Last week, Mayor Dorothy Hubbard issued a “service challenge” to the people of Albany. On the surface, she’s saying things that should seem like common sense. Clearly, city officials can’t do it all. They need help from the community as a whole. What isn’t so clear is that while officials like Hubbard say that they want community involvement, their actions tell a different tale.
At a recent county commission meeting, Lamar Hudgins got rather belligerent with a citizen questioning the proposed property tax increase. Here he was, a concerned citizen that simply wanted to argue that there are places to cut that should be explored first, and Hudgins’ response was to get riled up.
A city commission who shall remain nameless once referred to the Dougherty County Taxpayers’ Association as “domestic terrorists”. This was a group of people who were merely fighting for governmental reforms, and they are branded with at term like terrorist? Now that is hardly fair.
The reality is that while Mayor Hubbard wants community involvement, local officials have often shown a profound lack of enthusiasm for community involvement that doesn’t meet their preferences. There are people who have no problems picking up litter and painting fences for their home town. There are others who prefer to look at another kind of filth and combat that instead.
While Mayor Hubbard is hardly responsible for the behavior of a county commissioner, it’s also important that she understands that she’s going to be lumped into the same pot with them.
Yes, the litter isn’t attractive. We all get that. However, the real problems in Albany have nothing to do with potato chip bags or beer cans. Instead, they involve a once bustling downtown that still has an inordinate about of vacant buildings. There are entire sections of town that can best be described as “run down”.
It’s not the litter that’s the big problem in Albany.
If Mayor Hubbard was so worked up about making Albany look good, then maybe she should lead by example. Let’s start with the Heritage House. Take that down to ground level, like has been discussed repeatedly and ad nauseum, and maybe then we’ll give some credence to her hopes and wishes.
Instead, the message we get from local officials is that we had best sit down, shut up, and do what we’re told. If we want to help the community, then we need to do it their way apparently.
Unfortunately for them, those of us who envision Albany becoming a better place don’t always accept picking up litter as the best way to do it. Instead, we seek out corruption in local government. We demand accountability from our elected leaders. We question budgets and proposed tax increases. We demand that our leaders cut out the little, unnecessary things before they jack up our tax rates.
Sure, Mayor Hubbard’s heart was probably in the right place when she made her call. Unfortunately for her, many of us see bigger fish that need to be fried first.