This week the Missouri Municipal League issued its own list of (just three) "Top Challenges Missouri Cities Face in 2014." The choices all involve revenue or the lack thereof: deteriorating infrastructure, the Internet sales loophole and unfunded mandates.
The national version of this list, also announced recently by the National League of Cities, has additional, more social, concerns like "the shrinking middle class" and "the need for affordable housing."
But the one "concern" on the national list that did not make the state list is perhaps the the most critical:
"Lack of Public Trust."
Locally, in Jefferson City and Cole County, this phenomenon is an anchor that keeps us from making progress on a number of fronts: school improvements (both buildings and policies), transportation and infrastructure investments, and even the downtown conference center approved five years ago by voters. It's not helpful to attribute this mood to any particular group of persistently negative thinkers or any national or local media source. Nor can you cite any of our mostly volunteer leaders for making it more prevelant. Some of it has be taken in stride. America was founded on a healthy mistrust of government!
But it's time that we expect both citizens and leaders to talk often, openly and calmly about issues and viewpoints -- instead of just throwing stones or constantly ducking them.