/* left_sidebar content begin */ /* left_sidebar content end */

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

City on Fire

I run hot and cold on the “state of the city”. Optimism run high these days, mostly as a result of our new mayor. It's not too many cities that get to have a national celebrity as their mayor. Our mayor is Douglas Wilder, former governor or Virginia, the first and only African American to serve as governor of any state, a regular civil rights hero. I did not live here in those days, but there is no question, this is quite an accomplishment. He has the respect of many people, black and white, Republican and Democrat. Mine too, yet I have not warmed to him. That makes me an exception, a role with which I am familiar. Despite the appalling reputation of our city council, I had grown fond of the Council/Manager form of government which we just abandoned. In particular I was especially fond of our former mayor, Rudy McCollum. Many the times I sat in admiration of his governing style. As a "weak" mayor elected by his colleagues, he had to use the force of his personality and persuasion as his methods. More often that not he was able to win the day without offending or embarrassing opponents. While I would sit at home steaming about abrasive and divisive tactics of some council members, he stuck to reason. His methods produced results, mine wouldn’t. There is such potential for conflict in this city and a long history of animosity that has done great damage to the whole community. There are such easy pickings for those who wish to stir up bitterness. I believe we owe a great debt to Mayor Rudy. I miss him, his leadership and his charm. I guess that puts me among the 10% who voted for him in the last elections. 10% for someone I think would have the the favorite had not he run into Hurricane Wilder. Doug Wilder was the knight in shining armor coming to rescue the city. Doug Wilder had the kind of support most politicians can only dream about. A hero to the majority blacks, a friend to the business community, admired by whites and possessing of the kind of national reputation and clout that stirs the imagination in it's potential to tackle the seemingly intractable conundrums of inner cities everywhere. Well, I sincerely hope he lives up to his billing. If he does even a quarter of what is expected of him, we will be the better for it. The thing is, the resurrection of this city should not be about one man. Many dedicated people have been working for many years to resuscitate neighborhoods, restore homes and invest in businesses in the city. They have been working against great odds. Virtually the entire retail community, once centered downtown has vanished. Malls compete with each other to move as far as possible from the urban center attracted by the uber-wealthy outer suburbs and the potential for investing in the ground floor of even broader and spectacular sprawl. These are people and business that have left and never looked back. As Richmond struggles to recover from the urban neutron bomb, that wiped left the buildings standing, but not much else, it won't be one man who is responsible. It will be the thousands who continued to believe in the promise and potential of city life.

Facebook StumbleUpon Digg Technorati Delicious Google Bookmark Yahoo


** **