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Taylor: Race, apathy are challenges to progress

ALBANY, Ga. — The head of the city of Albany pleaded with the local citizenry Tuesday to get involved in government, saying that through their input the community could move forward.

Speaking to the Rotary Club of Dougherty County, City Manager James Taylor said public apathy and self-loathing were perhaps the most formidable threats to progress in Albany.

“A lot of people have given up and don’t believe there is any way to get out of the situation they’re in. They’ve become afraid and apathetic about our future,” Taylor said. “But I’m convinced that, if you come fight with us, we can make it and make this town what we all think it should be.”

Taylor, who was promoted by the Albany City Commission in April to replace Alfred Lott, said he understands the city has a lot of challenges and shortcomings and readily accepted responsibility for each of them.

“This is my city. The mayor is elected to his job; I volunteered to do it, and I am responsible,” Taylor said. “So tell me what your issues are. Get involved. Come to the meetings. If you feel as though you need an invitation, this is it.”

In his speech, Taylor acknowledged the racial divide that permeates the community, saying it was a hindrance to progress and that it was time to put the issue to bed.

“We need to get past the race issue. I don’t know how we can, but I think we can,” Taylor said. “Albany is a community of shared citizenship, regardless of color.”

Pointing to the challenges facing the city like the demolition of the former Heritage House hotel and police staffing, Taylor said every effort will be made to ensure that police officers and city employees have the tools they need to do their work.

“You’ve told the commission that you want to tear that eyesore down, and it’s going to cost $1 million to bring it down. Now, how do I spend $1 million to tear (the Heritage House) down and have something useful that I can use to reimburse the citizens of Albany with?” Taylor said. “That’s one of the many challenges I have to think about.”

City officials are set to go to court with the owners of the Heritage House in September in an effort to get permission from the court to either force the owners to demolish the property or gain the ability to tear it down themselves.

On the police front, Taylor praised the work of Chief John Proctor and other law enforcement officials for their recent efforts to dismantle gang operations within the city. But he also said that a recent attempt to shoot a police officer had caused some on the force to rethink their lines of work.

“From what I understand, that’s pretty typical. When something like that happens, the danger factor in the job becomes real,” Taylor said after the meeting. “We, as a community and as their employer, need to make sure they have the resources they need to show them that we care and that we won’t be deterred by any criminal element.”

Proctor, who was on vacation Tuesday but called The Herald to speak on the issue, said that officers need support.

“Officers need to know the community supports them. That is what they want to hear from the community. They are ready and willing to do their jobs for the community,” Proctor said.

Comments

Abytaxpayer 2 years, 7 months ago

The head of the city of Albany pleaded with the local citizenry Tuesday to get involved in government, saying that through their input the community could move forward. Taylor goes on to say “Get involved. Come to the meetings. If you feel as though you need an invitation, this is it.” Albany you are being called out by your government. What are you going to do? Sit in the dark and bark and be ignored as a bunch of yappers or get off that sofa and go to Commission meetings and speak up and make a difference in Albany.

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pettibone 2 years, 7 months ago

Taylor is right about apathy and race. All he has to do is look at where he is standing and who he is talking too. When was the last time he stood in a venue in the majority community and given a speech. We have to be invited down town to our city but he will come visit you, if you carry enough so called clout. His vision seem to be if you are rich and famous I will come and talk but if you are poor I dont have time to come your trailer park or your poor neighborhood. You are alwasy talking to wrong people. Ask a group of poor folks if they want the heritage house torn down? Answer: who cares we need jobs.

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 7 months ago

Do you not understand that the eyesores of this community need to go away to present Albany in a positive light? Who wants to relocate their family/business to a community that doesn't care enough about itself to demolish the structure that damage the looks of the community as well as provide shelter for vermin and the homeless? What are you saying about a community that has an eyesore like that?

Mr. Taylor does not go speak to civic organizations because it was his idea; he goes where he is invited. If your trailer park or poor neighborhood wants Mr. Taylor to speak to you, then invite him. He's a very approachable man.

He's absolutely correct about apathy and race. Until Albany stops the self-hate, this community will go nowhere.

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waltspecht 2 years, 7 months ago

Heck friend, jobs would be created by tearing down the Heritage House. Provided they force the owner to do it. As far as visiting neighborhoods, thats the job of the Police Administrative Officers. It used to be called eminent presence, or special task forces. What would happen is the Captain or Lieutenant in charge of a shift would bring that entire shift in four hours early and visit neighborhoods when they least expected it. That was active Policing. It would suprise many as to the number of calls the Police would get when the Citizens actually see them out in force. Many good tips would flow in as long as the tipsters identity was protected. I remember a quopte from the old days. We sure like to take our dog for a walk, and listen to all the toilets flushing and the weapons hitting the ground. Plus the pitter patter of running feet tended to warm one's heart, knowing full well there was a complete net around the area.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Taylor is correct. A lot of people have given up on this town but the way I see it is if you don't try then nothing will change. You have to make change happen. Albany still has hope but we first must crawl out of the hole and face the light before progress can be made. I attend City Commission meetings and you wouldn't believe some of the things that go on in that room. For example: The City Commission needs to quit giving people who want to open up a business the third degree like the lady that wants to put a day care on Whitney Ave. What they put her through was just absurd. If they treat every potential business owner like the way they treated her at that meeting then no wonder people are packing up and heading to Lee Co to open their business. It's just ridiculous.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 7 months ago

Kaos.... You are so right on both your points!!! I agree too many people in Albany are hiding in their little hole and they need to crawl out and face the Light. I too was at the meeting where they grilled the day care lady, it was embarrassing to have city officials grill her like that then in the next breath claim "Albany is PRO-Business" I guess they think if they say it enough someone might believe them.....But actions do speak loader than words. Kaos I personally want to say Thank you for going to the meeting and Challenge all who post at the Herald website to start attending too.

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