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A Bell-Obama mash-up

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On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Durham Mayor Bill Bell delivered his State of the City Address. Since the Indy's deadline fell before the event, I imagined what presidential candidate Barack Obama would have said had he given the speech.

You know, they said this day would never come. They said Durham would never run out of water. Yet here we are, days—how many, no one really knows—days away from running dry.

But our spirits will not run dry. We are resilient. We are strong. We are thirsty.

We are thirsty for a functional government that speaks to the hopes and dreams of all of Durham. And that thirst has been quenched. Our $20 million street and sidewalk bond will create a new vision for Durham, a city with roads on which the yellow lines will be clearly and evenly drawn. Yes, previous bonds have languished, have been left unspent until we've forgotten what they're for. But we are on this journey toward a better Durham together, reaching for what's possible.

The poor neighborhoods, where I have worked tirelessly to raise up the underprivileged, are plagued by potholes and dirt streets. But so are some of the city's wealthiest enclaves, where the Mercedes, the Jaguars, the Porsches are pockmarked by gravel, their hubcaps forever lost to caverns in the earth. And that's going to change, starting with Forest Hills.

In 2008, we will embark on an era of change, one that instills in City Hall a sense of fairness and accountability. We will rid city government of cronyism and favoritism. We will hire a new city manager, a visionary with stellar managerial and communication skills. The old city manager, who had a different set of skills, will move to the city attorney's office.

Some people equate Durham with crime. These people are wrong. In the first 18 days of 2008, there were two murders. But that is only one more than last year at this time. We have a plan to combat crime and gang violence: We will hire new police officers to replace the old officers who resigned for engaging in misconduct.

Yes, we have challenges, but we also have hope. We hope someone will visit downtown after six o'clock. We hope someone will pay $60 to see a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center. We hope, someday, someone will speak of Durham without uttering the words "Duke" and "lacrosse."

I have faith these hopes will be realized. I believe we can lift Durham to new heights. If you believe in the power of the human spirit, then you believe in Durham.

This is our moment. This is our time. Durham, love yourself.

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