Bloggers are Not Boycotting Downtown

Pretty much I view the anti-blogger sentiments expressed by the Citizens Community Enhancement Commission as evidence of a power struggle over information and message. I still do. However, it has come to my attention that real fear has been generated among some downtown business owners that bloggers are calling for general boycotts of downtown.

Yes, I’ve seen one or two commenters at the Chronicle do this because they hate ReNew or city government, but as far as I can tell nobody’s taking them seriously. A boycott of downtown punishes neither of the entities. It’s a ludicrous idea. I cannot even imagine what downtown merchants would have to do, for me to boycott them generally or to call for a general boycott. I also personally know of no one who would. There are a couple of merchants whose establishments I will not set foot in, but in doing so I am trying to punish the reprehensible behaviors of individuals.

All this muddying of the waters masks a very real problem downtown, which is lack of accessibility to stores caused by construction. There were instances this past summer when I had to make like a billy goat or take detour after detour to get where I wanted to go. Some people do not have the time for this. Some do not have the mobility. It is kind of a de facto “boycott” that the City of DeKalb and ReNew DeKalb have created. Stop trying to blame it on the bloggers.

6 thoughts on “Bloggers are Not Boycotting Downtown”

  1. I do hope that if Mel Whitmer had to do his speech over again, he would not have done it off the cuff. I have supported Mel and his family for the grand vision and determination he has brought to downtown DeKalb. Laying it out on the line like he has and improving each of the buildings not just with a little paint and an awning.

    However, I consider myself a blogger in this community and will continue to until I see some other news organization step up and do their job. I now have to consider why I would continue to patronize any of the Whitmer establishments when he decided to make the comment he did about bloggers. As for the CCEC and considering some of the names who did go public with their comments, I personally think any of those who work for a taxpayer supported job or organization should be immediately fired for their comments. As citizens they are welcomed to make comments but several sit on these boards and groups as representatives for those they work for.

    As for shopping downtown DeKalb. There are unfortunately not many stores that I can shop at. Maybe downtown merchants should have complained earlier about their TIF dollars being used as incentive to move some major named stores out of downtown. I try to take my business first to downtown when I can, I wish it could be more often.

  2. I totally agree, Ivan.

    Here is a Ghandi-attributed sequence of events for activists:

    First, they ignore you
    Then they mock you
    Then they fight you
    Then you win

    We’re not quite done with Stage 2 yet but Stage 3 tactics have begun in the blog war.

  3. As a downtown business person, I’m glad to hear that there isn’t a boycott. I can understand the accessibility issues with the construction and such. Thank you for clarifying this. As the owner of Web Girl, I thank you!

  4. This was also submitted to DeKalb County Online:

    I can understand the frustration that the downtown merchants are having. For over 23 years, the program that was introduced and adopted that promised to turn downtown into a shoppers paradise just never really got going….. for downtown, instead, this adopted program called Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) was used to finance improvements in other areas of town, namely the Sycamore Road corridor all the way out to Bethany Road and would eventually lead to this corridor competing with the downtown stores and businesses. Look how many stores on Sycamore Road are now or were downtown. Ace Hardware, Montgomery Wards, Sears, JC Penny, Maurices, Davision’s Bakery and I’m sure I missed one or two more. What would downtown look like today if any of these above mentioned stores still in business today would have stayed downtown? What would the downtown look like today if the majority of the TIF funds intended for downtown was actually used downtown and not elsewhere?

    So I can understand the current downtown merchants being desperate in order to move things along and get whatever they can get, even if that means trying to do it all before there is another opportunity for an election in this community. Maybe now some are starting to realize that oversight, misspending and overspending is starting to upset those who would like to see more of the local tax dollars going to our police department. To see more dollars go to our fire department. To see that the our safety and the safety of our loved ones aren’t put into jeopardy day to day by these understaffed and improperly tooled departments.

    Why are people upset about the burying of wires? I can speak for myself and maybe one or two others on this one. Haste makes waste! Pure and simple. Why didn’t the Hitchcock architectual group, who were touted as professionals in urban design suggest or just plan on burying the wires years ago when all of this was being discussed. I’m sure there was discussion not to pile on too much up front and keep the numbers as low as possible and “we’ll work it in as we go”. This is pure BS! and that’s why people are upset. Now, this downtown project which was promised to be paid through TIF is going to have to borrow $4.5 million in bonds and guaranteed by the good hearted property owners of DeKalb, guaranteed by all the property owners, not TIF and for what? FOR LOOKS! Hey you want good looks, spend it from TIF, don’t burden me anymore because of your mistake or lack of including it in the original plans. Hey, lets go one better. SPECIAL ASSESSMENT to all the downtown merchants to bury the wires underground. Simple enough and done! Downtown gets their wires buried.

    If $4.5 million has to be borrowed, I WANT IT GOING TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT, NOT TO BURY WIRES. DO YOU HEAR US!

    Like I said, downtown has been screwed for 23 years plus and I’m sorry. It is also very likely that a change in the council will not stop a project that is nearly completed either. That is just plain old not giving people credit. I support the downtown renovation within common sense and practicality. The pavers pushed common sense and reason especially when no one thought about the snow and ice conditions which we have one/third of the year. Should the downtown merchants be SPECIAL ASSESSED for this snow cleaning? I would say yes because they continue to push for the pavers even though this discussion has been underway well…. since last November of 2008.

    Like the mayor stated several times, the downtown merchants want it this way and that’s what they are going to get. OK, so they should also be responsible for mistakes, overspending and add ons to the intially approved project especially if we are going to adopt a policy of not opening up agreements once made.

    This whole thing about the downtown merchants thinking that there are organized boycotts against them, that no one wants to see the downtown work performed along with other rumors that have been stirred up is just out of hand. Many of us just want city hall to wake up and address more than one problem at a time and maybe do it in a way that all benefit in more ways than one.

  5. Some of this I posted on the “Chronicle’s” Web site. I am not sure who reads what.

    Construction:

    I almost got T-boned on the driver’s side because someone could not see around the construction early this past summer. After that, I avoided driving through the downtown construction as much as possible. When I did need something downtown, I parked over by Pine and walked the three or four blocks. I despise construction and so do many other people. I despise road construction so much that I took Taylor/South Malta Road to get to Malta to avoid the Lincoln Highway construction, and cut back on the number of trips I make to Malta. Also, a while back, I used to meet some folks for lunch, usually at the Hillside and the Thai Pavilion. I only have an hour so if it takes an extra five minutes on either end of the trip to park and run the obstacle course, forget it. Those are not fast food places so to get there, order something, eat it, and then come back all within an hour with construction downtown–no way. I bet I have not been downtown for lunch in about two years.

    Economy:

    I cannot afford to eat out like that anymore. That dollar menu at McDonald’s and Burger King and bringing my own food for lunch became the options. There is a snack place in my building so a lot of the time I get something and eat at my desk because that really saves time.

    So, borrowing something from the first Clinton campaign in the 1990s:

    “It’s the economy [and the construction], stupid.”

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