Citizens should share views on change

Thursday, January 1, 2009 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Welcome to 2009. Are you ready to see some change this year?  

A few weeks ago, I posed a question about change in 2009: What kind of change do you want to see?

It’s a broad question, but that’s by design. It was done to inspire you to tap into what you’re most passionate about changing, and then expressing it.

Steve Spellman, a Columbia resident who hosts the Tuesday News at 5 on KOPN/89.5, would like to see more accountability and healing, both on the psychological and ecological fronts. He has written a piece that kicks off this community conversation series, and I hope it inspires you to weigh in with your ideas.

Tracy Barnes, a newly minted graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, is looking at what she can do on the local level. Tracy’s column on the subject will run Monday. By the way, Tracy will be writing a weekly column for the next several months, until law school begins to eat up all her time.

The series will run as long as you keep it going. If you have an idea for change, write a column. Or record a podcast. Or draw a cartoon. Or do a video testimonial. Then e-mail it to (and please include a phone number for verification purposes).

Judging by some of the comments left on my previous column announcing the series, I’d say some of you have a lot of things to say. Here is a sampling of comments:


“In 2009, I would like to see some serious discussion as to how Columbia balances growth and standard of living in a recessionary economy. As a university town, we've always been a bit recession-proof, but this year we all know that the sour economy has reached us all. I would like to see the Missourian spend a lot of time looking at the microeconomic effects of the macroeconomic news and bring it down to as local a level as possible.

“What businesses have closed this month? Where? What kinds? I see, for example, that Back YardBurgers out on Clark Lane is shuttered....”

— Charles Davis, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Center and an associate professor for the Journalism School


“What needs changed in Columbia in 2009:

“We need much stricter Taser regulations for police, including oversight that those regulations are being followed. If you get the DVD from the police department of Taser use cases and read them over, you will see why.

We need our state legislators to stop the attempted overthrow by AmerenUE of the citizen-mandated anti-CWIP law, which prevents utility companies from charging for power not yet received. AmerenUE wants to overthrow the anti-CWIP law so the public will be forced to pick up the tab for building a new for-profit nuclear plant. We need to say no to nuke plants because they are too risky, too dangerousand too expensive, and they are too little too late as far as meeting our energy needs.

We need a new public school superintendent who looks for ways our school physical plants can go green and also ways to provide more choices and more individualized instruction to students — especially in math. This can be done with increased use of computer programs in math. Go to and see what you think.”

— Linda Green


“I would love to see the city stop throwing so many Chlorides (de-icers/salts) on the sidewalks and roads every time it so much as threatens to freeze, or bad weather is in the forecast. I've seen them throwing that stuff around in the rain before. Why not A: Conserve our de-icers for when it really hits, and B: Preserve our water quality by reducing the amount of pollutants we are putting out there. In 2009, I would really love to see more attention focused on keeping our rivers and streams healthier! Our water is such a precious resource that we all take for granted.”

— Melanie Cheney


It doesn’t matter if your passion is for national politics, local issues or simply the human condition; it doesn’t matter if you’re coming from a conservative, moderate or liberal background; what matters is expressing that opinion, that passion.

I hope you’ll accept this invitation to join the conversation about what we can change about our world in 2009. Happy New Year.

Jake Sherlock is the opinion page editor. Questions, comments and column inquires are always welcome. E-mail him at or call 882-9951.

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