Doug Smith: Is Huntington, WV. headed down the same path as San Francisco?

Updated 10 weeks ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
Doug Smith: Is Huntington, WV. headed down the same path as San Francisco?
 Although I spent many years away from her, the River City of Huntington, WV is my home town. I spent parts of my boyhood there, but my Father’s moves pulled me far afield and I also grew up in Ohio, Virginia, and California. After High School, I became a Navy sailor, and, as one would expect, saw even more of the world and country. These travels give me a somewhat different perspective on my hometown than those who spend their entire lives hanging their hats on a hook in Huntington.

As a boy, there came the point when I was deemed able to take a bus to downtown on a Saturday to walk around and explore. I can remember (Always!) getting a bag of nuts from the Planter s store, sometimes a BLT from Whites, or a Milkshake at the lunch counter at Kresge Department Store, exploring the stores for Christmas gifts, even enjoying a Disney movie and a box of popcorn.  I loved the smell of the bus fumes (a matter of contention: some did, others despised it. To me, it smelled like Huntington) I remember going with my Dad to watch the Thundering Herd, (or the Blundering Bird, as we called them when they blew it started to lose) play Bowling Green.  There were trees to climb, dirt to dig, pop bottles to collect and sell for pocket money. All in all, it was not such a bad place to be a young boy in the late 50s and early 60s.

 

In 1977, the US Navy sent me off as a 21-year-old young sailor to Mare Island, California, on the North side of the San Francisco Bay, for a 2-month school. I left my young wife and 18-month-old daughter (who imperfectly understood Daddy’s travels: for her I was on the airplane to California for 9 weeks) in WV and went off to further my education as a Submariner. While I was there, I took advantage of my travels to visit Sacramento, Vallejo, and San Francisco. San Francisco was quite the experience.

Doug Smith: Is Huntington, WV. headed down the same path as San Francisco?

I had fresh seafood on Fisherman’s Wharf, saw the Ripley s Believe it or Not Museum, went aboard a replica of The Golden Hind; Sir Frances Drake’s ship, had lunch in Chinatown, and took a cab down Lombard Street, one of the curviest in America. I heard street musicians playing bagpipes, string quartets, jazz Saxophone, you name it. I bought an Aran sweater from an Irish import shop. It was quite a place to visit.

I also saw, somewhat to my surprise, a young man with a long raincoat, with many pockets, strolling along and singing, like street vendors his wares: heroin, cocaine, marijuana. Say What?  I had an inkling then that something was not quite right about San Francisco.

Looking at San Francisco today, they are a city which just committed $ 750,000 a year to cleaning up human feces from the streets from their homeless population. They put out maps of where the poo builds up, so you won’t step in it. A medical convention that had been hosted for years cancelled.

San Francisco is far down the path of decades of extreme progressive rule. They have the sort of mind set that rewards failure, undergirds bad mistakes, and punishes hard work and achievement. And they are a living, or perhaps, dying ongoing experiment proving the premise that what you pay for and encourage, you get more of. So, San Francisco becomes a scofflaw city, welcoming illegal aliens with criminal records, rejecting law enforcement, and achieves notoriety when one of their aliens murders a tourist, and is then acquitted by a jury of San Franciscans.

If you were considering visiting and spending your money in San Francisco after hearing of my adventures in 1977, think again.  San Francisco has chosen to be warm and welcoming to IV drug addicts with free clean needles, violent citizens of other countries, homeless street dwellers, while driving off hard working citizens and businesses with high taxes, over regulation, and the highest cost of a place to live in the country. At the same time, they have looked down their elitist noses at the military, which has a long history in the San Francisco Bay area, cops, and business and condemned them and made them feel unwelcome.

Rudy Giuliani took the approach that what you accept, you get more of and proceeded to instruct the NYPD not to tolerate low level crime such as the “squeegee “guys or broken windows. The result? NY under Rudy became one of the safest big cities in the world, as crime overall took a nose dive.  

And San Francisco? Well, ask Kate Steinle. Wait, you can’t, she was murdered in broad daylight on a busy street in San Francisco. In 2017, SF lost more population (moving, not murdered,) than any other city in the US. 46% of current residents plan to move away. Companies have been bailing in droves. Even the Raiders (from Oakland, just across the Bay Bridge,) are moving the franchise to Las Vegas after this season. (Aside: The Las Vegas Raiders? That conjures all sorts of images.)

Pardon the puny allusion to the Poo Problem, but San Fran is circling the drain.

And as for my erstwhile hometown? If you work there, you get to pay an extra fee each week to the City. If you shoot up there, the City will provide you a nice clean needle, since they are all about the safety of IV drug use. Heaven forbid we let it be dangerous or spread disease. Business does not seem high on the list of Huntington priorities. Huntington manages to lose long time businesses to other locales when the choice in Huntington or virtually anywhere else. Once we could beam with pride seeming a bottle from Owens Illinois, or (if one is a Submariner) seeing a Main Sea Water valve stamped DeLavel, Huntington, WV. Not anymore.  

Can you imagine a parent today letting their 10-year-old repeat my adventures on the bus? No peanut shop for them. Nor would they feel safe to wander the streets of Huntington. Nor do businesses feel safe or welcome, in their revenues or hiring employees nor in the safety of their facilities.

Now, how much of this is a result of the liberal, grasping policies of Huntington political leadership?  I’ll leave that as a thought exercise for the residents of Huntington. Walk down pothole filled streets, past boarded up buildings with desperate “For Sale” signs, consider the ¾ million-dollar poop patrol out scooping up what so far, we still deposit in porcelain and send to a treatment plant in Westmoreland, and pause to wonder: Are we doing the same things? And if we are, how far are we from the “poop patrol” and half the population, the working half, fleeing the old town?

Huntington used to be a heck of a town, not the Big Apple, but not so much wrong with it. Not so much anymore. Maybe it is time to alter course.

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