I have to admit, the name fits.
The story about impending "physical activity" at the former Oak Ridge Mall is not one to get excited about; they’re going to drill a geothermal test loop. They want to find out it it’s possible to more efficiently heat and cool that empty shell? What could be more efficient that having it locked up, as it is now?
The real story here is not the storyline, nor the editorial that follows. The story is that people — whether the people commenting online, or the editorial staff themselves — are blaming the city leadership for the fact that our city center is empty, forcing many Oak Ridgers to Knoxville to shop.
Folks, the mall is privately owned. Every time our city leadership has attempted to do anything to bring in fresh retail opportunities, citizens fire up a petition and hold a referendum to quash any government involvement in potential progress.
Don’t blame our City Council; they’ve tried, but been stopped by referendum every time. If you signed one of those petitions, or voted "no" in a referendum, look in the mirror for the leader who failed to fix our city’s biggest problem.
Next in the blame line are the few remaining anchors on the site, who’ve exercised their rights to say NO to potential new businesses who might increase competition to their stores. But, with no competition, there’s also nothing to draw traffic, nothing to entice those stores to carry better lines of merchandise (we tend to get the cast-offs that didn’t sell elsewhere), no synergy.
It would make just as much sense to blame the Oak Ridger. After all, when the paper was locally owned, we had a vibrant shopping center. The owner, publisher and editor lived here, shopped here, and helped set an example. Today, none of those are true. Therefore, it must be the newspaper’s fault, right?
No. It’s our own fault. The fault of the citizens who signed to govern by referendum.
If you’re going to throw someone out, that’s where you need to look.