Yesterday’s debacle at the BJCC board meeting shines a bright light on some of the issues still facing our region despite having attempted to put on a face to the outside world that we’ve overcome.
Even more disturbing were the comments that have been appearing after hearing about the exchange between Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford and State Representative Mary Moore. The underlying tone of the discussion seems to insinuate that all African-American contractors do bad work (not to mention the fact that other minority contractors don’t seem to exist) and that the facility shouldn’t even be built because we can’t support a professional sports team.
I’d ask those throwing that second stone all the time to take note that in most cases, the problem has not been lack of community support for the team but the lack of success of the league. In many cases, the city led league attendance figures. Plus, if we do so poorly supporting sports teams, why do we even get considered for things like U.S. Soccer and the upcoming Davis Cup matches. More importantly, the facility should not be seen as only being used for those 8-10 sporting events a year.
Our convention center needs the space, period. Whether we want to admit that or not, it’s true. Despite the fact that the new facility will never fully recoup its construction or operating costs for itself, it is something that can provide long term jobs and revenue for this region. We spend so much time in this city taking pot shots at each other and not realizing that the true change is going on despite what loud mouths with bully pulpits say (and I’m not talking about Larry). As we continue to grow and change regionally, we must start to act our age and put the petty bickering behind us.
The fact that a state constitutional amendment can be introduced at the whim of someone feeling that there is not enough being done is absurd and speaks to the issue of self-rule and why the 1901 Constitution should be replaced as soon as possible. This is an example of wasting taxpayer dollars on an issue that should be settled locally without having to run to Montgomery to have Daddy or Mommy fix it for us. The mayor is correct – he represents the city on the board. Having council members appointed may take us down a very slippery slope, especially considering some of the positioning that people are starting to do now for 2011. It should not be political and should serve the best interests of Birmingham and the community.
While in Washington for the Inauguration, I was surrounded by people of all races and creeds. I was part of a mass of humanity that did not have one incident or arrest (save for that one person falling from a tree trying to see The Mall). The issue of race, at least in that corner of the world, was there but ceded to the idea that we had to work together to solve problems without finger pointing and the We do need to do something that will allow for more minority contractors and minority businesses in general getting that foot in the door so that they can achieve the American Dream. It is our duty to help change things to make them better. However to ignore those groups that are truly minorities when looking at the numbers in Birmingham and the surrounding area while doing it makes it shallow and pointless.
But maybe that means that I’m not Black enough…
André Natta is the managing editor of The Terminal.