A baker's dozen of good ideas: That's what I came up with when asked to contribute a pithy set of good ideas to this issue. (By the way, with rare exception, I think all of the ideas that I've published in this newspaper so far, are at a minimum, good. ... Just saying.)
So, here goes:
Good Idea #1: Let every member on every mayor-appointed and council-confirmed city commission and board hand in his or her resignation—immediately. Let's be clear, with rare exceptions, most of these commissions and boards have not distinguished themselves, and in business or other organizations, their poor performance and meager results would have targeted them a long time ago for replacement.
I have more. As a condition of his or her appointment or reappointment, every board or commission member must participate in a diversity-training curriculum. Bring in the company that does the training for Leadership Jackson, but add a twist: You must graduate from the training to be eligible for service.
Good Idea #2: Flood control. What say we tell the new mayor to put together a group of folks to come up with a flood-control plan, once and for all? They'll have to include everyone who might be affected by the plan, upstream and downstream. They must concentrate on a governmental solution, and it must be open and transparent.
What other self-respecting city would allow a private developer to hijack a vital process like this?
Good Idea #3: Let's invite JR, the semi-anonymous (that's how TED Talks describes him) French photo artist to come to Jackson, and involve him in the city and state commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. And then see what he comes up with. Or do it on our own.
Good Idea #4: Let's eliminate Downtown Jackson Partners. It's one more entity that ostensibly encourages development and revitalization, and it's the least publicly accountable and—how shall I put this—democratic. Can anyone make a valid argument that DJP serves the interests of the entire city, and that the useful things it does couldn't be done by another group or city agency?
Good Idea #5: Let's do a Jackson Lip Dub (see the Grand Rapids, Mich., version at jfp.ms/lipdub). We can change the song, but the whole city has to be involved and come together on one day to do this. Grand Rapids got 5,000 people involved.
Good Idea #6: Let's do away with the tax on real-estate improvements. It's a bit too complicated to explain here, so go to jfp.ms/rei to read up on it. Essentially a land value tax (or site valuation tax) is a levy on the unimproved value of land only. It's been used in other places, most notably Pittsburgh, Pa., in the 1970s.
Good Idea #7: Create a StoryCorps booth centrally located in Jackson, or outfit a StoryCorps van that can drive around the city. The StoryCorps folks "do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters."
Good Idea #8: Become a City of Service (see citiesofservice.org). The Cities of Service initiative tasks cities to develop "a comprehensive service plan focused on matching volunteers and community partners to the areas of greatest local need." Appoint a chief service officer to lead the effort, who would report to the mayor as other department heads. And hold her or him accountable.
Good Idea #10: We need a municipal sports team. No, not that kind, I mean a municipal sports team. The mayor and the city council could field, say, a basketball team. Team members have to work together if they want to win. Have them play other municipal teams from towns and maybe even some state agencies.
Good Idea #11: Let's get Aereo (aereo.com) to come here, making television affordable ($8 to $12 a month) again. "Aereo lets you watch regular TV on any device, not just your TV, and lets you record shows for later viewing with DVR," the website states. "You can get all this without a cable box or antenna, because Aereo has created tiny antennas and connected them to the Internet."
Good Idea #12: "Let a hundred flowers bloom," Mao Zedong said. That's self-explanatory.
Good Idea #13: "Nobody's free till everybody's free." —Fannie Lou Hamer
Put it on the city seal, the city website, the city letterhead and business cards. Conduct a day of mass city chanting: nobody's free till everybody's free, nobody's free till everybody's free, nobody's free till everybody's free.
Dominic DeLeo is a communications consultant, has managed political campaigns, served two terms as a councilman in upstate New York, and is a survivor of 20 years in the advertising industry. He writes the "All Politics is Local" blog for the Jackson Free Press.