The time has come for 'shock and awe'

Sunday, February 8, 2004

I find it very refreshing that the discussions within the city government this week have focused on actions rather than programs. In the wake of the Tuesday's approval of a higher sales tax for our community, city officials have gathered repeatedly to chart a course in response to the vote. The talk now is positive; we can only hope and pray the actions to follow will be swift and decisive.

I think the city should adopt the slogan "Shock and Awe" to describe the imminent actions against landlords and residents who help bring about a decline in the quality of life here. If we put some teeth into our talks, the message will be clear. There are a handful of problem landlords - they number about two dozen or so - and it is these characters who should feel the brunt of this united campaign.

By way of warning however, if the city feels smug and "full of themselves" over the Tuesday's victory, they need to understand the public wants action. I believe they have gotten this message. I honestly cannot count the phone calls I have received this week urging this newspaper to monitor the city's actions and to alert the public when those actions are moving too slowly to satisfy a hungry public.

In all of my years monitoring public activities, I can't recall a time when the public was so universally united in one direction. And that direction clearly is a call for change. The public is demanding - through their vote and their words - that slum landlords be weeded out of our community and replaced with responsible individuals. And if favoritism is being shown, we'll report it and call for change.

I once said that we are all to blame for the decline our community has undergone in recent years. I was wrong. Most residents here witnessed that decline but did not know what actions to take to reverse that trend. A handful of individuals however recognized this decline and stood by and allowed it to occur. Their day of reckoning is just around the corner.

Here's one way this newspaper can play a role in the turnaround. If you our readers know of problem properties, first call the city and report that property. But if you see no action, call this newspaper and give me the property location. I have ample time on my hands to bring pressure on those who can make that change. And as the arrogant yet true saying goes, we buy ink by the barrel and we can bring pressure that will truly "shock and awe" those who sit on their hands while neighborhoods decline.

I will promise an active role in the coming weeks and months as our community undergoes a change. We have an obligation that we take very seriously. And for those who think otherwise, think again partner. The mayor says the good days are ahead. He's right given the right set of people making the right set of decisions at the right time. There is the challenge. Accept it or move aside!

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