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)

Weekends here!

And I have a few things in the works - including the new page I promised you (look for it Sunday evening), a podcast (monday morning), and a few choice posts I've been rolling around my brain.

First off - Im terribly sorry that the price of gas has not come down yet. Im sure theres a good reason for it. *shakes magic 8-ball* Remember you can track it on the right side of the screen.

2nd - Panera Bread (Tanglewood Mall) opens today. It's the Starbucks of the bread world - a spin off of a mall-based chain of bakeries. And sadly, it's the closest thing Roanoke has to a real bakery (exception being On the Rise, but they are a bread-only bakery). Hopefully this will spur competition, as the complaints about Kroger cakes and WalMart cakes are coming fast and furious these days. However, Food Lion carrys Carvel Ice Cream cakes. And you really can't get much better than that.

Thirdly - You remember how I told you all in the past that the city still retains its historic charm, regardless of what crud building they choose to put up? I'll have proof of that this weekend. I'll show you where you can look back nearly 100+ years in time, and see the past clearer than one would ever expect. And it's right beneath your noses.

Fourth, and finally - I would like to hear your suggestions for topics and places to explore. I'd like to know what the people are interested in, and as long as its not Victory Stadium (which I have explained time and time again), I'll do my best to deliver. Heck, if your looking to buy a home in the city - give me the address, or a rough approximation thereof and I can tell you the basic story behind the neighborhood. Sometimes I can get specific about the house itself.

Also, keep your eyes open for the Mill Mountain Zoo Barnes & Noble donation coupons we will be peppering downtown with. August 16th, any book purchased at Barnes and Noble at Tanglewood will have a portion of its purchase price donated to the Mill Mountain Zoo, provided you have the coupon. So we are printing up a bunch of them, in hopes that you will take one and do just that. Support the Zoo.

Well, enjoy this miserable weather. 6am and 75 degrees out.. Im ready for fall, or even winter for that matter. Not long now though anyway.


Ok Ok I know...

You are all waiting for my counter to the State of the City speech, and you will have it. In due time.

Theres alot to digest in this speech.. a whole lot.

But keep your eyes open - it will come.

(edited@10:15p - added link to speech )


Oh - about that...

That tag-team post I had planned with Chef K, well - our schedules never quite matched up, so instead he put up a post over on his blog. ChefKofRoanoke

Slightly toned down from what he was telling me earlier last week, but a hell of a good read none the less.

Op/Ed page - Todays Times

I am an area artist and crafter. I went to the Roanoke City Market
on a recent Sunday to sell some of my crafts. Being new, I was unaware
of the protocols, but was advised to just set up, and then someone
would come around and collect the table fee.

When the market manger came to collect my fee, she told me that
before anyone could sell on the market, they'd need to apply with the
city, and they'd need a business license. These two criteria are
completely acceptable. What is unacceptable, however, is that, to sell
crafts, a sample or picture of each item would have to be provided to a
review board for approval before it could be sold. And, she said, there
were items here she would not approve.

There is absolutely nothing offensive about my creations. I make
jewelry and crafts out of clam shells. When I asked which item she
specifically wouldn't approve, she pointed to a magnet in which I glued
a couple google eyes and added a tuft of hair on top. She told me that
she didn't know what that was, and didn't "get it," and would never
approve it. (read the rest here)

I, for one, welcome the googly-eyed refrigerator magnet makers of the world. As we pack up the HQ in prep for HQ2.0 - for the first time in a few years, we can see the fridge fully.

This is just another version of the current "class-ification" of Downtown Roanoke. Catering to a limited class of citizens, rather than serving the population as a whole. If the intent is to drive out the very people who are the lifeblood of the city market - then this is going well, I'd say.