Thursday, May 26, 2016

If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 4

This is part of an ongoing series of posts that begins with If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro and is linked in succession back to here. If you haven't already I recommend you read them all.

In 1982 Greensboro, North Carolina was rated as the #1 best place to live in America. In 2016 Greensboro remains a part of the #1 Hungriest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States

In 2016 Greensboro still leads the State of North Carolina in unemployment.

In 2016, 33% of Greensboro's residents live in food deserts.

Greensboro Ranks bottom 10 in Equality of Opportunity Harvard Study.

While every city in the Southeast continues to see double digit growth rates, Greensboro's growth rate is less than 3%. And according to UNCG Professor Andrew Brod, most of Greensboro's growth is due not to people moving here, but to annexation.

Want to know how bad things really are? Then read  Billy's Big List Of Documented Reasons Why Greensboro Sucks and continue to check back for updates as I keep adding more all the time.

You see, I'm a man who deals in documented facts and not political rhetoric.

So what happened to Greensboro?

Our Greensboro leaders have long told us the reason for our grand city's demise was the failure of the textile and tobacco industries that made Greensboro great.

Well here's a reality check:

Layoffs in the tobacco industry have only just begun here in Greensboro. RJ Reynolds left Greensboro before Lorillard Tobacco Company came here in 1956-- the year I was born. The old RJ Reynolds building still stands on East Market Street across the street from the Lorillard building and there hasn't been any tobacco there since I was a baby almost 60 years ago. During the years that Lorillard Tobacco Company was laying off, the layoffs were because the jobs were being moved to Greensboro from other states. Lorillard was hiring in Greensboro. Fact is: RJ Reynolds' only presence in Greensboro at any time in its history has been the use of a few warehouses and warehouses don't employ a lot of people. And RJ Reynolds bought Lorillard in 2014 and only recently announced Greensboro layoffs.

The second problem with the excuse Greensboro's leaders use is that the loss of the textile industry impacted almost every city and town in the Southeastern United States. When I was growing up here in Greensboro, almost every city and town in the Southeast had some sort of textile mill that was responsible for keeping the majority of the town running. Now how is it that the entire Southeastern United States seems to be recovering but a few cities like Greensboro just can't seem to get past something that took place 30 years ago?

I'm thinking the problem has to begin with those people who are elected to run our city.

So what would I do differently? What would I do if I were Mayor of Greensboro?

It was in the office of Mayor Nancy Barakat Vaughan while discussing, among other things, the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, that the problem came to light. Not to the Mayor-- she remains clueless-- but I figured it out.

Of course I'm opposed to the megasite because I don't believe it will bring the jobs Mayor Vaughan and others are promising. That's a pretty safe bet when you consider that Vaughan, as a board member of the Piedmont Triad International Airport, was a major backer of the $120 Million taxpayer dollars that went into FedEx promising 1,500 jobs and delivering ZERO jobs.

But Vaughan made light of that and wanted to talk about how extending Greensboro water and sewer to the megasite would open up the US 421 corridor to development, annexation and more revenue for the City of Greensboro.

You see, with Vaughan and the rest, revenue-- the bottom line-- is the only thing that's on their minds. Got to make that money first and foremost. And the world views Greensboro as a bunch of greedy pigs.

But what if we concentrated on making Greensboro the kind of city where people come first?

What if our priorities were communities, jobs, food, safe affordable housing owned by those who live in them? What if our priorities were helping those in need? What if our priorities were putting people to work? What if the last thing Greensboro worried about was increasing the bottom line?

Do you not believe that would change the way people everywhere perceive Greensboro? Isn't that what your preachers, priests, monks, rabbis, and teachers of every faith tell you to do?

Sure, we still have to have bean counters but even Jesus chased the money changers from the temple. Maybe it's time we did the same and put people first.

I'm thinking that if Greensboro were to become known as the kind of city that puts people first then Greensboro would begin to attract the best kinds of people. And the people who are already here would become better people because of their influence.

And in a city filled with good people the bottom line would quite likely take care of itself.

That's what I'd want to do if I were mayor of Greensboro.

Stay tuned for Part 5 of If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro.