Some in the community say that Albany’s biggest crisis is crime. They might be right. After all, the former Good Life City is now one of Georgia’s most dangerous cities.
Others say Albany’s nemesis is poverty. Famously, this is one of the poorest regions of the country. That’s a shame – especially because it’s preventable.
Some say Albany’s albatross is corruption. They might be right; government and graft certainly are symbiotic here.
Then there’s jobs, of course. We’ve lost three of our largest private-sector employers in the last seven years; the outcome has been epic.
The common denominator to Albany’s shortcomings, without dispute, is leadership. To break it down further, we think that Albany leadership’s greatest shortcoming is its collective lack of courage.
Aristotle called courage “the first virtue” because it makes all of the other virtues possible. With less fear and more courage, leaders tackle the community’s critical issues head-on. Effective leaders speak candidly and without regard to the next election or whether their next encounter with a key constituent will be uncomfortable. The fact is, whether it’s due simply to lack of courage or something more sinister, complicity is the order of business for the people who run this town.
Anecdotal evidence of this phenomenon is both glaring and clever. There are documented cases of city hall-driven consequence-free crime such the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority dealings, the Cutliff Grove project, and the illegal attempt to abolish the Water, Gas & Light Commission. And there are subtle matters such as crime statistics being deliberately manipulated and misrepresented; the lie being perpetuated about mayoral candidate B.J. Fletcher’s alleged association with the Tea Party, with her opponents’ blessing; and the sickening scheme that former City Manager Alfred Lott and his henchmen orchestrated to discredit minority business advocate Pinky Modeste.
The latest anecdote of connivance at Albany city hall is the discovery that a City Commission member did nothing upon learning that a commission candidate was erroneously entered into the wrong race by Dougherty County election officials.
Remarkably, in each of the aforementioned situations and countless other scenarios, a single courageous leader could have spoken up and made things right. Taxpayer money would have been saved; criminals would have been imprisoned; new leaders would have been elected to office; and whistleblowers would be given keys to the city. Life here could be good.
As such, it is our hope that the people who run our government henceforth and otherwise proclaim to be our “leaders” find the courage to speak up.
The alternative is business as usual.
And business in Albany is really, really bad.