Letter to the Editor

Soft approach doesn't work

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Dear Editor,

I wanted to write you three weeks ago when the article first appeared in this paper telling of McCook's "soft approach" to city clean up.

I can tell you it does not work. We've been trying it for three years in Indianola to no avail.

What began as an effort by the Indianola City Council to clean up the more unsightly properties in town, has turned into an absolute shambles. It is an embarrassment and a humiliation.

The council completely removed itself from the process by contracting with the Red Willow County Sheriff's Department to enforce city ordinances. "If you have a complaint, call the sheriff. It's out of our hands."

That said -- first one, then all four -- all within one hundred feet of each other. The persons for whom the complaints were filed in turn complained about the complainer. Thus, a vicious circle, with the sheriff's office in the middle.

One of our councilmen dubbed it a "p---ing contest."

Somewhere in that article mentioned above, one of your councilmen expressed this very concern: neighbor against neighbor.

There have been no other complaint, and the council (members) can justify their approach as being successful. And, because of this, our city attorney is calling the filed complaints "an unnecessary dispute between neighbors." He even went so far as to ask the sheriff's department to stop issuing citations.

"I'm not going to spend ... the City of Indianola's money for that."

Recently, and again after three years of pursuing the issue, this case was brought before Judge Clark in the Red Willow County Courthouse. If you can imagine, both parties (whittled down from the original four) were found guilty and in violation of Indianola City Ordinance number such-and-such, and each fined a whopping $20 and costs. I will gladly pay that and keep my junk.

What have we accomplished in all this time? Absolutely nothing; right back where we started. The City of Indianola is not involved, having shifted the focus, the responsibility to the "city-zen of Indianola" and it's a dead issue.

Who wants to fight with their neighbor? I don't. But I'd like to see this community cleaned up, the property next to mine improved. And, the ordinances are there. Why have them otherwise?

A photo in the Gazette last week showed a property on J Street that the council took to task, (to paraphrase) "You clean it up, or we'll clean it up for you," and to dramatic results.

It is a far cry from the "soft approach" which the council sang praises for just a short time before.

Good for you!

It occurred to me, while sitting in Judge Clark's court, there are people who travel far and wide to have a learning experience (loss of their hard-earned cash); the old adage, "You can't win if you don't play." I had my experience right here.

I gambled on my community and lost. That's sad. And, it's not because the people don't care. The Indianola City Council must take responsibility.

James F. Sughroue,


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