You’ve heard the phrase a thousand times: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Well, in terms of East Ridge residents voicing complaints to city officials the phrase doesn’t apply. Here’s why. City officials really believe that the squeaky wheel is a unicycle, not a convoy of 18-wheelers hauling down Ringgold Road blowing through red lights with every darned wheel squealing like the devil.
Think about it; you’ve got Charles McCullough, one man, questioning the $600,000 taken from the surplus fund for salary increases to employees and plunked down in the budget between first and second readings. McCullough was stonewalled for a month on a public records request to see just how that figure was formulated. Then he was told that it was a “guesstimate” for the money needed and that the City Manager would figure out who would get the raises and how much those raises would be after the budget was passed.
Sure, a couple dozen people voiced outrage on social media but then the whole issue just dissolved into the ethernet.
A dog park and Animal Services facility has been promised to the residents of this city for years. A more substantial number of people expressed frustration over the lack of either facility being built. What’s the net/net on construction? Nothing. Nothing but promises and a $25,000 grant from the Boyd Foundation.
Speaking of grants … a new Pioneer Frontier/splashpad has been in the works for years. The city got a $500,000 grant from the state’s Local Parks and Recreation Fund. The terms are that the city must match that amount and we end up with a $1 million park.
What’s happened? City workers tore down Pioneer Frontier in April. Those inside City Hall said they “hoped” work could get started in May. Well, it’s August and it appears a backhoe has dug some trenches and laid some water pipe for the splashpad.
In 2015, the city rolled out a press release about a $200,000 “Safe Routes to Schools” grant it received from the state to build sidewalks and bike lanes to help school kids get to and from East Ridge Elementary School. No match required on this one. What’s happened? $10,000 to an engineering company for plans. No construction.
Whatever happened to the multi-model project on Ringgold Road? The city spent the better part of $2 million acquiring rights-of-way along the commercial corridor to build a 10-foot wide sidewalk on one side for pedestrians and cyclists. The idea was to have a brand-spanking new commercial corridor with a six-foot setback on buildings to promote development and create a new “downtown.” Total project cost, about $10 million and taking the better part of two years.
The city gets roughly $2 million a year from the “state street aid fund” to keep our our streets in good repair. Five years ago, then City Manager Scott Miller briefed the City Council on the importance of formulating a “paving schedule” to maintain our streets. Heard nothing lately about a “paving schedule,” even though literally dozens of people down on McDonald Road are up in arms on social media about the condition of their neighborhood streets.
I’ve had many meetings about a myriad of citizens’ grievances with high-up-the-food-chain staff and elected officials inside City Hall over the years across at least four administrations. Every single one of them have convinced themselves of this: There are only a handful of people who are disgruntled … most everyone else is fine with what’s happening.
Sorry, but I don’t buy it.
It’s my belief that thousands of our residents are fed up with lack of services, and plans and promises falling by the wayside. They have simply learned that their complaints fall on deaf ears.
Once upon a time, there were real people, flesh and blood, who were relentless and pounded on desks inside City Hall in an attempt to get action. Where have they gone? They are either dead or moved away. Or … they’ve given up. “You get no grease!”
Here’s one small example of just how dysfunctional this city has become. I can’t get a storm drain cleaned out that’s uphill from my house on Marlboro Avenue. No response from City Hall.
The non-response screams to me: “You, squeaky wheel, will get no grease and you will like it!”