Monday, September 12, 2005

Dodson Declares War on Poverty: Poverty Appears Unfazed

District 10 Super-Commissioner (minus the cape and tights) Elton Dodson has finally decided to tackle a local issue worth paying some attention to - poverty.

The ABH gives Dodson some nice press on the issue here.

Even though he was only elected to office in 2004, Elton Dodson has become something of an enfant terrible on the normally staid ACC Commission. Up until now, he's probably been most associated with his extremely outspoken support of the 24-hour smoking ban in Athens, a ban which, we note only in passing, is far more draconian than the statewide ban.

Now however, Dodson may be growing up and focusing his considerable (not to mention loquacious) passion on an issue that, if you'll pardon our anti-smoking-ban rhetoric, really does matter.

Even during his campaign, Dodson did little more than pay lip service to important yet seldom-discussed issues like poverty, affordable housing, equal economic opportunity, etc. We can't fault him for it; it's pretty standard behavior for most candidates. Indeed, many candidates serve successful careers as elected officials without ever doing more than making a few concerned grunts about poverty.

Maybe that's why we're slightly puzzled by Dodson's sudden emergence as champion for the working poor of ACC. Pardon us for being cynical, but it's not an issue he had to take on. We wonder what made him decide to grow a backbone now, and on this issue. It could be politics. It's no secret that Dodson doesn't plan on being the Commissioner from District 10 forever. Being outspoken on this issue now could serve him well if he decides to run for mayor or for a job at the Gold Dome. For now, we'll embrace our natural idealism, and assume he has only the best motives in mind though.

But, be careful, Commissioner. If you take on poverty, then you're naturally going to be forced into dealing with affordable housing and economic opportunity. That's not a problem, but if you start wading into these issues, sooner or later, you will come face-to-face with the elephant in the room, as far as Athens politics go.


Athens is a progressive town, but the specter of race hangs heavy over our fair city. It all but jumps off the page when one looks at the numbers. It isn't a secret that most of the poor people in our city are minorities.

But for all of its commitment, both real and pretentious, to progressive politics, Athens doesn't like to talk about race. We hope Elton Dodson is ready to talk frankly about it, but more than that, we hope the community and it's elected officials are ready to listen, because, from everything we know about Elton Dodson, he isn't likely to be silenced anytime soon.

A related post.

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RandomThoughts said...

Isn't it time people quit DECLARING war on things like poverty and started WAGING war instead?

I'm ready to see some action.

Publius said...

I agee, but in all fairness to Elton Dodson, as far as I know, he didn't actually stoop to the somewhat trite political gimmick of "declaring war" on poverty, as much as he seemed to come out and start verbally swinging last week.

But the proof, etc...

hillary said...

So why did he mention bike lanes? Are those an issue the poor in Athens care greatly about?

Publius said...

Bike lanes = instant credibility in ACC politics.

It's the happy liberal issue du jour. Some ACC Commissioners can't go to the can without waxing poetic about bike lanes.

hillary said...

So that's what happens on the pee breaks in the meetings!

Publius said...

Except for Kathy Hoard, because you know, according to Carl Jordan, she's lucky if she doesn't have to wait in line for several hours, just to use the City Hall potty.

Potty Parity is the ERA of the 21st Century.

Anonymous said...

One thing that will help improve the poverty situtaion will be luring good jobs to ACC for folks without University degrees, and encouraging our existing businesses to stay here and expand. When the local gov't wakes up and realizes this, then we can make real progress on this issue. All the living wages, etc. in the world won't do nearly as much as 500-1,000 new high paying jobs at places like Certainteed, Power Partners, etc. that pay $30,000+ with benefits to folks with high school diplomas.

There are a host of other factors, but as long as local government thinks our future is only high tech media, entertainment, hospitality and music jobs, the poverty situation will remain acute.

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