THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 644, November 13, 2011
"Who do you trust more, somebody who will tell you the
truth, no matter how unpleasant it may turn out to be,
or somebody willing to lie to you to keep you happy?
Better make up your mindif you haven't already
because we have a lot of unpleasant truths to deal
with, if we want to save America."
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
This note outlines my plans for a documentary film to be shot on location and in studios in Lawrence, Kansas. It would illustrate a number of difficulties facing residents of Lawrence, Kansas, known affectionately by some as "Larryville."
Traffic, bus, litter, student slums, invasions of privacy in campus housing, tragedies both historical and present at Haskell, police shootings, unconstitutional camping ordinance, unconstitutionally enforced and inappropriate park closing ordinance, over-capacity at the homeless shelters, school shutterings in East Lawrence. Purpose: politically embarrass city commission; identify problems; seek support for solutions. Several of the minutes of this documentary would involve interviews, of Occupy Lawrence folks, of other community folks. I plan to write it up as a plan, submit to Kickstarter and Indie-ago-go.
Traffic: There are number of nightmares involving traffic in little ol' Larryville. One of them is the over-capacity use of 23rd Street, especially between the eastern edge of town where it is K-10 and Iowa Street. There have been head-on collisions there, one which I witnessed. There was a motorcycle creamed by an 18-wheeler, this past Summer as I recall.
There is an intersection of environmental concerns and traffic concerns in the proposed South Lawrence Trafficway. Reasoned arguments can be made that it is useful to reduce congestion on 23rd Street, which is difficult to expand because of existing buildings and parking areas adjacent to the right of way. However, pushing the Trafficway through the wetlands and Native American lands is clearly wrong, and unnecessary. Expanding 31st Street is no by-pass, since a huge shopping complex sits at 31st and Iowa. Only a bypass that actually bypasses the city, South of the Wakarusa, makes any sense.
Traffic: Every basketball game day there is a huge traffic snarl at 15th and Iowa due to the insufficient number of lanes as 15th meets Naismith. The University of Kansas also refuses to allow a four-way stop or any other traffic system at Engel and 15th, despite endless delays at that intersection every day. For a city run by developers in cahoots with cement manufacturers, one would really like to see some evidence that these people can plan their way out of a paper sack.
Bus: Did you know that there is no bus service for Haskell University? There are definitely students there, and there is definitely as much of a need for their students to get about town and about their campus as there is for the illustrious white population of the University of Kansas. Did you know that "Ride Safe" doesn't provide for rides to Haskell addresses? Which seems wrong, discriminatory, and dangerous.
Bus: Is it necessary to have a city-run mis-managed bus service? In communities all over the world, local entrepreneurs offer rides in their vehicles, including very large bus-type vehicles, without licences, and without difficulty. Prices are often very low, competition high, and options many. I've had better bus service, for less, in remote countries.
Tragedy at Haskell: Did you know that the students at Haskell were forced to break apart the stones used in their barracks so those stones could be shipped up Mount Oread to build the fine stone buildings you see from the early 20th Century at KU? An interesting story that should be more fully documented, I think.
Crime: Did you know that a small group of fraternity brothers picked up a gay man in downtown Lawrence, beat him nearly to death, and left him bleeding? Why aren't these scum in prison, or paying compensation for the rest of their natural lives? Because there are two systems of justice in Lawrence, one for wealthy white families, and another for everyone else.
Police shootings: Every police shooting in Lawrence has been, in my opinion, unjustified. Let's document them and see what you think.
Unconstitutional camping ordinance: the current camping ordinance violates the first, fifth, ninth, and fourteenth amendment, attempts to re-write criminal law to exclude intent, and is unconstitutionally vague.
Inappropriate park closing ordinanceLawrence is a 24 hour city, and has been for decades. There are three shifts at factories in the area. Students pull "all nighters" every midterm and finals period. There is no reason to close the parks at night. Worse, the parks are not fenced, so it is not possible to "close" them in any meaningful way. As a result, parks are used 24 hours a day, but only rich white people who dress nicely can expect to be ignored by the police. Everyone else is in danger of arrest if they happen to walk through the city's parks at night. Which is obviously a violation of the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law, among other deficits. Further to this point, by failing for several decades (in my living memory going back to 1966) to fence and actually close the parks at night, the city has lost control of the parks to the people due to adverse possession. So, it isn't like the parks belong to the city, anyway. The parks have become common property of all mankind by adverse possession.
Over-capacity at the homeless shelters: The homeless shelters often turn away homeless. We should document this issue in the film. Also, we should interview Michael and others who have tried to provide alternative shelter. Michael's idea was house boats and barges on the Kansas River, a very innovative solution, attacked by the city and presumably by such esoteric groups as the Army Corpse of Engineers (who seem to imagine that the Kansas River is "navigable").
School shutterings in East Lawrence: The smaller schools in our district, including recently shuttered Wakarusa, have had some of the highest test scores and have produced some of our best scholars. If we are to have public schools, of which I am not now and never have been a fan, it seems irrational to close the best schools, force fit students into huge new schools to be built, one supposes, with corruptly allocated contracts, or to pretend that East Lawrence is not allowed to have any schools, with all the money and contracts being sent to West Lawrence (also known locally as East Topeka).
There are other problems in the city. Trouble in Larryville wants to cover them. Maybe in this first film, maybe we make it a series.