I depend a great deal on the internet to keep up with the city that concerns me the most, Atlanta, Georgia. Sure I
claw my eyes out while sashaying around typos read the Atlanta Journal-Constituation and a few blogs, but sometimes it helps to just go straight to the source, especially in regard to policy and governmental matters. This morning, after a few hours of job applying, I decided to go to the Atlanta City Council Website just to check it out.
WARNING: If you still have any belief in local government and that public officials are more public servants than simply figureheads, DO NOT GO TO THAT WEBSITE. It’s too late for me, but maybe I can save someone else from losing their innocence and optimism.
The Atlanta City Council is made up of 16 members: a president, 12 district councilmembers, and 3 at-large councilmembers. Here they are (put on 3-D glasses for clearest viewing experience)
On the website, when you click on their picture, one would expect to be taken to a website for their respective district. On this hypothetical website, one would expect things such as a short bio, recent initiatives, maps of the area, a voting history, list of issues that concern the community, and lastly would expect all of this to be updated as close to present day as possible.
Out of the 16 City Council Members, only 3 have full websites for their district (Watson, Wan, White), meaning only 3 of the 16 City Council Members really care enough to operate a full, informative website and are willing to invest, say, $20 a year to buy a domain name. These websites have the aformentioned characteristics that one would expect on the website of a councilmember that represents the 9th largest metropolitan area in the free world. But I digress…
Councilmembers Watson, Wan, and White are Black, Asian, and White respectfully, doing a great job (based on their websites) at representing Atlanta, so I have nothing further to say about them. As for the other 13, let’s dig a little deeper.
Of the 13 left, 11 are Black and 2 are White. Let’s focus on my remaining two White Councilmembers for a moment, Councilwoman Adrean and Councialman Shook. While they don’t have impressive websites like the previous three, one can access a great amount of information on their pages, hosted through the main City Council page. For example, Councilman Shook has a link called “How I voted and Why”, with detailed description about how and why he voted during the 4th quarter of 2010. I’m impressed. Councilwoman Adrean’s page has a bio page, a page about what she did during her first 100 days in the Council, and the rest of the page is littered with helpful links for members of her community. Not as impressed, but still satisfied.
Two more off the hook.
SECOND & FINAL WARNING: This is when everything gets extremely embarrasing and disheartening to me as an Atlantan, as a Black Atlantan, and as adult in general. It’s not too late to turn around. Please, I’m begging you.
Actually, I’m going to let 1 more off the hook before I start being straight up rude to my elders. To his credit, I have a good sense of what’s going on in the district of Councilman C.T. Martin. When you click on his page, it takes you to a very informative newsletter about what’s going on in his district, from Fall 2010. Granted, it was probably very early Fall (the news letter refers to a recreation center scheduled to open on October 4th, 2010), but at this point I’ll take it.
These last 10, there’s just no excuse. I brought up race throughout piece because the city council has become more integrated over the past two decades, something many Blacks see as a bad thing. They see it as Atlanta losing it’s ground as the “Black Mecca” that it once was. To them, I argue that the ones seemingly doing their jobs within the City Council at the highest capacity, for the most part, aren’t the longtime Black members, but the newer, often non-Black members. As you will see in the rest of this article, the majority of the City Council is not coming off as especially impressive or dedicated, and 100% of that group is Black. Just an observation.
I would ramble about each at length to help with my venting and coping process, but it’s not even worth it. Time for a list (from least embarrasing to most embarassing).
10. Councilwoman Felicia Moore — Page links to a newsletter, last updated between February and March 2010. 9 Months ago.
9. Councilman Michael Julian Bond — Page links to a newsletter with the subheading “Volume 1, Issue 1,” last updated March 2010. To his defense, maybe it’s an annual publication and it takes a full year to fill up a 2 page pdf.
7. Councilman Kwanzaa Hall — Page links to a nice little page with his bio and some inspirational words. With that said, no clue what he’s done since elected in 2005.
6. Councilman Ivory Lee Young — Lengthy background, scattered with a handful of accomplishments and when they took place. That’s all.
5. Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong — Bio page, mainly about her and less about her council tenure. Some initiatives mentioned, but no context of when they took place between now and her election in 2001.
4. Councilwoman Keisha Bottoms — Nothing about the city council, but I do now know where she goes to church, volunteers, lives, and gives motivational talks, in case I’m ever trying to say hey.
3. Councilwoman Joyce Shepard — So you click on her picture, and…
2. Councilwoman Cleta Winslow — The most recent thing with a date associated with it on Councilwoman Winslow’s page is the 1996 Olympics. That was probably around the same time this picture was taken:
1. Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell — Whether it’s fair or not, this guy has to shoulder a significant amount of the blame for his City Council resembling The Little Giants more than a legislative body. His page isn’t too informative either, further adding to the shame.
This isn’t me hating on a group of public officials who will probably never hire me now. This is simply a 23 year old looking for some role models and unfortunately not being able to find many in the city that he grew up in and wants to one day return to. I feel naive when I think things like, “Some of my close friends/associates and I could do a better job than those people elected for office.” After this little exploration, I’m not so sure it’s that wild of an idea,
Step your game up, Atlanta. Please. For me?