In Episode 12 of Lagniappe’s Real Deal with Ron Sivak, we sit down with the former four-time mayor (1989 to 2005) as he recalls his process of political paradigm shifting while attempting to restore economic vibrancy; inevitably becoming part of the fabric (and perhaps folklore) of Mobile’s legacy.
In the early 80’s Mobile had lost its political way.
50,000 jobs were lost at the shipyards — historic Brookley AFB’s shut down a decade prior put an additional 17,000 out of work from disintegrating ancillary jobs — meltdowns in the formerly stable pulp, paper and chemical industries resulted in more than 10,000 jobs lost — all due to a collectively faltering local economy.
In total more than 80,000 jobs evaporated in formerly reliable employment sectors.
Political corruption had been rampant for decades and downtown Mobile was a ghost town; boarded-up, derelict buildings were status quo and zero industry outside of illicit prostitution and drugs dealers prevailed from Broad Street to Water Street.
This was the scenario in the 1980’s, as remembered by Mike Dow, when throwing in his bid to run for Mayor of Mobile — coming in with virtually no significant political experience in the business arena — while working as a successful equity partner with brother-in-law Jim Busby of locally owned and publicly traded QMS.
In this “election year” episode we discuss:
1:48 — how Dow initially became active in the local political arena as a businessman and inexperienced outsider.
3:52 — Mobile “totally losing its political way”; steps made by local business community to restore order.
5:23 — Dow’s inspiration to run for Mayor of Mobile just six weeks out from election; typical time frame to run for office.
7:25 — genesis behind the “16 String of Pearls” city projects concept to rebuild infrastructure and promote growth.
7:43 — Dow’s assistance from Stephen Covey and a fateful trip to Colorado; IBM executives helping map out his first term.
11:41 — “outside of the box” adopted business practices cutting major costs that staff members feared could get the Dow arrested.
14:43 — Dow obtaining $100 million in capital investment for the Port; prescient predictions about business influx due to upgrade.
15:23 — the standing President, during Dow’s four terms, he considered most helpful at annual “Conference of Mayors” retreat in regards to helping cities succeed.
16:35 — parallels between Dow’s years as Mayor and what’s happening today with Mayor Sandy Stimpson wrapping up his first term.
17:55 — Dow’s opinion of the current political process today on a local/state/national level. “The System is Broken.” How to fix it.
In the Rumor Mill segment, popular guest Pete Riehm returns to talk about hotels going up near USA campus; what’s to be done with the “boondoggle” bankrupt Gulfquest Maritime Museum; a lucrative BLP Paint/Austal/Airbus connection; co-working spaces opening in the Eastern Shore and Airbus maybe stealing the air tanker military contract away from Boeing to possibly bring it back to Mobile once again.
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Lagniappe’s Real Deal Podcast is produced in collaboration with Deep Fried Studios.
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