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Socialism Inaction Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I was labeled as a socialist. I suppose this is because I believe in the efficacy of certain private/public partnerships to create opportunities for a community. A blogger who calls himself liberty or death gave a localized explanation on Cenla Antics:

Water slides, Bentleys, Condo's, half million dollar buses, walking trails, landscaping architects fees, legal fees for studies blah, blah, blah are definitely examples of socialism in action. All of these schemes to take your money you produced for you and your family and spread it around to cronies who leach off the working person are the socialistic activities right here in River City. It exists and only an intellectually dishonest man or a fool does not see it. Will he disavow the status quo and move toward the laissez-faire capitalistic concept of having the free market provide the economic boon that will follow a change from force, fraud and gov't to freedom and a vibrant economy. Address this issue in detail so we can see exactly what you perceive is in the best interest of Alex and its citizens (taxpayers).
There's a good point somewhere in there: Phony projects that do not serve the common good are a misuse of our taxdollars and an abuse of authority. But, let's take a close look at the projects he's talking about: 1. The idea for a waterslide first came to our community's attention after the City of Alexandria paid a consulting company $100,000 to study affordable housing in South Alexandria. For some reason, the study on housing turned into a study on building a waterpark. We wrote the check, but the consulting company has yet to provide a single "deliverable." In short, we were ripped off. (And it never was a good idea to begin with). 2. The Hotel Bentley: The nuclear option first discussed by Dr. John Sams was neither feasible nor practical. Thankfully, it's now a moot issue. There is very little the COA can do to assist new ownership (perhaps a tax abatement), but I would hope that the City do all that it can to ensure the viability of the Bentley. Why? Because it's one of our community's best assets. If you believe in free market capitalism, then perhaps you should consider the notion, espoused by many, that our municipal government is like a $150 million a year business. We're competing against other cities for the same tourists, conventions, and jobs. The Hotel Bentley already has a physical connection to our Riverfront Convention Center, and its closure creates practical problems for large conventions. However, there are already state and federal incentive programs (like Bush's renewal community incentives) that new Bentley ownership could utilize without dipping into local taxdollars in order to reduce its risks. 3. Walking trails are simply a component of a larger plan for revitalizing blighted neighborhoods. Unfortunately, despite spending hundreds of thousands of taxdollars on a master plan for the COA, we're still left without a real course of action. Projects are haphazardly planned and completed. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason, no coherent vision. 4. Downtown condos: Developers would be more reliant on state and federal incentives in accomplishing this. Bush's renewal community zone incentives allow developers to reduce their risks by writing off a certain portion of their renovation costs. Other than that, we should not expect local taxpayers to underwrite a private real estate development. 5. Landscape architects fees: First, I don't know about you, but I like the idea of community beautification. Perhaps we've been spending too much on landscaping, and if we have, we need to find a new service. 6. Legal Fees: Couldn't agree more. We spend too much money contracting legal services. I think the central question here is this: Will our next mayor allow government to be run as a personal piggybank for his friends and family (under the guise of economic development)? Will our next mayor stand up and challenge the consulting contracts, the backdoor deals, and the misappropriation of funds? Once the next mayor is sworn is, what is his or her first step?