Thursday, August 27, 2009

2 good decisions, 100's more needed.

BY Terry Bankert

Recently many want to critique Mayor Walling for 2 of his appointments, Greg Eason City Administrator and Donna Poplar Human relations.

So be it. A strong Mayor should be questioned.

But what is the goal of elected leadership?

Maintaining political power, hopefully by providing services the cliental voters desire.

The first things a Mayor must do is to assemble a team to set policy and deliver services.

The Mayor needs expierenced, smart, loyal and controllable people to achieve these public policy goals his re election will depend upon.

To lead requires the maintenance of political power.

Individual and coalition support of a Mayor will achieve that power.

Mayor Walling faces a quick re-election battle. If he calculates the appointment of Eason and Poplar , both tough seasoned political operatives, give him the ability to delivery public services and win re-election that is his right.

The Mayors objective is maintenance of political power by good service to the community.

Self governance is messy business at the local level, but then some say all politics is local so therefore messy.

Are you a member of this Flint self-governing political community or “ merely the helpless pawns of larger faceless forces”.

Nobody wants to admit they are a pawn so how do you expect your political community to act?

Do you not expect a Strong Mayor to collect the levers of power and a cadre of loyalist to accomplish his public policy objectives?

That will make him a leader not a pawn of the entrenched elites who preceded him.

What we need is a Mayor who can forge powerful pro growth political coalitions block by block, precinct by precinct, downtown and in the neighborhoods.

This is tough work.

It appears this Mayor is surrounding himself with tough people. Good move.

We have experienced for the last decade local decision making dominated by entrenched elites that could not cope with the obvious economic decline of the USA auto industry.

Small increments’ of effective policy are working mostly in the University corridor on third street, downtown and the peppering of infill housing. This does not reflect a dispersion of pluralistic power ,rather the same entrenched actors have effectively pushed elected leadership aside except for the county treasurer and created their own "foundation" to lead urban policy.

Our Mayor is of this brotherhood but his survival will rely on a broad based coalition and will be in conflict with the referenced entrenched interests. He must surround himself with tough smart independent operatives he can control.

My question to the Mayor is not to question his picks but rather his ability to control them.

Both Eason and Poplar can make things happen in this community. But what things? The Mayor will be measured by their performance.

So lets not be one dimensional. Smart tough political operatives seasoned by the application of power and influence are not Pollyanna’s.

We elected a Mayor to find them, smart tough people who understand Flint, appoint them, direct then control them and take the credits or deficits cause by their performances.

The Mayoral General election of 2011 is almost upon us. Mayor Walling show us what you have got.

You have made a couple of tough decisions.

Lets see a couple of hundred more.

Terry Bankert

Sphere: Related Content


By Terry Bankert.



Use it or not the Flint MI USA downtown business district is the heart and soul of our community.

I believe that by working as a community that our downtown can become a source of pride, sustain and grow the existing business and attract new opportunities for the future.

We know that Public spaces-city space-were once a necessity in people's lives; today MANY THINK they are merely an option. Not true, Economic prosperity and reducing transportation cost exploded our urban communities to a never ending addition of tiers to the concentric ring theory the dominate theory in the regionalization of our daily lives and self description.

That is changing today. The rings are constricting, transportation cost are going up, prosperity is going down, people because of these dynamics will press back into the cities.

One fundamental difference today in Flint ,more will come back that that number that left. We better get ready.

Why? In the past, we used the streets, squares, markets and parks of the city regardless of these place's quality and attractiveness. When the population returns it will conduct itself in accordance to the image of the space occupied. Lets improve our image, not by ignoring facts and false imagery but by real positive change.

I would start with the image and reality of Downtown Flint MI. Not to argue it more important than the neighborhoods, rather the observation we cannot turn our NEIGHBORHOODS around unless we have a great downtown.

What purpose do we assign to that the 20 block space we call Downtown Flint?

Why does the downtown seem to work in some city’s and not in others?

Why do some downtowns look like barren canyonS of disparity and neglect and others flower gardens of hopes and dreams of a good people?

Are we not defined as a city by the quality of our downtown?

How can we real and imagined leaders change there image of Flint by starting with the foundation of our city’s, our downtown?

I know first hand the public resource allocation debate neighborhoods vs. downtown. Lets bifurcate these issues and just focus for today on how we help ourselves collectively by strength of our downtown?

The Pros from Dover got lost in the quest to perfect a paradigm for FLINT urban city reform.

But believe it or not Flint has historically been near the cutting edge of the evolving dimensions of urban evolution. To look for guidance , as a community, we need only to look beside our selves. The leadership, and commitment for change exists here, in Flint.

When our economy demands we vacation at home our downtown will become the key.

Why not downtown as an art and entertainment center.

We have an obligation as “ leaders “ to make our city space pleasurable and inviting.

No one visits boring unsafe downtowns. If we work together and support each other what a great impact on our sense of urban vitality and community.

Seen in a long-term historical perspective, city space has always served three vital functions – meeting place, marketplace and connection space. As a meeting place, the city provided opportunities for social exchange of information of all kinds. As a marketplace, the city facilitated commercial exchange of goods and services. [2]

And finally, public spaces enabled access to and connections between all the functions of the city. The pattern can be detected in the earliest urban settlements and is clearly visible in what remains of ancient Greek and Roman cities, medieval cities, renaissance and baroque cities as well as cities from the age of enlightenment and the industrial age.[2]

What can we do to cause Flints spaces fill up with people and functions.

I suggest;
1. leisure activities.
2. People over automobile design.
3.City streets dedicated for shopping, and pedestrianization allowed people to shop to their hearts' content without interference from traffic.
4. Many outdoor caf├ęs many senior and student friendly.
5. Make downtown fun to be at and our neighborhoods safe to live in and watch our our quality of life changes.

Terry Bankert


Sphere: Related Content