The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bessemer is not...

...nor will we ever be, San Luis Obispo, CA.

San Luis Obispo is the happiest place in the United States, according to a 2008 Gallup-Healthways poll, which rated the city No. 1 in overall emotional health. This comes from an article in today's Parade magazine.

But we could certainly be much happier as a city than we are now. The key is further down in this post.

Dan Buettner, who wrote The Blue Zones, has a new book coming out later this month, Thrive, in which he explores happiness.

Here are some key elements to the success of San Luis Obispo.

Support the Arts. I have written about the creative class and how embracing those and welcoming them would improve our city.

Boost Biking and Walking. I have written about bringing trails to Bessemer. Here and also here.

Create a Greenbelt. This kind of goes along with the above, as far as Bessemer goes.

Prohibit Drive-Throughs. It's a little late for this. but in San Luis Obispo, they were forward thinking in the 1980's, and banned drive-through restaurants. This helped to keep their obesity rate at 17.6% compared to 26.5% nationally, and God knows what in Bessemer.

Stamp out Cigarettes. San Luis Obispo has one of the lowest smoking rates in the nation, and this stated with their smoking ban in 1990. In Bessemer, there is a smoking ban in restaurants. I promoted this ban for the health of our community. We could expand the ban to our parks and other outdoor public places.

Shrink Signage. I doubt that we could pass a sign ordinance here. I'll tell you about one sign that I saw today that is a huge waste of money. Richard Shelby's money. He has a billboard in Bessemer, a Democratic city, on 14th Street. Lol. Anyway, Here's a sign you need to read before Tuesday's runoff. More on this further down on this post.

Empower the People. In San Luis Obispo's case, the article speaks of a 1968 referendum where the people voted to close some streets and create a plaza. Mission Plaza is now a source of civic pride, a place for their farmer's market and arts and gatherings. Hmmm.

Go back up to the Biking and Walking paragraph and click on the link there. That park involving the railroad trestle could be something the people would be proud of. It would link to Roosevelt Park, which is already popular. It's a big dream of mine to have that park, and link it to Red Mountain Park by skirting our neighborhood along 14th street and using the overpasses already in place (there is at least one missing that would need to be replaced. But this would be a very interesting use of existing historical architecture, and believe me, it would get some attention), which is being developed. An official of the park told me years ago (during the Ed May era) they had approached the city of Bessemer and could get no response. This is another reason we need to send Ed May home on Tuesday. More about this further down on this post.

Oh, we're there. I found a several page flyer on my gate when we returned home headlined "Ed May leading the city to the brink of destruction." Quotes from this blog make the case on that flyer. There is also a section headlined "Bingo Deception" (Mayor May vetoed Bingo more than once, while his law firm was receiving payments for representing Bingo interests in Bessemer, according to the flyer).

Another section is headlined "Appropriated Education Funds Denied," that explains that May's withholding of about 8 million dollars from education (that the city owes) demonstrates gross negligence and hurts our children!

We are not a happy city. We could be much happier if we elect a mayor and council that will represent our city in a proud way. I've written about the candidates that the Bessemer Progressives have endorsed.

Here is what I said about city council candidates that are now in runoffs.

Chester Porter - "wants to revitalize downtown, wants to bring arts to Bessemer, wants to establish a quarterly community clean up day." Chester is running for the seat vacated by Louise Alexander.

Ron Marshall - "Most of the questions asked this group were about economic development, and Marshall was very effective in pointing out his marketing background and how this would be an asset in promoting (or allowing other entities to promote) the city. He also has experience in managing a city department." Ron is running in District 5, and seeks to replace Albert Soles.

Cleo King - "When asked what the number one issue facing the city is he responded "lack of communication." He said we need to change the image of the city and the council needs to set the example. The current council person from District 7, Earl Cochran, has been a disappointment. He answered his first question talking about a failure. the failure of the city to pass his bingo initiative. He answered the second question talking about failure. The failure of the city to be accountable. he sounded too much like Larry Langford when he urged voters to choose him and only then would he reveal his secret revenue generating plan. Ms. Jones was voted out in 2006 because voters had had enough of her. We've still had enough." Cleo is seeking to replace Earl Cochran, who has shown us how to embarrass the city when television cameras are rolling.

And we have endorsed Ken Gulley for mayor.

The Ken Gulley parade rolled by my house around 4 today. The Cleo King parade rolled by about a half hour later.

Do not vote for incumbents.

Vote for Ken Gulley for mayor on Tuesday

Vote for Chester Porter in district 2 on Tuesday.

Vote for Ron Marshall in district 5 on Tuesday.

Vote for Cleo King in district 7 on Tuesday.


Ben Mason said...

You are right about everyone except for Albert Soles. Albert has done a great job and Ron Marshall is a wannabe, failing twice to become mayor.

Sassy said...

Has Gulley taken residency here in Bessemer? Or is he still in Hueytown......

sassy said...

so I see that comments are sensored! If they are not in agreement with your thoughts, They are not posted. How Sad and typical!

Joe said...

First, the word is "censored."

And yes, they are, when they are ridiculously without merit or flat out ignorant.

But since you must be new to Bessemer and unable to read the newspaper or be aware of what is going on around you...Ken Gulley has lived in Bessemer since before the qualification to run for mayor was made.

I will post your comments. But please, make sure you are informed before you write them.

Anonymous said...


How about some facts backed up with documentation. You will have to copy and paste the links.

There is no proof that Ken does not live in the city. True he moved back to run but he has maintained residency in Bessemer long before the qualifying date to run for mayor. While his daughter and wife still live in Hueytown, I can understand Mr. Gulley's explanation that he does not want to ask his daughter to move away from her friends her senior year in school just because he is seeking an elected position and that he wants her to graduate from the school she spent the last couple of years at . To me that says he cares more about family than playing politics and I can respect that and I expect the court find find in his favor. Jessie Burrell in known locally to get involved in lawsuits without merit and was even found by the court in one trial to not be a credible witness:

We currently has a mayor who lies to the citizens and claims that crime is down and that the crime problem in Bessemer is just a perception. When in reality Bessemer has seen an increase in the crime rate ( ) and it currently listed as having the highest crime rate in the state ( ). I have even seen him tell a victim of crime, during a public meeting, that they shouldn't talk about their experience because it contributes to the "negative perception".

Our current mayor has made it a regular practice of taking tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash in exchange for giving out city business. ( and

Ed May terrorizes the city employees, refuses to work with department heads and other elected officials and has been unable to adequately report the city's finances for years. He has given jobs to friends and relatives and has fired those that had supported other candidates in past elections. Many of his firings have been ruled illegal (example: ) and the city has had to pay out a chunk of cash over the years due to this ( ). He has also placed unqualified people in "appointed" or ""acting" positions for which they should not be serving. We haven't had a qualified city clerk in years as the revenue department head has been pulling double duty.

And Ed May keeps lying about his record. Today on his Facebook page ( he states: "When I was elected to the mayor's office in September 2002, the city's financial were a deficit of approximately $8.5 Million due to the mismanagement of the previous administration. Under my administration, the city has had a balanced budget with a positive balance every year since 2002."

According to this Birmingham News article ( the city ended 2002 with a $600,000 deficit, not $8.5 million as claimed by the mayor. In 2006 this deficit ballooned to $2.7 million ( Given that the mayor has refused to allow an audit in years ( we have no idea just how bad off the city is financially.

We need new leadership and I ask everyone to please vote for Ken.

Joe said...

Thanks anonymous. I'm glad you had the time to write this up and post it. The current mayor is out of touch with reality and is a danger to our city because of his denial of crime and his claim that it is just perception.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe. Sorry about the spelling errors. Had to type that one up quick.

The disappointing thing is that it is so easy for our mayor to lie like he does. It is so easy to discredit his statements by a simple Google News or search. It does not seem to bother him one bit to spout inaccurate information.

Now, we have the mayor's supporters running with the whole "Ken doesn't live in the city" crap and the best they can offer is a dismissed lawsuit filed by a person who has been found by the courts in the past to be unreliable. These people just plain don't care about what is true or not as long as their man gets in office.