There’s a lot to be said in recent weeks, about the direction of the city. A lot of questions have been raised, worth asking in public:
- Will the departure of (Deputy Mayor) Jeff Downes and (Development Director) Chad Emerson fundamentally change the direction of the city’s development? Downes split for Vestavia and Emerson for Huntsville, both of which are richer (and whiter) than Montgomery. Who will replace their talents? Will the city keep doing the same stuff with regard to buying up buildings downtown and selling them at a loss to motivated developers? What about smart code? Will the city remain committed to spreading re-development to non-downtown areas (especially West Montgomery)? Will Mayor Strange replace these guys with visionaries or with functionaries?
- What effect will the summer heat have on our skyrocketing murder rate? The Montgomery Advertiser has been doing something that closely-resembles journalism by running a three-part series on our violence-spike. But we need more than PR from the police chief and a college professor keen on blaming rap music for everything. We get it: Some popular music promotes criminality. But that music wasn’t just invented. So all this cultural stuff doesn’t explain the spikes. Solutions involve investing in communities and not treating them as source of potential athletes.
- When does the substance take hold? It’s perfectly fine that the city is talking about a Wright Brothers sculpture to adorn the Wright Brothers park before we pay money for some weirdo’s private (and terrible) “Wright Brothers collection” to turn it into a Wright Brothers museum. Or bowl games. We might get some Sun Belt team to play in the Nobody Cares Bowl, which is not to be confused with the college football all-star game we launched last January. These are all terrible topics of conversation, especially if we’re not talking about anything below the surface. Does the city need some tourism stuff? Sure, the Chamber of Commerce has its place and we’re glad to attract visitors and all that. But is the newspaper doing any digging beyond helping the city publicize its various schemes? In a world where we don’t have a real alternative weekly (going, for example, to city council meetings), I expect more from our civic voices.
Just a few stray thoughts while sitting delayed in the Montgomery Airport. Speaking of which, it would do a lot for Montgomery tourism and our general reputation if they could do something about all the delays to and from Montgomery. This place should seem like an inviting destination, not a prison from which it is impossible to escape. Our sleepy, broken, lazy airport adds to the perception that nobody is in a hurry to help anybody get anywhere, certainly not if you’ve raised up the audacity to try to get on a flight out.