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Sunday, July 11, 2010

More than the Pools - "Citizens for Equity in Government"

An Inside Look from the People most affected by the City of Hickory's decision to no longer operate the Swimming Pools that have been a part of our community for Generations:

Sent to me by E-Mail from Deana Jones:

The city of Hickory only owns two swimming pools, Ridgeview and the George Ivey facility both located in low-income, minority communities. Neither pool has opened for the last few swimming seasons.

In 1994 and 1995, the City and leadership approved a program called the “Ridgeview Strategies”. This program was designed to help improve the Ridgeview Community by building city facilities and improving housing conditions. Among some of the city facilities that was to be improved was the swimming pool in this community. The improvement was to be a new swimming pool for adults and youth in the Ridgeview community at the end of the summer swimming season. There was money approved in the budget dating back to 1994 for the upgrading of the swimming pool.

The community is asking why the money allotted for this work has not been used for the repairs of these swimming pools. These pools serve a great purpose for the youth during the summer to help keep them out of the streets.

In 2007, the pool was opened on a specified day to allow dogs to swim in the pool. This upset many citizens of the Ridgeview community.

Later the swimming pool was inspected by the county and state Environmental Protection Agencies and was determined to be unsuitable for use during the next swimming season.

The last inspections were made in 2007 and 2008 and the City was told about which repairs would be needed to reopen the pool for the 2010 summer swimming season. As of July 10, 2010, the City has not complied with the work needed for the Ridgeview community.

It may be of interest that the community leaders went before City Council for resolution and concerns in this matter to no avail.

The pools are the issue. Let’s look at the real problem.

As most of us are aware of, we live in an area (Unifour) where (because of the election processes) for all practical purposes it is impossible to elect progressive leadership to represent minorities and poor and low-income whites to governmental bodies. The playing field is not level.

By anti-Democratic processes I am speaking of the at-large and modified at-large systems used to elect members to city councils, school boards, and county commissioners throughout the townships in the Unifour area (Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba counties and hundreds of counties and townships throughout NC). The lone exceptions are the pure ward voting systems in Hickory, NC and Burke County, NC for electing school board members.

District and ward representation came into being to ensure the representation of ignored neighborhoods and to increase the likelihood that minorities and poor people would be represented by politicians of their choosing. It was not for the convenience of politicians.

By systematically allowing these voting processes to flourish, it is the intentional misuse of power that denies full democratic participation on bodies that determine our involvement in shaping public policy in the area. (Unifour)

If we are systematically kept away from the decision-making tables, we are barely left with little or no control of our destiny. We are at the mercy of “Plantation Politics” if we continue to do nothing about our condition. Can anything be done? The answer is a resounding Yes! We must go to our NAACP’s, labor groups, churches, social organizations to ask that they get involved in demanding that our right to participate in responsive and representative government not continue to be denied to us by the dominate cultural forces and corporate groups. Our leaders in these institutions must be at the forefront of our struggle for just democratic representation.

These anti-democratic processes disfranchise and discourage voters especially among workers and our youth.

The citizens of Hickory will return to City Hall AT 6:00pm on July 20, 2010-BE THERE! CAN WE AGREE HERE TODAY AMONG OURSELVES TO BE INVOLVED IN THIS STRUGGLE?

Hickory City Pools -- Told You So


James Thomas Shell said...

Here are my thoughts on what Ms. Jones espouses here. She is 100% correct in her summation that the city made a promise and personally I think it is disgusting that they first tried to sweep it under the rug and now are trying to ignore it, but what else is new.

I understand this lady's angst that she doesn't feel she is represented. Personally, I feel like a sharecropper in this town, with our Servant Sector jobs. We all know who gets their way around here and if one honestly investigates they will notice it isn't a very pretty site when we move past the quasi-prozac induced comradery.

My mother, bless her heart, put it best at the City Council debate last October -- the one that the Power Brokers didn't want to take place and that very few people attended. She stated that her children weren't born in a family where she owned a company and could provide them with a (nepotistic) job.

And she hit the nail on the head with that one. You basically have to win the lottery of good fortune to make it in this town. And many times the Powers that Be will come down on you if you don't toe their line. Where has all of that gotten this community?

I also was disappointed by what I saw from the folks that represent Ridgeview last Fall. Look how few people from the Ridgeview community voted. If you want representation in the city, then you have to take an interest. There were only about 77 people that voted in the Ridgeview precinct. That is ridiculous!

I for one don't want to see the African American community looked at as a sector of Hickory. I want you to feel that you are a part of this community. Part is a big part of partnership. You must take part in this community and I believe that is very important. We don't need the Ridgeview community to be sectored or sectioned off from the rest of Hickory -- physically or mentally. That is segregation, and in 2010 we are supposed to be way past all of that.

As far as the pools, you know where I stand. I was thinking about it last week when it was 100 degrees outside. The Richy Riches' children were at the club or in their backyard pool and do you think they have a clue about the poor kids? or even care?

It is "Plantation Politics" and many of us are basically left with the squalid options of the "Servant Based Economy" or no job at all. And we are told that we should be happy that we have a job, as though we are lesser people and don't deserve to aspire to a better life.

Ms. Jones, I probably don't agree with some of your stances, but I do want to see everyone have an equal opportunity to succeed and I am sickened by the caste system that I have witnessed during my life.

I want to throw up when I see the Government Welfare that these rich folks rake in and the way that they manipulate the government in their favor with tax loopholes and cronyism. And then they look down on the rest of us. And now they don't even want us to have crumbs. The elites' manipulation and control mechanisms are what have led to the downward spiral of the middle class and the permanent underclass in this country.

I think that as the economy continues to flounder, the real issues of honesty, integrity, honor, and loyalty will come to the forefront of our lives.

This city needs to find a way to get those pools open and that is the bottom line!

harryhipps said...

Many of the points in this letter are why I ran for City council this past year. I ran on the pools and also on the way downtown and the politically connected people are the only ones who get any consideration by the Mayor and a majority of the Council. I am glad to see Ridgeview engaged on the pool issue, but how are we going to get broad, sustained effort to change the good ole boy network that controls City gov't?
It's frustrating to see the apathy and ignorance in Hickory, and even though we do have sorry media in this City, it's ultimately the Citizen's responsibility to learn and take action to make changes. I hope the Ridgeview community will continue to hold the City accountable for the promises made and I pray more people will wake up to the things that go on here.