History repeating itself

Posted by Lagniappe | Jul 15, 2020 | Letters to the Editor

I am writing in response to Mr. Howell Raines’ op-ed and his follow up Letter to the Editor, referencing the Fairhope waterfront. First, let me say Mr. Raines’ reputation precedes him. In 2003, Mr. Raines and the New York Times parted ways after a scandal that resulted in his dismissal. Now his commentary on the waterfront grant in Fairhope looks like, once again, he may be up to his old tricks.

Let’s be clear: This is a strictly political move that has nothing to do with the waterfront. By peppering his commentary with political comments and then voicing his “conclusion,” Mr. Raines made this issue political. “Desperation” and “imaginary problems” exist all right, but they do not fall on the shoulders of Mayor Wilson. This project is not the mayor’s plan; it is the citizens’ plan and always has been. The burden falls on the shoulders of the worst council to ever sit in Fairhope’s council chambers.

A flyer that Mr. Raines is circulating also has many false statements, just like the commentary. The flyer is a political vehicle with several flat tires. First, the bluff is not going to be graded away. Second, the assertion that “the plan will deny access to the entire area for many months” is likewise false. Mr. Raines claims the beach area will not work, which is patently untrue. The Grand Hotel has a beach design by the same engineers working on this project. At 77 years old, perhaps Raines doesn’t want a beach, but many families and kids heartily disagree.

If Mr. Raines’ motivation is to confuse the general public and create a political issue, then he has done a good job. However, he shows no compassion for ADA requirements or the individuals depending on ADA specifications. His concern would prevent any additional parking on Scenic 98 running parallel to the park — which would be the access point for wheelchairs. There are residents who live along the so-called “bluff” who do not want any more tourists or locals in their front yards, and Mr. Raines may be representing them, but certainly not the citizens of Fairhope.

Mr. Raines did not mention that this is the first infrastructure project on the waterfront in 50 years. His claims of a “historic bluff being destroyed” is pure fantasy. Ecor Rouge Bluffs, about two miles north, are in Montrose. Raines’ “historic bluff” is a cutback left after the lower park was built many, many years ago. It is unusable property covered with kudzu. What is proposed is a 5 percent grade, ADA compliant walkway, safe for disabled veterans and citizens to reach the lower park.

Mr. Raines admitted he was six weeks late even reading about the project and never went to a meeting.

Likewise, he never addressed the City Council; never responded to the survey that 570 Fairhope citizens participated in; never said a word to the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council; never spoke to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; and never said a word to the Department of the Treasury.

What he did was write a poison pen letter with the political intent of satisfying the status quo. He has alluded that the ink is drying on the contract for the waterfront project, which again is false. Mayor Wilson has pledged to the citizens of Fairhope that “citizen engagement will continue and everyone will have the opportunity to participate in the waterfront plan.”

Mr. Raines, please attend meetings so you can understand what is really happening. And check your sources. This has been a serious problem for you in the past.


Francis Paul Ripp

Paul Ripp is the founder of the not-for-profit consumer organization The Ripp Report and the “Backstory Podcast,” covering politics and ATTENDING THE MEETINGS in Fairhope for 16 years.

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13 Comments on "History repeating itself"

  1. Anonymous | July 15, 2020 at 9:13 pm |

    Sigh….Journalism is dead.
    Anybody coming from the New York Times is NOT a journalist but rather a biased activist with an agenda who uses the media to push his or her narrative
    The Mobile Press Register is just lazy but Raines is actively misleading what is left of his readers

  2. Old Fairhopian | July 16, 2020 at 9:29 am |

    If we chose not to embrace change, we would still have tracks running from the bay through the center of town. We would still have the old ramshackle casino and wooden pier.
    A professional engineering group has been engaged to design and create and make positive changes to the waterfront area. It is still in the planning stage. There are no frontloaders, backhoes, or construction crews on site ready to demolish our existing footprint.
    Shame on Mr New York! This is about politics and coloring outside the lines to report the facts.
    This is an opportunity for a grant to cover the majority of the costs. This is about a Mayor that went about her business while the council was more concerned and busy trying to disparage her.

  3. Truth Teller | July 16, 2020 at 10:21 am |

    Anonymous – He’s been gone from the NYT for 17 years. And holding them as a paragon of virtue, as Ripp appears to be doing, is ridiculous. A centrist editor resigned just this week due to bullying by coworkers and supervisors for voicing her own opinions that were not in line with theirs. Free speech is vanishing before our very eyes. But yes, let’s focus on where he was working 17 years ago.

    • Francis Ripp | July 16, 2020 at 1:28 pm |

      17 years? He is doing the same thing now, most of what he printed was false and slanted for political reasons. Go to the meetings

      • Anonymous | July 16, 2020 at 7:29 pm |

        Sounds just like the Ripremf. Pot calling the kettle black!

      • Godfather | July 16, 2020 at 8:19 pm |

        Here is a deal : We go to the meetings and Howling goes back to New York.
        Now that sounds like a good offer that he can’t refuse

  4. Howling was paid by catalyst to write lies. Scott Boone is a desperate little man. I see him running around town asking who’s running. No is running scared of you and YOUR CATALYST council!!!

  5. Jack Burrell, Robert Brown and Boone all made bank off the land deal.
    They will be asked during the campaign to splain themselves.
    Who wants to be they plead the fifth?

  6. Anonymous | July 16, 2020 at 1:55 pm |

    Ripp, you destroyed a whole political-fixing industry. One time Stacey RULED this county. But you just had to expose the politicians who worshiped Lyn Stacy and his proteges Elliot and Haygood.
    Now only Boone is left and he doesn’t have the brains to pour piss out of a boot.

  7. NY Times is a step above al.com, the courier and gukf coast newspapers. But not by much. Raines is a deflated gas bag with a leak.

  8. I would vote for anyone running against the current council members. Why isn’t anyone challenging them?

  9. Heard some explosive gossip at the rec center today…

    John Melanos running for mayor is a swinger!
    BP ac/dc


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