Note: This community meeting with Mayor Sandy Stimpson was held on April 7, 2014.
April 8, 2014
Last night’s community meeting, which appeared to be a success, focused extensively of litter, blight and the new coal terminal. I took the opportunity to question the added value of this type of a facility to our waterfront and to our quality of life. Fines were mentioned as a possible way to get the attention of citizens and residents to curb the throwing of trash from the car window into city streets. My question to you and the city council is, why is it o.k. for industry (McDuffie Coal Terminal) to pollute our city without penalty while residents will soon be held to a different standard? I hate hypocrisy and this new policy wreaks of it. Just because some industry wants to open a business in our city, does that mean they have a right too? It may make logistical sense for Blue Creek to barge their coal from their Tuscaloosa’s mines down the Tombigbee-Alabama River System to our port, but does it make any sense to us? You spoke of adopting a set of family values. What are ours? Do our community values match theirs? What are we really getting out of it — some money? The city of Mobile and Mobile County have a long history of being bottom-feeders. This project looks like another example of one. When will this mentality stop — under your administration? Will you be a man of faith and trust that we can replace this project and its tax revenue with something that we can all be proud of?
Let all of our current factories, mills and plants sitting along the Mobile River running south to the Port of Mobile and down to south Mobile County demonstrate our desperate and toxic past to have an economy. Does Blue Creek’s right to pollute of our air, land and waterways worth three dozen jobs? Will Mobile get blackballed for passing on this dirty industry? Mobile’s #1 problem isn’t litter or coal dust, but a lack of imagination. We all know what the city is and has. The question is, what could we become? No one is asking the right questions. Once again, we’re too busy bottom feeding to stop and create real community values that require the discipline to say “no” to some projects and be human enough to accept the consequences that come with walking away from money that’s left on the table. If all Mobile ever does is the easy stuff, then you get the problems that come with it. We lack the guts to walk the walk. Talk is cheap, I’m not interested in hearing how dirty the city is with litter if you’re willing to sellout our waterfront to some unknown polluter. The Eastern Shore doesn’t want this facility on its shores. Pensacola doesn’t want it, so why does Mobile? It comes down to values or a lack of them!
Mobile and Baldwin Counties already have an exposure to the negative aspects that come with being a source for America’s energy with oil and gas platforms inside our bay and along the Gulf Coast. We all know what happened during and following the BP/Deep Water Horizon oil spill. If it can happen once, it can happen again. Rather than give our resources away to companies not based in Mobile, we should make supporting the growth and development of our homegrown firms. This hasn’t been the policy of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, which likes to chase the large dues of industry over supporting locally-owned companies. When will the values and interests of the Chamber, the city of Mobile and our citizens get aligned for the success of all? How many foundation dollars has Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Austral, Thyseen Krump, Degussa… put into our community annually when their executives and their directors call home elsewhere? The city is going broke because our big businesses are owned by non-residents and they’re taking the profits out of our community. This is a national problem leading to the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few (1%) and its killing our cities and counties, at the same time. It must stop. We must put Main Street first over Wall Street. What’s good for corporate America is no longer necessarily good for Mobile.
On another front, while Mobile no longer enjoys an intact downtown lined with historic buildings to offer to our citizens and visitors, we have talented residents to fill this void. If we can’t promote rows and blocks of old buildings, let’s promote our living, breathing people. Mobile is full of talent and is home to top artists, authors, chefs, musicians and writers. The mayor should recognize and promote us as part of the city’s marketing story. With mostly empty streets during daylight hours, why doesn’t the city allow our artists to work on the downtown sidewalks (just like they do in New Orleans’ Jackson Square)? Let’s make Mobile a “hip” and fun place to live NOW by honoring, promoting and putting on display our talent. This is a something that the city can proudly promote and build on. The cruise industry has clearly stated that its looking for destination cities. What is Mobile doing to address this issue? I see nothing happening. With the city’s annual tourism at a paltry 500k, we have plenty of room to grow these numbers and this industry if we’ll simply give tourists a reason to stop. This requires some imagination. This is much harder than bagging all the trash out of 3 Mile Creek, but the rewards could be great if we invested a couple of hours. One goal of the city should be to see that every building on Dauphin Street, from Broad Street to Water Street, is occupied.
For all of the city’s sponsored festivals, drinking always seems to be at the heart of them. Without alcohol, Mardi Gras wouldn’t exist. Alcohol is a drug and acts as a depressant. For all the merrymaking that comes with drinking, alcohol inhibits, detracts rather than leads to personal growth while experiencing an event. People behave in ways that they would otherwise wouldn’t if sober. It would be nice to see the city support events that are alcohol-free and in a positive environment. Mobile has both an underage drinking problem and an overage drinking problem. Its failure to recognize this is causing a lot of pain and suffering for citizens and at a great expense to the city’s budget (with first-responders). It speaks to the city’s longstanding values.
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Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved. “My thoughts on last night’s community meeting with Mayor Stimpson.” by Ted Burnett
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