Ah, December. The most hopeful month of the year, and the most commercially depraved. No wonder this is America's favorite time of year. Love it, hate it, or do both at the same time, 'tis nevertheless the season to make wish lists. With those ambiguous feelings in mind, here is my annual wish list for local newsmakers and a few others. It's not likely that many of these wishes will be granted, but — and correct me if I'm wrong here — isn't this the season for believing in miracles?
• For Crisis Assistance Ministry, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Urban Ministry Center, Loaves & Fishes, the city's homeless shelters and all other groups dedicated to helping those in dire need, we wish a sudden tidal wave of money. It could come from another new-and-improved initiative by the Foundation for the Carolinas, which has done great work raising money to help the needy since the Great Recession began. Or, the cash could flow from a spurt of guilt-giving by the wealthiest of the Uptown bankers, who may finally feel just a teensy bit responsible for being part of the near-collapse of the entire damned American economy!
• For Mayor Anthony Foxx, we wish success in his ongoing campaign to consolidate county and city governments. It's a common sense move that's been talked about for decades and would save money; if handled correctly, those savings could actually allow for a reduction in property taxes — hear that, Republicans? Foxx's biggest foes in his quest, besides the usual governmental systemic inertia, are County King/Manager Harry Jones and City Manager Curt Walton, both of whom oppose consolidation because they'd have to work harder and they know that at least one of them would lose his job.
• For families of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, or stationed at any of the nearly 1,000 military bases our government keeps (and largely keeps quiet about) around the world, we wish a safe homecoming for loved ones as soon as possible. Better yet, we wish for a change in our government's 60-plus-year policy of trying to impose our will on the rest of the world — a much-needed transformation that would take many of our men and women out of harm's way, while freeing up hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild our creaky infrastructure. Better yet, if this wish is granted, it will make it unnecessary to repeat it every blessed year.
• For Rep. Sue Myrick, who has made a career out of being afraid, we have two wishes. From heavy metal music and terrorist-run convenience stores to drunk-driving Hispanics and Hezbollah agents entering the U.S. by way of Mexico, Rep. Myrick is terrified of all of them. We wish some chill-out time with that Bible she thumps so vigorously. Specifically, we wish she will have time to ponder these verses: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1); "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27); and, of course, "Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." (Luke 2:10). We also wish that Sue considers the wisdom of that "12 years and out" term limits pledge she made waaaay back in 1994.
• For Jennifer Roberts, the former county commission chair, we wish a successful career in the General Assembly, where her strong support of schools, the environment and the social safety net are sorely needed. But Ms. Roberts, take note: Once you get to Raleigh, you'll be dealing with a big roomful of Harold Cogdells and Bill Jameses, so here's a second wish for you: karate lessons.
• For Harold Cogdell, the new, underhanded county commission chair, we wish good luck in surviving politically after crafting an alliance with the GOP to oust Jennifer Roberts and gain his groovy new title. Seriously, good luck with that.
• For suburban commuters and other people who live outside the city but flood into Charlotte every morning to work, here's a wish for a city payroll tax. Numerous municipalities use these to avoid the ghetto-ization of their inner cities, and we need one too, especially in light of a recent report detailing the immense explosion of people who have moved out of the city for the wilds of the county (or counties). It's simple: if you work here and contribute to the wear on our roads, add to our air pollution and use our services, it's up to you to also contribute to the overall upkeep. Otherwise, your picture shows up in the dictionary next to the definition of "parasite." Mr. Mayor, are you still reading?
To all of you out there in weekly newspaper land, thanks for reading — and have Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas, and Happy Merry Everything.