Monday, November 26, 2007

Socialist Selma

I just got home from a Selma City Council meeting. I've worked in Lowndes County for 10 years, so I haven't been up on my local politics as much as I should be. My interest was piqued recently, however, when the City Council attempted to get a bond issue of around $12 million. In my whole life, I've never heard of such a thing. I must admit, the first thing I thought about was how much good a makeover would do Selma.

I started trying to find out how the money would be dispersed. I've had some issues with a lack of police action, and was eager to find out how much was going to be given to law enforcement. To my utter exasperation, I learned there were ZERO dollars allocated to law enforcement! Instead, there was a line for something like $3 million dollars to be spent on a security camera system. Security cameras can't come help you get your truck back when it's stolen!!!

To top it off, $2 million of the bond was allocated for a movie theater. The city already owns a decaying hospital, a slowly failing hotel, and a lot of real estate. Why are we trying to compete with private enterprise? I don't understand how the city competing with businesses is supposed to DRAW businesses. That sounds too much like socialism for me.

So, last Monday, as I blogged, I went to join a protest of the council passing this for a vote. The issue vote was postponed until tonight. Like many others, I was in attendance to find out what the council would do.

To start with, they had a business licence Q&A. Apparently, they are raising the cost of a business license. The city brought in $2.5 million in business license revenue, it was reported. That seems like a hefty figure, to me, but it takes a lot to run a city.

Then, they trotted in a bunch of people who got very worked up, voicing their support for the bond issue. In spite of their passion, they seemed almost completely unaware of what the bond issue was actually going to do. It was "an answer to prayer," as one citizens proclaimed. I don't see how it's an answer to prayer if you don't even know what the thing is about.

A councilman questioned someone who voiced support for the issue, in an attempt to explain to the man that what he was thinking the issue covered was not explicitly covered. Two of the others on the council rebuked him, however, claiming it wasn't prudent to question a citizen who had spoken so passionately. The council president mediated very admirably.

I must admit, there was an air of intense racial mistrust that moved in like a fog and sat heavily on the proceedings. One citizen, an african-american who stated she was a graduate of the University of Alabama, shocked me when she admonished her councilman, a white man, to vote for what the majority wants, even though he's a minority.

No one was brave enough to directly mention race, but the way they danced around it, using it as a tool, almost sickened me. Especially when a councilwoman said something about 'some council members' creating stumbling blocks, when it seemed she was the primary culprit driving wedges, dividing the people so they would support her socialistic ideas. It almost sounded like she wanted people to think socialism was pro-black and free-markets are the white devil. It truly frightened me. Is she truly that misled, or does she have other motives? I really wish people would stop using race as a marketing tool for their political views. It's dishonest and somewhat sickening, even when they don't directly mention it.

In all, the meeting was more entertaining than informative. The council president advised the citizens to vote against the bond due to it's vagueness, but voted to spend the thousands of dollars sending it to a special vote to be paid for by taxpayers. Another councilwoman voiced her opposition to the bond issue, yet voted in the affirmative, as well.

I don't think anyone learned anything new about the issue, tonight. We did, however, learn that there are a lot of blind followers in Selma that care more about feeling than facts. The issue passed. The special bond issue vote will be on February 26th.

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