Forward four All, the nonprofit that’s looking to orchestrate an unholy land grasp among Anniston and Oxford, has a spokesperson. It’s Charles Turner.
He wrote the draft of a legislative bill that seeks to de-annex nearly 10,000 Anniston citizens — all of Ward 4 and slivers of other neighborhoods — and slide them into Oxford. He is the face of the nonprofit whose members, as he informed The Star, are involved that “so long as we’re in Anniston, we received’t get the overall rate when we promote our homes” due to lengthy-festering problems with the town’s majority-black public faculties and poverty prices.
Anniston’s Ward four is floor zero of this land snatch. It wishes a spokesperson — both to protect it towards deannexation or shepherd it into Oxford.
It ought to be Millie Harris.
She is Ward 4’s City Council member. She needs to dominate those discussions — not Mayor Jack Draper, and without a doubt no longer Ward three Councilman Ben Little, who commonly dominates the whole thing. Yet, when Draper remaining week mentioned a probable City Council resolution in opposition to forwarding four All’s notion — a decision Draper assumed would receive unanimous council help — this is what Harris told her council colleagues:
“I represent all of Ward 4. This isn’t always approximately me in my opinion; I listen to each facet of it. I understand your frustration, and I have individually said I’m towards this. But I’m going to abstain from balloting on any of this because I represent all the human beings” in Ward 4.
Granted, Harris is in a horrible bind, however, that’s politics; it’s equally cutthroat and profitable; she signed up for this. She’s a Ward four resident with deep ties to Anniston’s over-the-mountain neighborhoods. And it’s clear she’s getting hammered by using Ward four citizens who both agree with Turner’s idea or those like me who accept as true with it would be a loss of life sentence for Anniston’s fragile fireplace-and-police pension fund, its future monetary development efforts, and its recognition.
Anniston cannot withstand the visible of middle- and excessive-income white residents fleeing to a majority-white neighboring metropolis and faraway from its majority-black schools and lower-earnings neighborhoods. Those optics could be debilitating.
Harris wasn’t elected to be Ward 4’s stenographer and assist measures totally primarily based on citizens’ needs. Politics isn’t polling. She was elected to represent Ward four’s nice pursuits, something they will be, even supposing it earns her biting criticism. She turned into elected to guide. And said in a council work consultation that she could abstain from vote casting on a de-annexation resolution centering on her ward because she hears “each aspect of it” turned into unlucky optics and unwise politics.
I become taken aback, as have been others.
Credit Harris, however, for forsaking that stance.
“Needless to mention, this week has been a exceptionally worrying time to reflect,” she informed me Friday afternoon, “with my mind evolving from serving the needs of all Ward four citizens, thus abstaining from balloting to one in every of concluding that the best interest of our liked town is to oppose deannexation through joining our council in a unanimous vote for a decision to oppose.”
Now Anniston’s City Council can act as one. Council participants can hold arms in solidarity and say what they ought to — that Forward four All’s proposal endangers the metropolis’s future, doesn’t empower or improve Anniston’s schools and at its coronary heart is primarily based largely on improving personal actual-property holdings of a secretive organization of broadly speaking white middle- and excessive-income Annistonians.
At the next City Council assembly, Harris ought to difficulty Forward four All a challenge: Meet us in Wards 2 and three, wherein poverty isn’t unusual and wishes are exceptional. Work with us to improve housing options there, to locate answers that decrease unemployment. Use your apparent sway with nation Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, to unite, not divide. Drive over the mountain to Woodstock Avenue and join us as mentors to Anniston High School students. Don’t run away. Don’t give up. Don’t giggle at the optimism many Annistonians still hold.