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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior - Dr. Jody Inglefield

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.


wandaarnold1716 said...

The question in my mind is, "Why can't we pay as we go for the improvements the city needs?" Why do we have to commit to borrowing $40 million dollars? If we have an overall plan of what the city might look like eventually, why can't we do the projects one at a time as we can afford them? The most important thing to me is to repair and replace the parts of the aging infrastructure that need it.

I agree with Dr. Inglefield that trust in the city government is not as high as it should be because of "past actions." I also agree that a pretty streetscape is no guarantee of jobs. I've read the report "Inspiring Spaces" and feel that the company who completed it did what they do best--design. A much, much deeper study of these three "successful" cities is needed before you can even begin to know how they attained that success. The study is too shallow to arrive at the stunning conclusion that we need $40 million to start to duplicate their success.

Borrowing money in this economic climate is bad policy for individuals and for cities. I am not against spending money for important needs. Taxes will probably have to go up some since at our current 12% inflation rate (calculated the "old way")the cost of all materials has gone up.

Let's work very hard to improve Hickory in ways that will attract business. The most important thing that comes to my mind is education and training, not just for children, but for all citizens. In this fast moving technological age, everyone must learn new things quickly or be left behind. We are already beginning new programs that do just that. Here's where we need to double down.

James Thomas Shell said...

Wanda is talking the same language I have been preaching for years. We need to invest in people more than infrastructure frills.

If nothing changes nothing changes should be turned on its head and flipped back at Brad and the Council. The same ole people that made the decisions that got us where we are today haven't changed... Hmmm... and here they come again with some more Kool-Aid. B.S. flavored as usual.

I have pointed several times in articles back to the Intra-City visit I attended and participated in back in 2009... That was right at five years ago. I was the one pushing the issues related to the loss of the Younger Generations in our community. City Manager Berry spent two days telling us that the City's plan to turn this into a retirement community was the right way to go and right on track. It was going to be impossible to attract the younger generations and we had infrastructure for attracting the Seniors... He defined it as the low hanging fruit. I was winning people over and the City was frustrated even with there continuous Orwellian spin.

Hickory continued the slide downward until it was supremely obvious that what I was saying was right.

This was a couple years after the UNC-Hickory thing and certain people were still pushing that. There was a person at this conference that point blank said. "I'm not interested in a UNC-Hickory for educating people, that's great, but I'm in construction... I build buildings. That is why I'm interested in a UNC-Hickory.

And that is the problem in a nutshell. We've got a Mill Village/ Company Town mentality in this community from the top to the bottom. Look at this plan. They aren't investing in the people who have been abandoned for years. It's all about building stuff where the Mill owners and their surrogates live, work, and play. Believe me, the people at the top will benefit immediately from these investments, while they tell you that it will be years before you benefit, so just sit down and keep your mouth shut, because we're driving the bus around here and we don't need your help.

The economy isn't on it's @$$, because the rich people are hurting. Anyone who isn't drunk on the Kool-Aid can see why it's hurting is because the middle class/ average folks haven't seen real growth in their personal economies for years.

The idiots at the top of this Ponzi scheme say the pie isn't growing and we're fighting for the same slice of pie. They always get their slice and come for yours. They'll never learn in "the land of the greed and the home of the slaves". I can't tell you when the last time I got something I really wanted. All they think about is themselves and what they want... your needs don't even enter into the equation.

THEIR WANTS >>> your needs

We have sidewalks from Union Square to Hollar Mill. Doesn't matter they want a better one -- and they decide what is better. We had a stage and tent facilities for the farmer's market on Union Square. Doesn't matter they wanted something to suit their fancy -- and they decided what they wanted.

Why? As one of the Status Quoers said the other night, "I'm doing this for ME." And that is what I have been telling you all along. And that mindset is why Hickory is on it's @$$.

Too many Gordon Gecko(s) run this community. It's the "Greed is Good" model. Too bad that I've learned that you can't shame them into doing the right thing.

Deb said...

Boost Hickory WILLNOT be boosting West Hickory/Westmont in the least. Seems all of the four proposed areas will be for industrisl park type businsses for N Hky---as the City has been determined for yrs to push growth n industry away from the poorest economic ward #4 as so done for yrs.

One council person asked me how could I say such considering the City licated the school in this area to hring growth here in this end. Really? I educated said person as to why the school HAD to be put on that property or Cuty would lose it totally. And IF the City had control then why would they not gave weighed in on the name---instead of letting it keep the name of a different town? The City most likely purposefully failed to do such in order to grind it in a neighborhoods face that has ALWAYS called out the political status quo!!

When said person had egg on their face the next comment was the City was tearing down the old So Desk building for us. Ummmm...such has been in our beighborhood plan since its inception....more than I think 20yrs. No money is spent on my end out of kind consideration and/or warm fuzzies in the City's part!! The City has raised sanitation costs at least once...maybe twice... And told us they needed ti do such to pave rds, add curbing n guttering, water treatment etc. While I am totally grateful for the stone wall, curbing, abd driveway apron recently done at my house, the City would NOT have done it had it not been for the school that HAD to be put there. As well as the no truck signs.

When my neighbors/family asks my opinion on the Boost Hickory bonds, I tell them I am voting no, and if they do not want their bucks to pay for upgrades in other areas, they should also vote NO!!

Harry Hipps said...

Two quick comments:

If we want young people here, why run off Hickory Alive after 24 successful years by severely restricting their hours? We should be encouraging music (and while I like the symphony, it's not the fave of youth).

Secondly, why shorten the hours of Oktoberfest? This just ticks off the vendors and leaves less time for a great venue to succeed. I mean, some young people don't get off work until later and they stay out later. So why roll up the sidewalks early?

And if you really want a community that's walkable, the sidewalk from LR to downtown won't do anything except create a mugger alley. Put some sidewalks in the neighborhoods and on the roads that don't have them now. And bike riding here is dangerous. A few striped lines won't stop you from being run over by a texting fool. Make it possible to walk somewhere other than downtown if you really want to improve the quality of life.