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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mayor Rudy Wright and the $20 million Idea

From the Monday Morning meeting with the Mayor on Hal Row's First Talk program, June 6, 2011: I was listening to Hal and the Mayor talk about a Game changing Investment and if people have an idea that he wants them to bring it to him, no matter how big or small, this is the third month in a row that the Mayor has talked about this idea. $20 million has always been this number that he constantly brings up. He defines it as a parameter, but in the end -- in my opinion -- this is all about politics and frankly, although he's entitled to say whatever he wants,  I am personally getting tired of hearing it. He states that he and the Council would take it (the Right Idea) to the people. What parameter defines "The People." First, if I have a $20 million idea, why am I going to bring it to the Mayor. What is his track record of making things happen? And why should I not be worried about it being steered away from myself and towards more connected interests?

Hal brings up the idea about municipal golf courses and the Mayor makes a simple statement about them having mixed reviews. My paranoid side felt like they were trying to poke and prod me to call in and state that I would be against it because it would compete against the local Private Clubs. I could give two piles of horse hockey about that. I know that this would not be a good time to call in about such a subject when one of our areas most important marketing events is taking place. However, my argument would be that there is an over saturation of golf facilities in our community already, especially with the current state of the economy. Go ask the existing golf facilities how their present revenues are going. Most of these "Golfers" don't have a clue about the intensive investment that it takes to run a proper Golf facility.

The next thesis of this program was that we need to bring more retirees into this community. I already have pointed out why I believe this to be a mistake -- ad nauseum. I am willing to debate the Mayor any time and any place on this issue. These two men kept talking about how it would create construction jobs, because these people buy houses and Hal was talking about how these people would buy houses on these municipal golf courses. Let me get this right. We don't have money to spend a few hundred thousand dollars to create a community swimming pool, but we have millions of dollars to spend on building golf courses with the hope that golf lovers will flock to the Hickory to play golf to infinity. We don't take care of the Citizens of Hickory now, but they want to bring in new people that they expect to cater to. Yeah right!!!

Ladies and gentleman, someone has to come out of the woodwork and I have been thinking about two years from now, because we cannot afford to remain on this path to nowhere that we are on. Hickory is a political microcosm of what we see from other dysfunctional governments that we see throughout the World. These governments have detached themselves from the people and do not look at themselves as public servants, instead we are looked upon as subjects. They look to themselves as Authorities and Authorities authorize.

I honestly think the Mayor has no intentions of doing anything. We are not moving forward in this community and the Mayor is basically telling you that he has no ideas. If he had any ideas about how to generate anything economic, then he would not be asking you for yours!!! And to a degree he has implemented his policies, which are to cut, cut, cut, cut.... the budget and by consequence reduce the effectiveness of the local government. Where is $20 million going to all of the sudden appear from?

With this act of desperation, the $20 million idea, he displays over and over again that he thinks he is the final arbiter of whether an idea is good or not and I have never heard him state that any idea sounds great. It is always that he needs to study it further or it has had mixed reviews or it hasn't worked somewhere else or people are looking for "The Right Idea."

The Mayor is becoming a caricature of how Old South Mayors were characterized on television shows like Andy Griffith, etc. back in the days of black and white TV -- jumping in front of the crowd on popular issues, while being scared to death to take any chances, because some political negativity might be pinned on him if he were wrong. I hate to say that, but when he is constantly making these broadbrushed generalities about community investment and other over simplified statements that he has made about the local economic situation and the scenarios to be played out over the next generation, then one can see that he has no intention of doing anything outside of the box to move this community forward. It is a Medicine Man approach to make a situation look grander than it is.

I want someone to come along, who is willing to face down this mess, this lack of focus, and this lack of leadership that is present day Hickory. I am not here to attack people. I do want to help, but I am given nothing to work with. Our leaders keep pushing this notion of this being a cheap place to live. That isn't a great way to attract the movers and shakers of this world. Smart people understand the concept of Cheap Begets Cheap. We need to stress Excellence and Value related to that excellence!!! We don't want to be a cheap place to live with cheap wages and amenities. We want to be a community with an excellent Quality of Life where people are happy and don't have to work two and three jobs to make ends meet; who can say that they don't have to sacrifice their way through life. There is a big difference between what our leaders consider sacrificing and what I am telling you about sacrificing.

We have got to move forward and stop worrying about political gamesmanship and instead think about the people. The people who have Hickory in their blood. Politics will not resolve Hickory's issues. It is going to take someone that will lay the facts out to the folks and be willing to lose in order to win. If you are trying to become Mayor for the next generation, then you will be part of the problem. If you want to get some things done around here and are willing to take some heat from the entrenched interests, then we can get some things done around here. Talk is cheap, let's step up to the plate and make some things happen.


Silence DoGood said...

Golf courses and community pools cater to different kinds of people. Read that desirable and undesirable. Rudy talked about people coming here to play golf, but yet, only an hour away from Charlotte; Macy's and Saks were specifically mentioned. An hour drive into some of the worst traffic in North Carolina across some of the most poorly maintained roads. They want to compete with Myrtle Beach as a venue. A place that has 70 or so golf courses and is a resort venue unto itself. Hickory doesn't have that claim, unless you have a means of turning abandoned buildings and factories in to tourist attractions. If you've got money to burn and want to invest, a golf course perhaps isn't a bad idea. But it's like drag racing. You spend a lot of money to make a little money. And we're talking about using public funds to speculate with. I know the concept was just a theoretical talking point. But I know too that someone is thinking about viability, otherwise the depth of the conversation wouldn't be what it is.

Hickory is always trying to transform itself into something it isn't. That can be a good or bad proposition. I think the key is to identify what it is that makes the place desirable and attractive, something marketable to others outside the region, something that is sought that caters to a wide spectrum of people, not niche markets and populations. Impossible? If that is a true assessment, then we have our answer concerning change and remaking Hickory. If it isn't, then it is incumbent for us to identify what that 'thing' is. Except the point being missed completely is assimilated to those that scurry about looking for "the missing link" in the anthropology of man. There is no one link or couple. There are hundreds if not thousands of missing links...occuring across time. And that analysis transposes to this matter. Attitudes, opinions, philosphy, all have to change to make these sorts of changes happen on a broad scale. And quite possibly, those changes have to occur first before the 'thing' will happen. And it's going to take the one thing that nobody wants to hear; time. Everybody from the Mayor down wants a quick fix to something that has taken decades to manifest. Time will tell.

About Greta said...

Competing with Pinehurst and Myrtle Beach - and areas along the coast - who have spent millions of dollars in developing and promoting their golf courses - is absurd.

It sounds to me like Hickory leadership is floundering and needs a plan of action. But, it should be based upon research. And, the ideas generated from it should be treated as business propositions.

If Hickory wants to go after the retirement population, then it should consider researching the communities which have done so.

Regina Banner (McLean-Burrell) said...

This one is directly from Stuttgart, Germany from a resident that was born and raised there. As long as the city of Hickory, North Carolina doesn't do right by its residents (specifically those in the Ridgeview Community) nothing that the local government tries is not going to work. Take care your your citizens. It's a black cloud over you. Haven't you figured it out yet.
Regina Banner (McLean-Burrell)

Anonymous said...

WHAT!!!! The 20 million dollar Idea should be about JOBS. There are still a lot of people not working...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Cheap Budgets,where does one obtain income besides pulling down a salary? Extra income means a more affordable budget for the city or an individual.
Robbing the elderly of Social Security and having them pay the bills is certainly one way to act in an evil way while claiming to be "for the people".
Remember, "What goes around,comes around."

James Thomas Shell said...

They aren't going to expressly take Social security away from the elderly. They are going to allow the Federal Reserve, the megabanks, and the U.S. Treasury to print money out the wazoo, thereby creating inflation, and thus the invisible tax.

Look at how inflation is under reported in COLAs. The increases in Cost of Living adjustments are not keeping pace with real inflation, this robs people on fixed incomes and people at the bottom of the Socio-Economic strata of their purchasing power,

And these are the people that the Mayor and our City manager think are going to cure the ills of Hickory. The person above who stated that City Investments, such as these, should be about jobs had it right. That is what the idea behind micro-lending is. You allow money to be borrowed through a trust, set up be a public-private, partnership and when someone has an innovative idea, then they can go through a process that would allow them to borrow the money at low interest. This type of endeavor can create jobs and it is what I spoke of to the Mayor on Hal's show last month.

We need to support the average people in this area and help lift them up, and some of these people can become entrepreneurs and help create jobs. The idea of trying to chase a dream of becoming a resort/retirement area seems like a longer shot than what I am proposing. I think the odds work with trying to pull our average citizens up, not trying to get the movers and shakers to come here.

Our Mayor isn't from here and sometimes I think that this mission doesn't mean as much to him as it does the rest of us.

James Thomas Shell said...

Now I understand that 5th comment. It has to do with my grandmother who has been living in my house for 5 1/2 years. Yes she has helped pay roughly half of the bills.

During this time I have helped to feed her, clothe her, run errands for her, take her places, and even recently have had to help dole out her medicine and bathe her. She is now 96 years old. She was supposed to have it arranged to go to a home, but I don't have her Power of Attorney. I tried to get her some Hospice help, but I don't have her power of attorney and extenuating circumstances didn't allow any of these things to happen. She has been here at the house more than me. I have had to work and have had to leave her here while I was at work, but I haven't been able to do much of anything besides be here, except when I was at work over the last several years. Oh and spend a couple hours at City Council meetings every two weeks.

There are a multitude of witnesses that will account for what I am telling you here. I certainly hope that what comes around does go around, because I have made a lot of sacrifices to help keep my grandmother from being ditched in a home.

I have nothing to be ashamed of and I am more than willing to tell the whole set of circumstances. In no way could it be construed that I have robbed my grandmother. When we looked into her being placed in a home they were going to take all of her benefits and give her way less than a $100 dollars a month and they were going to take part of that for haircuts, phone, etc.

Living with me, her checking account has increased every month by hundreds of dollars and this includes her AARP health insurance, other medical bills, and medicine, which I have been in charge of picking up at Walgreens and I have taken her to the doctor and I have put the oxygen on her at night that was prescribed by the doctor. Does this sound like a bowl full of cherries to any of you?

I only express this, because I am blown away that I am being blindsided by this innuendo and I want to get out in front of this. I have nothing to hide here.

James Thomas Shell said...

Oh and that is the reason why I have a lot of experience with elderly people that many of you don't.

Anonymous said...

Wow- you really don't like criticism! I've posted twice and had them deleted. Don't like the innuendo or comments that don't fit with your agenda? If this is an open blog then why are you deleting?

James Thomas Shell said...

This is an open blog, but what did those posts have to do with anything? What is your point and what does it have to do with this issue?

I have stated the case to the anonymous post that was made.. Ready to move on. So you can chase me around, but if it is irrational, then it has nothing to do with myself or the others who read this blog and it contributes nothing to the dialogue. So it will continue to be be deleted.

Anonymous said...

Perfectly honest question (because I am curious) - can you not have an elderly relative put into a nursing home without POA? Or is the POA thing about her house? (this is not the same Anon poster as whoever you were replying to earlier)

James Thomas Shell said...

Two statements, but I want to get past this, because what I stated is the reality. This is my house. I bought it in August 2005. You can look that up at Catawba County GIS and find all relevant information. I believe I have even talked about it on this blog. I wish that I could pay for everything for my grandmother, if I could have afforded fulltime help, stc. I would have made that happen. I love my grandmother dearly. She has done a lot to take care of me my entire life. She was one person that I could be honest with about my thoughts. She was my best friend.

I would never do anything to harm her. I have not been out of Hickory in 4 years, because I realized especially over the last three that I could not leave her by herself. Until the last year she had some limitations, but was still able to get around. Go up and down the steps etc. Only since last October has it been necessary for her to use a walker. Which I purchased. I honestly feel that I have done my best to help her remain able to get around.

As far as the power of attorney. I tried to get help from hospice. They had an article in the HDR about assisting the elderly. My mother, who is the former daughter in law, had some connections with these people and helped me make contact with a lady from hospice. The lady asked if Mammaw was ambulatory. Yes she was. She asked if she was able to use the bathroom herself? Yes she was. Then she asked if I had the Power of Attorney and I stated that I did not and she said that she needed to speak with that person to which I had to respond that I could not get in touch with that person at the time, but I did give her the contact information. And I never heard back from this person and that was a couple of months ago.

I know I have laid out too much of my family business in this forum. I do have thick skin, but this is my grandmother who I have been a caretaker for for years. If I haven't done a good job, then it is alright to say that if you want to come say so face-to-face, but this is my personal family business and it is tawdry to bring this out in such a manner, but I will defend myself on this issue. There are plenty of people that know the situation.

I do not purport to be a saint and no rational person would state that I am evil in relation to this situation. I had an obligation and I met it to the best of my ability and I honestly don't want to go further into this.

Peace to Everyone and I hope that when you deal with something such as this that no one attacks you over it, because we all go through these types of situations and no one deserves to have someone mess with their mind over something such as this.

Anonymous said...

Your responses to the posts about the elderly show just how pathetic a person can be. I am sure those who need to know about your Grandmother now know the truth.
As to your business savvy,you always see the glass less than half empty and your have no idea how to fill the glass.
You can continue to post your gibberish statements about things you know nothing about. Who cares?
The Hickory Hound Group is just a group of losers who could not bring a new business to any town. Get a life!
As Elvis sang,"You ain't nothing but a Hound Dog.".

Silence DoGood said...

By all means Anon at 09 JUN, 0756, enthrall us all with your vast knowledge and business making prowess. Not only has Shell and this forum identified problems, but they have likewise offered up potential solutions. Finding fault is easy, finding solutions, not so much. I think most agree systems are broken or have fallen into disrepair. And right now, time is of the essence. So by talking around, perhaps somewhere, a solution would be had. The PROBLEM with that is, no one wants to listen. And for effective communication, there has to be listening. A continual stream of words pouring forth, in this instance, City Council, does nothing but foment the notion of talk much, say/do little. Having worked in government, I know this little game well. Let people vent, show empathy, then go and do what you were going to do in the first place.

I find it noble that Shell would take on the task of caring for his Grandmother. Most would not and condemn them to a life in a home, warehoused away like some sort of disgarded trinket.

Anonymous said...

JTS: no offense was intended by my questions; I was just curious. I think elder care is something that many people have to consider - perhaps not immediately of course, but let's face it, none of us are getting any younger! So I was just wondering about the situation & how you were handling it. My apologies if you felt that I was prying.

James Thomas Shell said...

No, I appreciated the question. I honestly didn't feel as though you were prying at all.