Hound Notes: This is out there now... Dr. Jody Inglefield submitted this to the Hickory Daily Record a couple of days ago in response to the Mayor's guest column supporting the Bond/Property Tax Referendum on the ballot November 4th. It is more than fair to call this a property tax referendum, because in Hickory Inc.'s own words, "They will have to raise the property tax in Hickory to pay the money back."
Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior
"Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior" is a true statement I heard from Chuck Lovelace, the executive director of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship when I served as interviewer for the scholarship program. When I read the column by Mayor Rudy Wright a couple of weeks ago that the bond referendum would help job growth I had my doubts, but when the Mayor stated "you have my word" I began to chuckle.
The image of Hickory's City Council "hunkered down" in a fox hole for the past 15 years, is the image that should stick in everyone's mind. When we needed true leadership during this last decade, or I should say "lost decade", instead we had City leadership cowering in a pit that they just keep digging. Their only concern is protecting themselves and the interests of their families and insider friends.
The loss of young families accelerated at the same time our city promoted this community as a retirement Mecca. Obviously this has not boosted the economy or brought the promised jobs. Retired elderly, may eat out occasionally, but fixed incomes contribute little to the growth of jobs in Hickory.
Poor judgment and lack of courage to do what was needed to bring jobs to Hickory, by our City Council "hunkered down" and floundering, is what this Council has been all about. "Trust me, you have my word" are not words that inspire or comfort the public, when we have witnessed the kind of abuse that has gone on with the downtown city "parking" fund and other funds in Hickory.
The arrogant, secretive, entrenched nature of this City Council should frighten the citizens of Hickory, unfortunately most people are too busy struggling to get by, they don't have time to pay attention to the inner workings and backroom deals of our local politicians. They can't fathom the subversive actions of this Council and some of the tactics we have seen from City staff.
Who cares that the Sails project went grossly over budget, we like the Sails? Who cares that the music and arts community had little input into the design? We will never know what we could have had in that location with some real public-private planning. The "we know what is best for you" attitude that marginalizes criticism should motivate all of us to participate in the process, but if you are not a "yes" man (or woman) you won't be at the discussion table, and certainly not in the back rooms of City Hall where the real decisions are made in private.
Now City Council wants Hickory to be like Greenville, S.C. where the natural beauty of the riverside with its waterfalls was harnessed to develop a vibrant downtown -- that is where the Sails on the Square idea came from, although the design in Greenville is functional, not impractical. Of course Greenville also has BMW and Michelin, these came first and are the actual reason for their success. They have the money for such projects. The plan is to improve the "sidewalks along the railroad tracks," their words not mine, to "bring jobs". Is this a viable strategy?
This referendum money will be, as the Mayor subconsciously admits, a "giant cookie jar" for the insiders who know how to manipulate the system. The rest of us have to pay for our own improvements on our property.
Boost Hickory analogizing this referendum with the building of the Catawba Valley Medical Center is ridiculous. Healthcare is a financial engine for our region and is one of the biggest employers in the area. These comparisons reveal the disconnect between the struggling families in Hickory and the wealthy families always handpicked for these committees to rubber stamp the City Government's wish list.
The track record of the Mayor and his buddies is not well known due to the excellent public relations the city enjoys with the local media, that refuse to ask the tough questions for fear of untold consequences. Our parks and recreational facilities have not been fully funded and this is what the younger generations need. The overall physical health in this community leaves a lot to be desired.
Friends, Boost, Innovate, Inspiring are all terms for the same insiders. The real item that should be on the referendum this November is term limits for the Mayor and City Council. I know this all sounds vaguely familiar, it was just a year ago I ran for Mayor against this Hickory Inc. machine and lost. For a refresher on these issues I have raised, now and in the past, visit the Hickory Hound blogspot and check out my platform for a 21st Century Hickory. Vote NO against this referendum with its tax increases and lack of direction. Hickory you deserve better.