We’d all be sleeping together

“If North Korean missiles hit Huntsville, we’d all be sleeping together”.

I attended the Huntsville City Council meeting tonight, and Councilman Will Culver made a great point – Huntsville comes together.  This was better than TV’s “Parks and Recreation”;  if you haven’t attended local Government meetings you’re missing out on the real fun. Culver made his point that when disaster strikes or when people need help, it doesn’t matter what color you are, your neighbors are there for you.

Here’s a quicklook at the City Council meeting:

No more housing projects in South Huntsville.  Councilwoman Sandra Moon made it clear that the HHA Board had assured her that there will be no more apartment purchases in South Huntsville.  HHA Director Lundy reiterated that point saying “HHA has no intentions of purchasing apartment complexes in Southeast or Southwest Huntsville”.

Section 8 housing is OK.  It seems that a consensus of the City Government, HHA, and concerned citizens believe that vouchers and development (escrow) accounts are an acceptable approach to public housing in Huntsville.

The Medical District housing development is the ‘Gateway Place’ Senior Center, which will be built on the site of Councill Court.

HHA Director Mike Lundy does well in a controlled environment (i.e., Roberts Rules of Order).  He provided some good, detailed information to the public and his heart is in the right place.  As one of the leaders of Stone Manor who is being relocated said: “I feel that Mr. Lundy cares”. I might have some disagreements with him on policies, but I can’t help but feel pride that HHA is a “high-performing organization”.  I think it means that they spend money in a correct and timely manner, maybe someone will explain what it really means…

Mayor Battle proved himself to be an honorable gentleman. The Mayor apologized to Linda Lawrence for his remarks at the Chaffee Public Hearing, saying “I said some things I shouldn’t have said” and “I apologize to you”. Ms. Lawrence accepted his apology.

Councilman Culver said to people complaining about public housing: “keep it to yourself” and “we’re going to handle it”.  He’s new to the Council, but clearly he needs to get used to the idea of free speech.

People are dying trying to cross University Drive.  William Lynch spoke about his grand-daughter getting killed while crossing University.  He proposed a pedestrian crosswalk.

Councilman Richard Showers proposed an Ad Hoc Committee to study a Police Review Board.  He proposed a “diverse group” made up of representatives from the NAACP, other black groups he named but I forgot, Fraternities / Sororities (I don’t think he meant UAH), Public Housing, Existing Community Organizations, and the Homeless.  The Committee would review current police review board models and pick one.

More later… but it seems that the City and the HHA got the message.  IMO their public housing plan was too risky – the chance of failure is too great to risk the future of the City – at least that’s what I hope they think.

On a personal note, I got to meet Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times. I have a lot of respect for his work, and I link to and quote from his articles often.  His articles on the links between income and test scores in City schools were well-researched and drew rational conclusions.  His recent article on the public housing issue was very good – he ended up validating many of the same points that were made here.

Even better, he says that he’s read Flashpoint.

16 thoughts on “We’d all be sleeping together

  1. Hopefully the speak the truth.  If so, it is good to see that people can make a difference.

  2. The big take away from what you said here is that Huntsville seems to be a place where we all truly want the best for our fellow citizen and our local leaders seem to understand that.  The big pictures seems to be understood and allowing for open and honest discussion will drive us towards our common goal of making it a better place for all.

    Hopefully our passions will continue to drive us while our cool heads continue to lead us.

  3. What about HHA’s 5 yr. plan to relocate 600 more residents to South Huntsville, and how the Federal Gov. will dictate the way they are  to spend the 4 million they just received from President Obama’s stimulus package?

    jk

  4. kim – it’s not over and there are still many unanswered questions.  There are about 140 families at Councill Court scheduled to be moved out this year, but as far as I know, neither the public nor the City Council know to where they’re moving. Councilman Kling called it a “ticking time bomb”.

    Councilwoman Moon says she’s established a “trust” relationship with one HHA Board member – I’m not certain of how much that counts or what it means, considering the City Council’s secretive Rescue Mission deal.  I hope they figure out that sunshine is a good thing.

    I think that the people who showed up to the Chaffee public hearing shocked the City Govt, that and the hundreds of phone calls and emails.  I’m sure that the City has received some very thoughtful comments.  Maybe they’re listening, or maybe they’re hoping we forget…

  5. Beason seemed pretty open to discussion.  Dick Fountain of  had some harsh words for the Chaffee folks. 

  6. “Culver made his point that when disaster strikes or when people need help, it doesn’t matter what color you are, your neighbors are there for you.”

    And you believed him?  Look, just because a politician says nice things doesn’t mean he’s acting in good faith – he may just be saying that in order to better impose his will upon you.

    “Mayor Battle proved himself to be an honorable gentleman.”

    Again, not proved.  This blog characterized Mayor Battle’s view on the HHA issue as “suck it up – deal with it”.  As far as I know, his view hasn’t changed one whit.  Is he now proposing to do anything different than to just let it go forward?

    I think that you’re far too trusting.  Some politicians are not there to represent thier constituents, but rather to represent themselves and their own interests, and those of thier friends and political allies.  Don’t assume that just because they smile and make a few emollient comments, that they’re on your side.

    “On a personal note, I got to meet Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times. I have a lot of respect for his work, and I link to and quote from his articles often. ”

    Perhaps you could impress upon him the fact that a lot of us who subscribe to the HSV Times could just drop our subscriptions – we might be especially inclined to do so if they continue to characterize us as “Unruly”, “Disorderly”, and – in so many words – a bunch of racists.

  7. South Huntsville Resident – I was summarizing a story that Culver told about police and citizen responses to natural disaster – I happen to agree with him that when someone is in trouble, we don’t care what color they are - we help.  That doesn’t mean that I agree with everything he says, and I understand that politicians must have a certain amount of charm to get elected.  That said, I like the man, but would find it hard to vote for him.

    I also called Culver out for his “keep it to yourself” comment  (clearly he needs to get used to the idea of free speech).  To me, that’s a fairly harsh criticism of a public official.

    The comment about Mayor Tommy Battle was meant to commend him for apologizing.  He apologized directly to the person affected, in public, with no reservations or “I’m sorry if” phrasing.  That doesn’t mean that I like the way the HHA issue was handled or the outcome thus far; it just means that I think he deserves credit for that specific behavior.   His talk about ‘affordable housing’ worried me during the campaign, but I never asked him to define it and it didn’t seem like a big issue at the time and I voted for him anyway.

    I’ve already cancelled a subscription to the Times (and blogged about it – I dropped down to weekends only as a warning then finally cancelled – if I could cancel again I would).  I rag on them regularly, but praise them when it’s due.  I have long thought that Stephens was a good and fair reporter – I appreciate his work (I also made sure to buy the paper at a newstand after I read his article online).  IMO Editor Wendt needs to get a clue before he spouts off again like he did in Sunday’s editorial.  Too many people imply racism when it’s not there – shame on them.

    Stephens described the Chaffee meeting as “many agitated and unruly” – I can’t disagree with that assessment except to quibble that he should have said ‘some agitated and unruly’ (IMO a better assessment of the number who were both agitated AND unruly) or ‘many agitated OR unruly’.  Some people actually were unruly (as in talking out of turn, interrupting, heckling – and they were not just those opposed to HHA – some of the HHA supporters were just as “unruly”). To me, some means about 20%, many means about 40%, most of course means 51% or more. I’d say almost all the people there (both HHA Supporters and Opponents) were agitated.

    BTW you could be correct when you say I’m too trusting, but I try to be Reaganesque about it – trust but verify.  Consider that I’ve also known some of these people for awhile and consider them friends.  Also consider that I’m just a guy with a keyboard who really should be doing other things (my veggie garden won’t plant itself).

  8. You guys are being suckered.  I have lived around public housing and Section 8 (apt complexes that take a few Section 8 renters eventually become all Section 8 due to the regular folks moving out due to crime/noise) and can say that Section 8 is worse – there are no background checks of any type.  The “boyfriends” and other hangers-on move in.  And no one is booted if a crime is committed. 

  9. To Reactionary:

    Fair enough.  I was just counciling against being too trusting.  As to the Chaffee meeting, I woudn’t classify it as unruly at all.  Yes, people were heckling Lundy – that’s because he was not answering simple, direct questions put to him.  That IS part of a public meeting in a democratic systm.  People aren’t robots, and it can’t all go down exactly according to Robert’s Rules – if it did, it wouldn’t be anything other than a press release.  What I would call unruly would be if the speakers had been shouted down and forced off the stage – and that did not happen.

    “Pitchfork
    You guys are being suckered.  I have lived around public housing and Section 8 (apt complexes that take a few Section 8 renters eventually become all Section 8 due to the regular folks moving out due to crime/noise) and can say that Section 8 is worse – there are no background checks of any type.  The “boyfriends” and other hangers-on move in.  And no one is booted if a crime is committed. ”
    I agree, and that has been my experience as well.  I rented an apartment over a unit that was rented by a Section 8 tenant (a single mother).  Within one month of her moving in, there was a “domestic disturbance” involving holes knocked in the walls, an assault with a steak knife, and a stolen car.   That kinda soured me on Section 8.

  10. I had next door neighbors sect. 8 once.  They ordered all new appliances from Heilig Meyers on credit then had a yard sale and moved to DC

  11. I should be more careful with my words.  When I said that “Section 8 housing is OK” I didn’t mean to imply that was the end of discussion.  I meant to imply that no one AT THAT MEETING spoke against Section 8.  I’ve got many reservations about Section 8 and believe that it should be part of a public discussion.

  12. So what’s the bottom line? HHA is going to move those people to S Hsv? Correct? No more apts will be purchased in S Hsv - Correct? If so, what are some other locations? If a crime is committed by a person (from project) to a person or a thing who live around and near these HHA complexes - is HHA going to be reasonable? Can we sue HHA – lawsuits? When are they moving to S Hsv? Will there be security guards or police surveillance at the locations?

  13. Levier – I don’t know what the bottom line is – I think it’s still a work in process.

    HHA move people to S HSV? Yes, Stone Manor and Mahogany Row total 62 units and families will move in.

    No more apartment bldgs in S HSV?  That’s what they say, but have no other locations lined up for 140 families who are scheduled for relocation this year.

    HHA evicts residents for crime (I don’t know the process – on conviction?).

    You can sue anybody you want.

    There is a seven man police detail (paid by HHA) that patrols HHA housing.  IMO the more spread out the housing, the less effective the popo.  I think it would be great if they installed security cameras.

    • During the South Huntsville Civic Association meeting, I believe the answer given by an official (can’t recall who) to the question of evictions of public housing residents for committing crimes, the person said that they are evicted for drug convictions. I don’t personally recall them saying anything about evictions for other things–assault, burglary, robbery, etc.