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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rudy Wright - Inspiring Spaces - $80 million for Beautification

This is another of the recordings from the Conover Crusader that I planned on putting out today. Thanks again CC. You have done a great service here. In reading the following comment from "mbg", it fits vurry well with this presentation.
mbg commented on "Rudy Wright - Accountability from this day forward" on July 30, 2013:
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.
I have heard what mgb states here many times over the last several years. There was an opportunity for Hickory to participate/place a bid for Honda Jet engines and the city administration showed no interest. There were federal grants available to fix the city swimming pools and the city refused to even apply. There have been many education initiatives that Hickory could qualify for and the local government has refused to act. In my opinion, this is a dereliction of duty (no not the military term), when they are not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to act on the public's behalf. Just because an opportunity doesn't fit your personal agenda/priorities does not mean you should not act.

The Mayor talks about $80 million for beautification. The term beautification isn't going to play well in Peoria or Hickory. We truly need to reassess what is the Inspiring Spaces program. It has become a catch all program and there is a huge lack of focus when so much is incorporated under this one  umbrella.

An example is that the Mayor now wants a splash pad, since he was called out in the HDR in relation to the closed swimming pools a couple of weeks ago. To be fair he initially did push the idea of a Splash Pad as set forth by Site Solutions park plan of 2010, but in the meantime he has not mentioned it. Now they want to build this splash pad under the Inspiring Spaces umbrella. Well, he pulled this rabbit out of the hat here at election time, because he knows that the majority of the people in the community think that there should be aquatic recreation in the community. He believes that this would appease the masses at the same time it will give him a talking point going into this election. I don't think it's going to fly. If programs aren't specific, then we have seen how they become boondoggles.

You can find out more from this July 9, 2013 Inspiring Spaces presentation that was held at City Hall.

This program was created as a result of trips by Hickory Administration and City Council to various cities in the region including Burlington, Asheville, Durham, Greenville, SC, Chattanooga, TN,  and Roanoke, VA. A panel of well connected business and non-profit people were handpicked by Hickory City Council and then they came forward with recommendations for projects including Greenways, Gateways, Parks, and what are termed Special Places. In witnessing Hickory task forces of the past, I wouldn't be surprised if the project list wasn't determined before the first meeting took place and the outcome guided by city staff.

The biggest problem that I have seen thus far with this program is the open ended talks of a funding mechanism. They are putting the cart before the horse. The Mayor is pushing this 1% prepared food tax as a funding mechanism, while saying that it will cost $80 million over 10 years to fund this program with $20 million coming from the Local Government, $20 million coming from the State, $20 million coming from the Feds, and $20 million coming from private sources. They believe that they can raise $13 million over 10 years through this prepared food tax for the local part and one would have to assume that the other $7 million would come from the General Fund.

From the sources I have spoken with and the evidence I have seen by reading hundreds of stories about the economic situation here in North Carolina and the United States, these funding assumptions/formula are the stuff of pure folly. We cannot move forward with this overarching program until the funding is set in stone. Could you imagine moving forward with even $40 million of this and then the funding mechanism falls through. If that happened, then the community would be on the hook.

Specific parts of this program can be pulled out and funded individually as you would normally do, but this needs to be an open and transparent process. It is time for the days of Hickory City Funds going to the same insider entities all the time come to an end. It isn't anything against those businesses. It is giving all of Hickory's businesses an opportunity to participate and another thing is that Hickory businesses should come first, when it comes to projects.

I am inspired by people not property!


Anonymous said...

"...shovel ready..." That is the same concept that the President tried to get funded through Congress which made him such a reviled man; and was funded but never implemented. Now Rudy is using the same concept to "...make people feel better about themselves and feel better about the area..." Really? You've got to feel good. Not that you make a living wage, not that you have a job to make a living wage at, but feel good. The illusion over the reality. First, last, always.

What a load of manure.

Harry Hipps said...

I think the end of this posting gets to my concerns on the Perspiring Spaces initiative. Will we be able to get the federal/state/private money to do some of this? The larger corporations around here do contribute to arts, benevolence and some public projects, but I don't see them stepping out front with a large scale initiative. That is within their rights, but Hickory's business community doesn't seem as active as I've seen in some areas.

Secondly, I'm concerned that, especially with the leadership that we have, that projects will be funded depending on who will get paid to create the project and who will directly benefit rather that how much benefit it will bring to the City. I have no problem with public works, but when money is tight, as it is right now, we need to really prioritize projects to get the best bang for the buck. Ideas like the paddling races at the lake seem to have more chance of getting some attention to our lake asset and showing the opportunity to have some fun in hickory than some of the proposed projects.

The food tax is a regressive, bad idea. If you want to create a new tax rather than raise property taxes, I wouldn't do it on the most basic necessity of life, at least not in this economy.