Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year?

Happy New Year

The oughts are over and we are entering the last year of the decade. Despite what the TV announcers have been saying, this is NOT the beginning of a new decade. A decade is a ten year period and the year 2000 was the last year of the 20th century.

Now, what are we going to do to cap off this wild and crazy first decade of the new century?

We started off riding hell bent into the future and riding a wave of economic boom times that some said was unsustainable, and we seem surprised that they weren't. We, as a city, continued to put off doing some of those inconvenient tasks and some of those promised enhancements, just because they got in the way of someones personal gain. Don't we hate it when the buzzards come home to roost.

I was asked last week, during a holiday party, my opinion on the upcoming election, how will it play out with Newberry and Gray. My comment was, that it will be so ugly between the two Jims, that we may just see Ms. Issac again, but that in any case Lexington will LOSE. My sister said that she thought that it looked bad for Newberry, given the strong support for CentrePointe and its troubles.

I reminded her, that as Mayor, when a private property owner proposed a $250 million project for a city, a project that was intended to bring jobs and investment, that I would expect that Mayor to be supportive of the development regardless of any personal preference toward the project. I would expect Mr. Gray to do the same, were he to be in the position of mayor someday. Any development just for the sake of development is not always a wise choice, but driving away development and hoping for something better, especially during a dearth of any economic progress downtown, is even less wise.

She asked about the loss of property tax revenue on the demolished block and the loss of jobs in the area. Again I pointed out that all the jobs had been relocated within a few blocks of the original location(well, maybe not the Buster's jobs but they are doing much better where they are now) and that the property taxes will now be paid on a value which is 5 times the assessment
of last year, and that will only go up.

We both agreed that Mr. Gray has not brought forth any economic development proposals of his own despite his being touted as a planning and development visionary and working with the Downtown Development group and the Infill/Redevelopment Committee. He does seem to jump on the bandwagons for various proposals, some for and some against, depending on the number of activists available as voters. I am very interested to see just what Mr. Gray does endorse in the coming campaign.

Mr. Newberry's "Horses, High Tech & Health Care" platform of four years ago has shown very little High Tech and absolutely no comments in the national debate on health care reform. Horses, in the form of the World Equestrian Games has consumed massive resources and discussion for what many consider a "ho-hum" event. Very similar to the NCAA Final Fours of the mid '80s ( men's and women's), something that we spent hours preparing for and then they were gone, and so very few of us have something to show for it.

The horse industry, which we proudly claim as our "signature" industry, is showing signs of fleeing to greener pastures. Is there more that we can do to salvage what so many of us enjoy yet so few of us can attribute any major benefit to our own well being? Will expanded gambling be a factor in salvation or another nail in the horse industry's coffin.

What I don't see coming out of this election is, any solutions for the real problems on the horizon. Subjects such as Peak Oil, the coming economic reset of priorities, the need for a relocalization of food production or the loss of a "signature" industry(something that other cities have and will continue to deal with). These are just as real as Global Warming and Climate Change. I don't see the local government working with others in a regional transportation network, or pressuring the state to advance some sort of statewide passenger rail system, because as I have said before, I don't see the electrical grid being able to withstand electric autos nor the general population being able to afford them. The mobility of people, goods and services may well be compromised if we do not plan for the coming situations.

The Council and Mayoral elections will not be the only things in transition in the coming year but they will be the major things. And I will be looking out for some of my other favorite subjects along the way.

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