Shades of Gray. THE Tuesday Showdown at City Hall

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“A pessimist thinks things can’t get any worse. An optimist knows they can.”
—No Man’s Land

When Ace endorsed Jim Gray for Mayor in 2002, we wrote, “If this were Dallas (the show and not the city), Jim Gray is obviously far more Bobby than J.R. And if that’s part of his charm (and electability), he might as well go with it.”

So yesterday couldn’t have been easy for him—standing up to Dudley Webb in front of city council and telling him the city had been “hoodwinked” in the past year since the CentrePointe development was announced (a year characterized by demolition, destruction, deception, death, and prevarication).

Bathing in the glow of the kudos from various Council Members (naming names: George Myers, Ed Lane, Julian Beard) congratulating the Webbs on building the city, Webb expounded on their “successes.” He conjured up the early meetings surrounding Victorian Square, recalling, “we were approached by the City Fathers…” Was he in Stars Hollow at the time? Who are the City Fathers? And why is their child support payment always late? He lauded the many deals they’d done over “61 handshakes.” He doesn’t think it’s practical to “invest” $300,000 on grass (where IS he shopping?)

When Webb asked Gray if he’d had the benefit of some crystal ball that could’ve predicted the economic meltdown, Gray said he “could read a newspaper.”

We will make the transcriptions available, but if you need a brief paraphrase of Webb’s comments to the Council and the city (and this is just a loose translation), it was, “Suck it.”

Council Member Diane Lawless provided the benefit of a different institutional memory, reminding Webb of the block-by-block fight the city has endured for the Ben Snyder Block, the Phoenix, the train station—all lost battles. What she said is worth remembering: “successful cities have a PLAN.”

What Council Member Ed Lane said is also worth remembering, “even though it’s just a raw site I think our downtown looks better.”

What Council Member George Myers said is also worth remembering, “I apologize to you Mr. Webb.”

What Council Member Beard said is also worth remembering, “I don’t like what I have seen here today.”

Ace usually has to wait for Skinemax-after-Dark to enjoy the benefits of the passion Council Members Lane and Beard and Myers expressed for the Webbs’ legacy.

But whatever you saw on the 6 o’clock news and 11 o’clock news and the morning paper about yesterday’s showdown between Jim Gray and Dudley Webb at LFUCG, it was old news. Yes—Ace will go on to tell stories in larger context here on the blog and in the print edition every week—and yes, we think that is PART of the valuable role for one of the city’s two newspapers to play.

But the story happened on Twitter—because that’s what made it a real dialogue. Anyone with an opinion didn’t have to sit down and shut up, and no one was limited to three minutes—only 140 characters. And EVERYONE had a say.

Twitter is where you’ll find an ongoing response and CONVERSATION about where we go next as a city. (Of course you’ll read about it here on the blog every day, and in Ace every week—but you will see us on Twitter 24/7. Literally.)

For example, check the hashtag #ChiaPointe. Or #hoodwinked.

And if you’re interested in this ongoing discussion about the many shades of gray we use to define Old Lex and New Lex, here’s what Ace wrote in our 2002 endorsement:

“Gray’s supporters have been labeled among the young and ‘trendy’ downtown set, but it’s equally true that you can’t swing a dead cat in Ashland Park or Chevy Chase without hitting one of his yard signs—neighborhoods that are about as sociopolitically traditional as they come in this town.”

Ace has made our endorsement for 2010. And sure, it’s technically “drafting” a candidate for mayor, since a candidate has to declare candidacy for a “proper” endorsement.

Now… the 2002 cover will just need a little photoshopping.



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