Khalid Bey, the new Common Councilor for the 4th District, stopped by the monthly meeting of the Cathedral Square Neighborhood Association last week to talk about his vision for downtown and his feelings about the role of city government in the various phases of development. While still relatively new as a civic organization, the CSNA has not yet evolved as a vehicle to represent residents or business owners in the area, but the regular attendance of folks from the neighborhood’s institutions and agencies has demonstrated its viability as a forum for raising issues and facilitating participation in projects, most visibly the flower baskets which were hung on several blocks last year. There was a sense of anticipation at Bey’s appearance, since several in attendance had expressed feelings of being underrepresented on the Council over the past eight years.
Bey brings an intriguing perspective to the Council. He doesn’t like politics — the glad handing, back slapping, smiley facing, door knocking and phone bank calling elements of the business. And he sees it starkly as a business, in which a Councilor is a broker, not an expert.
“In government we pay for the product,” he told the group. “Unfortunately we can’t take our money elsewhere if don’t like the product, or get a refund if it’s broken.”
As chair of the Council’s Economic Development Committee, Bey is very concerned with efficiency.
“We’re not generating enough money locally,” he added, “with 53 percent of our funds coming from the state.”
Ward by ward
For Bey, the real politics is getting people together in a comfortable forum with the people from city government who are in charge of providing services for which, Bey feels strongly, many of his constituents have no working knowledge. He has initiated a series of forums, third Wednesdays of each month, in each of the 4th District wards. He can identify with the downtown folks who have felt underrepresented. An author, he is particularly thoughtful on matters of what he calls racial indifferences.