A much better way to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks would be to stand up for the kind of world our fathers and grandfathers fought for in the early to middle part of the last century. You know, the world where justice, truth and tolerance were to replace terror, lies and xenophobia. It’s not just about the people who were killed on 9/11 or killing the people who killed them. What we need to do is prove, once and for all, that the freedoms we build our society around are not just for the Western world but are for the entire world, and that a society which embraces and guarantees those freedoms, and only a society which does so, can make this world function. This is not a world where politicians and preachers exploit ignorance and fear for their own gains, paying no heed to either long or short-term consequences. This is a world where we do what we have to do, with the aim of making a better world for all of its going-on-7-billion inhabitants. That was the real challenge of 9/11 — not to defeat a religion, but to defeat, one more time, the idea that brutality and might-makes-right are the prime motivating principles of human society.
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As soon as the weather cools off and the kids go back to school, it’s time for the city government to perform its most important and essential task: Come up with a budget. Last year’s process was, while harrowing, in the end a disappointment — like any number of state budgets, it didn’t seem to address fundamental fiscal problems, preferring to put them off until next year. Funny how next year always seems to come sooner than you think. While the mayor and Common Council often disagree, this year there seems to be a consensus that now some painful choices will have to be made. Being an eternal optimist, I liked what Shirley Whitlock had to say: “We definitely cannot afford to lay off any more people and we can’t afford to raise taxes. Does that put us between a rock and a hard place? No, because what it will do is make us dig in our feet and be a little bit more creative about what we need to do.” Necessity is the mother of invention, and all great leaps in evolution are a result of having to adapt to a stressful environment. Hopefully, what has proven true in a universal sense will hold for Kingston as well, producing a budget with some favorable mutations. (Or at least not a 10 percent tax hike.)
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Whether the economy is actually recovering is a matter of opinion and perspective, one sign things are picking up is the chronic fullness of the Uptown parking lot. Just last year, not being able to find a spot was an exceedingly rare occasion; nowadays if one arrives any later than 11, one can bank on needing to park elsewhere. While it is a minor annoyance to have to go park at the plaza, it means more people are coming to Uptown and, it is hoped, stimulating the economy. So we’ll hold off on calling for a new parking garage for the time being.