Forward four All, the nonprofit that’s trying to orchestrate an unholy land snatch among Anniston and Oxford, has a spokesperson. It’s Charles Turner.
He wrote the draft of a legislative bill that seeks to de-annex almost 10,000 Anniston residents — all of Ward four and slivers of other neighborhoods — and slide them into Oxford. He is the face of the nonprofit whose members, as he informed The Star, are concerned that “so long as we’re in Anniston, we received’t get the whole charge whilst we promote our houses” due to lengthy-festering problems with the town’s majority-black public schools and poverty quotes.
Anniston’s Ward 4 is floor 0 of this land take hold of. It needs a spokesperson — both to guard it against deannexation or shepherd it into Oxford.
It ought to be Millie Harris.
She is Ward four’s City Council member. She needs to dominate these discussions — now not Mayor Jack Draper, and in reality now not Ward three Councilman Ben Little, who commonly dominates everything. Yet, whilst Draper last week discussed a probable City Council decision against forwarding four All’s notion — a decision Draper assumed might receive unanimous council guide — that is what Harris informed her council colleagues:
“I represent all of Ward four. This isn’t always about me personally; I listen to each aspect of it. I understand your frustration, and I actually have in my view stated I’m in opposition to this. But I’m going to abstain from vote casting on any of this due to the fact I represent all the humans” in Ward 4.
Granted, Harris is in a horrible bind, however that’s politics; it’s similarly cutthroat and rewarding; she signed up for this. She’s a Ward four resident with deep ties to Anniston’s over-the-mountain neighborhoods. And it’s clear she’s getting hammered through Ward 4 residents who both believe Turner’s notion or those like me who believe it would be a demise sentence for Anniston’s fragile fire-and-police pension fund, its future financial development efforts and its popularity.
Anniston can’t resist the visible of center- and high-income white citizens fleeing to a majority-white neighboring city and far from its majority-black colleges and lower-profits neighborhoods. Those optics might be debilitating.
Harris wasn’t elected to be Ward four’s stenographer and help measures completely primarily based on citizens’ wishes. Politics isn’t polling. She become elected to symbolize Ward four’s excellent pastimes, something they’ll be, even supposing it earns her biting complaint. She turned into elected to steer. And saying in a council paintings consultation that she could abstain from vote casting on a deannexation decision centering on her ward due to the fact she hears “both facets of it” changed into unfortunate optics and unwise politics.
I changed into shocked, as had been others.
Credit Harris, but, for abandoning that stance.
“Needless to say, this week has been a fairly traumatic time to reflect,” she advised me Friday afternoon, “with my thoughts evolving from serving the needs of all Ward four citizens, thus abstaining from balloting, to one among concluding that the pleasant interest of our cherished town is to oppose deannexation thru joining our council in a unanimous vote for a decision to oppose.”
Now Anniston’s City Council can act as one. Council participants can maintain hands in team spirit and say what they have to — that Forward four All’s suggestion endangers the city’s destiny, doesn’t empower or improve Anniston’s colleges and at its heart is based in large part on enhancing personal real-property holdings of a secretive group of mostly white center- and high-profits Annistonians.
At the subsequent City Council assembly, Harris ought to issue Forward four All a undertaking: Meet us in Wards 2 and 3, where poverty isn’t unusual and wishes are extraordinary. Work with us to improve housing alternatives there, to find answers that lower unemployment. Use your apparent sway with state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, to unite, now not divide. Drive over the mountain to Woodstock Avenue and join us as mentors to Anniston High School students. Don’t run away. Don’t surrender. Don’t snort at the optimism many Annistonians nonetheless keep.
And I’d encompass this addendum:
Don’t tell Anniston’s remnants that splitting the metropolis’s population almost in half, and for this reason enhancing the city’s racial divide, is better for all ultimately — or that it’s the handiest logical course. Don’t tell Anniston’s remnants that law main to dissolving Anniston’s faculties might enhance the ones college students due to the fact they’d get to attend racially various Calhoun County colleges. And don’t tell Anniston’s remnants that reinvigorating assets values in Golden Springs thru an Oxford escape will routinely breed economic trends and process opportunities for the city’s minority neighborhoods. If Wards 2 and 3 need assist, move there and assist us assist them.
Oh, and one extra: Do agenda meetings in the town’s black neighborhoods and explain how Forward 4 All surely is ahead for all. I didn’t ask Harris, however I guess she’d help that, too.
“I’ve by no means visible a more divisive issue as this one,” she said.