Yesterday night, I found myself in the presence of greatness at Ludington City Hall, and I wasn't even aware of it until an hour after the meeting. I was in the presence of greatness two weeks prior, I even was privileged to talk with that amazing person after that meeting, and sense a kindred spirit.
A new figure around town spoke out at the end of that meeting, about the sundry idea of reducing two lanes off of Ludington Avenue. According to the minutes, he "stated he does not understand why the City is even considering it. It is going to move traffic onto the side streets and will cause congestion [to] the downtown area. He commented that in the winter when snow plows plow snow in center lane where is the City going to keep the snow until it is moved if there are only three lanes.
His name was John Terzano, a name I thought I recalled from somewhere, but not Ludington. In my conversation with him after the meeting, he seemed to have a spirit of a fighter for what he believes in, and we seemed to have a lot of shared concerns. Still, it took one more meeting to figure out he was... greatness.
Some may throw that term around loosely, I try not to. I reserve it for the relatively few who not only make a difference, but do it for the greater good, and face resistance from society in achieving that goal. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Thoreau are ones I usually consider as archetypes in this class. But they are long gone, and operated far away from Ludington; John Terzano is here, right now, and voicing his concerns about Ludington after being on the world stage for awhile. That's not only great for us all, but it's thrilling.
By now you might be asking what a John Terzano is, and what makes him so special. Just a few months ago, Terzano was teaching at the University of Dayton School of Law, proudly yet modestly displaying his Nobel Peace Prize from the wall of his office. Like most things in Terzano's life, the prize was a group effort, he co-founded the Vietnam Veteran's of America Foundation.
Terzano spoke for the VVA in the design of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial, presciently saying the VVAF "supports applauds and congratulates and commends on the design chosen." for the iconic memorial. Terzano remained politically active throughout the 1980s and beyond. In 1997 VVAF's work on the international campaign to ban landmines was recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize.
Terzano is a native of Detroit, serving in the US Navy from 1970-1974 doing two tours of duty in Vietnam during that time. After helping to lead the first delegation of American veterans to return to Vietnam since the end of the war, John became a leading advocate of reconciliation with America's former enemies in Vietnam. The experience and subsequent veterans' reconciliation work ultimately helped lift the economic embargo by the U.S. and normalize relations between the U.S and Vietnam.
John has testified before the US Congress on numerous occasions. He has also presented testimony before the United Nations Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland concerning an international ban on the recruitment of child soldiers.
In later years, he has been the president of the Justice Project, working with national and state groups on criminal justice reform, as well as lawyers representing death row inmates, writing various publications while teaching at the law school in Dayton. Humbly interviewing just before he retired from that position late this spring and moved to Ludington for the next chapter in his life.
Even before I researched Terzano after last night's meeting and found his hidden greatness, I saw him doing a fine job of heroically attacking some of the bogus claims and assumptions of the council at 3:35 into the meeting.
John Terzano: "First I wanted to make reply to some comments that Mr. Shay made in the LDN regarding the lane reduction. He mentioned what was going down in Birmingham and how city officials have reported it's been pretty much a success. Well maybe it's been a success for people in the specific area where the lane reduction has occurred, but for the thousands of people who travel Maple Road it has now become a bottleneck, and a lot of the surrounding communities are not pleased with the decision. Also with respect to changes that were made along Lakeshore Drive ten years ago. First it's my understanding that unlike what's happening with Ludington, it was MDOT that took the initiative on Lakeshore Avenue. But comparing Lakeshore Drive with Ludington Avenue is like comparing apples to oranges.
First, there are no traffic lights on Lakeshore Avenue. Secondly, there is no parking along Lakeshore Avenue, there is no problem of a thru-lane being halted because a door opening or people making right hand turns. And lastly, the pedestrian traffic along Lakeshore Drive is nothing compared to the traffic along Ludington Avenue.
At the last council meeting it was stated that the lanes were not in compliance with MDOT regulations. Well was it not MDOT that striped the lanes in the first place? Is MDOT the one demanding that we change the lanes from 5 to 3? I've not read anything or heard anything that MDOT is behind this. So as far as I'm concerned it leads me to believe that this is simply nothing more than a solution looking for a problem. As a resident who firmly believes that Ludington will become more congested, that certain side streets are going to be adversely affected because of increased traffic, I am strongly suggesting that you not support the lane reduction. Thank you."
At the end of the meeting, and after the city manager had the opportunity to set the record straight as to Terzano's claims-- which he didn't-- John Terzano, who has testified before Congressional committees often before started off his second comment by spiritedly yet diplomatically defending the triathlon which was panned by officials at the last meeting before re-addressing the lane issue:
John Terzano: (42:20) "...At the last council meeting, the statement was made regarding the Ludington lane reduction proposal by a council member along the lines of something like "there's a lot of misinformation out there regarding this proposal, there are things we know that you do not know". It is hard as a constituent not to infer from that statement that we should just simply accept what you know and we do not know, to support you in that decision.
As someone who lived in Washington DC for over 35 years working on policy issues oftentimes with diverse constituencies at the local, state, national and international level, I can tell you that is no way for any level of government to work. While I recognize it's my responsibility as a citizen to remain as informed as possible, it is also your responsibility as our elected representatives to make sure that we are. I know that I will do my best to keep as informed as I can be when I come here to make remarks..."
At which point he was cut off. I resisted the urge to clap, I probably would not have been able to resist if I knew at that time how stridently he spoke up throughout his years for the welfare and commemoration of his fellow veterans, for the victims and future-victims of land mines, for children inducted into armies before they hit puberty, for victims of an imperfect criminal justice system, and for all others he has stood firmly for while oft-deaf officials stood in the way of fairness.
What a welcome addition to Ludington.
It looks like Karma has arrived for Ludington City Officials.
Red Solo Cups won't hide your pitiful, pathetic, guilty, corrupt, faces'
Nothing less than prison and shunning for ALL of them.
Welcome to Ludington Mr. John Terzano and, thank you for your Service and Honor.
I agree with Ihave! so thankful for you and what you do X! Also thanking God this huge voice is here and hoping that he will be a voice for us small unimportant people as treated by the current city officials! I pledge full support!
I admire the pluck and presence Mr. Terzano has shown at the last two meetings and hope we can work together to bring the best outcome for Ludington and root out the corruption holding firm. I think we are all lucky that John decided to settle in Ludington to retire, and decided not to retire so soon from his public duties as a citizen.
I am hopeful he becomes engaged in more than just defending the triathlon and questioning the road diet, both of which affect him directly. I am confident that most of our objectives otherwise would be along the same line. Just remember that he's starred in the major leagues and whiffed a few of the big players of the world, while I'm fighting to get on a minor league team and relegated mostly to batting practice.
Thank you John Terzano for being yourself, and for your valued knowledge and experience to share with Ludington citizens. And, as usual, Shay and Holman make sure to have their petty timer to cut people off that don't agree with their malfeasance of policy that acts as a terminal cancer on our town. The same timer is ignored completely when the comment person praises the council though. I hope John and X lead the way to get others now involved so the truth finally prevails, and progress is made.
The Calvary has came to help X
I'm in! Anything I can do to help! Ready to pick my torch back up!
Poor John. He finally gets to retire and he runs into a local government whose actions defy common sense. He probably wants only to sit back and enjoy the beautiful things that the area has to offer. I bet the last thing he wanted to do is get wrapped up in local politics. Unfortunately for John the same kind of walls he banged his head against in Washington in order to get things done and to better the lives of people are unfortunately the same walls in Ludington's political scene.
I think Terzano believes that the City of Ludington has brought the war on him, as he honestly believes his relatively peaceful West Court Street home will no longer be. I'm sure he has several options in his bag of tricks that I haven't even thought of, because he's in it to win it-- and our city hall is no pushover.