Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Putting our mouth where our money is

So regardless of what the Commercial Appeal says, apparently the top of Memphis' agenda is street paving and a boat dock. One of these two things I don't have a problem with.

Actually, it's not fair to say that I have a problem with the idea of improving the landing (despite my vitriolic first response for those of you who saw it). I have a problem with *this* plan to improve the landing. I could spend a good 1500 words going into detail but there's not a hell of a lot of point now and besides, it's already been said better.

There are those who say that our expenditures are a clear indication of our priorities. If the City Council represents the will of the people (which is how it works in theory), where was the big public outcry in support of the Beale Street Landing? People around here seem pretty worried about crime, but the council only gave the police force additional funds equal to less than half of this years allotment for the Landing. Does this mean that 120% more Memphians are worried about a commercial boat dock than are worried about crime? Something tells me the answer is no.

If we want to take this as a spin on "we want to work on something positive rather than just throwing money after a negative" we can take a look at another potentially large capital improvement that was on the city council's agenda: the Wolf River Greenway. Despite its broad and vocal public support from a wide cross section of the population, its funding was cut to less than half of what was proposed (which incidentally is 4% of what the boat dock is getting). Again, where is the overwhelming public support for the Beale Street Landing Project? Proportionally this means that somewhere there must have been a public rally with enough people to fill the FedEx Forum, all cheering at the idea of this modernist travesty of a commercial boat dock getting tacked onto downtown.

Wait, you mean that didn't happen? Well then why all the public money?

Oh right. This is Memphis. What developers want, developers get. The rest of us can beg for scraps.

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