Mobile: Likes, dislikes & crotchets
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) I like most the friendliness and playful attitude of Mobile people. They do know how to play.
2) I dislike most the superficiality of community values and in many cases the lack of community enforced ethical standards.
3) Thirdly, I am concerned at the frequency with which public programs, policies and funds are manipulated to benefit private interests with total disregard of the costs or benefits to the taxpayers.
-- SVB, ad executive
1) It's difficult to list the "one thing" I like about Mobile because I think it is a confluence of factors all blending together that warms my heart and secures my boots. But, if it is one thing you seek, how about the Southern culture, climate and location (is that 3?). By Southern, I do not mean, "All hail the Stars and Bars, go grab a sheet," rather, I mean the epitome of Southern graciousness without sleaze; class without arrogance; refinement without snootiness; and charm without cheese (obviously, this is generally speaking). Southern hospitality in Jackson, Miss. is not the same as spending time with my family while eating my mother's gumbo sitting on a deck overlooking Ole River (culture, climate, location). It's just a feel you develop based on an appreciation of simple things.
2) Dislike is easy. A lack of appreciation for Mobile's past. Cutting grand oaks and clearing green space or historical properties to make room for progress, i.e., strip malls and big chain drug stores on every other corner, not just Government or Dauphin, is not my idea of progress (that is unless you're a developer or long term landlord).
3) The one thing important to me, but probably not others, is to protect Mobile's identity so it does not become too fractionalized.
-- Gordon Armstrong, attorney
1. It's a great place to live and work.
2. The politics, especially the school board bunk.
3. I like most everything about this city, but we need to get the
school board working properly.
-- Lonn Spencer, Spencer Computer Services
1) I like the physical characteristics of the area. The beauty of the Bay, the serenity of the tree-lined streets, the abundance of green trees and blue skies in every direction.
2) I despair at the continuing disintegration of Mobile's basic city services, such as experienced cops leaving the police department and the deterioration of Mobile's streets.
3) I would never buy a home in Mobile east of Schillinger because I get the feeling that even the nicest neighborhood is only a few blocks away from a crack house. How can I have confidence that my home will retain its value if I can walk a couple of blocks and buy crack or hire a prostitute? Mobile has some unique, gorgeous neighborhoods that are just too damn close to crime-ridden urban areas.
-- Uncle Henry, radio personality
1) Proximity to the water.
2) Nattering 'Nay Bobs.'
3) Our place in history and the traditions of Mobile.
-- Ritchie R. Hurt, executive
1) BEST ... The old southern charm that the City has. Live oak-lined streets with historic old buildings. The antebellum style is my favorite of all architecture.
2) WORST... The crime and feeling I have when I am in crowds in Mobile. I avoid crowds in Mobile no matter what part of town I am in.
3) LASTLY... I believe the "good old boy" clique that has existed in Mobile for generations has hurt the City's progress. It is evident not only in the political realm but even socially i.e. Mardi Gras organizations. This air of eliteness has led to a desire to manipulate and control City Hall, which we all know is just the way it is in the South. This has probably lessened to some degree with the criminal prosecution of elected officials ...
-- Larry Chason, real estate developer
1) The one thing I like most about Mobile is the degree to which we still pay homage to many of the traditions and other aspects of our city's fascinating history. The combination of maintaining positive traditions such as Mardi Gras and embracing the lifestyle -- much of it based on our proximity to water -- that has characterized Mobile for years allows the Port City to possess a unique and enviable identity and character.
2) The one thing I like least about Mobile is also the degree to which we still pay homage to many of the traditions and other aspects of our city's fascinating history. Too often, it seems that there is an unwillingness to depart from the methods and means that have been utilized for years and years, frequently at a great expense to Mobile's ability to grow, evolve and improve. For Mobile to truly grow, evolve and improve, the ways in which everything is done -- business practices, city and county governance, social customs and behaviors -- must themselves grow, evolve and improve.
3) The one thing that I feel most strongly about (and that I think is of less consequence to other Mobilians) is the many missed opportunities and missteps that have plagued Mobile's past. As so many focus with great optimism on where Mobile is today and how poised we are for greatness, I find myself thinking about "what could have been" if different choices had been made at similar junctures in the last 60 years in particular. New Orleans, Savannah and Charleston (among
others) should have nothing on Mobile, yet they are each vastly ahead of us in a variety of ways. Certainly Mobile shouldn't play second fiddle to Birmingham or any other city in Alabama, yet we do. As a result, I can't help but think that mistakes will again be made and that the latest opportunities will be squandered, again relegating Mobile to "the city of perpetual potential.'
-- RFG, Equity sales/trading
1) Mobile's historic past;
2) The humidity;
3) Future growth due to economic development.
-- Rusty Glover, teacher
1) The fact that Mobile is still the size City where it is easy to know most everyone;
2) The two or three power groups who think it is their right to control what goes on in Mobile.
3) How our city is ignored in most instances by the decision makers in Montgomery. It is like Mobile is treated as being in another state.
-- Doug Anderson, lawyer
1. An almost total lack of competition in my chosen field of endeavor.
2. Our overly insular attitude in a global world. The aristocracy certainly was of no benefit to New Orleans.
3. Probably # 2 above.
1) The Southern hospitality and outlook for a positive future;
2) Trash and litter. We have such a beautiful City and County, but so many treat it like a garbage dump. Everyone should clean up their own properties and neighborhoods, keep the City and County clean, and show we are proud of where we live and work.
3) The way so many Mobilians are eager to help and working very hard to make this City and County an even better place to live. Many Mobilians are not aware of the large number of volunteers working all over our City and County, freely giving of their time and resources without expectation of remuneration, to improve all our lives. I am amazed every day at the number of people who are willing and eager to help children. It is all very gratifying.
-- Judge Pamela Millsaps
1) Its potential; of course, some would say that's all it has.
2) The small-mindedness of many of the people here -- people who've never been (beyond) the state border or the Mason-Dixon line.
3) Many resources in Mobile seem to go untapped: its waterfront, its rich history, many fine, qualified, intelligent people, and the artists. I guess I could go on and on.
-- SMG, court clerk
1) One thing that I most like about Mobile would be its proximity to the water and the warm weather.
2) One thing about Mobile that I dislike is the lack of entertainment for my age group.
3) One thing about Mobile that I feel most strongly about (positively) that is of less consequence to other Mobilians is living in Springhill.
-- Harriet Smith, high school student
1) Our proximity to water in Mobile and Baldwin counties, from the gulf to the delta and the opportunities it provides for recreation and renewal. My week goes better when I can spend some time in, on or around one of our bodies of water. (I just got in from sailing!)
2) That there is not, by all citizens and sectors, more appreciation for and commitment to preserve and protect our natural resources and environment for the enjoyment of present and future generations and to protect our health and food supply. We could use less pollution in our air and water, more green spaces and hiking and biking trails around the city. Trees should be required in large asphalt parking lots and more landscaping in general by commercial developers etc, etc, etc!
3) We have a strong civic infrastructure, many citizens from the public, private and non-profit sectors that are committed to improving Mobile and work together as individuals and within their organizations toward that end on a daily basis. I don't think the average citizen fully appreciates that fact or is even aware of it. I think it enables us to accomplish more as a community and to weather the storms (literally and figuratively!) of adversity.
-- RRD, retired administrator
1) Its people (friendliness).
2) Poor drivers.
3) Feel negative on the amount of litter and its impact on the environment.
-- JCG, probation officer
1) Most like - natural resources
2) Least like - tie - the divisive nature of many in the county when it comes to issues of progress and our willingness to allow industry to poison those natural resources for a few jobs (maybe those are related).
3) Feel strongly about - the potential for the downtown area's resurgence to truly raise our stock as a city.
-- ARG, lawyer
1) Access to good dining, although we need a good steamed seafood place!
2) Sorry School Board and the way they are elected. We have no vocational program benefiting the need for skilled employees in the present system. Shaw was a GREAT idea but the Board would have to stop funding their personal projects for the betterment of the whole community. Unless we change the terms so they all run at one time, we will never affect a positive change. We also need to expand the Board with two additional seats, one at-large from city and one from the county. This would stop the foolishness of splitting the monies equally in 5 districts regardless of student needs.
3) Another way across the Bay. Just allows further flight from the folks that earn their monies here and spend in Baldwin County!
-- C. Allen Horn, manager
1) The potential for the city to grow into one of the major port cities in the U.S.
2) The race factor. The city is still polarized, although the city elected a black mayor and has (and has had) a black police chief. The growth rate amongst blacks isn't great when it comes to moving into the corporate structure.
3) The concentration of media power/influence in too few hands.
-- JLF, promoter
1) I like the downtown location of the City on the coast and convenience to the water.
2) The destruction of historic houses and buildings downtown; and all the traffic congestion.
3) There was no long term residential and business planning for Mobile's growth and development over the past 25 years.
-- ACD, area judge