I fully intended for the last post to be my last but that was before so many really weird things happening in Decatur over the last couple of weeks and months. It seems like every time I’m ready to retire from blogging about Decatur, Decatur goes off a cliff.
I’m not going to write about the details of the firing of the chief of police because they have been covered elsewhere (and we don’t even know the details) but I am going to write about things I’ve noticed from the current city council, the city manager, and mayor. Things have changed. The appearance of citizens has changed, the whole tone of the meetings has changed, and most importantly discussion of important votes has been minimal with little time between public notification and council votes.
Of course, I expected a change in personalities since the major players have changed but I didn’t expect citizens appearing before council to to be cut off or treated rudely. According to former police chief Sweeney, the city manager allegedly directed a police officer to remove a citizen from the council chamber apparently because he or she was opposed to a particular agenda item.
Before the last municipal election, we were told Decatur was on the right path. Things were looking up and brighter than they had been in decades. Then after the election, we were painted a totally different picture of the city’s finances. Now, I knew the finances weren’t as great as many may have been led to believe. I had looked at the numbers and knew there was nothing for city road repairs. Nothing. That’s why I proposed major changes to shrink the size of the city since we have lost 25% of our population.
Of course, a lot of the issues stem from the fact that previous councils had put off increasing taxes for years, so instead of modest increases here and there we were hit with some hefty increases all at once. The main issue though is that the city has no real vision for tackling Decatur’s shrinking population. A city built for a 100,000 people cannot be supported by a population of less than 75,000. It’s impossible. Major changes need to take place and the answer doesn’t involve taxing people to death. I guess I’ll have to roll out my plan again because it does address those issues in bold and innovative ways.
I also thought it was highly unethical to appoint a city worker to the library board to essentially be a city spy. At least that’s how I see it. I don’t even know why the city wants the library building in the first place. They don’t have the money to maintain it and they killed off the possibility of commercial development downtown. They also killed a plan for county offices to move into vacant portions of the library building that I thought made a lot of economic sense for taxpayers. It’s seems the city’s motives regarding the library are petty, shortsighted, and irrational.
I don’t understand what the heck is going on. It’s weird. I’ve been writing about the city council since 2008 and I’ve never seen behavior like this. Even when council members were at each other’s throats during the Change Decatur years, at least I knew the motives behind everyone’s actions. I don’t understand the motives behind our city leaders today. I really don’t. It’s crazy!
And I really wanted to retire.