This was a lively discussion. I felt that too much time and bias was devoted by the hosts to Hickory Incorporated's desired "Inspiring Spaces" initiative. I understand the bias, because of where the Jackson Group office is located and the heavy involvement of the Jackson family in the Current Hickory Incorporated system, but people out here in St. Stephens are wondering when someone is going to factor in their interests. People in South Hickory are wondering when someone is going to factor in their interests. People in West Hickory are wondering when someone is going to factor in their interests. Most of us look at this initiative and we see the same ole backs getting scratched. The same ole parties monopolizing the decision making process.
I will let you be the judge, but the challengers certainly held their own when speaking about this initiative. Who is going to sit there and say that they are against Inspiration. That is the reason why they attached this slogan to this initiative. They seem to believe that they can describe everything as "Inspiring" or "Well Crafted" and if any of us say anything against it, then we are labeled as being negative. To me, these people who force all of this on the public come across as a cult. If you don't drink their Kool-Aid, they will ostracize you. It doesn't matter what positive you do, dissent will not be tolerated. It is very scary.
Everyone, except the City Incorporated and its insiders, says that they are inspired by people and not property. For the most part, the people who have bought into this are the people in the latter years of their lives. They seem so out of touch with where the whole of Hickory stands, its direction, and the end result if we continue on this path for a few more years. These are dead serious times and have been for years and yet we keep looking to apply band-aids instead of tourniquets. We see a lot of spoiled attitudes and hubris from the people who have Hickory in their clutches. That is where the talk of division, lack of transparency, lack of openness, and the negative opinion about the way things are done comes from.
Perfect example, one of the candidates for Mayor expressed my exact thought about the recent articles that were in the Hickory Daily Record about young people leaving the area.
Young and Restless: College students speak out - Hickory Daily Record - John Tinkelenberg - September 2, 2013
Young and Restless: Community leaders respond - Hickory Daily Record - John Tinkelenberg - September 2, 2013
The Old White Men that proliferated the article about community leaders seemed so out of touch as they told us all what the young people want and need and that we already have a lot of it, we just need to get the word out. The young people, all white, not taking into account Hickory's diversity, said things such as:
“I wouldn’t have even come home for the summer if my parents hadn’t made me,”
Even though Coulter was able to find a job for the summer in Hickory, she plans to move back to Greensboro because of the lack of appealing activities for young people here. She said family ties or relationships are the only reasons people she knows have stayed after college. Her sister, she said, felt similarly after attending N.C. State in Raleigh.
... 'Hickory being more appealing 10 years ago. She said, however, she does not feel there are job opportunities in the area today.'
“There’s just not much to do for our age group,”
You see there is plenty to do for these established Old White Guys making 6-figures plus, playing golf on a regular basis, going on vacations and enjoying their expense accounts. This community or any community would probably look pretty rosy to anyone in that position. To be honest, I'd probably be looking to keep things the way they are too and not seeing the sense of urgency necessary. They think they're working their tails off rearranging those deck chairs between breakfast, lunch, golf, and dinner. But, some of us are created and endowed by God to be inclusive and look out for the interest of others and the well-being of our eco-system.
The Old White Guys are out of touch with 21st century realities. Oh, they talk a good game and regurgitate the on the job lessons that are necessary to "fake it cause you made it," but the bottom line is that when you want to argue against the expressions of the subject of study -- the young people, then we can all see that you just don't get it and most likely you never will.
The hosts on this Mesh broadcast wanted to brag about getting Beer under the Sails. They apparently didn't care about the process around the beer being sold; just get us our beer... we want our beer. But, once again there was no open process. The city just went to Olde Hickory Brewery and told them they could sell beer and they weren't even going to charge them a fee to sell beer and in the end they only are charging them $25 a month to sell beer during these musical events. No other brewer was even given a chance to bid and/or offer their services; so we don't even know if the public is getting the best deal.
Funny, the beer situation is a perfect microcosm of how the "Sails on the Square" initiative, implementation, and construction took place. Just the good ole boys never meanin' no harm... No open process, no bids, no transparency, and plenty of obfuscation... Oh and myself and the people I associate with were/are the bad guys for pointing out that the city broke the law with the lack of a bidding process and the accounting for the project is a joke.
Now we come to Inspiring Spaces. I said it over a year ago when it was proposed by Andrea Surratt on May 1, 2012, although the Mayor made out like it was all his idea/vision last Friday Night at the League of Women Voter's forum. The Mayor point blank said it was an $80 million initiative a couple of months ago. Now he's doing the ole back track, but folks it is provided in the link.
When you take all that has gone down in the very recent past and couple it with an ambiguous process, then you better demand that this thing be slowed down. Mayor Wright says he wants to immerse us in it. Immersion can lead to drowning when you don't know what you are doing.
The bottom line is that you have a big decision to make and like I said the other day, this election has consequences. Rudy Wright said some amazing things. He admitted we had been in a Depression in 2009. I think we are still in one in this area. Then Mayor Wright said we had turned the corner. There are very few people that would agree with that statement. Then he said he was going to keep on doing what he has been doing. Most of us agree that Hickory must be transformed out of the Economic Malaise we have been in over the past dozen years. It won't come through tweaking and insider politics.
I have been accused of being divisive since I began addressing the public in 2007 and yet I hold no office or position of power. I will admit that I can be cantankerous at times, but it comes from frustration. It comes from being shut out and seeing people around me shut out of the body politic in our area. If people will look at all of this objectively, they will realize where the division and contentiousness has come from. It is going to take opening up the system to bring everyone together. This cannot be instituted with a facade of frills and half-hearted gestures. It is time to invest time, energy, and resources in our greatest asset -- THE PEOPLE!!!