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Columbus Mayor Blames Newspaper for Road Discussion Overflow

Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong is happy to have finally attracted a crowd to a city council meeting -- even if it's at the expense of the city's street plan.

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Columbus' city hall overflowed with citizens wanting to comment during a Tuesday meeting on road improvements.

Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong is happy to have finally attracted a crowd to a city council meeting — even if it’s at the expense of the city’s street plan.

The mayor has long lamented a dearth of participation in public meetings — so much so that even the Columbus Republic newspaper issued an editorial calling on citizens to be more involved.  This week, they were — creating standing-room only conditions during a meeting on the city’s future plans for road improvements.  The only problem, said Mayor Armstrong, is that the same paper which issued the call to action may have also delayed publication of the plan’s details.

“The newspaper did a great job the day before the meeting,”Amstrong said.  “Front-page spread mentioning 15 roundabouts and several other things.  Pretty large article which was actually pretty detailed and did a pretty good job.  Except that article should have been in the newspaper three weeks ago.”

Called for comment on the mayor’s statement, Republic Editor Bob Gustin declined.  Nonetheless, the large crowd forced the city council to table its discussion of the plan until September.  The topic Armstrong thought would be of the most concern — adding those 15 roundabouts to city streets — didn’t even come up.  But the mayor said he’s already fielded some post-meeting comments on the topic, as well as addressing it personally with some constituents.

“I’ve received two e-mails on that this morning already — ‘We don’t need any more of them daggone (sic) roundabouts, they don’t work and they’re too little and they’re this and they’re that.’  The other day I talked to a gentleman who really likes roundabouts.  And he said ‘The problem with our roundabouts is that they’re too little and have have to go too slow.’  And I said, ‘Duh!’”

Speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” Armstrong said there will likely be more public hearings — including opportunities for citizen input on the road plan — before the September council meeting.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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