Amazement. Plain and simple. It's hard for me to believe the Roanoke Times finally said something I agree with in regards to the City Council.

"A council gang of four -- Mayor Nelson Harris, Vice Mayor David Trinkle, Alfred Dowe and Gwen Mason..." - editorial from the Roanoke Times

Now lest I be accused of clipping it to fit my bias, the rest of the line goes on to say that the Council failed basic civics by cutting residents out of the process in deciding the location of the new Amphitheater.

It's correct on both counts. Yes, Roanoke does have a gang - a Gang of Four. Those wacky independents, who answer to no one and were voted in by smoke and mirrors. Well, 3 of the 4 anyway. The Mayor outright suckered people. But one thing the Gang has probably thought of, and has plans for - is the upcoming elections. I'm sure in "virtual back-room" dealings the candidates have been pre-selected, and pre-screened for compliance.

This, coming from someone who was actually FOR the amphitheater being built on the Victory Stadium site. I still hold true to the belief that having it there, regardless of weather or not we can fill 7k seats (and I think we could do better, bigger), is a direct call to businesses which might very well see the benefit in having such a facility right near by.

But back to our story. The Gang of Four, these Four Horsepeople of the Ridiculous if you will, have set in stone their will for the future of the City Council. A big part of that is Darlene herself. She keeps the City workers, and some residents, in fear. As long as Darlene is there - the city will be kept in stasis. No problems from the pesky citizens, as it were.

Take, for example, the City Market debacle. Anyone have a clue as to why these "mediation" sessions are not being shown on TV? All we get are soundbytes - and sure, every citizen who has a stake in the Market (and I think that counts as all of us) is welcome to attend - but you know the hard truth is - some of us have other things to do than sit for hours in a meeting. Like work. Hours outside of the 9-5 grind. The hours that normal people work.

Like the current call for Valley Metro to extend operational hours, theres a good reason for that. People in the 21st century work 24 hours a day. Unlike the 1/10th of the population that is truly represented by the current City Council, who have nice day jobs.

So I like my coffee with non-dairy creamer, in vast quantities, and readily available when I like. Does this mean I expect every place I go to have this exact combination ready for me? Negative. I realize that I am not all, and all are not I. This is something the City Council fails to realize - they are acting as if they are all, and there must be something wrong with you if you are not as wise as they are.

So lets think about this for a minute.

How do we go about fixing the problem of a City Council gone awry? Simple - we rumble.

The City has long been divided into quadrants - as we are reminded by the news each time graffiti pops up pitting SE vs. SW (sprayed by the same hand it seems). So let's rumble - once and for all and for the good of the city.

Each area gathers up it's best and brightest - and puts them forth to serve the public interests OF THAT AREA.

If this sounds strange - allow me to remind you of this - there are 3 seats coming open in the next election - and the Mayor's chair.

1 seat per section of the city. And the 3 dwarfs left. The citizens of the City need to come together in their neighborhoods and commit to taking back the City.

Sure, it means there will be debate and disagreement, but that's life. And eventually, there will be compromise, and we can start back on the path of rebuilding the city.

I hate to keep harping on this, but it stands as the perfect example of the cities outright confusion and dereliction of duty.

Roanoke's 125th celebration has been forgotten. The fireworks on the Fourth of July will go off just as they always do, nothing terribly spectacular or different about it. An Art Festival has been announced for the first weekend in October. Anyone hear about it? Anyone care?

Nothing that celebrates the history of Roanoke, the where we have been and the where we are going, absolutely nothing.

Even with the wreck of the Hesperus going in downtown, even that smacks of beige. Whatever opportunity to truly set ourselves apart has been lost now - destined to be another city with an ultra-modern museum.

I have met, talked with, debated with, and conversed with many residents from many different parts of the city - and I can tell you this much. Roanoke is not bland, beige, or any of the above. It is a city whose residents care, have personality and life, and yet have been washed right out of the system.

Well - like I said, let's find our best and brightest, support them and may the battle rage on long and hard, and the victors be the citizens of Roanoke.

Southeast is in.. Northwest? Southwest? Northeast? Don't you think it's time we had a say?

Or are you content to let your city steamroll you?


Jeff St Real said...

I'm repeating myself, because I just posted a similar comment on Ms. E's blog, but: if entire tours are being cancelled due to poor ticket sales nationwide, like Kelly Clarkson, who has had more top 40 hits than anyone in the last few years, how in the world does anyone, anywhere think they can get 7000 people in an amphitheater on a regular basis?

I'm starting to think that it's the wrong time to put one up anywhere, let alone in Roanoke.

Forget that nonsense. We need new business and jobs. We need to be able to fill and fix our neighborhoods before we worry about an amphitheater. If we can fill the civic center for events other than gun shows, then I think we are ready to proceed with an amphitheater. I really don't care where, as long as it's in the city.

Here's what ought to happen:

Step one: lower the real estate tax rate and encourage people who work here to live here.

Step two: improve neighborhoods surrounding downtown, for people of all economic means. I think this is happening, but too slowly.

Step three: decide if Roanoke is going to be a city, or a big town in the middle of the country. That's the problem. No one can make that damn decision. Old or young, we seem to like a little bit of both, but we can't have it both ways.

Are we a City mouses or Country mouses? That's what it all comes down to, and if we aren't willing to make that decision, we proceed as we have and eventually disappear.

Ms. Elenaeous said...

I'm with you Jeff, an amphitheatre absolutely makes no sense in Roanoke as they can't even fill the venues they already have. "Big stars" won't come here not only because of poor ticket sales, but guess what...it's not an easy place to get to, thanks to the limited size of jets the airport can handle. Same reason we can't attract major companies either. IMHO, Roanoke would be better off putting their money towards improving their schools so they could get that graduation rate up to a respectable level.

soapdeli said...

I don't see the need for an amphitheater, but I think it's foolish to stick it at the old Victory Stadium spot. Besides, we could really use the soccer fields, and decent ones at that. But I don't really think anyone's opinion really matters anyway at this point considering the city has no money...