EDITOR'S NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author of the post and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Patch.
I will say that Mr. [Councilman Bill] Bryan certainly does spend a great deal of time researching other communities and how they conduct their business. As an educated individual, this logic is not completely off base, but only to a degree, and, it does not apply all the time. Canton is a unique community and deserves unique approaches and attention. I would hope that we could take Mr. Bryan’s research, verify it, and then build upon it. Obviously throughout history people have learned from the mistakes of others.
Through Mr. Bryan’s research he has managed to practically dismantle efforts of numerous volunteers and City employees. These efforts and strides that were made were earned and fought for by the downtown merchants, volunteers, and employees of the City.
I have had the pleasure of working with the Main Street Program for three years now (one year on the board of directors). Believe it or not, we have made amazing changes in the downtown core with this program. When I first started, the farmers market was just getting heated up as well as other city events including First Friday. Ginger Garrard, Bill Grant, Farris Yawn, Wanda Roach, Pat Gold, Judy Bishop and many others led the charge to make these events successful. I am certain that the business owners in Canton would agree that their business increased during the First Friday events and many others. R&M Hoagie Shop, and other merchants began opening on First Friday to participate and reap the benefits of the increased traffic. Was it worth it to them? It obviously was, as they continued to participate in the events.
I know that everything is not about downtown. The City, as a whole, needs to succeed. About a year ago, I had a very wise man explain to me how a city works and why Main Street was vital to the community. “The city is like an apple, when the core rots, so does the rest. If we make the downtown the healthy core of the city, the rest will follow.” People want to have a sense of community and belonging. How better to be attached to them than a thriving historical downtown core? [Councilman] Glen Cummins relayed this idea to me and I think he is a very wise man. Proof of this philosophy can be seen in many of our surrounding cities including Dahlonega, Marietta, and Roswell.
More importantly, the councilmen have chosen to take away the Mayor’s power to appoint people to the Main Street Board and well as the Downtown Development Authority and other City of Canton committees. Is this the best option, the reinvention of the wheel? For example, has the City Council studied the by-laws of the National Main Street Program? Canton's Main Street by-laws are unique to Canton but follow Main Street Program guidelines. Our program is set up with representatives from other city committees plus four at large representatives. This structure is to conform to existing by-laws for our program. Also, the majority of the board members must attend Main Street Training and be certified (at a cost to the City). Where are these new board appointments coming from? Are they members of other committees? If they are not, the Canton Main Street Program will loose its certification and we will be back to square one.
I have a feeling that there is a deeper and darker force at play. For some reason, unknown to the public, our current city council (except for Glen Cummins) wants to do away with all of the Mayor’s authority. This authority would include the Mayor’s ability to have staff, appoint committee members, and have the authority to veto council actions.
The ‘Council of Five’ has decided that these committees are “stacked” with Mayor Hobgood supporters and he made the nomination to appoint them. Yet, they unanimously approved his nominations. They are tired of these hard working volunteers and other concerned members of the community showing up at council meetings and demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the council and direction of the city. Therefore, the best way to “get back” at them is to remove them from anything to do with the city’s business. However, these actions will not silence the voices but infuriate them. After all, every member of council is elected!
These are the petty issues we are dealing with as a City. The focus is not on development and improvement, but on useless power struggles. The City of Canton would be much better served with a council that is able to achieve movement without backroom deals and bickering. I would encourage everyone to view the council videos on www.canton-georgia.com. You will then see and understand the circus and gross display that has occured in recent meetings. In the meeting before last, Councilman Beresford referred to our Mayor as a “sorry bastard” on video. Is this the kind of council the City of Canton deserves and needs?