A lot of publications like ours do a section called “Brickbats and Bouquets,” where they lament over or laud what’s going on in the local landscape and/or leadership, throwing metaphorical bricks at the bad actors/actions and giving “bouquets” to the good ones. I like the idea, but am not fond of the name as it is too violent and flagrantly frou-frou for my tastes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally going to rip off this idea, as there is no need to reinvent the wheel. But I am going to go with something “klassier” like “Kudos and Kooties.” And yes, we are spelling our cooties with a “k” because they are special little buggers. They are really quite sweet. They just bite a little, barely leaving a mark. (And obviously it goes better with Kudos.)

So anyway, let’s see who is getting kudos-ed and who is getting kootied in this inaugural edition….

During the last mayoral election between incumbent Sam Jones and challenger Sandy Stimpson, I was not shy, nor were several of my colleagues at this newspaper, in saying we thought it was time for a change. As we wrote opinion columns about this, we were called nasty names by Jones’ supporters and our motives for such columns were questioned. Hey, I’m not whining — it’s politics, that’s just part of it.

And I don’t want to rehash history, but it wasn’t personal, which was what was charged. No, the reason I wanted change was because there seemed be a lack thereof under the Jones administration, a stagnation, if you will.

Areas of the city that were languishing seemed to have no real hope of being improved and there were rarely — if ever — any exciting new initiatives unveiled. It just seemed like things were “managed” and that was about it. I just really craved a leader who had a vision for the city and could rally the troops to buy into this vision.

So far, the Stimpson administration and the council during his term have pretty much delivered on the change I wanted to see. I am excited about my city again.

So the first three KUDOS go to them for these recently announced projects:

City spearheads Three Mile Creek Trail project
In January, the administration announced it would spearhead the initiative to build a 12-mile greenway from Mobile Bay to the University of South Alabama along Three Mile Creek. The Mobile Greenway Initiative has been working to bring this project to fruition but the city’s commitment to use its resources to develop a strategic plan and help identify funding sources among the private and public sectors is the kind of take-charge leadership I can “kudos” all day long and twice on Sundays.

I have gushed about this project before but it is going to be such a tremendous asset to our city. Anyone who has had access to a big jogging/walking trail in an urban setting can attest to how fabulous it is. I can’t wait to jog my amazing 13-minute mile up and down this LED-lighted corridor. (It should only take a couple of hours. Oh wait, that’s just one-way. Yikes! OK, I kootied myself there.)

Sidewalks finally get some attention
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The only announcement that would have made me more excited was if Ann Street was going to be resurfaced to a state that would be described as baby-butt smooth, but when Mayor Stimpson announced they were asking the City Council for $2 million this week to restore some of the city’s horribly sad, broken-down sidewalks, I wanted to put my running shoes on and go turn my ankle one last time in celebration!

My partner in slow running and I decided to run around the Village of Spring Hill’s fancy sidewalks one afternoon a few weeks ago and I’ll have to say, once you don’t run on cracked, you never want to go back! RRRROOOOOWWWW. Spring Hill, girl, your sidewalks are so sexy! (The “hills” were enough to make us appreciate the flat — albeit ridiculous — sidewalks of MiMo. #wearenotflojo). Though the council is currently bickering over which contractor will perform such restoration, I feel certain they will come to an agreement soon and we will be seeing significant improvements.

Water Street transformation
On Tuesday, Feb. 16, the council unanimously voted on the mayor’s plan to transform Water Street to “Mobile’s gateway,” making it more visually and pedestrian friendly, while giving us more access to the waterfront and the attractions on it. And all of this, for the relatively small price of $283,459. You can check out some of the plans on the city’s Facebook page. They look pretty darn cool. Kudos! This is the kind of vision I am talking about! Boom!

OK, so I do have one small KOOTIE to let loose on Mayor Stimpson. Just a baby kootie, really.

The endorsement
I know politicos endorse other politicos. And I know Sen. Richard Shelby has been in office literally almost longer than I have been alive and he does dutifully bring back the delicious pork we crave, evidenced by his name etched on everything that will stand still.

And while we don’t like to admit it, we’re gluttons for the bacon — everyone hates the pork unless it’s their own. And I know he has all the choice appointments and seniority to get us said pork and the projects pushed through that we all want. I get it. I really do.

I wish that was his ad campaign: “Just give me one more term, maybe two, if I am still breathing, and I will wrap things up and secure all the sweet shiz we need for the state and then I will pass the torch.” (I mean, obviously we will clean the language up a little, add some music and show a nest of baby yellowhammers or something, but this will be the basic gist.)
But instead we got a campaign that was insulting to any Alabamian with an IQ over 30.  (And yes there are more than a few of us.)

I have never seen so many people enraged by a political ad. But it is so icky and now with his endorsement, Shelby is rubbin’ a little ick on Stimpson.

Because now, I have to imagine my mayor ridin’ around the back roads of ‘Bama, takin’ shortcuts, perhaps up to the mayor’s huntin’ camp to eat turducken’ and talk about campaignin’ and endorsin’, maybe do a little fishin’, until it’s time to go back to Warshintin’, where hopefully he can find a freakin’ G again! Ick! Now my blood pressure is up again.

We shall see what happens in the primary. If Shelby loses, he can thank whoever produced those ads.

Alrighty then, well, this concludes the first edition of “Kudos and Kooties.” Heavy on kudos, light on the kooties, which I think we can all agree is the best way to be. Until next time….