There are a lot of people out there who believe that “negative” comments about Albany hurt our community. I recently had a friend on Facebook say as much. As someone who can be pretty critical of our local government, I felt it important to address this just a bit.
First, let me point out to the aforementioned Facebook friend that I’m not singling them out in any way. In fact, this is someone who dislikes much of the government shenanigans as vigorously as I do. However, there are people who say the same thing and yet seem to honestly believe that any comment they perceive as “negative” hurts our community. Among those is former mayor Willie Adams who famously blasted local media for our coverage of Don Buie and said that the coverage was hurting Albany.
These “negative” comments aren’t going to directly help Albany, that’s for sure. These kinds of comments may make potential employers question whether they want to consider Albany for a new operation. It may also make more than a few decide to go elsewhere right off the bat.
However, as long as the comments in question are accurate, telling people to stay quiet is about as useless as putting a door knocker on a chair. Critical comments – often termed “negative” comments by some – aren’t meant to lure potential employers to Albany. Instead, they’re meant to shine light on a problem. As a friend says, “Shine the light on it, and make the roaches scatter.” She’s right.
Ignoring the problems, which you are essentially doing when you tell someone to not make “negative” comments, will not make them go away. Sure, we in the media could just report on the happy things in Albany. There actually are some good things going on here after all. The question is, what good will it do?
Albany is not exactly thriving. Sure, there are people who are doing well in the local economy, but are they the typical? I don’t think so. I spoke with a well respected business person this past weekend who confided in me that they have heard that many a business here in 2012 won’t be here in 2013 unless there is a change in the local economy. Ignoring that reality won’t make it go away.
The “Good Life City” isn’t all that great for many Albanians. Poverty is a problem, and it’s growing. New poor actually appear to be migrating to Albany from other areas because we have built up such strong support for our poor. Free healthcare, free housing, sources for free food, the works. Everything they need is here, so they seem to be coming here. Ignoring the poverty here, and ignoring that in our effort to help the less fortunate, we seem to be attracting more won’t help either.
Our schools are atrocious. Our teachers cheat on tests. Principles and school board officials allegedly lie on forms to get free lunches for their children, despite having ample income to pay for it, without taxpayer money. These are the people our kids are supposed to look up to. If this is the best we can offer our kids as far as role models who aren’t singers, rappers, actors, or athletes, then maybe mankind is doomed.
Crime is ridiculous. Our police haven’t been able to stem the tide of criminal onslaught we appear to be going through. People are afraid to walk the streets of Downtown Albany and have been for years. People are afraid to walk down the street in nice neighborhoods for fear of being assaulted or worse. Please, someone tell me how keeping quiet about these problems is beneficial?
The fact of the matter is, it won’t.
We can sit here and pretend everything is fine, or we can actually discuss the problems. Yes, we might lose a couple of new employers in the short term, but so what? If we actually fix the problems in this town, we may actually attract even more jobs with even better companies. Not only that, but we will have a better place to live in. Isn’t that worth the effort?