Wednesday, July 13, 2016

If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 32

I drove past Peeler Recreation Center this morning. It's one block from my Northeast Greensboro home where my family has resided since the 1950s. At 60 years old, not many folks have lived in  Northeast Greensboro longer than I have and most who have are the parents of people I grew up with.

We used to call this neighborhood, Bessemer. Before annexation, Bessemer was much larger than Greensboro. Even before annexation by Greensboro we had our own recreation center, modern fire department, water, sewer, shopping centers and Clarks-- the first big box retailer in North Carolina. We also had North Carolina's first McDonald's restaurant and 2 more fast food restaurants, a Biff Burger on Bessemer Ave. and Tasty Freeze on East Market before what was then Greensboro, had any. Bessemer was, at that time, economically, the most successful community in all of the Piedmont Triad. Then, according to the City of Greensboro website:

 "From the turn of the century to the late 1950s, the East Market Street Corridor flourished. It was the shopping and social center for many of Greensboro's African Americans, who owned businesses on the street and provided services to those shut out by segregation practices in other Greensboro neighborhoods.

This lively community began to wind down in the late 1950s and 1960s when, under the guise of "urban renewal," thousands of people and more than 80 businesses (many minority-owned) were displaced. Most of those businesses never reestablished."
All of Greensboro has been paying for that "mistake" ever since.
What the City website doesn't tell you is they bulldozed 3 miles of East Market St all the way to Burlington Road or that the community was a mixed community, overall more white than African-American. And despite the racism of the 1950s, everyone on Greensboro's east side was better off economically than we are today.

As a matter of fact: Were it not for the racism Bessemer would have been the perfect place for anyone to live and raise a family. You see, in America we treat the symptoms rather that the causes.

Another thing they don't tell you is that what happened to East Greensboro was the result of a jealous feud between the Cone Family and the Burnettes who owned Bessemer Improvement Company. You see, the Burnetts invested heavily in East Greensboro and the Cones wanted it so they used the power of the City to try to destroy everything the Burnetts owned-- even if it meant destroying the lives of thousands of people, black and white. Don't believe me? Former Greensboro Mayor Jim Melvin tells the whole story in the book, Once Upon A City by Howard E. Covington.

As I drove by Peeler Center I noticed a sign out front announcing free lunches for children on Fridays.

My first thought,  Children only eat lunch on Fridays? It's been a long time since I was a child but I seem to remember eating lunch every day when I was growing up and we were poor too. Thankfully, my parents, my daddy born a sharecropper, were fresh off the farm and knew well how to grow lots of food. Today my entire yard, front and back, grows food for friends, family, neighbors and anyone else I happen to give it to. And if someone steals my organic grown watermelons growing out front... Well I just hope you wait until the melons are ripe so you can enjoy them, I've got more melons in the back.

And please don't trample things down-- other people might want to "steal" some too. Everything growing there is some kind of food.

It's good that someone is feeding children on Fridays-- I hope the children are eating every day. But aren't we simply treating the symptoms while at the same time bleeding the working classes-- who donate the most to these efforts-- to death?

I used to volunteer at a food pantry a couple of days a week. It was run by a group of nice conservative old folks, mostly elderly, who just wanted to help people. The folks from Occupy Greensboro might remember the car loads of Panera Bread that appeared in camp there. Those nice old conservative ladies knew I was taking the bread to Occupy Greensboro-- they asked me to do so. They didn't see a bunch of liberals, they saw people who needed help so they arranged for me to help being that they knew I was somehow involved.

Some of them were none too happy about their disappearing retirement accounts either.

The thing that bothered me about volunteering at the pantry was that nothing ever changed for the better. Even now that the so-called recession is over, friends who still volunteer there tell me the lines are longer than ever before and shortages ever worse. Despite their best efforts, heroic efforts, they are not solving the problem. Not even close.

And they never will as they are treating the symptoms rather than the problem.

The problems are jobs and corruption. No jobs equal no money and corruption takes away the money needed to fight the problem.  Throughout my platform, If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro, I've written about jobs and the economy, today I'll tell you how, as Mayor of Greensboro, I can help end the corruption.

It's judges who allow out of court settlements in which neither party admits responsibility and no blame is assigned that keeps the public in the dark as to who is really at fault, and allows politicians, high ranking officials, police, and the well-to-do to escape public scrutiny and punishment for their crimes so they can continue commuting crimes.

Judges are a huge part of the problem.

But in America we look only at symptoms rather than causes.

As Mayor of Greensboro I can't do anything about our judges or America's legal system and its many flaws. But I can promise you this: As Mayor of Greensboro I can promise you that any Greensboro City Attorney who attempts to use such tactics in defense of the City of Greensboro, the Greensboro Police Department or any employee of the City of Greensboro will be dismissed from his or her job.

Hiding the names of the guilty simply isn't acceptable, and is the means by which government corruption is continually carried out.

How can we honestly expect those at the bottom to maintain law and order when those at the top get a free pass to do anything they want? Leaders lead by example. When we look at our televisions and see that the people at the top have repeatedly gotten away with robbing millions or billions of dollars, how are we to convince our children it's wrong? We already have a generation of leaders today who believe stealing is okay as long as you steal enough to buy your way out of it.

And Greensboro is no different.

Don't believe me? Read Lies From The Wyndham Hotel Study--the documents are all there.
Read The Yvonne And Walter Johnson Saga-- documented too, court records and all.
Take a look at Wyndham Championship 2013 Federal Form 990 and see the documents we dug up on yet another Greensboro City Council member.

You didn't know any of these events ever happened so you never knew to act. And folks, that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Come back for If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 33 or catch up on the rest of this series at Billy Jones for Mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina, 2017.