OPINION

Letter to the Editor-Crossing the Rubicon

Geneseo Republic
Video gambling was approved by a narrow margin recently in Geneseo

Dear Geneseo,

Tuesday night Mayor Sean Johnson crossed a Rubicon for the first time in our city’s history. Everyone in our city should know about it and it should never be forgotten.

No, I am not talking about the mayor’s deciding vote and landmark approval of video gambling in Geneseo.

No, I am not talking about the many claims that video gambling would financially rescue a handful of Geneseo businesses. Absolutely zero factual data was presented to support these claims; while many independent facts and scientific studies were presented disproving these false projections of financial benefit. This raises serious questions about the math comprehension of some council members…but it was no Rubicon.

No, I am not talking about how decades worth of facts, scientific studies and historical data were presented in compassionate moral arguments for protecting the family, social and mental health of our community members. Yet again, zero data was presented to support the idea of this being “just harmless fun entertainment.”

No, I am not talking about the shocking eagerness with which these five continually desired to see Geneseo become more like the communities surrounding us. We remain one of the only Illinois communities to draw people over from Iowa! Why seek to blend in?

No, I am not talking about repeated references to a closed survey of about 15 local businesses, while over 200 other Geneseo businesses were completely ignored and not surveyed for their input (not to mention the 6,000+ affected citizens).

No…all of these did indeed occur last night and all of them display a level of foolishness and blindness which is unfortunate, but not exceptional. Foolish decisions have been made before and will be made again. Geneseo will move on. We are bigger than the mistakes of our leaders.

No, none of these were exceptionally surprising.

But Mayor Johnson crossed the Rubicon when he showed blatant and premeditated deception in ignoring the voices of nearly 300 citizens of whom 99% were in opposition to him. I am not exaggerating when I say “blatant and premeditated deception”. While outwardly announcing how important it was to hear every person’s voice and to protect the time given to each public comment—it was all for show. Mayor Johnson’s speech in favor of gambling had already been written ahead of time. His vote was already set in stone. His opening comments were carefully crafted to make it sound reasonable that the few dozen voices who spoke to him privately somehow carried more moral weight than the nearly 300 voices which would soon be presented in opposition to him. Soberly nodding and listening to hundreds of Geneseo voices was pure theatrics. With a predetermined result already chosen, no listening ever actually happened.

Last night the citizens of Geneseo learned a hard lesson: Our voice will not be heard by this council.

No matter how many hundreds of petitions are signed…

no matter how many letters are sent…

no matter how many citizens show up and speak their voice…

no matter how often the aldermen nod their heads and pretend to listen…their minds are already made up. Mayor Johnson, Simosky, Arnold, Rothschild and Barnhart have all made a bold claim that they are smarter than the citizens of Geneseo. They are happy to smile and nod and tolerate the presence of the people, but that is it.

Ironically, they all talked about how wonderful it was to hear from so many people! Barnhart even said he wished this many would show up at every council meeting.

Why?

Why should we? Just to marvel at their all-knowing wisdom? They have demonstrated they will not listen to dissent no matter what. So why should anyone who disagrees ever show up and expect to really be heard?

From now on there is no reason for citizens to go to city council meetings. The City knows best. They have publicly demonstrated that they will not listen.

The Rubicon has been crossed.

We have no voice before the city council anymore. The only voice left to the people of Geneseo is in the voting booth.

Nathan Huddleston