Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Event: Walling / Williamson Crunch Time is Here.

Well, how disappointing.

In a move that may have been decisive, the AFL-CIO has formally endorsed Don Williamson. The Flint Journal article mentions allegations of bias; that the endorsement was very conveniently timed, given the renewal of key contracts. I don't know enough about the scene today to comment on the likelihood of that, but it's not necessary. It may be that ALF-CIO endorsed Williamson because he has set up a modest record of progress of painting over graffiti and repaving roads.

That's why this the endorsement so disappointing. "Modest progress" is insufficient for Flint's needs. Have the graffiti efforts made a real tangible effort in the quality of life? I doubt it. It could be fairly argued that violent crime has increased dramatically during the Williamson administration. Graffiti removal is a firstoff a matter of beautification, not crime control. I live in Brooklyn now, where every sidewalk, wall, and subway post is covered in graffiti, but the crime rate doesn't hold a candle to Flint's. While it's erroneous to think that graffiti is not related to the gang culture that thrives in Flint, it is certainly fair to say that graffiti cleanup has taken on an importance disproportionate to its actual benefits.

The road paving is another achievement that the Williamson administration loves to credit itself with. But it's quickly forgotten that most of that repaving happened through the use of state funds, and Williamson, given his constant feuds with the city council, local unions, and media outlets, can't possibly claim to have brought this home through any sort of diplomacy or negotiation.

Even if he somehow could assume credit for infrastructural improvments, does that really offset the $16 million in federal support Flint has lost under his watch? Remember that a few years ago, a debt of double that amount was sufficient to place Flint into state receivership and make local elections irrelevant. It also breaks down to $4 million a year, which is more than twice as expensive as maintaining an empty and derelict AutoWorld. Again, these are all funds that would have been earmarked for public housing, the schools, and public programs.

So I ask you, ALF-CIO members. Does this endorsement really make much sense?

Here's Winston Smith's manifesto on Williamson's record.

Here are my thoughts on Dayne Walling.

Here is Dayne Walling's website.

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