I look around our city and I feel simultaneously hopeful and hopeless.
I am full of optimism and pride when I watch this community over and over again rally around and support our citizens who need it the most. Whether it is a musician who has been in a wreck and needs help with medical bills, or another who needs help financing his or her new album, or a college football star who takes an interest in a sweet little girl who is battling cancer, or a beloved independent movie theater that needs a little extra support for new equipment, or an animal lover who has rescued a stray and her puppies and needs help with vet bills, or a jam session in honor of a LoDa figure who lost his battle with cancer but whose family could see through their grief to help another fighting the same dreadful disease, or even closer to home for me, the family of two little boys, my nephews, who collectively have had three heart transplants and the expense which comes along with multiple life-saving miracles…. I could go on and on, but our community time and time again pulls together and makes things happen.
After seeing the generosity of friends and total strangers alike to my nephews, I was humbled by such selfless acts of kindness, as I am sure all the other people and/or entities I mentioned were as well.
And those were just the grassroots campaigns.
I haven’t even gotten to the countless volunteers who are organizing and chairing events almost every weekend for such great charities as the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society, American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Down Syndrome Society and on and on and on.
In addition to these volunteers, there are many local bars, restaurants and other venues that open their doors and lend their spaces (and often much more) to these events, as well as our pool of local musicians who repeatedly donate their time and talents to these events to keep them rockin’ and rollin’. Not to mention the local businesses and artists who offer up their goods or services for silent auctions or for advertising or printing or whatever it takes to make these events successful.
Such acts of kindness are the threads that when woven together produce the very fabric that is our community.
And our knit is tight baby! Or it seems to be outside the confines of Government Plaza anyway.
It has become abundantly clear that no matter what new Mayor Sandy Stimpson does and what his new administration tries to accomplish for the city, Councilman Fred Richardson is going to attempt to block it or question the motives or pee on it in some form or fashion.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Fred’s motivations lately. At a time when this city is really finally on the brink of greatness (And I mean, for real this time … I mean, maybe) why would you want to look like the guy who is trying to stop the wheels from moving forward?
I’m not saying he has to be Sandy’s BFF or agree with him on everything or skip through meadows with him hand in hand, but he has gone so far in the other direction, it has become very obvious he is more interested in working AGAINST Sandy than FOR his district or the city.
Is it all simply political? Is he just looking ahead and trying to keep things stirred up until the next mayoral election when a candidate he favors more runs against Stimpson?
Or is it simply revenge? Does he feel slighted for not being chosen as council president? Or does he feel like his bud former Mayor Sam Jones was treated like this by some members of the previous council and now he has just decided payback is a bitch and he’s going to be the one serving it up each and every week?
I’m sure it is a little bit of all the above. And let’s face it, we’re all big boys and girls here, this kind of behavior happens in politics all the time in every party, locally and nationally, every second of every minute of every day. Hell, it’s the reason most of us despise the process. But many insiders would just laugh and shake their heads and say, “It’s just the way the game is played.”
But the danger with this “game” is the good councilman has taken pretty garden-variety political maneuvering, payback and brinkmanship and framed it as a racial issue instead… when that’s not what it is really about. And sadly, those who aren’t really paying attention or who have their own agendas are simply accepting Richardson’s racial narrative and are accepting or exploiting it as reality or for their own purposes.
Just check out the comments section under any news story about the latest battle in the Stimpson-Richardson war and the hatred spewed by both sides will leave you feeling just sad and, well, hopeless.
It’s ironic that the man who spent so many years of his young life fighting for racial harmony and who had a part in creating the desegregated world many of us thankfully got to grow up in, is now the one who is seemingly trying to stir up similar racial unrest.
Our community is a beautiful tapestry made out of thousands of threads of every age, background and yes, color. It takes every single one of them woven together to make us the glorious, vibrant Mobile we all adore. I don’t want to see these purely political shenanigans at city hall start to unravel it.
I’m hopeful we can stop the fray before it is indeed hopeless.