Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009 Should Bring New Focus on Greensboro Politicians-Guest Column

Many of you here on Triad Watch know me from covering public education in Guilford County for the last two years as part of Guilford School Watch (and my unsuccessful 2008 Guilford School Board at-large campaign). But honestly, we can't talk about reforming public education until we deal with the issues in our community that provide barriers to a solid public education.

For a brief period of time this past year, I did a small blog called Triad Job Watch, at the beginning of this summer's economic spiral. But alas, we can't even talk about bringing jobs to our area until we deal with the issues in our community that provide barriers to solid economic development.

And rather than me wax poetic on Guilford School Watch, I wanted to join my friend Keith Brown, who has quickly become an ally in the ongoing struggle against local corruption in our city and county halls, in dropping some thoughts on our fair city, Greensboro, in 2009.

You see, maybe it's me, but we have a lot of problems in our town and none of them are being addressed properly by our so-called elected leadership.
Jobs (or the lack of jobs) are just one aspect of what's killing Greensboro. For the last several days, in rapid succession, we have seen announcements in the News & Record on company shutdowns and layoffs. And our elected leadership is incredibly silent. Our soon-to-be-major employer, FedEx, just announced a delay in their mammoth hub at PTI Airport. You would think that there would have been a statement from someone down at City think? Of course not.

And our jobs problem has permeated this city long before the economic downturn of 2008. Greensboro (and the larger Triad, for that matter) has been suffering a major economic downturn for the past 10 years. And our local officials continue to wonder why this area continues playing third fiddle to Charlotte and the Triangle. They continue to wonder why the brain-drain in this area is unbelievably high.

The silence from our so-called elected officials is deafening.
We have a brain-drain because we don't seem to have any real economic development activities going on in our city right now. Recruitment of companies to our area is an absolute joke, and just as many people in this area are underemployed as they are unemployed. You cannot sustain an economy on $9/hour service jobs while continuing to make this area relevant.
A recent Business Week article touting "Grey Skies over Greensboro" CLICKHERE was a damning spectacle on all things wrong with our city. Did anyone from City Hall come out in defense? Did anyone say anything at all?

The silence from our so-called elected officials is deafening.

The record unemployment/underemployment problem we're having is stretching into our schools (record numbers of free/reduced lunch applications at Guilford County Schools), our healthcare facilities (record numbers of ER visits from citizens lacking health insurance), and it may be spilling over into a crime problem that is now out of control.

There seem to be no less than five robberies in Greensboro reported...DAILY, in the News & Record. Burglaries are on the rise all over town. The shootings and killings...even in broad daylight, are astronomical.
And yet...any reaction from downtown?

The silence from our so-called elected officials is deafening.

The irresponsible development with no regard of citizens and neighbors with respect to sensitive zoning cases is crazy. Taxes are high. Infrastructure needs are growing and are not being properly addressed.

Where's our mayor, Yvonne Johnson? She seems to be absent from what's going on in our city. Our City Council...ditto. My councilman, Trudy Wade, rolled into City Council a couple of years ago fresh from a stinging loss of her long-time seat on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. Since then, she hasn't shown me much at all.

I expect my City Councilmen to be visible in the community, to set up community meetings and town halls, to circulate among school events...where is Wade? Where is Mayor Johnson? Where is Police Chief Bellamy on our crime emergency?

Where is the elected leadership of our city?

Oh...I'm sorry...they're busy giving city manager Mitch Johnson another chance to do a job that he's failed miserably in.

The silence from our so-called elected officials is deafening.

Greensboro...take notice. City Council...take notice. Mayor Johnson, take notice. 2009 is at hand and the municipal elections of 2010 are at hand. We'll be watching you just a tad bit closer this year. Because frankly, Greensboro is headed down the wrong track. And this train will derail unless urgent changes are made...and fast.

Who's with me?

-- Erik "E.C." HueyEditor, "Guilford School Watch"

Member of the Coalition of the Concerned Citizens of the Triad

No comments: