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Monday, June 3, 2013

Hound responds to HDR "Readers say Hickory area needs some work"

Link to Hickory Daily Record article:
Readers say Hickory area needs some work - June 2, 2013

The Hickory Daily Record basically took comments posted to their website and used them to create this article. There is a comment from me, but that doesn't mean that the article 100% represents my point of view. I have no inhibitions about relating to you that I am a Lutheran Christian and I attend Church every Sunday. I do agree with some of what the the respondents stated about a certain level of intolerance in the area. It is the minority, but it is very vocal and it is a major issue that has been promoted by the majority not standing up to say that "Velvet Glove" bigotry won't be accepted in this community. It is not an acceptable norm in the year 2013. It is time to move forward.

The "leadership" of Hickory, and particularly the Mayor, will dismiss most of this article, because of who some of the respondents are. They try to dismiss my views, because they look at me as an adversary. Funny how many of the issues I have introduced have now entered their agenda years later. Voices of criticism should be listened to respectfully, not simply ignored or dismissed out of hand.

This whole shoot the messenger attitude around here has got to go. I realize that I put my name out in public and am thusly going to be attacked from all angles and I have no problem with that. If you call me out and I respond, then I hope you will pull your Big Boy Pants on. When I have spoken about public officials in public forums, I have spoken about policies, not their personal lives. Some people cannot seem to grasp the concept of Public versus Private. Those people will be dealt with as the need arises.

The facts are what they are: under 12 years of Mayor Wright what has been the economic results for Hickory? Young people have voted with their "feet."
  The bottom line is that they, for the most part, have decided that this is not where they want to live, whether because of Social reasoning or Economic necessity. Whether some want to continue to live in denial, the census numbers aren't rigged. This is the Reality.

The message over the last few years has been that these Pollsters and Samplers have got it all wrong. They just don't understand Hickory. It hasn't mattered that their studies have been scientifically performed. Well, this Sunday's message didn't come from some menacing outside poll or media outlet, this came from our good ole Hickory Daily Record. And it came on their heaviest day of circulation. I am sure they are getting the phone calls from Hickory's own version of the Jim Jones' Kool-Aid Battalion this morning, "You So and So's, we'll pull our ad dollars and subscriptions!!!"  That is how Hickory has worked for years. I hope the HDR will stand up to the bullies this time.

This article encapsulates the voices and feelings of 434 respondents. The poll might not be totally scientific, but that is a pretty good sample by any count. And we can assume that since it is a newspaper poll, we are dealing with respondents that at least read the paper and therefore have some civic awareness about what is happening in Hickory. It is, I think, a credible look at popular opinion.

We can point out that Hickory City Alderman of the 3rd Ward Danny Seaver even spoke of this poll at the last City Council meeting and so it's a little hard for Hickory Inc. to dismiss it now. Even if they do, this indicates that they are out of touch with the general population and the first step towards solving a problem is to realistically appraise and resolve to address the situation. If they won't take this first step what progress can we expect?

The Leadership Reality is that this Council only has looked at the people who vote and support them as their constituents. If you don't support them, then you don't get the time of day. If you don't participate, then that is even better. The Electoral Reality of the lack of opponents in City races, and the domination of a handful of precincts to elect Citywide representation is a real dilemma, keeping the politburo in place and even giving them some patina of credibility. Until this changes we will get the same old same old.

Finally, at some point, we need to realize that we need leaders with some clout outside government to step up and lead. We need a Hugh McColl, or something like him from the business community or nonprofit sector to help spur initiatives. Our local government is simply too rigid and will not become innovative.  We have to proact and by the time Hickory City government studies something to death the dynamic has shifted and we remain behind the curve -- ie going on all of these junkets everywhere else to copy what they have done and bring some version here to Hickory.

The summation is that the facts can't really be denied or ignored.  When you look at the poll you see that over 70% of the people have a negative outlook about Hickory. What would the results of this poll have been back in the 90s?  Rudy and Company can deny that they have caused the problem or are responsible for the solutions, but the Wright years have seen a steep decline for many in this community. I know, I know... It's all Washington and Raleigh's fault.


wandaarnold1716 said...

Thom, I appreciate your honesty in telling about true conditions in Hickory. As a person who moved here four years ago, I had no background for current day southern outlook or North Carolina outlook, especially regarding race relations. I only know that I moved from an area where the population was extremely diverse (Washington DC)and generally accepted to an area where diversity was not that evident.

My first real experience came when a neighbor invited me to a meeting on the referendum. I emailed back more or less stating that I could understand the feelings of the folks in Ward 4 if that ward would give a majority to one candidate and that candidate would not win the election. In my understanding of American representative democracy, something was wrong here and differed from other places I have lived.

Long story short, this was not the opinion desired by my neighbor. After that I was sidelined and ignored by her. The unwillingness to even hear other sides is what truly shocked me. This is a perfect example of "either with us or against us." I'm still finding my way about NC politics!

Harry Hipps said...

It was sad to hear the Mayor on the radio still blaming globalization for all our woes. Yes, the world changed and Hickory was dealt a hard blow. But that was 13 YEARS ago.

Hickory leaderships wouldn't even acknowledge that we had a problem other than a downturn until about 2006. Until about that time the Mayor was always just wishing wistfully that hopefully this will be Hickory's year.

Then the Mayor and City Manager Berry began pushing the retirement village idea. Just bring enough people here for the last few years of their lives and all will be well. We already have the hospitals, cheap food and housing, golf courses and funeral homes to accommodate them.

Blaming globalization and what happened 13 years ago is like Obama still blaming Bush, there's some truth but he hasn't made things better either. Maybe they have stumbled into the fact that we need economic development, younger families and workers and more people working together than just the inside clique.

Hopefully we can get some degree of progress before another 13 years go by.