7/28/06

The real State of the City (part 1)

Begin the drums.. sound the march - the City of Roanoke is at war.

Mayor Harris was right in stating that Roanoke is a changing city, but its the change itself that is causing the battles to be moved from the larger scale of politics, to the street to street - house to house battle more common of guerilla tactics.

We saw earlier this year wildfires on the ridgelines.. and we know how rapidly a fire can grow and spread from the news of California and the like. Roanoke has come to this; the wildfire-like spread of rumor and 'beliefs' can cripple a town. The alleged plot by Carilion to seek the land under Victory Stadium for it's own purposes, the deal for Countryside Golf, the delusion of prosperity just around the corner, the self-inflated real estate market (see the "desireable Garage on Campbell" for example), the lowering of property taxes while raising cigarette taxes.

All prime examples of the "feel good/do nothing" attitude of the city government. If it makes the citizens feel good, but accomplishes nothing for them - then so be it. As long as the citzenry 'feels' good. But the illusion has shattered, as the city itself has gone too far in its efforts to quell the battle.

There is no single stand-alone example of this. The city effectively washed its hands of the tainted Art Museum deal by selling them the property, it removed the ability of the citizens to question the design, or the motivation. Turning what is alleged to be a "public improvement" into a private venture for the public good. But leaving no chance for the citizens to have a say.

The Victory Stadium deal was a sealed fate years before this action was taken. The bricks and structure having suffered from floods, weathering, and a Dave Matthews concert, the stadium was beyond it's time. The citizens approval/disapproval meant little to the fate of the stadium. Had it served the city's purposes - the battle would be ongoing. Those 3 For the City canidates, now councilmembers - accomplished little. They were clever dupes, used to bring the "monied" citizenry on board. Who would not think that what a psychologist, a woman deep rooted in education, and a financial wizard/mentor and counselor have to say on the topic would be wrong?

Alot of people disagreed. The real problem was the fact of having too many choices. The combined votes against the trio gave indications that perhaps the popular vote was not as unanimous as was reported.

I still await a real challenge for these 2, as Mr. Dowe has been a member of the City Council since 2002. He has faced his share of victory and defeat, all while leaving a clearly unremarkable record.

I have yet to see one member of the council stand up for something, anything, that was not associated with Victory Stadium. And I actually like most of them. I just wish they were a bit more passionate.

But this is about the state of the city, and the current atomsphere of warfare.

To refer to the former Victory Stadium site as having "potential amenities the community may wish to include" is a slap in the face to anyone who loves this city. What the mayor, and by extension most of the city council are referring to is this: Prepare yourselves for another long, drawn out march of experts / pollsters / studies. In a war, this part is usually termed a "quagmire."

The mayor tells us how lucky we are to be hosting (as a region) the 2006 US Challenge. National exposure for the event, and footnote exposure for Roanoke. The lovely backdrop for for a new version of "battle of the network stars."

I want to thank the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau for the hard work they do, and the wonderful Welcome Center they have created at the Norfolk Western Station.

Yes, I do believe there are some highlights in this current adminstration, several programs you have never heard of come to mind. One of which I will be telling you about in late August. Very hush-hush.

(End of Part 1)


1 comment:

Ms. Elenaeous said...

I'd be curious to know what the visitor center's attendance has been since they moved. Although it's a nice set-up, personally I think it's too out of the way to be as effective as it was when it was near the City Market Building. Older visitors on foot probably are not going to make that trek across the tracks.