Parkville Mayoral Candidates on Sidewalks, Buses, and More

April 5th Parkville voters will decide whether to re-elect Nan Johnston for 3 more years or to change leadership with Nick Casale. Speaking strictly for the sake of democracy, I’m encouraged to see challengers in elections, even if I believe the incumbent has done well (I do), and in the four years I’ve lived in Parkville, I’ve seen several unopposed elections on my ballot. There are a few alderman elections occurring as well (several unopposed), and the Platte County Citizen has mentioned a few of them in a recent article, as well as a brief summary of the mayoral race. I’m not looking to repeat any previously stated information.

My goal with this blog is to provide information about issues that are rarely discussed in media coverage of local, small town elections: views on pedestrian, biking, and transit infrastructure. Initially, I simply wanted to hear their views to inform my opinion as I head to Parkville Presbyterian on the 5th. But the answers I received were quite informative from both candidates, so with their permission I’ve decided to share a few quotes. Hopefully this information may be useful for other voters, but mostly it’s of particular interest to me in deciding who I think should lead public policy for the next 3 years.

Full disclosure: I received answers to my questions in different formats and at different times: Nan Johnston’s responses were written up in a rather prompt response to my Facebook message. Nick Casale’s answers are quoted from a phone conversation a couple of weeks later, so you’ll notice the change in formality between the two answers, and while I tried to ask the same questions in the same way each time, there was some slight variation. On a couple of questions to Nick Casale (speaking to my amateur journalistic skills) I included the Parkville Connections project (public information that I wasn’t aware of before receiving her response) and Nan’s view on ridership numbers (a stance I’ve heard from other Parkville officials previously but only learned of Nan’s stance after receiving her Facebook message). As another piece of disclosure, I live along Bell Road, so its issues got some special treatment in my questions. You understand how that goes.

At the time of writing, I have not completely made my decision, but this has been helpful. There’s a decent amount of shared value by both candidates toward walkability, which is quite encouraging. Both candidates have also encouraged me to continue my engagement with them over this issue.

On connecting downtown to Parkville Commons, sidewalks, and road widening:

Nan Johnston:

Thank you for contacting me. I too believe in walkability and although some of our neighborhoods have a good sidewalk system, the interconnectivity is non-existent. We are doing a number of things to address some of the issues you mention.

There is a mixed-use development planned for between downtown and The Commons, appropriately named “Connections”. Due in large part to the economic downturn, it was put on hold for a number of years, but we have a renewed interest in the project again by some serious developers and it’s very possible this will be picked up soon. It will greatly improve connectivity with trails connecting the 2 areas of town.

You may have heard about the 45 highway widening, final phase that will connect K to I-435. This was identified as a priority several years ago, and is necessary for safety, as visibility is bad in areas, and there is no shoulder to speak of. Hundreds of new homes are planned on the western edge of town and the current capacity will not be able to handle the volume coming in and out of the neighborhoods. The speed limits will not increase after the lanes are added.

We have also recently completed a study of the entire 9 Hwy corridor from Hwy 45 to Riverside. You may have heard it referred to it as a widening, but we will be merely adding turn lanes to alleviate congestion. When cars get stacked up, it’s not only aggravating, but adds to poor air quality as cars idle. There is also no shoulder, or sidewalks on most of 9 Hwy, meaning that students from the University as well as other walkers, runners and cyclists are so close to the roadway, it’s frightening. This project includes a 10 foot shared use path on one side and a 5 foot pedestrian path on the other. Both paths will be separated from the roadway by curbs and a foot-wide section. Again, there are no plans to increase the speed limit. More details on this plan can be found on our website: Click on the “Community” tab, then on “2015 Route 9 Corridor Study”.

There is nothing in current zoning that prohibits a more pedestrian like downtown to be developed. With the assistance of public input, that is precisely what I and other City leaders feel is appropriate in the southern part of Rte 9 area of town. Part of our Downtown Vision Plan is to extent the look and feel of Main Street into the Southern section of Hwy 9 (from the University soccer fields to the Post Office). The sole intent is to actually get drivers to SLOW down by intentional re-development to create more of a downtown appearance rather than a state highway appearance. The speed limit is 25 MPH there, and there is no intention to increase the speed.

We are careful regarding master planning the future of Parkville. Because there is a huge difference between the newest northwestern areas, and the downtown area, we must carefully evaluate new commercial and residential development for the proper fit. What is appropriate in one area of town, will not be in another.

Nick Casale:

I live in downtown Parkville so these are things that are near and dear to me. Connectivity is vital to all of our citizens. And where these things need maintenance, I’d like to see it happen. Unfortunately, Nate, everything we’re talking about costs money, and when they cost money they have to be prioritized. I don’t think anyone, in the current government, or in the future if I’m elected, doesn’t think these things are important. But unfortunately, finances the way they are, it has to be prioritized. I think you will find these things coming along quicker in the future, Nate, I really do. They’re very important to a lot of people, and they’re very important to me. I mean, I, frankly, would rather ride a bicycle through town on occasion. I go to the YMCA every day, and I would love to be safe, or safer than I think I’d be given the current situation.

(when specifically asked about Parkville Connections development)

One thing that you have to consider when you get into residential areas and wooded areas behind the commons that leads up to Bell Road, now you’re dealing with residences and homes… It’s a little tricky. I applaud any of that. Any vision (for redeveloping that land) is positive and good. I think it’s a great step forward. There may be some things in the plan that you don’t see that you would rather see, but I think that any step forward right now is a positive.

(when asked about traffic studies that call for wider roads, higher speed limits and more vehicle lanes)

I’ve seen those studies, and I think the first thing that you have to deal with is that highway 9 is a state highway. It just happens to go through our town, and so trying to make hwy 9 into a local street is tough. There’s always going to be a need for a “wider”, “faster”, and “more”. Unfortunately for that mile or so from Park University up to highway 45 it’s still a state highway. I don’t know, frankly. I think that engineering being what it is, it’s always going to be to expand and increase and hold more, rather than eliminate and decrease. I can say it’s certainly something that everyone’s interested in. I think what we find for ourselves in any town… And by the way, Parkville is the largest population for any city in Platte County outside of Kansas City, Missouri… so, Parkville is growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s only going to get more. As it gets more it’s going to mean more automobiles. I wish that we were a self-sustaining community that could eliminate a lot of these cars from traveling through our town and just scurt around it and give our residents all the space they wanted to walk and bike, but that’s not going to happen. I’ve spent a lot of time downtown so I’ve seen all of the traffic that comes through — there’s a lot of traffic Nate, and I know I don’t have to tell you that. I’m just afraid that it’s going to get more — you see that project just east of Riss Lake where there’s going to be more apartments. It’s just going to get more and more, and in order to accommodate that you have to increase.

On Bell Road/Hamilton St sidewalks and safety:

Nan Johnston:

Bell road presents a challenge. If we were to install sidewalks, they would eventually be torn up, as the road is in serious need of reconfiguration. It is much too hilly, with blind spots and is dangerous. I do agree with the need for sidewalks there, however it’s probably not a wise use of taxpayers dollars to install, only to tear up a few years down the road. Future development along Bell Road could speed up the road reconfiguration and right now I couldn’t tell you exactly when improvements might take place, just that I believe it is inevitable.

Nick Casale:

As far as Bell Road is concerned, I don’t need to tell you this, but with the geography and the topography of the road, I mean, it’s never going to get any better, it’s always going to be a hilly, blind spot (filled) way for people to travel way too fast in their cars. It’s a dangerous place, and I understand that. I know there are a lot of people who live in the apartments throughout Bell Road who probably don’t feel very safe, and if they don’t have an automobile to have to walk to Price Chopper or any other place… it’s tough. Nan will have lots of answers for you based upon her knowledge of the last six years of projects going on. Aside from what I just told you I’m not sure I can offer anymore expertise, but I can tell you you have a sympathetic ear here. I am someone who would push for and prioritize any kind of sidewalk widening on the Bell & Highway 9 corridors. I think that’s part of the city growing. Bell Road has been like that since I went to Park College in the 60’s. It was a sleepy town back then, there were only a couple thousand people in Parkville and it didn’t have near the population and traffic that it does now. That wooded area that comes out of Hamilton in that culdesac before Bell… I think there are opportunities there Nate, I really do.

On RideKC bus service (specifically asking about Rt 243):

Nan Johnston:

Yes — bus service has been explored and considered and I’ve also discussed with Mayor Rose of Riverside. Since Parkville is not a “job center” like Riverside’s industrial park, there are not enough riders and we are unable to cost justify City subsidized bus service. That could change in the future however, with the addition of new jobs and it is something we will keep an eye on moving forward.

Nick Casale:

I think I echo Nan Johnston that ridership is vital to getting any kind of bus service here. The city of Riverside may be subsidizing that bus line to come through there, but remember too that the casino in Riverside pays for a whole lot of things. I don’t think it’s a dead issue, Nate. I think that you’re on track when you say that there could be some shared money here whether it be from the state or the county or maybe some federal grant of some kind that can help. I think that’s part of the conversation and I think that’s a good conversation. Because I’m with you, I’d rather sell my car and take public transportation and use a bike, so you’re speaking to a sympathetic ear here. I can only tell you that it’s something that I would pay a great deal of attention to when it comes up again.

If only Aristotle had a radio talk show…

Success requires wisdom and eloquence.

This statement from my COM theory text is one that really struck me. I think a brief refresher in Greek history is in order to articulate this!

In the time of Aristotle and his mentor Plato, there were these travelling speech ‘teachers’ called Sophists, who were essentially the original FOX news anchors, just dressed for frat parties. They went around Athens offering public speaking lessons for aspiring politicians, lawyers and the like, and they were known for their technique of showboating; elevating style over content. One might accuse any presidential candidate of sophistry. It’s just too easy, and can make you sound educated in Greek history! But these days if you explained what that meant, the moderate voter might reply “And what’s wrong with that? It’s how this thing works.” In a culture run by mass media we are not only taught that this is a good thing, but we are conditioned and controlled by this technique. If you have ever been to a grocery store, been in a job interview, or bought a MacBook, then you’re a sucker. And so am I. (Except for the MacBook. I can’t afford it. Still, props to Apple for making me lust for inanimate objects!) Continue reading

The Infinitude of Our Debt to God – and Vice Versa

This is my final Kierkegaard paper which basically says God is in debt to us big time.

In chapter 5 of Works of Love, Søren Kierkegaard discusses our moral indebtedness to each other on the basis of love.  The Apostle Paul in Romans 13:8 says “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.”[1] and by saying this makes the implication that the only good debt for one to have is the debt of love.  Kierkegaard focuses on the idea that love is not just a debt, but a different kind of debt.  The difference, he claims, is that opposed to monetary debts which are dealt with in finite quantities, love is dealt with in the infinite.  With finite debts, the goal is to get out of debt as soon as possible.  With the infinite debt of love, however, it would be “speaking unlovingly, coldly, and harshly”[2] to try to get out of debt as fast as possible.  Keeping records with love would be an offense.  If, however, one acts in a loving way toward another and expresses that he wishes to remain in debt, this, Kierkegaard says, is speaking lovingly.  To make calculations and assessments of love, an infinite act, would be inherently impossible. This is impossible because to try to quantify the infinite on a finite level is a task which will never be complete but rather continues on forever; it is a logical impossibility.

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Does Sexual Addiction Exist?

This is from a paper I wrote for my Human Sexuality class last fall. The most marks that were knocked off of it were based on my over-reliance on John Davies as a source, and I figure I could probably use some of William Glasser’s work as additional reference, but the fact is that there just isn’t much out there on this view, since it is not a very popular one – a lot of people base their careers (or adversities) off of what I’m warning against. My hope is in the very least that people pay more attention the complexity of this issue rather than oversimplify.

We live in a highly addicted society.  There are drug addicts, smoking addicts, gambling addicts, alcoholics, workaholics, shopaholics, et cetera.  Ever since Carnes wrote his book Out of the Shadows in 1991, it seems like sexual addiction is everywhere.  Western society is highly and intensely sexual after all, but exactly how accurate is it to attribute repetitious sexual behavior to external factors, as if the person involved had no choice otherwise? Continue reading

Attribution: Tom Hits Mary

excerpt from the book The Myth of Addiction, using Harold Kelley’s ANOVA model of attribution:

“Suppose we observe one day that Tom is hitting Mary, and that we have information available (of whatever type – observations, second-hand reports, stereotypes, prejudices etc.) about the pattern of consensus, consistency and distinctiveness surrounding this act.  For example, it is just Tom who hits Mary (low consensus), he seems to hit Mary quite often (high consistency) and he also hits other girls (low distinctiveness).  In these circumstances, we are likely to explain the event in terms of a negative property of Tom; he is aggressive, unpleasant, a bully, and so forth.

Imagine, however, that our information suggests high consensus (other children also hit Mary); high consistency (they hit her often); and these children are not generally noted for hitting other people (high distinctiveness). In these circumstances, we are likely to attribute the act to some disposition of Mary; perhaps for example there is something she repeatedly does that test everyone’s patience.  Whatever the truth of the matter, we are likely to attribute the behaviour to a negative property of Mary.”


consensus               HI           or           LO

consistency             HI           or           LO

distinctiveness         HI           or           LO

Using Kelley’s three dimensions, we have seen how the pattern LO, HI, LO leads to explanation in terms of negative attributions about Mary.  It is amusing and instructive to consider other alternatives, and to try and predict the type of explanation which might be forthcoming. Some patterns are quite easy, others are more subtle. For example, HI, LO, HI implies that there are particular situations in which Mary gets on everyone’s nerves (i.e. a person x situation interaction); and LO, LO, HI suggests that the incident was due to some unfortunate and unforeseeable circumstance.”

In reading this I can’t help but go back to a conversation I had with my friend Lauren yesterday. We were talking about being quick to pick out things in other people that annoy you. She says that we do that because we are the ones that possess that trait. Because we know so much about what it looks like, it is much easier for us to point it out in other people, and it annoys us, because we don’t like to have that behavior. Yet, instead of correcting it within ourselves, we pick apart other people. It’s a crisis of self-awareness.

This concept has been messing with me recently.

My friend Tim gave me an object lesson in this a couple weeks ago. I have a tendency to call other cars on the road parts of the male anatomy in a derogatory manner. I call this one car an asshole because he makes a mistake that I myself make all the time. Tim, who has known me since diapers, swiftly and confidently shares his observation that I recognize it so well because it’s my area of expertise; I know an asshole on the road when I see one. …

For the next 20 minutes I just sat there waiting for the light to change to a color that didn’t reflect my attitude, coming to a slow and painful realization that he was right… that I’m either the only one or the quickest one finding fault in these situations (low consensus)… that I do this quite often (high consistency)… that I tend to do this with a lot of people (low distinctiveness)… and to add to the ANOVA model (sorry, Kelley), that I seem to always do this strictly with people that possess traits very similar to mine (we’ll call this ‘high commonality’).

That’s a LO, HI, LO, HI, in case you’re counting, or in other words:

Nathan hits Mary with behind-the-back remarks because he sees his own negative traits in her, and this is his own passive-aggressive way of addressing dissatisfaction within himself as a person.

The Myth of Addiction

This is an essay I wrote last semester during my study abroad term in Leicester, England. It was for the class “Psychology of Love and Attraction” and was written about John B Davies’ book “The Myth of Addiction”. I’m going to expound upon this later in the semester when I work on my thesis for Human Sexuality class about whether or not sex is addicting. You’ll notice I wrote like a true Brit for this essay spelling words like behaviour and centre like so. When in Rome?

Throughout the medical community, the psychotherapy community, and especially the news media, a stereotype exists about drug addiction and recovery. This stereotype is quite a few years old and it is based around the notion that a person becomes dependent on pharmacological drugs while simultaneously sidelining his willpower. This notion paints a picture of the drug that pharmacologically enslaves the user upon first or second contact and dooms him to a life of utter helpless dependency. This inevitably becomes a deadly lifelong pursuit of a fix to match the involuntary dependencies and the need to resort to drug pushers and shady dark alleys; as author John Booth Davies puts, “life becomes a nightmare of withdrawal symptoms, involuntary theft, and a compulsive need for drugs which cannot be controlled.” (Davies 1997) Davies, however, seeks to paint a different picture. In his book The Myth of Addiction, he proposes the idea that none of these stereotypes necessarily have to be true, but that they are a fabricated idea by drug institutions and forcibly accepted by the user. “The helpless junkie only exists because we all want him/her to exist; and because drug research continues to make naive use of what people say about their addictions.” (Davies 1997) Davies states that most people that use a certain drug really just use it out of their own ambitions, because they enjoy using it. He stresses learned choice over learned helplessness.

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Counterfactual Knowledge and Free Will – take 1

This is a post from my presentation for one of my upper level philosophy classes called God and Freedom. The class is basically one endless attempt at wrestling with the behemoth that is exploring the philosophical implications of human free will and the sovereignty of God. This post is basically the handout I’m making for the class about my presentation on the subject of ‘Middle Knowledge’. This is based off William Lane Craig’s essay in the book “Divine Foreknowledge”.

The question about the order in which God possesses counterfactual knowledge is a debate long argued by Dominican and Jesuit theologians, and has enormous implications on whether or not human beings possessing free will clashes with the theological claim of God being an omniscient being.

The main question:

(page 120)

Theologians from most sides tend to agree that God possesses counterfactual knowledge (“conditional statements in the conjunctive mood” eg.: if Hillary Clinton had won the primaries, John McCain would be President right now). What theologians most often disagree with, however, is when would God possess such knowledge.

The order of possible knowledge is as follows:

“Natural Knowledge”
o  o  o  o  o  o  o  o  o
The range of ‘possible’ worlds.

“Middle Knowledge”
o     o     o
The range of ‘feasible’ worlds.

“Free Knowledge”
The ‘actual’ world.

We’re concerned with “Middle Knowledge”, and the dispute over when God possesses this knowledge is not relation to time, but rather “logical order”. The question we will focus on is whether God’s counterfactual “Middle Knowledge” is logically prior or posterior to his divine creative decree.

Dominican View:
(page 121)
“Catholic theologians of the Dominican order held that God’s counterfactual knowledge is logically subsequent to his decree to create a certain world. ” Therefore when God created the world, he decreed through that act of creation which counterfactuals (or what feasibly would contingently happen) are going to be true. Logically prior to that divine decree, however, there are no counterfactuals to know, and therefore it is not necessary for him to know such possibilities in that logical order. God simply only knows the many contingent possibilities at the order in time that is logically necessary.

Jesuit View:
(page 122)
“Catholic theologians of the Jesuit order inspired by Luis de Molina maintained that God’s counterfactual knowledge is logically prior to his creative decree.” The Molinists’ main fuel for argument with Dominicans is that by making counterfactuals a subsequent consequence of God’s creating the world, the Dominicans had effectively destroyed the possibility of human freedom, for counterfactual possibility would be a mere cause and effect of a particular act of creation by God. Molinists, by placing counterfactuals logically prior to creative decree, exempt any interdependent involvement by the two, leaving room for legitimate free-choice to be a possibility for human beings, while not messing with God’s sovereignty. God would simply factor the range of possibilities into his creation of a world – and this is what Molinists coin as “Middle Knowledge”.

I’m leaning toward Molinism, for lack of a better solution. It still possesses holes for me, like if God possesses counterfactual knowledge independent of divine creation, then it might be problematic for his sovereignty. I’d be willing to deal with that though in the face of the alternative Dominican view, which would appear to me to be surrendering a white flag to determinism. And if there’s one thing I’m not… it’s a Calvinist. No thanks.