I’m getting tired of it. I’m getting rather sick of the attitude some officials espouse, blaming the people of Albany – and often times their “attitude” – for Albany being in its current state. The most recent incident comes via a WFXL report where EDC head Ted Clem is quoted as saying, “Our biggest challenge in Albany is ourselves. Sometimes we have such a negative self image of who we are as a community that we lose sight of the fact that we do have competitive advantages over many other communities in the state of Georgia and around the country.”
He was joined by Equinox Chemical chief Mark Grimaldi who said, “It’s human nature to focus on the negative side or the bad things about where you live and the grass is always greener on the other side and everybody always wants to leave Albany for a better place.”
First, let me say that I respect what Grimaldi has accomplished at Equinox. Their success is an inspiration for all business owners in this community.
Of course, when Clem opens his mouth to tell people in Albany what they should think, all I can hear is someone who has fallen asleep at the wheel, then trying to blame the kids in the back seat for the accident.
Our community has some very serious problems. We have crime, a lack of jobs, a dirty city, and corruption at various points within the system. For better or worse, that is a fact. Most who have issues with our community know this, and they don’t want to look the other way.
Clem, and those like him, argues that our perception equals reality. That’s not entirely incorrect either. However, the inverse is somewhat true as well, since our perception is shaped by our reality as well. What so many in the community think isn’t some dark conspiracy to hurt Albany. It’s their heartfelt impressions, and concern over where Albany is and where it’s going.
Every time an official acts like perception, or media reporting, is the problem they are turning their backs on the root of the problems in this town. Willie Adams, as mayor during the Don Buie fiasco, tried to deflect attention onto media reporting by claiming that the negative press was hurting Albany while forgetting that the problem wasn’t the reporting. The problem was that there was corruption to report.
If folks like Clem want people like me to think “happy thoughts” about Albany, then give me a good reason to think them. Bring in new jobs, something the head of the EDC should be doing, and then I can think more. Clean up our community. Make Albany the kind of place we can be proud to show off, and I promise you that the “happy thoughts” will take care of themselves.
The reality is that the rank and file community member doesn’t need to feel good about our advantages as a community. Those who are responsible for luring good jobs to this town need to know them, and they need to sell them. If they do that, things will work out just fine.