Ten Troubling Trends in Tinseltown


1.   Most manufacturing jobs have left. This is a direct result of CEO's wanting to cut costs, so that they get more pay, by hiring cheap labor, cheaper labor, the cheapest possible labor they can find. Anywhere. This fault in capitalism has seriously hurt Galesburg.

2.   The prison coming to town was a mistake. Looking at and accounting for all the variables involved in an unbiased look at what it has done to rural communities is a difficult task that hardly anyone has wanted to do, in particular, the state. Galesburg has been one of the towns where everything came together just right to cause a disaster. And we got one.

3.   A city manager vs. an elected mayor seemed like a good idea. It wasnÕt. Towns with an elected mayor, some with a hired city manager, under the mayor, have fared much better than a town with a city manager supposedly in charge, but not elected or accountable to the citizens. Galesburg needs to go back to an elected, full-time mayor. It was politics, itÕs still politics, and it will always be politics.

4.   It would be nice if the Galesburg city council and the Knox county board talked to one another occasionally. The Galesburg city council has always prized itself as something above and beyond approach. It would be nice if the county was the same as the city, as for instance Indianapolis is. Then you only have one council-board to deal with. They can be one and the same. But that would never happen here. Such prosperous places as Rio, Herman, Ontario, and Maquon would never go for it.

5.   Knox College should be a much bigger influence in Galesburg and Knox County than it ends up being. They remain pretty isolationist. There are some really talented, smart people at Knox who could be more involved in the community than they end up getting. Maybe itÕs part of the whole mystique that colleges try to conger up. Anyway, IÕd like to see more of them get out of themselves and into the community. WeÕre losing a lot of potential. It hurts both the community and the college.

6.   Young people are leaving at an alarming rate. Obviously, number one effects this. Our kids are going where the money and opportunities are. Chicago has enough of GalesburgÕs young adults to start a neighborhood. This will have a tremendous effect on Galesburg in the future, and it wonÕt be good.

7.   Galesburg has not had a viable, effective, economic plan in the last 50 years. It is unrealistic, outdated, ineffective, and has resulted in little more than lies, misleading information, and rah–­rah stories in the local paper. Our economic plan has favored the hometown businessmen, real estate agents, and the farmers owning the land surrounding Galesburg. The Homeboys. Short of that, all you got to do is look around. Unfortunately, there are no signs that this is changing. The Railroad Hall of Fame is but another example. This continues to be one of GalesburgÕ s more troubling trends.

8.   Speaking of the railroad. A diabolical dilemma that is both our salvation and undoing. We desperately need more overpasses and less honking, but the city council doesnÕt have the ability, brains, or balls to do anything about it. The Federal Railroad Administration's final rule on locomotive horns at rail grade crossings allows for Òquiet zonesÓ from 24 hours a day to just at night. It can, and has been, done in many communities. DonÕt let the city council tell you otherwise. Go to www.fra.dot.gov to review the rule, or e-mail Lyn Hartley, director, public projects, at lyn.hartley@bnsf.com and tell him why you want Galesburg hornless. IÕm sure heÕll be delighted to listen and give us a hand.

9.   Related to number two, Galesburg is in the clutches of a major drug epidemic. Obviously, this is not unique to Galesburg, but for some explainable reasons, Galesburg has been hit harder than similar rural communities. This is a hard thing to get a handle on, but someone had better try.

10. Number ten is the most tricky, yet fundamental to success. Attitude, coupled with leadership. IÕve seen a lot of attitude, little leadership. Attitude comes from those who want everything that happens in Galesburg to help their bottom line. Businessmen, real estate agents, bankers, everyone who claims to be anyone in Galesburg. Takes us right back to The Homeboys. Looking at GalesburgÕs history, this has always been an issue. ItÕs not that itÕs a particular problem to Galesburg. You can see the same pattern in many small towns. But Galesburg cannot shake free from the hold. In the end, it has kept us mired in the good-old-boy syndrome for the last 50 years. Hardly anyone seems to notice where it has taken us.