The wheels of government turn slowly; even local government. A bureaucracy with 14,000 employees can’t do very much on the spur of the moment. Budgets must be built, union commitments kept, trust from the public retained. But elected officials also must pay attention to the immediate, the word on the street, the view from the ground. In an effort to do both, Eugene City Council should take a stroll through downtown this weekend and chat it up with a couple of shopkeepers. If they didn’t intend to already, they should then take a quick peek at any of a dozen shopping destinations that offer free parking. That little bit of research should be enough to convince them that Eugene should begin planning now for a 2008 Christmas shopping season that offers free downtown parking. Four weeks of free parking a year from now may be just enough to lift some shopkeepers’ spirits, and policy-makers might learn something about what citizens are waiting for, when it comes to downtown development.