Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Three Fools kill city of Mobile annexation plan

It is often said that a fool would rather rule in hell than serve in Heaven. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to three fools: City Council President Levon Manzie and City Council members Fred Richardson and C. J. Small.

At issue was a request by three areas located just outside Mobile City Limits to join the city. In order for the petition to move forward, the City Council had to vote to allow a special election to be held, and the voters in the areas under consideration could decide.

State law requires any significant action pass the Council by a 5-2 vote. The motion failed by a 4-3 vote, leaving about 13,000 people without city trash service and emergency medical services.

Three fools decided that 13,000 didn't even have a right to vote on the matter.

Until now, no City Council Member has ever denied the ability of annexation petitioners the right to vote on whether to join the City of Mobile. Let that be clear--all other annexation petitions were put before the people for a vote with unanimous consent of the City Council.

The addition would have pushed Mobile over a threshold of 200,000 residents. That threshold is important because there are bunches and bunches of federal grant opportunities that are open only to those cities with populations of 200,000 or more. It would also have made Mobile the second largest city in the state of Alabama. That's mostly a ceremonial position--the Mobile-Baldwin Counties area is already the second largest economic and mass media market and third place is not very close.

This was an extraordinary opportunity to acquire economically productive areas of the county that would have easily made a greater economic contribution than the costs of providing the services. The math is a little more complicated than the childish rant Councilman Richardson tried to use in justifying his vote against allowing the vote. For starters, you don't compare annual revenues to one-time costs. As a professional economist, I would have been happy to I'd be happy to demonstrate the actual net benefits of annexation but I think the discussion would have been pointless. As another old saying goes, it's best not to argue with a fool because he'll just bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Mobile will suffer because those grant opportunities could have made tremendous impacts on overall public safety, law enforcement, disaster response, transportation and urban development. Grants aimed at improving the lives of the poorest among us will be foregone because some of them are for "big cities." Those Mobilians who are comfortable and well fed don't benefit directly from those grants. The neediest among us would have benefited and now they won't. How foolish.

Mobile is shrinking population for a reason. That shrinkage can only be addressed by making living in the city more attractive than living elsewhere. A city with three fools standing in the way of progress isn't very attractive.

The election and finalization of annexation has to happen before December 31, 2019 in order for the city to be counted at 200,000 or more for the 2020 Census. That opportunity appears to be lost.

So instead of having access to tens of millions in new grant opportunities for Christmas this year, we're stuck with our stupid Moon Pie Drop. And instead of Three Wise Men, we still have our Three Fools.

What's worse is that the mayor and the four council members who were for the plan are not happy with the Three Fools' decision to block growth. Nice urban development project you have there, Councilman. Be a shame to see something happen to the funding. To think there won't be a measure of political retaliation is... foolish.


Post a Comment

You must have a Google Account to post a comment.

WARNING: Posting on this blog is a privilege. You have no First Amendment rights here. I am the sole, supreme and benevolent dictator. This blog commenting system also has a patented Dumbass Detector. Don't set it off.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.