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Our city council is failing us

03 vote yes3 copyYou can’t grow and become a great city if you leave entire segments of the community behind.

I remember those words from our city council’s budget message for the 2012-2013 City Budget.

Sadly, we have continued to see that the current structure with nine single-member districts has precisely done that over the past twenty years. By only focusing on the needs of nine individual districts, not enough attention is given to the major issues that face our entire city. Some are often more complicated and expensive. And increasingly, the issues that only face a few of our districts, making it even more difficult to gain support from other districts that fight for their own issues.

Fayetteville’s growth is not keeping pace with the rest of the larger cities in the state. At the same time, this structure leaves entire segments behind, often our poor and powerless.

The continued shortage in sworn police officers, still over 50 officers or more than 10% of the staff, threatens our citizens. But especially the ones in those neighborhoods that aren’t getting the coverage they deserve. These citizens are more likely to have an encounter with a police officer who is tired and stressed from overtime.

In a city with 45% black registered voters, why are 81% of the murder victims this year black?

We have identified over $100 million in stormwater needs to protect us from the next Hurricane Matthew or Florence. Again, this year the city council failed to add to the stormwater fees to help address these significant issues. What parts of our city are likely to be impacted by a flood? It is most often those living in the low-lying lands, often our poorest and most powerless.

There is no better example of this failure than Shaw Heights. Stuck right between our city, our state university, and the most significant economic engine in southeastern North Carolina, Shaw Heights continues to be an unincorporated area. Shaw Heights residents are deprived of essential city services like sewer and urban police protection.

If Shaw Heights had a different demographic, it would have been annexed years ago. But it doesn’t, and we should be ashamed to perpetuate a system that continually overlooks the least of us.

Ironically, some defend a system of nine single members districts as better for the vulnerable and poor in our community. The facts tell a different story.

Let’s have six city council members directly accountable to those who fear the next flood.

Let’s have six city council members directly accountable to those who worry about the crime in their neighborhoods.

We can’t become a better city by continuing to leave people behind.

Suppose you would like to vote for 6 members of the City Council instead of the current 2.

In that case, I encourage you to sign the Vote Yes Fayetteville petition and give every citizen the opportunity to vote on this critical issue.

Editor's Note: Bobby Hurst is a former five-term City Council member and former business owner.

Congressman calls for fiscal responsibility, support for troops

100DollarBillsHC1404 02 source"A President's greatest responsibility is to protect all our people from enemies, foreign and domestic. Here at home the worst enemy we face is economic — the creeping erosion of the American way of life and the American dream that has resulted in today's tragedy of economic stagnation and unemployment." President Ronald Reagan said these words in 1982. However, they ring as true today as ever before.

As the crisis on our southern border worsens and inflation reaches new highs, last week Washington liberals ignored these problems and continued their reckless spending spree. The House passed legislation which would once again raise the debt ceiling in order to pay for their $3.5 trillion liberal wish list. Keeping our government open is critical. However, I opposed this move to allow more debt. Democrats — who control the House, Senate and White House and who have spent trillions already this year — should not have a blank check to recklessly spend even more of your tax dollars. Their bill will raise taxes on everyone, give the federal government more control over your life from the cradle to the grave, and only make our inflation crisis worse.

Despite this, their bill did have one good provision — funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. However, Washington Democrats caved to racist, anti-Semitic factions and stripped this funding from the bill. Later that day, we forced a second vote to approve the funding for Israel. Once again, radical, racist Democrats opposed it.

America should always stand with Israel at every opportunity. Failing to do so is shameful and our allies, as well as our adversaries, are watching.

As threats increase around the world, I was glad the House was able to come together and pass our nation’s bipartisan annual defense bill last week.

This year’s National Defense Authorization Act is not perfect. But I was proud to support this bill which included much needed funding for Fort Bragg and our men and women in the military.

Overall, it provides a 2.7% pay increase for servicemembers and reverses dangerous cuts to our military proposed by President Biden. It also adds resources to secure our border, holds the Biden administration accountable for its withdrawal from Afghanistan, and protects servicemembers’ personal liberties.

I am especially proud that the bill includes provisions I have worked on throughout the year. For Fort Bragg, $27 million was included for needed construction projects on the base. For military families, my bill to expand and improve education funding was included. I also championed included provisions to increase PFAS testing on bases, combat sexual assault in the military, and modernize the Basic Allowance for Housing.

There are several provisions in the bill I am concerned about, including red flag laws that threaten the Second Amendment rights of servicemembers. However like last year, I will now work to ensure these provisions are removed as negotiations continue between the House and Senate.

I will never waiver from my commitment to support our troops, their families, and our veterans. The NDAA is an example that we can still come together and solve problems for our nation. Now we must do the same on issues like growing our economy, supporting our allies like Israel, and ending the crisis on our border. I will stay focused on common sense solutions on behalf of you and your family.

It’s time to celebrate the best of the best!

UAC09292101Wow! For over two decades, our community newspaper has provided residents, visitors and guests insights into the people, businesses and organizations that invest extra time and effort into making our community unique.

Our Best of Fayetteville survey is also unique. Our dedicated readers pride themselves on making sure they are the ones who define and determine who Fayetteville’s Best of the Best are. No nominations, no ballot stuffing. Only well-defined enforceable voting guidelines have elevated the honor and integrity of the Best of Fayetteville designation.

However, the survey is not scientific. It is an informal survey, and we make no claims otherwise. However, it has proven to be highly accurate.

Following a frustrating year of staying at home, social distancing, vaccine confusion, mask-wearing, and an overall lack of social interaction, we are slowly beginning to get our lives back to normalcy. So, now, let’s celebrate!

As our faithful readers know, Up & Coming Weekly’s biggest celebration of the year is recognizing and honoring our community’s outstanding people, businesses and institutions. This year we are celebrating the occasion at the Crown Coliseum, one of our newest Best of Fayetteville sponsors.

Here is where the Best of the Best will congregate to celebrate their achievements and contributions to our All-American City.

Over the past 25 years, our community and our newspaper have changed immensely. However, the Best of Fayetteville readers survey has not. It continues to reflect the best aspects of the Fayetteville community. Annually, we receive thousands of ballots and painstakingly record the comments and sentiments of our readers.

This process allows us to get to know who, what and why they value our community members. It is these people, businesses and organizations we want to showcase and introduce to Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County residents as they continue to work hard year after year to improve, impact and elevate our local quality of life.

The Up & Coming Weekly Best of Fayetteville edition you are holding in your hands will serve you well throughout the year. It is a valuable visitor’s guide, service directory and cultural and event resource.

Please share it with your friends. The format and guidelines for this sanctioned, time-tested survey have been designed and audited to provide residents, local businesses and organizations the recognition they deserve for their ethics, dedication and perseverance in their quest for excellence.

Since the first ballots were counted more than two decades ago, Up & Coming Weekly has successfully told the Best of Fayetteville winners’ stories. With your votes and support, we are extremely proud to share this year’s Best of the Best winners with you. Please join me and the entire Up & Coming Weekly staff and all our 2021 Best of Fayetteville sponsors as we begin this yearlong celebration.

For 24/7, 365-days-a-year access to the Best of Fayetteville winners, visit www.upandcomingweekly.com. While you’re there, sign up for our FREE electronic subscription and receive the Early Bird edition of Up & Coming Weekly every Tuesday
afternoon.

I want to thank Mac Healy of Healy Wholesale and Jim Grafstrom of the Crown Coliseum for their help and support. I also want to thank Jimmy Keefe of the Trophy House for creating the beautiful Best of Fayetteville plaques they designed and his service as a Cumberland County Commissioner. Of course, every legitimate survey needs a competent CPA, and we have the best. Lee Utley has supported and partnered with us for nearly two decades, and his services have been invaluable.

Again, we hope you enjoy this special edition of Up & Coming Weekly. Keep it handy and refer to it often.

We sincerely thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly and supporting your only locally-owned community newspaper.

Is Fayetteville leaving the Best of the Best behind?

01 Report Card Mock UpOver 200 people representing the best of the best businesses, institutions, and organizations in Fayetteville and Cumberland Country assembled at the Crown Coliseum for our 24th Annual Best of Fayetteville Awards Party. In attendance, showing appreciation and extending congratulations to the honorees, were Shari Fiveash of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, Randy Fiveash, interim President of the Fayetteville Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Jackie Warner, Mayor of Hope Mills. No one representing the City or Cumberland County was there. Personal invitations were not issued, nor were they required.

Over the years, our elected city and county officials were more than anxious to attend any prestigious local event that showcased the people, businesses, institutions and organizations that define the quality of life in our community. After all, it is a congregation of their constituents. Or is it? Fayetteville is currently struggling with that question, even though everyone is quite aware of the answer.

And, that is NO!

With our city divided into nine separate and distinct districts, I'd wager each council member wouldn't find six attendees living or working in their specific section. And, with this being the case, why bother showing up all? Unfortunately, this thought process has become the mindset of most of our current elected officials of the Fayetteville City Council. This situation and mindset must change if Fayetteville as a community is to grow and prosper.

You can't grow and become a great City if you leave entire segments of the community behind.

Bobby Hurst, a former five-term City Councilman in District 5, recently reminded us of this dire warning and prediction that resonated nearly a decade ago from the Fayetteville City Council's 2012-2013 budget meeting. Sadly, that prediction has become a sad reality as nine individual districts try to govern over 210,000 residents by focusing only on the needs of their ward while ignoring major issues and situations affecting the entire city.

It's a matter of record that Fayetteville's growth is not keeping pace with the rest of the cities in the state. There is a reason for that. The City of Fayetteville has an inferior and embarrassing Report Card when it comes to leadership and management:

We cannot become a better city by continuing to leave people behind. By focusing on each of the nine individual districts, they are collectively ignoring major citywide issues.

Image above by Dylan Hooker.

Ultimately, our horrific statistics will continue to worsen unless collective voices are heard regarding the future of our city. Fayetteville residents from all districts will suffer and die due to this poor governance, unabated homicides and neglected infrastructure maintenance like stormwater unless the citizens vote to change the structure of city government by designating four of the nine citywide districts as At Large districts. This would give Fayetteville residents six votes when it comes to elections rather than two. What's not to like about that? A Fayetteville resident gets to vote for five council members and the mayor rather than just voting for the mayor and one district representative. Common sense dictates that it's a shame we even have to make such an argument. However, I just did.

I encourage you to sign the Vote Yes Fayetteville petition at www.voteyesfayetteville.com and give every citizen (Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, rich or poor) the right to vote on this critical issue. Fayetteville's future depends on it, and you can rely on that.

In closing, let me say that even though we currently have a terrible report card, it definitely can be improved just like any other academic institution: i.e. Get a better curriculum. Hire better teachers and, if need be, replace the principal. We have plenty of options. The best one yet: 6/4 Vote Yes Fayetteville.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

When your number is up

02 Pitt IMG 8588Watching the news with its escalating daily death count from the ravages of the Rona got me to thinking about mortality.

Dionne Warwick sang: “What’s it all about Alfie/ Is it just for the moment we live/ What’s it all about/ When you sort it out, Alfie.” Since Alfie is not available, I will explain one of the mysteries of life, the little matter of death.

Class, open your laptop. This will be on the final exam. If you are reading this blot on world literature, by definition you are alive. However, at some point you will slip off this mortal coil and break on through to the Other Side. As the late Jim Morrison once said: “No one gets out of here alive.” It is unclear if Jim is aware he remains popular.

Our version of human beings is called Homo Sapiens. Mr. Google reports that Homo Sapiens appeared about 50,000 years ago. The Population Reference Bureau estimates since the appearance of Homo Sapiens about 107 billion people have lived.

Currently, the world population is estimated to be about 7.6 billion people. That means that roughly 100 billion people have already died giving us a ratio of 15 dead people for every living person today. So, death is pretty common. As Elaine once said to Jerry Seinfeld in another context, death has been done to death. We should not be surprised when it happens.

Poets, philosophers and song writers have all grappled with the concept of death. Let’s take a look at some of the colorful ways four famous people have gotten into Charon’s boat and crossed the river Styx into the land of the dead. Why did Casper the Friendly Boy have to die to become Casper the Friendly Ghost? Some questions do not have answers.

Our old friend and Greek playwright Aeschylus departed in a colorful manner. Aeschylus was a famous dude in his time. He was born around 525 BC. He is generally credited as being the father of Greek tragedy. He wrote about 80 plays with only seven of his plays surviving. An oracle told Aeschylus he was going to be killed by something falling out of the sky. Being a cautious sort, Aeschylus social distanced from the sky by mainly staying indoors. Fate will not be cheated. When your time is up, it’s up. One day in 456 B.C., Aeschylus broke his rule against being outside and went on a walkabout. Bad idea. Aeschylus was bald (another reason I like him, he is the godfather of all bald men). While he was out walking, an eagle flying overhead mistook his bald head for a rock. Ordinarily an eagle with presbyopia is not a danger to humanity. But this particular eagle was carrying a tortoise in his claws. Eagles have figured out how to get to the good stuff inside the tortoise shell by picking up the critter and dropping it on a rock below. The tortoise shell cracks open and voila! It’s tortoise tartar for the hungry eagle. The eagle dropped the tortoise on Aeschylus’ bald head. Lights out for the father of Greek tragedy.

Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881 in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Various legends have grown up about Billy and the number of people he killed. His burial site has been vandalized so many times by souvenir hunters that a metal cage had to be built around it to keep the fans from destroying his tomb stone.

Singer Dave Stamey sympathetically channels Billy’s ghost and sings an excellent song about Billy’s death called “The Skies of Lincoln County”. The chorus goes: “And the skies of Lincoln County were as blue as blue could be/ And the sun that shines on you, well it used to shine on me/ And I knew the smell of wood smoke and I liked the taste of beer/ The only difference now, is I’m not here/ I’m in New Mexico and it’s 1881.” I commend this song for your listening pleasure. We will all join Billy one day and miss the smell of wood smoke.

The late great song writer Warren Zevon wrote a cheery little ditty called “Life’ll Kill You” in which he ponders the mystery of death. I saw Warren perform in Chapel Hill at the Cat’s Cradle when he was not well. He suggested to the audience that avoiding the doctor was not a good plan. His song included the lyrics: “From the President of the United States/ To the lowliest rock and roll star/ The doctor is in and he’ll see you now/ He don’t care who you are/ Some get the awful, awful diseases/ Some get the knife, some get the gun/ Some get to die in their sleep at the age of a hundred and one.”

So what have we learned today? Life is fleeting. Enjoy it. Do you know what happens the day after you die? Everything. Politicians promise. Traffic jams. Lunch is eaten. Birds fly. People get married. Socks get lost. The only difference is you’re not there.

Pictured: Aeschylus' time was up when an eagle flying overhead mistook his bald head for a rock.

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