"...I don’t want to come across as a jerk
or someone trying to score points,
and don’t want to be dismissed as someone
who reflexively tears down civic leadership
or indulges in conspiracy theories.
Considering that part of the point of the annual “State of the City” report
authored by Debbage is to “stimulate discussion,” here goes.
Debbage’s eminence as a local academic
who has been commissioned to write numerous reports
for various economic development partnerships
and the Greensboro Planning Department
and published upwards of 100 op-ed pieces in the News & Record
and the Triad Business Journal actually starves the debate.
As usual, following the release of the report,
Debbage has a popularized version of the report
covering almost the entire front page of the Sunday “Ideas” section
in the News & Record.
The effect through repetition is that academia,
the partnership as a chamber of commerce-style outfit
that sets the tone and agenda for municipal government,
and major media speak with one voice,
pushing dissenting voices to the margins.
...The “green shoots” motif that pervades this latest op-ed piece
obscures more truth than it reveals.
Its positivist spin
might be geared towards obtaining desirable outcomes
by highlighting potential,
but I would argue instead that it demobilizes the political will
to address poverty and unemployment
by reassuring elite decision-makers that the city is on the right course.
Debbage buries the most important information
— that “one in every five residents lives in very poor economic conditions”
— amidst riotous language about “blazing yellow daffodils” beginning to “bloom,”
“green shoots” and an “improved growing season.”
...the share of people in poverty in Greensboro has nearly doubled
from 12.3 percent in 2000 to 20.1 percent in 2010.
So, in fact, the state of the city has deteriorated significantly
over the past decade.
...Consider this a challenge, Greensboro Partnership, Action Greensboro,
city of Greensboro and Guilford County government.
It would be truly impressive if you took the initiative
to engage a wide range of citizens who are thinking deeply
about how to bring about positive growth
in a strategic planning effort to create shared prosperity.