Cliff Schrader: YouTube Video Recounts Port Huron's Sad Decline

Cliff Schrader: YouTube video recounts Port Huron's sad decline - "There once was a time when we thought we had a piece of paradise.

"Then the politicians decided to roll the dice.

"With our futures at stake, they had to go and play their damn games.

"It's a shame what's happened to our small border town." -- Terry Stroh's YouTube music video, "Our Small Border Town."

Stroh's contemporary Western song seems to be spreading like wildfire. It is Stroh's heartfelt expression of love for his hometown and what happened to it:

"Old money to blame; it's clear nothing's the same."

Community Foundation of St. Clair County President Randy Maiers nailed it with his Tuesday Times Herald guest column, "Community's willingness to give as strong as ever." Maiers noted that decades ago, business owners and industrialists -- Riggins, Moak, Crull, Weil, Acheson and others -- made vital things happen in our community.

Beyond their business endeavors, they built public institutions -- McMorran Place, the YMCA, our two hospitals, Memorial Stadium and the list goes on.

They created philanthropic institutions such as the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and the United Way of St. Clair County. Those were the days -- no dream seemed impossible. In those days, we were a community run by business entrepreneurs. They were the deciders. It was their skin in the game. If the community needed something, these leaders simply made it happen.

Decades later, our world has changed. In River City today, the great leadership of past generations -- people who laid their money and reputations on the table -- has become the leadership of "influencers."

With no power or money of their own, they attempt to gain power merely by influencing and controlling your money. In River City, this has led to economic collapse, emotional detachment and cynicism that have grown within our community.

Instead of our local institutions running the best organizations they can, they all vie for power. They try to run everyone else's group, and in the end, produce little to show for it.

Take the Community Foundation. Instead of running the best community foundation it can, its fingers are buried everywhere -- running downtown Port Huron and attempting to take over Cruise Night and whatever else its leadership covets.

Instead of the Port Huron City Council making sure the trains run on time and the city stays out of bankruptcy, it looks to spend millions of dollars playing developer -- for a $25 million fish tank, the $12 million Sperry's building renovation or a new $20 million convention center.

This is at a time when even running McMorran or the Blue Water Fest without being tarred and feathered has been a daunting challenge.

We have the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners making massive cuts to employees and services. The same board is eyeing the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars on a new convention center.

The difference between then and now is that not one of today's "influencers" has any skin in the game. They play at being big shots with your money.

Want to see the results?

Stroh's four-minute YouTube video, being watched across America, takes you from the magnificent beauty of the Blue Water Area, the heartbreak we face and the piece of paradise to which we thought we were born.

"It's a shame what happened to my hometown," Stroh's video laments. Who would argue with that?


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