Life in a Dying Town: When the potential for death makes you famous

A year ago, hardly anyone had heard of Kokomo. After tomorrow, people all over the world will know who we are when the “World Have Your Say” team from the BBC spends the day visiting with Kokomo.

Apparently, the 3rd most dying town in the nation is a good place to investigate the impact of Obama’s first 100 days. Since they are spending part of their time in the UAW hall, I have to wonder if any of it is co-incidental with the fact that tomorrow is also a vote day for the Chrysler unio workers as they vote to ratify ( or not) an agreement between Chrysler, Fiat and the unions. At this point, anything that keeps Chrysler alive and well in this town is going to seem like a good deal, so I really wonder why they even bother voting. Is anyone really fool-hardy enough to vote against keeping the town alive??

The purpose is supposed to be to look at how the first 100 days have impacted us… which made me wonder how they have. More rounds of layoffs have continued, the population continues to drop, which lowers the tax base. No new astounding businesses ave relocated here, boosting the economy. But are any of those things really the responsibility of our federal government? I do not believe they are.

The Government has gotten involved in the automaker’s worlds, which impacts us because of Chrysler, and because Delphi is still financially tied to GM in odd ways. They have also declared Auto Supplier assistance, but that I know of, Delphi has not gotten any of that cash ( not yet, anyway.. not sure if it is coming). Delphi’s Chapter 11 status remains an unsettling factor in the city economy, but there is no indication if Obama’s actions have helped or hindered.

My official verdict? Too soon to tell. As a matter of fact, even when the economy is good I am not sure any president could make a difference in just 100 days any more, unless they were in a second term and did not need to create cabinets an advisors and learn the ropes. We don’t yet know if Chrysler will survive and if Obama helped. We will not know for another couple of weeks if Delphi will survive. Money designated for stimulas plans is still being disbursed, how could we expect to see results.

And how will the BBC visit help? Will they show the wonderful parts of the town? The parks and the families and the fact that we are a relatively safe place to live? Will they show the kids gathering for Children’s Theatre practise tomorrow night? Will they show the local orchestra an the Community band rehearsing? Will they talk to our championship sports and music groups? Will they show the still growing and thriving local restaurants, bars and gathering places? Will the BBC portray us as a town that is working hard to thive, that is a great place to live and raise a family and has great potential for businesses to locate here? Or will they grasp on to the underlying sense of fear and desperation that lingers under every breathe we take and focus on that?

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