Holding my tongue
I've been good. So good. I've been trying so hard to keep my mouth shut and give Bowers a chance, the entire council a chance. It's not been easy.
But now it ends.
First off, I want to thank Mayor Bowers, and the entire Council - including the newly minted Mr. Rosen, for making it impossibly easy to do this.
A city council who makes headlines for the confusing and dangerous machinations it attempts, and fails at does the people it represents no service.
Bowers, for all his "open office" speeches, his "looking forward - not back" promises, and obvious platitudes to the electorate - has assumed office as if he never left. Including the way council operated - which is at odds with the way it operates now.
And Mr. Rosen, rather than hang out and observe the workings of the Council, or asking questions - instantly feels left out and slighted. Have you always been denied the cool table Court?
With one meeting (and I'm not even going into the one before it in which Mr. Rosen asked for a copy of DRI's submission to the RFP - which was a debacle in and of itself) the Council has set the public face of the city back 20 years. After reading this article, I would not blame any business for refusing to relocate here, or expand.
Do I believe there are backroom deals going on? Yes, but with one caveat: I really don't think they are savvy enough to pull them off properly.
Remember when Mr. Dowe misspoke about "a boutique hotel property in downtown" a year ago or so? He then felt the full weight of the "backroom" fall upon him as he was booted for "suddenly discovered" double dipping. That hotel was/is to be the former Billy's Ritz building. And now, today's headline: "Patrick Henry site in a tax pinch"
It seems the city could be taking over the PH Hotel downtown at the end of the year, and putting it up for tax sale. Is this the council that should be doing such things, given the extreme dischord shown on simple issues such as a municpal golf course?
Fair enough, the city SHOULD own the PH - but to what end? Renovations and bringing it up to code would run in the millions, just like the Hotel Roanoke. By now most of us know the story on what a disgrace that was, not to mention the ongoing problems with the buildings. But the PH could do some real good; with the right leadership, and the right blend of public/private partnership. Personally, I can't trust the council do the right thing.
In one version of the Downtown master plan, the Municipal Library was moved to the Heironymous building, the library in the park became a Rec Center (same structure, different purpose), and the PH was a magnet for people coming to downtown for business and pleasure.
As I have posted before - I've been inside the PH - deep inside. I can tell you what kind of condition that building is in, firsthand. It is more magnificent and dramatic than the Hotel Roanoke, and also holds a deeper meaning for Roanoke.
Sure, N&W built the Hotel Roanoke - but they met at the PH. And just like the city council once consisted of actual leaders in Roanoke - the PH once held all the leading business functions. The Hotel Roanoke was more personal functions, short of the massive meetings that can now be held there.
Once again, I ask - is this the right council for the job? I had reservations back during the elections - and carefully chose my votes, knowing that I was voting for the best at that moment, but not the best overall. Where are the leaders?
Well, one of them is right here. And even though I have been holding my tongue lately, and keeping quiet when I could be shouting from the rafters - I have not abandoned my hopes. For a city that shines, a Council that works for the best of the City, and a public image that outstrips the rest.
I'm still working over here in my small section of town, and change is happening. Slowly, but steadily - it's happening.
It can happen all over the city too, if only we had the leadership to do it.