Feb. 8, 2006 12:00
Economist Richard Florida has written that communities in the new century will succeed or fail based on their ability to master "Three Ts" ' talent, technology and tolerance. Lafayette has long had the talent to succeed. The LUS fiber project is the best example of the community's commitment to investing in technology in order to succeed.

However, the effort to name a major street in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has demonstrated that we've got serious work to do on the tolerance piece. Dr. King was arguably the greatest American citizen of the second half of the 20th century. In the 1950s and '60s, he used the moral force of nonviolent passive resistance in the face of segregationist violence to change the moral balance of power in this country. In the Civil Rights revolution, blacks and whites used those tactics to score victories that moved America closer to the ideal enunciated in the Declaration of Independence ' a country where all people are created equal.

Four decades after those victories and his death, our elected leaders have turned Dr. King's life and accomplishments into an excuse for yet another public pissing match that is really all about their inability to interact like adults. In the process, they have inflamed passions, insulted our intelligence, and inflicted serious damage to Lafayette's reputation around the globe. Yes, the same people following our great fiber story have been watching this embarrassing display of pettiness and posturing, too!

The issue at hand is not just about the inability of elected officials to behave like responsible community leaders. It's not really about the cost of envelopes and business cards. It's about all of Lafayette being willing to recognize the accomplishments of an American citizen who challenged this nation to measure up to its promise. It's also about taking a small but absolutely essential step toward bridging the racial divide that will distort the development of this community for as long as it is allowed to persist.

Quit the posturing! Name a major street for Dr. King so that Lafayette might get on with the work of building a healthy community here!