Wednesday, June 29, 2016

If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 25

Did I mention that when I'm elected I plan to move the Mayor's office? I'm going to put it out there in that area of the Melvin Municipal Building where all the plants are located. Oh, don't worry, we'll keep most of the plants, I just believe a Mayor needs to be as accessible as possible. I don't need walls, guards and people separating me from the public. And there will be no closed door business meetings.

On other days I might have meetings under the 100 year old oak trees in my front yard and serve sweet iced tea. Sorry, my doctors have me on several medications that don't mix well with alcohol so I'll not be drinking with you even though I've nothing against responsible drinkers.

I'm also supposed to avoid long exposure to direct sunlight because of my medications. I miss the beach more than I miss alcohol. Growing older isn't for the weak or the scared but at least I won't be taking long vacations where no one can get in touch with me-- it's simply not in my nature.

The current Mayor's office will be converted to working spaces for city employees.

I've been thinking about the plaza outside the Melvin Municipal Building. To me it seems that plaza goes horribly underutilized. Especially on the weekends and at night.

I'm thinking there should be shows, bands, and exhibitions there. Yes, the plaza will still be available for political purposes but why not allow other uses there as well? Personally I'd like to see a custom motorcycle show in the plaza but everyone might not agree. What if our local breweries did some sort of event there? Or a temporary runway was installed and a fashion show was held there?

What's that? Screw Milton Kern and his event center, he tried to steal $1.9 Million Dollars from Greensboro taxpayers and the current City Council covered it up.

Anyway, I'm open to all kinds of downtown events being hosted in the plaza as downtown business owners often complain that closed streets actually hurt their business rather than bring in more business.

Why Zack Matheny and Downtown Greensboro Inc. never thought of that is simply beyond me. I mean, some people will have to park all the way over on Elm St, they might drop in a downtown shop or restaurant as they pass buy.

Look, here's reality, folks, marketing downtown Greensboro, just like marketing the rest of Greensboro, is the job of the people who run this city. And the fact that our current leaders must subcontract this job to Zack Matheny and DGI simply proves that our current leadership is incapable of doing their jobs. I mean seriously, is this the best we can get for Millions of dollars per year? From the front page of the DGI website as of June 28, 2016:

They might as well be posting Zack's DWI mug shot for the results you got.

Does it really take $Millions of Dollars a year to operate the DGI website? I pay about $15.oo a year for the domain name and this website is free. There's probably a better option somewhere in-between.

Legally the City of Greensboro cannot close DGI as DGI has non profit status under State and Federal laws. But nowhere in State or Federal laws are there any regulations that require the City of Greensboro actually fund DGI.

What I am proposing is the following:

1. Stop all funding to DGI.
2. Have the City of Greensboro take over the responsibilities the City should have been doing all along.

The following is optional and certainly open for discussion but I don't think you can best it:
3. Cut the Business Improvement District tax in half.
4. Eliminate private residences from having to pay the BID tax even if they are located in the BID.
5. Vastly increase the size of the BID. Perhaps 2 to 3 times it's current size to include areas such as Uptown Greensboro to the north and east, South Elm, MLK and others.

My opinion is that Greensboro's downtown will always be doomed to failure as long as it remains small enough that a handful of people can control every aspect of what goes on there. Even the largest empires in the history of the world have all failed once they overextended their grasp. Let's make the BID large enough so that Greensboro's wannabe emperors, czars and tyrants can't keep a handle on it. Besides, our downtown is puny.

And while we're at it let's spread that economic development stimulus throughout a much larger portion of the city.

All controlled by a City Council who discusses city business in front of the television cameras and a Mayor who has his meetings right out in the open where anyone can see.

And while we're at it let's discuss who gets the economic stimulus money provided by the BID tax and how they are picked.

Under the current system the DGI board picks who gets it. Usually they give the money to DGI board members with the rest of downtown's merchants and property owners getting left out despite having to pay in year after year.

In my system the decision is twofold. First is proof of need. Then all who prove need will enter a lottery. Previous winners will not be eligible to win again as long as there is a deserving contestant still waiting to win.

It's not perfect. Nothing is.

Or do you prefer the good ol' boy system we have in place now?

Come back for If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 26 and read the rest of my platform at Billy Jones for Mayor of Greensboro, 2017