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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rudy Wright - Accountability from this day forward

Another Soundbyte from our friend the Conover Crusader: Rudy Wright and his surrogates have taken no responsibility for what has happened to the local economy over the last 12 years. I will be fair. There was a perfect storm that hit this community's economy in 2001. We had a convergence of the bursting of the bubble decimating Fiber Optic production, NAFTA kicked in full throttle and had a very negative effect on our furniture and textiles, and then 9/11 was a haymaker that accelerated this reality and sent us reeling.

Many people knew that we had troubles long ago, because the type of manufacturing we had in this community was low-skilled and labor intensive. These were the first jobs that would be offshored. Jim Rice, who was a manager with Superior Cable and now is the founder of Visionaire Jets, knew that it was necessary to diversify our local Manufacturing Economy for the sake of its long term viability - Jim Rice - A Man ahead of Time - He wanted to diversify Catawba County Industry in 1977.

For years of his tenure, I'd listen to Mayor Wright do Hal Row's show on those first Monday mornings talking about how we were going to turn it around and how this was going to be our year. This Mayor and City Administration pushed the idea of moving retirees in here and turning Hickory into a retirement community and now he says that was never an emphasis. I sat in a room 4 years ago where Mick Berry talked about the Low Hanging fruit of retirees, how easy they were to attract with our infrastructure,  and how it would be very difficult to get the younger generations to come here. When he didn't like the direction the conversation was heading, he split. That was a huge part of their plan, whether they want to change history or not.

This is not about me, but the constant refusal to talk about our realistic situation frustrated me to no end and that is the reason why I wrote my first letter to the editor, which they allowed as a guest column six years ago: An All-American City deserves first-class leadership - July 15, 2007

Rudy has taken no ownership over our local Economic Malaise since he took office. He was given a pass over the first four years, "because the downturn wasn't his fault and Jay Adams was one of those Wascawie Develwopers." Then Rudy had the audacity to talk about what an honor it was to be unopposed in 2009 and pushed his "All of one Mind" Council Agenda. He got everything he wanted and we're still in the same economic rut and time is still a wastin'.

Rudy's Go To Economic Development strategies/philosophies are short and sweet..... 1) Scott Millar, 2) City Staff 3) It's all Washington's fault, 4) It's all Raleigh's fault, 5) The other local communities are dragging our numbers down, 6) It's out of our control. 7) The Insider Boondoggle of the year, 8) Obfuscation with the help of surrogates.

Honestly, most rational people will understand that it would be a lot easier to actually try to accomplish some difficult tasks and let the chips fall where they may. That is the reason why Term Limits are very effective, because they render such messes as above futile. You know what or get off the pot!  

Rudy was taken to task about his never accepting responsibility for his 12 years as Mayor. He's the CEO and we've lost 30,000 jobs. There aren't career options for young people. Family children, other than those of the top of the food chain around here, move away and parents don't get to see them much.  Much of our problems come from the loss of these generations.

In answering, Rudy sounded incredulous that anyone would ever mention his name in the same sentence with the downturn. That is the attitude of much of the upper government of Hickory Inc. When asked about accepting responsibility, he talks about not casting blame (as if he never does) and then says that he is responsible from this day forward. What will be different in the next 4 years compared to what we have seen in the previous 12 under the continuation of a Wright Regime?

If it weren't true, it would be hard to believe.


mbg said...

While I do not hold Rudy Wright solely responsible, I do think this is indicative of the lack of an effective plan fromm our leaders to grow job opportunities in the Hickory area.
I recall listening to "Monday Morning With The Mayor" nearly 2 years ago while I was driving up to Virginia to put together a new manufacturing operation that had decided to locate there. Hal asked Rudy what were we going to do about jobs in Hickory. The next 10 minutes were spent talking about Hickory's new logo which evidently was the "plan". This stuck in my mind because the company I was working with looked at Hickory first before Virginia. They were evidently under Hickory's radar, but SW Virginia really put the full court press on. Needless to say I am still in Virginia today. I have yet to see a company that cared about logos or slogans.

wandaarnold1716 said...

Good morning Thom. On Sunday you posted an Alex Jones interview with Paul Craig Roberts that I found interesting, so I am trying to read more of what Dr. Roberts has to say about the current economy and how we got where we are today.

It's called Globalization, a nice inclusive sounding term, but it's really the offshoring of jobs from first world countries where wages are high to third world countries where the wages are low and the goal is to increase the wealth of the oligarchy that runs our country. Globalization is responsible for the gutting of the middle class and currently it's on a roll as President Obama signs trade agreements left and right.

This group of obscenely wealthy people seems to be made up of Wall Street banker and off-shore multinational corporations. These people have increasing control of first world governments. An example is the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to effectively buy any election, which they used fully in the last election cycle.

Trying to blame Rudy Wright for the loss of jobs in our area over the last decade is placing the blame where it doesn't belong. It is dangerous because it takes our eyes off the real danger. As Alex Jones is fond of saying, "America, are you awake?" We need to wake up.

Maybe Mayor Wright could have done things differently, been more transparent, more open to change. Hindsight is always 20-20.

Our best option as things collapse around us is to focus on Hickory in the here and now. We need to do as much for ourselves as possible. We need to find needs and fulfill them. I see a lot of this happening already.

I don't know anyone who is running against Mayor Wright. If you think there are better candidates, I want to hear about them and why they are better. I need to hear now, not in the last week of October, which is when the HDR seems to run most of their election news. I'm open to any reasoned opinions.

James Thomas Shell said...

I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Offshoring has truly hurt our economy, because as I say above, we did not evolve and diversify our manufacturing base towards modern realities. The type of low tech, low skilled manufacturing we had around here could be done anywhere. We were in the same boat as the Rust Belt and Rudy and the one-dimensional types lived in a fantasy land that being anti-union gave us a leg up. I personally could give two s***s about unions, but with competing against people making a buck an hour with no regs, it doesn't matter if you are making $10/hour or $25/hour, those jobs are headed out the door.

What I can't take is the sheer ignorance of the Archie Bunker type mentality that they relish so much. I'm better than no one, but I strive to constantly learn. I like to aspire to being sophisticated about issues and gain a full spectrum analysis. I am sick of the redneck simpletons that shut other people out because the confuse philosophy with some sort of pseudo personal religion. Ignorance is not a virtue that many of these people think it is. How many times do you hear people pridefully say, "I don't know nuthin about that" and then turn around and try to place a simple rhetorical label on you just because you are willing to listen to people with differing points of view.

The reason why I grew tired of the Rudy show is because he treated mne as an adversary from the get go. He was out saying that I wanted to tear down Hickory. That I didn't have anything to offer. That I was against everything. Hey Rudy, you always project on others what are your own personal weaknesses.

Just because I have a different opinion than you doesn't mean I don't care about Hickory. I was born here, in Hickory Memorial Hospital where my Grandmother worked for decades as a nurse. My other grandmother was the radio personality of Hickory for a long time. My grandfather was the switch operator at the depot and the clerk at Hickory Chair, and my other grandfather ran a very much recognized Business forms business here in Hickory before computers took hold. I am Hickory. You are not and yet we are all supposed to kowtow to your whims and fancies to nowhere? I don't think so.

wandaarnold1716 said...

I do recognize a lot of the "you are either with us or against us" mind-set here. Things are never black or white--ever. That's what makes us human and not computers. I hope we never stop appreciating the difference.

Harry Hipps said...

Tom Friedman had an interesting column and I actually agreed with much of it. It was about how cities are taking the lead in economic progress. Part of the reason is that we are gridlocked in national politics, we are somewhat gridlocked in state politics (nationally, not specifically NC) but cities are more pragmatic. And some people and politicians who may refuse to cooperate on a national level feel more enfranchised to help out the hometown or city.

On the one hand, I like this dynamic, act locally and try not to deal with the national mess as much as possible. On the other hand, how prepared and how active is hickory in taking care of our area? It is especially dismal for us that the new paradigm seems to be a local university coming up with cutting edge research that leads to local production of things with the help of local government. This is not something that Hickory is prepared or equipped to do. We either need drastically new leadership and some increased effort by our corporate sector, or try to link up more closely with Charlotte and push for a closer economic development relationship.

The focus on city/region dynamics seems to be a pragmatic way to move forward, but how much do you think we will see of this here?

wandaarnold1716 said...

I would be interested in this Tom Friedman column if you have a link, Harry. It would be very dangerous for Hickory and our region to go forward depending upon Washington for anything. We live in a police state, our Constitution is trashed, and these folks care nothing about us or what is best for our citizens, how many have jobs, how many struggle to make ends meet or how many can survive the collapse that is upon us. I gave up sending opinions to national representatives as I began to see the futility of it. These people are dangerous because they have no integrity and stand for nothing.

Survival will be at the local level. Anything that will get neighbors communicating with each other, working together and sharing will help. We need to be helping our local farmers survive in any way we can, because we need them.

Hickory, of all places, should understand exactly what happened when it became more profitable to outsource their jobs to third world countries with low wages. The national government should have put a stop to this, but since it is run by the large corporations and banks and stood to profit, of course they did not.

Maybe we need to GET prepared to take care of our own area and our own people. Smarter people than I have the ideas for making it work.

Harry Hipps said...

The column can be found on Tom Friedman's website, I think it's Thomas and the column is called "I Want To Be A Mayor".

wandaarnold1716 said...

Thank you, Harry, I will check it out.

This post reminded of me of something impressive I read last year and that .prompted me to look up "employee owned businesses" on the Internet. I watched "The Mondragon Experiment" documentary from 1980, older but very impressive. I thought, these are all skills that the people of Hickory already possess, and talk about by-passing the top 1%!

Also mentioned was a newer documentary "Shift Change." I couldn't watch it, but it is available to renting and screening in a community for those who are interested. Doesn't The Footcandles Club screen important documentaries at the Carolina Theater? I know I first saw "Food, Inc." there.

We need to think outside the box.

wandaarnold1716 said...

I looked at this July 27, 2013 article, thanks Harry, but was unable to read the 115 comments. Friedman says that cities are where the action is and we too should be focused right here in Hickory. The community colleges are doing a great job in working with the business community, but is there no one to start some small employee-owned companies?

This is a terrific idea whose time has come. What about exploring employee owned businesses? Learning about the Mondragon Experiment? Asking the Footcandle Society to screen "Shift Change" and starting up some dialogue around that?

I loved the TED talk, posted February 2013 by Edi Rama, the mayor of Tirana titled "Take Back Your City with Paint." Our beautification of benches needs to go bigger. Have you seen some of the Richmond, VA Mural Project?

Has anybody thought about a food aggregator for the Hickory Farmer's Market folks? According to Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in VA, that person doesn't even need to be a farmer and he said that they can earn 10% over what the farmers get for their products. A firm in Oregon evidently makes the software to run it.

Try offshoring these businesses!