Notes From the Road: Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail
Public Safety: The Alpha and Omega
Friends of mine in the Tourism industry fret that my running commentary on this site appears to be anti-Tourism. They cringe whenever they see a thread that discusses the link between poverty and wages paid to industry personnel. They shudder when they see me explore divvying up the bed tax to help pay for law enforcement. They become indignant at my suggestion that hotels pay for the variances granted by doing something in return, all in the name of being a good neighbor. My friends in Tourism consider all of these ideas to be an attack on their position. All this is intended to be is an open discussion during an election year, when the little people have their best chance at impacting decisions that they are left out of; Tourism has no patience for this process.
It's true: coming to an agreement as to what constitutes a fair wage for housekeepers is sandwiched between to rather remarkable and unique conditions: first, the average housekeeper works only four hours a day (the time in between check-out and check-in) and even if they work seven days a week, it does not add up to a 40-hr. week; second, many housekeepers prefer these part-time jobs so that they can continue to receive food stamps and other benefits. So finding a solution to industry personnel living in poverty isn't as simple as jacking up their pay when some clearly don't want it.
We may continue to argue what's best for workers and not get much farther than we are now. That does not mean that I'm giving up the fight or tabling this discussion. I have a larger point to make: the future of Tourism in Savannah doesn't depend as much upon how many new hotels are being built or what the housekeeper is paid. The future of Tourism in Savannah depends on Public Safety and to what extent tourists feel safe in coming here. Ask any Tourism professional and they'll tell you that the single question asked most of them is not where to stay or where to eat.
The question most asked by tourists is, "Is Savannah safe?"
To that end, as Savannah's next mayor, I return to my original plank in my platform: Public Safety. For every subject we can broach as to the quality of life in this town, Public Safety is a major factor. Crime, Poverty, Tourism, Property Values, Taxes are all linked to Public Safety. Either we fix the SCMPD or we all suffer, local and tourist alike, business owner and customer.
Ah, perhaps we've found a subject that all of us can agree upon...