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Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times

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Mobile: Likes, dislikes & crotchets
(Part 1)
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
What do you like about Mobile? What do you dislike? What is the one thing about Mobile that you feel most strongly about -- positive
or negative -- that you think is of less consequence to others?

MBT posed those questions to a few dozen area residents and got a variety of perspectives

1) The diversity (and I don't mean racial). The bay; the beach close by; history shaped by multiple successive European masters; proximity to Florida and Mississippi; Mardi Gras coexisting with a strong Papist influence; barbecue melding with gumbo.
2) Hypocrisy in leadership. Why is it alright for (an opinion leader) to self righteously campaign for tax increases to the point of belittling those opposed, (while simultaneously) forgetting that it is exempt from the payment of most taxes, a privilege it guards by lobbying with the legislature? Why is monolithism within the black community acceptable, but within the white community a mark of racism? How can our public servants not wither from guilt and embarrassment over the pay and benefits advantage they have over those they "serve"?
3) I really like the Mobile Bay Times, which I don't think any other Mobilians care about. Just kidding.
-- CAP, attorney/developer

1) I love the abundant recreational opportunities around Mobile. Fishing, hunting, birding and all the other good things we have in our area. You can be fishing  with a cane pole or be out in the Gulf on a big boat, but you can, at least, be having fun.
2) I dislike the negativism which seems to permeate the local scene. The type of attitude you see in "Sound Off". If someone was handing out $10 bills on the corner, they would want to know why he wasn't giving Twenties.
3) Too damn hot!
-- James M. Hirs

1) The ambience is what I like most about Mobile. Mobile has southern charm, polite people, economic, cultural and athletic activities in close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and great restaurants.
2) The low priority we place on public education.
3) The potential that a vibrant downtown has for our community.
-- Pete Burns

1) I most like living here from mid-September through June.
2) I least like living here July through mid-September.
3) I feel strongly about having much more and much earlier foreign language instruction for all children in all grades in our schools so that we build a multi-lingual citizenry for the Mobile area to compete in the world-wide economy we're in, but I don't think most people in this area see that as a very high priority. As a port region with a number of large international companies as major employers, I think that's a big mistake.
-- Bradley Byrne

1) Being a "water" city which brings many opportunities: beaches, cruise ships, and just the uniqueness of the beauty and the tranquility of being near/on the water. Very few cities in America can enjoy this luxury. Nothing like riding across the bayway on a beautiful day. That's when it hits me -- the "wow" factor of where I/we live.
2) a) High city taxes which is driving people to leave. It is insulting and nothing short of hurtful to those who can least afford the basics and b) the airport situation. Doing the same old thing with the same old people will get you the same old outcome. There is no reason the size of Mobile shouldn't keep people from going out of here instead of Pensacola who is cleaning our clock on sales. Ridiculous! (SORRY: these were a tie)
3) The tax structure. I do not understand why Mobilians aren't storming the city to lower their taxes. It is harming us while we allow it to be an albatross for us all.
-- Terry Lathan

1. Friendly people.
2. Rude drivers and speeders.
3. I think we need much stronger law enforcement as it relates to drug dealers.
-- John H. Holland

1) It is home.
2) It is not safe. Crime is out of control.
3) I have NO confidence in the current city leadership.
-- BRZ, local businessman

1. Recreational opportunities!!! We have everything in easy reach. World class golf; fishing, hunting, birding; sailing and other water sports. Mobile Bay is the center piece.
2. Mardi Gras. It is fun but divisive. Out of towners are excluded from the society's and the races maintain separate society's. NOT a plus for a city trying to move forward.
3. The absence of non-partisan local judicial elections is a negative. Judges should not have to go through political primaries.
-- FC, Mobile attorney

1. Water access.
2. Pervasive negativity. Why can't we be more positive?
3. University of South Alabama sporting events. We are fortunate to have NCAA Division 1 athletics in Mobile, but we do not support the teams as a city.
-- Robert Alan Alexander

1) Our general quality and pace of life absent peak hurricane season.
2) Small town mentality and absence of thoughtful differences in opinion.
3) The need for more diversity in everything and (the need to) become more national and global in our thinking while still taking great pride in what our city has to offer.
-- Christ Coumanis

1. Wonderful real people who are sociable and will work.
2. Reduced expectations by citizens.
3. Jobs for our young people. We accept the fact a large share of our best and brightest will go elsewhere to find opportunities.
-- Scott Hunter

1) The unique culture.
2) The summer heat/humidity.
3) The emphasis in the education system towards sports at the expense of the arts and, to a certain extent, academics rather than co-exist equally.
-- Catt Sirten

1) The courteousness and manners of the people. The history and 'feel' of historic homes and buildings.
2) The expansion of government and the use of city and county government as an employment service.
3) The lack of emphasis of many on demanding that their children do well in school and obey school authorities.
-- Clay Barclay

1) Like most: That after sleeping our way through decades that saw other Southern cities prosper, we've had recent leadership that, in spite of a few bobbles, seems to have us well on the road to orderly and sustained growth.

Pollution is less, and "clean" industry is being courted.  The rebirth of our port, both commercially and for tourism, is on the upswing, and programmed for success. There is new attention to the arts, and to education. Mobile is a good place to live and work, and getting better.
2) Like least: The residue of negativism that just won't go away. Read SoundOff in the new and improved Mobile Press Register. Who are these people, who seem to live to complain? My guess is that, largely, a bunch of losers, who have accomplished little in their own lives, and live to demean the efforts of others.
3) Feel most strongly about: Stay the course. Court high tech industry.
Improve our educational system. Continue to work to make our society more inclusive. Reward excellence.
-- JE, real estate executive

1) One thing I like most about Mobile -- diverse economic base and the fact we are on the move here in Mobile more than any time I am able to remember and I will be 72 next month!!!
2)  One thing I dislike most about Mobile -- lack of cooperation in making Mobile the #1 city in Alabama by extending the city limits and working together to provide a better life for our citizens.
3) I feel strongly that we should promote our city and to stress all of our positive projects going on now such as the RSA tower, Brookley development, USA and other institutions of higher learning, medical facilities, convention center and other attractions. So many people do not understand what we have here in Mobile and it is happening without casinos, which we NEVER need!!!
-- Ken McElhaney, Sr

1. Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It's wonderful.
2. Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane threat.
3. Location of the I-10 bridge. To place it south of the tunnel will be a disaster for the future growth of this city. It should utilize the Cochrane/Africatown Bridge with a tie-in loop from I-10, passing by the airport and looping around into I-65/I-165.
-- William N. Yeager Jr.

1) Mardi Gras.
2) Lack of support for local sports.
3) The idea that only people from Mobile can make a difference here. Most progressive cities have moved past this notion.
-- Frank Fowlkes

1) The diversity of recreational activities available nearby.
2) The irreversibility of past urban planning failures. 
3) The dearth of excellent restaurants.
-- Robert T. Cunningham

1) Linkage to coastal waters, physically and historically.
2) The humidity.
3) Public commitment to and ignorance of the impacts of “sprawl.”
-- George Crozier

1) Like: Big heartedness of so many people. A willingness to go help, as we saw during the Katrina aftermath, even though things were not 100% at home.
2) Dislike: The attitude of some that they sit at the right hand of God and that disagreement is tantamount to devil worship or shows a lack of patriotism. These individuals seem to have no appreciation for the fact they have been and are often just plain wrong on some issues. They have quick, simplistic answers to everything and often respond without regard to the long-term effect of their decisions. Growth will come from embracing our differences, not polarizing the differing positions.
3) Positive/negative: I am concerned, in a negative way, that the politics of many that anything (ex-Mayor Mike) Dow did is bad will have an adverse effect on many of the growth opportunities. We have a chance to make some continuing progress, with the election of Sam Jones being one step in a positive direction, but unless the attitude of suspicion is lifted, we will be doomed to repeat old mistakes.
-- Al Pennington

These answers change from week to week.
1. Low cost of living, slow lifestyle.
2. Backward, partisan political leadership.
3. Incompetent, brainless, corrupt, ignorant School Board.
-- TBG, local ad executive

1) Winter weather.
2) Cheap development.  Such as the cheapness of the appearance of our commercial and residential developments (such as clear cutting the land), and the failure to re-develop older areas. Rundown shopping centers. No sidewalks. No landscaping. Every inch paved. Compare that to some cities we would like to be compared to.
3) Our remoteness from the rest of the state, which is more than geographic. This is reflected in lack of television coverage of important events, especially in Montgomery, but in other places. The stations won't spend the money on that coverage, but they would if the market demanded. This mindset infuses the entire community and places us at a disadvantage when working with other people around the state.
--NBF, Mobile attorney

1) Living on the Gulf Coast with the wonderful people (for the most part) and the area itself. Nice winters, cheap taxes, good housing and a great area ... with the exception of hurricanes. But then, one does what one can  :-) .
2) The attitude that we as a community vote against issues rather than "for" issues and that there is a continual negative attitude towards expanding the city industrial and commercial base ... allowing the city to grow. i.e. -  the "old Mobile" attitude of keeping things the same ... we have always done it that way or we have never done it that way .. which covers virtually every topic.
3) I suppose that I feel very strongly about getting the city to move forward, as I mentioned above, and in that light most citizens don't keep informed on the real issues such as the expansion of the Port facilities here which is being held hostage in the legislature (mostly by the North Alabama & Birmingham politicians), the constitution of the state which is antiquated and needs revisions and the fact that we seem to have tons of job openings  with no applicants yet a plethora of complaints about "no jobs."  I guess that's it for me and that includes our politics such as annexation. I have high hopes for the new mayor and restructuring of the city government. But the bills are now due for Mike Dow's lets spend it on silly things, the string of pearls idiocy. And we are going to have to pay for it now. I mean why would you pay someone to bring a business here when they would bring it anywhere else at their own expense? And so it goes. Hope this helps. Be safe.
-- ABH, local law enforcement officer

1) What I like - that Mobile is not the size of Atlanta so I don't have to deal with massive traffic; and the water is a big plus.
2) What I dislike - getting into my 130 degree car in the summertime....but if it was always 75 and sunny around here we would have 5,000,000 people living in the area. Besides, I'll take the hot over freezing ass temperatures that the Yanks have.
3) I just like the pace of life. I don't want it any faster, and I don't want to deal with people who are less friendly than Mobilians.
-- BCG, local accountant