Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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Local Voices: An Open Letter to Mayor Eidam


Local Voices

Adam Barker

Mayor Eidam,

In late August I emailed you to ask if you’d be willing to meet and discuss the question of allowing chickens in Lansing. Eventually you responded and ignored my request for a meeting, but you did share that you’re opposed to allowing chickens because of the “odor of chicken coops.” You cited two anecdotal examples as reasons for this, both of which I believe are true but neither of which are sufficient to determine whether chickens should be allowed in Lansing. If I told you about two of my neighbors having smelly dogs, would you make them illegal in Lansing?

A month later I emailed you to ask specifically about running a chicken keeping pilot program in Lansing. In your response, you claimed that I have “minimized the due diligence and research of the Village of Lansing elected officials and administration on this topic.” You then proceeded to ignore my question about a pilot program and instead stated “the topic is closed.”

I responded to that email by saying I’m not minimizing the research the administration has performed because the administrator himself told me that the decision wasn’t based on research but was simply because “the mayor doesn’t want it.” (The administrator told me this in a meeting at Village Hall in a conference room with the door wide open. It was not off the record.) I then asked if you could state why a pilot program is a bad idea. You did not respond.

Then on October 18 I came to the village board meeting with six other residents and presented you with a specific proposal for a pilot program to run in the year 2023. I was very clear that such a proposal has tons of upside and literally no downside—the very worst that can happen is that on January 1, 2024, chickens are still not allowed in Lansing. You said nothing in response to the proposal. I emailed you again the next day to ask if you’d consider it. You did not respond.

I’m writing to you once again to ask that you reconsider your stance on this issue. I do so publicly in the hopes that this format might prompt a more transparent response than what you have so far provided. I won’t bother reciting the case we have built for allowing chickens because it is well rehearsed and you should be familiar enough with it at this point. All I will ask is that if you are still unwilling to support a pilot program, please, for the sake of those of us who care deeply about this and in the spirit of democracy, state your opposition as clearly as it can be done, and explain how your opposition stands against the arguments we have made.

I know you are busy and have plenty else to do, but this is a perfectly reasonable request given how many of your constituents signed our petition in favor of this change.

Respectfully signed,
Adam Barker
On behalf of scores of Lansing residents

Local Voices is our version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Send your submissions to The Lansing Journal with “Voices” in the subject line.

Local Voices
Local Voiceshttps://thelansingjournal.com/category/lansing-voices/
Local Voices is The Lansing Journal's version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Submissions may be sent to [email protected] with “Voices” in the subject line.


  1. I don’t want to shock anyone, but I agree with the mayor/ We have a lot more important things to worry about. This is not a thing to worry about . I don’twant them either (chickens ) they belong on farms not residental neighborhoods/ Lansing garbage trucks used to say on their sides ” CLEAN UP LANSING ” Well we have . Lansing is not a farm community anymore and have no need for chickens here because somebody likes them or wants them ! There are plenty of places you caan move to down south and have as many chickens as you want ! Case CLOSED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Good for Adam. I agree with his expectations of a respectful, complete reply from the mayor.
    Laura Parker
    Lansing resident

  3. I will preface my statement by stating that my comment is not meant or intended to support any specific political party or their specific actions. My comment is based solely on the substance of this letter as it is written in this article.
    I am grateful that the Lansing Journal is committed to providing the residents of Lansing with a platform that allows their voices to be heard.
    For me, the letter provoked thoughts regarding the procedure(s) for changing policies / ordinances in Lansing.
    A mayor is a leader of a community. 15,000+ residents in our village each have their own concerns and inspirations regarding the community where they chose to live and raise their families. The mayor is tasked with casting the vision for the community. Every decision and policy must be filtered through the vision. A mayor must consider both the sub-set and the whole of the community. Economic development is #1 for any community. Everything flows out of economic development. Economic development is a system that is extremely sensitive. Navigating these vast waters is not for the faint of heart. All systems contain other systems. If we intend to make changes…it is always wise to do our “due diligence”. How does our request affect the entire community? Every change has upsides……and downsides. A claim that there are no downsides can only serve as evidence of a lack of due diligence. Those who take their responsibilities seriously will not trust the voices of those who appear to be less serious. A lack of due diligence will never foster trust. You cannot have change without trust. Every action we take in the pursuit of change is measured, quantified, and used to predict our future performance. If we are antagonistic, not listening, accusatory and argumentative during the presentation; one could trust that the same behaviors will be exhibited during the execution of the implementation of the change (execution of the pilot program in this case). I also thought about what was transparent here. The mayor was accessible. The mayor participated in a dialogue. The mayor is well within her right (also being an individual citizen of the community) and in her scope of duty as an elected official, to deny any request for change (of an existing law or policy), both verbally and / or through voting. A discussion always contains the possibility that the outcome of the discussion may not be in your favor. Democracy is about the cooperation of the majority and representation of the majority by elected officials. I disagree with your assertion that the elected official (in this case) was unclear in her response to your request for change. Was your letter written respectfully?? It is my assessment that this letter serves as a demand instead of as a request for cooperation. Effective politics cannot be accomplished apart from cooperation. Cooperation is always voluntary. The mayor is doing the job she was elected to do whenever she is enforcing existing laws that prohibit agricultural practices in areas of the village that are zoned residential. The question is not if the mayor supports your pilot program. The question is “does your pilot program support the vision of the Village of Lansing?” Are you effectively representing the concerns of the signers of the petition? Did you discuss with them a possible alternative to them accomplishing their goal if you were unsuccessful in presenting your request? Does your sub-set operate democratically? Will your proposed system fit in the existing larger system? Etc…..

    • Gabriel,
      Thanks for your thoughtful response. It sounds like you are unaware of the long process we have been in. It’s been an entire year of board meetings, emails, calls, and more. And yes, there was a “vote” in August, but there was no real dialogue around the vote. Each trustee made a statement of their opinion, but that was it. If I say “we’d like to have chickens” and you say “you can’t have chickens because they smell”, and then you ignore whatever else I might say about how chickens don’t smell if you take care of them properly, that’s not what I’d call dialogue.
      We have been very respectful throughout the entire process and have tried to be cooperative, but it’s hard to be cooperative when the other party stonewalls you.
      If the mayor believes that our pilot program does NOT support the vision of the Village of Lansing, that’s fine! I’m very open to her communicating why she believes that is the case. I would respect that. But she hasn’t done so. All she has said is “chickens smell.” Does that really meet the criteria for democratic engagement you’ve described here?

      • Adam,
        I have no knowledge of the process that your sub-set has been involved in. I specifically commented on the content of the letter. I can now respond to the content of your comment. In my initial comment I mentioned the process for changing policies and ordinances in Lansing. It sounds like your expectation of dialogue in this matter and the legal requirement for dialogue in these processes are not congruent. The mayor and village board are bound by law not the personal preferences of the individuals that they were elected to serve. Preferences are both valid and subjective. Stonewalling is not always negative. Parents stonewall their children every day. If the village board has taken this request all the way to a vote and now considers the matter closed….they are no longer required to continue to discuss the issue(even if you prefer that they do). Preferences must be managed simply because of efficiency. My limited understanding of the process is that most likely there is no appeal option. This requires one to come with their most compelling and thorough argument at the beginning of the process. I am not aware of an ordinance that makes accommodations for “back and forth” dialogue or rebuttals. If your sub-set choose to litigate this issue….you would have to prove that the village acted contrary to their own current established laws and policies. If the village’s actions in this process align with their current laws and policies (which is what their attorney would advise them to do); expecting something outside of that would be unrealistic and unreasonable. It would also be unreasonable to consider yourself victimized by experiencing such a process. This is an opportunity for you to pivot. I understand that you are passionate about chickens. I personally understand the benefits. I also understand that others will have chickens and they will not manage them properly. Just like other pet owners who neglect their domesticated pets. This is why an animal control officer “ideally shou”ld not have to be a “dog catcher”. My point is, whatever the residents don’t manage, the village will have to lend it’s resources to manage. I am not speaking for the village or assuming their specific reasons here. I say this because the process you went through does define the democratic engagement that I mentioned in my previous comment. The mayor and trustees are elected to represent the residents of Lansing. They ran your request through their established process and took it to vote. They denied the request and now consider the matter closed. They re-enforced the finality of the matter by continuing to no longer communicate on the issue. You are asking to change something in the system that they are responsible for. They are only obligated to play by the rules of “the system” that you want to change. Various movements in this country (civil rights, women’s suffrage, religious freedom, etc) ran up against brick walls all the time. If state law says that a black man can be imprisoned simply because he is unemployed; that unemployed black man is going to prison. That vagrancy legislation is now non-existent because people re-organized and were strategic in their approach to make change. If you consider this issue or other issues to be worth the energy…I would recommend that you re-organize and work to strategically get the change you and others want to see. Google is instant. Changing a component in an existing system that involves people and government is nowhere near instant. 1 year isn’t even considered a delay in these arenas…LOL!!. Change is strategic. Strategy takes energy and stamina. Medieval wars were sometimes won because a city would be under siege for 15 months and just simply run out food and water. Not a drop of blood was shed and the city would willingly unconditionally surrender to the invading army….so the people would not starve to death.

  4. Adam Barker for Trustee! or Mayor! To make changes, think about running. Your chances of winning are just as good as anyone else.

  5. The mayor should should not make a decision based on her likes or dislike alone. Decisions should reflect the community, not one person that doesn’t like anything or anyone, only the Queen herself.

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