Opinion: Loving Kingman is not enough

First off, I love Kingman. I love Kingman for many reasons: the people, the climate, the history. I'm here because I choose to be here. I certainly did not love this area when I first moved here, but, you know, it grows on you.

What I don't love about Kingman is its leadership, or rather, lack of leadership. This town has no vision; and as far as I can tell, no visionaries. We plod along, year after year, never really getting anywhere. Those of us lucky enough to have jobs watch our children grow up, move away, never to return. Then the maddening cycle begins anew.

Take our City Council (please!) for example. A few years back, the Miner was instrumental in forcing the Council to defund the economic development department. It was run by a guy who decided to waste taxpayer dollars by taking a needless trip to Chicago to further his pipe dream of developing a rail center in Kingman. Not a bad idea, however, he never talked to the railroad here. When we talked to them about this man's grand scheme, they laughed in our faces. They made it more than clear that there was no way they were ever going to build a rail center here.

So, rightly, the Council, which couldn't fire the guy, decided to strip funding from the department, which, of course, defunded him. He moved on (and got a better paying job in California), but before he left, he convinced the worthless city manager to give him a severance package, which the Council had already shot down.

Long story short, the city manager was canned (who now has a lower paying job).

The problem was, the Council never refunded the department. Once bitten, twice shy, I guess. They decided economic development wasn't really that important after all. They made that point blatantly clear when they decided to hire the acting city manager at the time, Jack Kramer, who was an engineer with NO economic development experience.

What really made me mad was the fact that every Council candidate who sat in front of the Miner's editorial board that year when they were running for office adamantly insisted that the next city manager MUST have economic development experience. Less than two months after they were elected, they flip-flopped and threw their support behind Kramer.

Hold on. It gets better.

So now, devoid of any economic development experience, your Council concludes that it can bring industry to town by relying on the airport manager and the Chamber of Commerce. Problem is, the former is only concerned about bringing in industry to the airport, not anywhere actually in Kingman, while the latter is completely focused on tourism, which they're not very good at anyway.

Fast forward to last month. The Council, finally realizing that economic development ain't happening, decides to create an 11-member board of volunteers to bring more industry to Kingman. The board is made up of bright business leaders in the community, unfortunately, the Council doesn't have any money to give them. And even if it had millions of dollars to give them, what should they expect from a board made up of volunteers who dabble in economic development on the side when they're not doing their real jobs.

What I don't get is this: If you're a city that is almost totally dependent on sales tax to keep it going, why wouldn't you commit major resources to increasing the money flowing in? Instead, we have an unfunded economic development department, we have unfair and outrageous impact fees which adversely impact growth, and when a company does show some interest in Kingman, we make sure the process of building in Kingman is as hard as it can be. It's just insane.

You just can't compete against other cities vying for companies when the best you can offer is an unfunded group of volunteers, no one to help companies through the red tape of setting up business here (Peter the Greeter), and no real vision for the future. There are a slew of companies right now looking to get out of California with its high tax rate, and what are we doing to lure them here? Nada.

I'm just a stupid editor of a small newspaper, but it seems to me, if a city needs more money to build fire stations and improve the streets and increase police and such, and the only way to do that is to bring in more sales tax dollars, wouldn't it be smart to solicit more industry, more higher-paying jobs? Shouldn't that be the focus of the city instead of trying to get the residents to approve bonds to pay for infrastructure?

But like I said above, this city, at least in the six years I've been here, would rather try to shake down its citizens while giving us sob stories about how poor they are and how "you get what you pay for," as one recent mayor was quoted.

Boo hoo. I'm not buying any of it. Half the Council wants Kingman to grow at a snail's pace, while the other half thinks we are a retirement community ... and wants us to grow at a snail's pace.

As a character from a movie I never saw said many years ago, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." My sentiments exactly. That's why, I'm sorry to say, Mayor Salem, Councilwoman Janet Watson and Councilman Ray Lyons will NOT be getting my vote this year. I believe they, along with the rest of our so-called city leaders, lack any clear-cut vision to move this city forward.

Our Council, as well as their cohorts, the Planning and Zone Out Commission, are more concerned with the lights on a dentist's damn sign than they are about bringing industry with high-paying jobs to Kingman.

If we don't do something soon to get out of this mind-boggling merry-go-round, our residents will continue to make less money than they could somewhere else, our kids will continue to leave and never come back, and Kingman will continue to have little arts, little culture and nothing to do on a Friday night.