ALBANY, Ga. -- Ward 3 City Commissioner Christopher Pike gave the Dougherty County Rotary Club an off-the-cuff State of the City address Tuesday at Doublegate Country Club. His talk centered around his first year as a city commissioner.
"When I was elected in November of last yea,r I made a list of goals I hoped to accomplish," Pike said, displaying a single sheet of paper to the Rotarians. "No. 1 on this sheet is I wanted to be honest, open, responsible and accountable. One of the first things I learned is to under promise and over deliver. I also got a page on Facebook, which has been a tremendous tool."
Pike then discussed the second item on his list --t o build safer communities and neighborhoods in Albany, taking a shot at the media in the process.
"Yes, we have criminal activity in Albany, but I also think that overexposure by the media gives Southwest Georgia an unrealistic picture of what's going on in Albany," Pike said. "I've had people that live out of town tell me, 'I won't let my wife spend the night there because crime in Albany is ridiculous.'
"Well, there is crime everywhere, the same things are going on all over southwest Georgia. But because of the media saturation they think crime is only going on in Albany."
Pike contends that the City Commission is doing all it can to battle the problem of crime in the city.
"We are very committed to addressing criminal activity in Albany," Pike said. "We have a good police chief (John Proctor) and we've got a competent gang task force. But I'll be honest, I straddle the fence when it comes to arresting people because that won't keep them from joining gangs.
"What we really need to work on is finding out why they are joining gangs in the first place. Let's keep them from joining the gangs. There has to be a balance."
Pike stressed that jobs and economic development are the best deterrents to crime.
"When we see a decrease in opportunity, we see and increase in crime, " Pike said. "Economic development is the key to fighting crime.
We can't eliminate crime, but I'd bet that 90 percent of criminals would chose to work instead to feed their families.
"But it's not up to the government to create those jobs, it's up to the government to give businesses the opportunity to create those jobs."
The commissioner then touched upon two hot-button items that have recently appeared before the commission -- the proposed "saggy pants" ordinance and the rejection of a proposed liquor store in East Albany near Albany State University.
"In regard to the saggy pants thing, I believe in individual rights as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others," Pike said. "Legislating morality is not the job of government. Now, if you've got too much skin or undergarments showing, I think existing indecency laws would cover that."
Pike then moved on to the rejected liquor store. He was one of three commissioners on the short side of a 4-3 vote in which the board rejected businessman Alex Rowe's application to build a new store at 301 E. Oglethorpe Blvd.
Pike said he expects the city to be sued over the rejection.