Albanians tend to talk about the Albany City Commission as if it were a single entity, often with a distinct personality. I have been as guilty of this as anyone, and I’m not really going to apologize. Frankly, it is a single entity, just one made up of a number of people who give it a personality.
Later today, B.J. Fletcher and Bobby Coleman will be sworn in as city commissioners, replacing Ivy Hines and Christopher Pike. These two individuals can begin to shift the personality of the commission. What remains to be seen is what will that personality be like.
It’s my hope that the new commission will be focused on attracting new businesses, and not just Olive Garden or Gander Mountain. We need jobs that will bring in something other than minimum wage jobs, or just above that pay rate. While, in a perfect world, government would stay out of that completely, we don’t live in in that world. We live in a world where city commissions are expected to try and attract businesses. Sure, they may outsource it to departments within the city government, but they’re still responsible.
Honestly, I want to see the City of Albany make announcements about new distribution centers, factories, and even call centers. Let the retails stores and restaurants come, but why should we seek them out?
Folks, Albany is one of the poorest communities in the country. Minimum wage jobs with little opportunity for advancement or learning skills will do nothing to fix this. We are desperate. We need real jobs with a living wage. Pushing for a governmental increase in the minimum wage isn’t the answer either. That could just as easily lead to more unemployment as businesses seek to maintain their profit despite the new environment.
Now, that’s not to say I’m not appreciative of these new jobs. I’m just realistic enough to know that they’re not the answer to Albany’s problems. It’s my hope that the new blood we elected to the commission will recognize that. For the first time in a long, long time, I feel confident about the commission and the direction Albany is now taking because of those elections.
The new commissioners will now take their place on the commission, and exercise their new powers. I’m confident that both of them will remember what caused them to run in the first place and not fall prey to the ills that have befallen their predecessors. I pray that they will use their new positions for the betterment of all Albany, and that we will see our once great community return to economic prosperity. With that, we will see our crime fall, our children more educated, and finally combat poverty in a real way.