Friday, May 17, 2024

Breaking Up May Not Be So Hard to Do: Secession from High Crime, High Taxes, and Failing Schools is on the Rise

Remember Reverend Louis Coleman (1948 - 2008)? He was a widely known black social activist in Louisville Kentucky, noted for his megaphone and had a national following. He was sometimes referred to as Louisville's "Dr. King". or "Jesse Jackson. Others called him an extortionist or race baiter. 

Rev. Coleman would ago around organizing protects mainly along racial lines outside of businesses  with the media in toe often inspiring fear from local business (mostly white) owners. City government agencies weren't exempt either. Coleman was active from the 1970's until his death in 2008.

Most every owner (or "target" as some called themselves) would typically cave to whatever his demands were, which usually included hiring more black employees, the cleanup of predominantly black neighborhoods, investment in or relocating businesses to the West End as well as "suggestions" of making a substantial financial "donation" to some black owned program (the majority of which were aimed at remedial education and ending substance abuse). Frankly, he was a hoot to watch in action!

Not long before he died in 2008, the megaphone toting activist grew frustrated with the City of Louisville's hiring policies and especially its budget allocation. (he claimed that black areas were being short changed). Coleman demanded more taxpayer money be directed to Louisville's West End, Portland, and Newburg areas which are predominately black (blacks comprise approximately 24% of Louisville's population, Hispanics and Asian populations were nominal). Interestingly Coleman faced resistance, which was  rather unusual.

Coleman threaten to form a movement which would result in the West End leaving Louisville and becoming a self-incorporated city, taking its tax base and voters with them. (while it produced little in the way of taxes, its resident voted solid Democrat). Rather than inspiring angst and caving to his demands, Coleman and his supporters were meet with a mixture of laughs and "encouragement" to pack up and leave.

Knowing his bluff had been called, Coleman quietly backed down. There was no way the West End, even if joined by Portland and Newburg had the tax base to support itself as its own city.  Nevertheless, the idea of splitting off from a high crime city with a largely inept Board of Education, a hamstrung police department, a rubber stamp Metro Council (which replaced a rubber stamped Board of Aldermen with the City/County Pact of 2003), and a string of worthless mayors, hasn't gone away (it's worth noting that since 1969, the City of Louisville has been run by the Democrat Party).

Since the merger between the City of Louisville and Jefferson County in 2003 (and county residents got screwed), there has been widespread public and private conversations about breaking up with Louisville, which has gone from an important production hub to a city of warehouses.

Reverend Coleman's "Achilles heel" in his threat to succeed from the city was the lack of an organization and having an adequate  self-supporting tax base, hasn't been lost on anyone. It seems that the desire to leave is still there, but as of yet, not the organization or money.

In recent years, as things have continued to decline in the city (which now has murders on par or exceeding that of much larger cities like Chicago and Detroit), the lack of high end jobs or even something as basic as quality schools which are safe, the talk about a "municipal divorce" has taken on a more serious tone.

Communities in the Greater Louisville area have begun exploring a number of possibilities ranging from reversing the 2003 City-County merger to the succession of parts of the southwest portion of the county (which also most strenuously opposed the merger) such as the communities of Pleasure Ridge Park (PRP), Valley Station and Prairie Village. Residents in other parts of the county, including Hillview, are starting to explore other options outside of Louisville proper.

So, where to go? Unlike Coleman's threat of creating a separate city, residents are looking to merge with one of the adjacent counties such as  neighboring Bullitt County. The reasons are numerous, but most notably center on the fact that as a whole, Bullitt County tends to be conservative with strong traditional family values, which closely matches the values in Southwest Jefferson County.

The City of Louisville has a long history of being quite liberal, especially in neighborhoods such as the Highlands and Phoenix Hills. Bullitt County and Southwest Louisville are mostly blue collar working class. Bullitt County has a lower crime rate, better schools, a more responsive government, provides better quality services, and best of all, has lower taxes.  

I said earlier that local residents lacked organizational know how (which plagued Rev. Coleman earlier). However, that may have changed. Residents in the Baton Rouge community of St. George faced many of the same issues as those in Louisville may have found a way to break from their decaying city. I've included a link to the story below in bold, which I think you'll find interesting. It may also give county residents in Louisville  a possible roadmap for making a successful break with the city possible.

Of course, the move prompted many to start calling St. George residents the usual name calling such as "racist", "supremacists" "red lining", "segregationist" and so forth. However, the real reason for the break was a dismal school system (and the refusal to allow St. George the opportunity to create a separate school district), high crime and a  highly unresponsive local government. Sound familiar? 

The break came as a result of several years in court with the state's supreme court finally granting the resident's application to break away. The move, according to Baton Rouge's mayor, Sharon Weston Broome (D), members of Metro government, and the NAACP, the break will hurt the city due to loss of the rather wealthy tax base of St. George and result in reviving the budget. She also said they would fight the high court's "mistake" and will continue every effort to force St. George back into Baton Rouge.

St. George is not the only community to break off. Similar movements (called "soft secession") are happening in New Orleans, St Louis, Atlanta, and in other communities. In Oregon, resident of Wallowa County, lead by the "Greater Idaho Movement" are close to breaking away from Oregon and joining with Idaho. Secessionist movements exist in places like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Their are numerous communities throughout the U.S., but especially in parts of California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, which appear little different from communities in Cuba and Latin America. These are also forms of soft secession since there is little or no efforts to assimilate.  

Some survivalists and individuals  wanting to live "off the grid" have grouped together to form their own communities away from society are another form of "soft succession".  There are numerous Hispanic communities throughout the U.S. which are de facto ethnic enclaves totally immersed in their culture, language,values and traditions with no intentions of ever assimilating.  

The Black Panthers and Nation of Islam have long sought to create "separate but equal" zones away from others.  You could refer to certain religious sects such as the "Branch Davidians" led David Koresh in Waco Texas a soft secessionist. You could even argue that the wealthy elite are de facto secessionist too. After all, they tend to live in their own world, tucked away in protected gated communities, with their own values and laws. 

So what are secessionist movements on the rise? For many of the same reasons cited earlier, namely quality of schools, high crime and higher taxes, a breakdown in infrastructure, along with a unresponsive government. Wallowa residents say they have nothing in common with Western Oregon, which is known for being extremely liberal.  So-called "sanctuary" states and cities are de fact forms of this soft succession in that they are defying and operating outside of federal laws for instance.

Even the wealthy members of Congress, the judicial system, and the "nomenklatura" who run the government's agencies and bureaucracy are the same. They have little in common with the people they're suppose to represent. Ordinary laws and behavior don't apply to them. Even their values are different. As author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his 1926 novel, "The Rich Boy" "Let me tell you about the truly rich. They are different from you and me...They think deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves."

Lastly, did you know too that there are 14 unique secessionist movements currently active in the U.S.?  They  range from natural or historical sovereignty, race, ethnic heritage, religion, taxes and excessive government interference or control or nationalism. Whether any of these movements will succeed is matter of both debate and time. What might not seem plausible now may be common sense later on. One thing is for sure, America is more deeply divided than at any time since 1760's in Colonial American prior to our revolution or the late Antebellum period just prior to the Civil War.

As for Louisville residents, what the residents of St. George accomplished may prove to be a useful template. The merger wasn't as billed. Residents in the county, especially in Southwest Jefferson County, have repeatedly come up short since 2003. Perhaps the time has come to step up to the plate and swing for the fence. What do you think? Is it time to split? 

 

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