The question, in other equally silly words, is whether attractions lure pedestrians or pedestrian-friendly environments lure attractions.

Just as well try to separate psyche from soma, which smart physicians will acknowledge isn’t particularly easy.

So let’s use a better analogy: You have to break eggs to either scramble them or make an omelet. To beat a related wordplay drum: You can’t be chicken while scrambling eggs or making omelets.

So kudos go to one proponent of a pedestrian-friendly downtown and two lanes of traffic, though this implies neither agreement nor disagreement with his goal.

Steve Browne of the Carson Cigar Company downtown nailed something worthwhile with plain talk.

First he argued that making downtown walking-oriented rather than a drive-through place won’t necessarily save businesses, but could help make it the focus for cultural, civic, some commercial and related opportunities in the city. That, however, wasn’t what passed for rare relevancy. Neither did his buttering up of board members by calling them leaders.

What he uttered next, though, was as relevant a civic observation as heard in our time. He said leading is about dragging others kicking and screaming into the future.

How and when to make more Carson Street changes downtown will remain open to debate. But Browne’s point works in general, not just on a particular issue.

Lead, follow or get out of the way applies not only to downtown, but to civic spending issues upcoming as well.


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