by Sam Hieb
Ok, not exactly the Super Bowl, but battles bewteen the daily N&R and the-alt-weekly Rhino have gone at it over the years but why not give a nod to today’s big game?provided quite a bit of entertainment over the years. (For what it’s worth, N&R sportswriters unanimously pick the Seahawks.)
This week Rhino editor John Hammer fired the first shot when he wrote he was “going to try and not write about News & Record columnist Susan Ladd every week, but her columns are so outrageous I can’t help myself.”
Hammer sure won’t able to help himself this week—in today’s column Ladd takes on Hammer’s boss—Rhino publisher and high-powered developer Roy Carroll —over Sen. Trudy Wade’s plan* to shrink the Greensboro City Council:
What he wants on the council, Carroll wrote, is a “diversified majority of business executives and owners.”
Really? Why not a majority of environmentalists? A majority of preservationists? A majority of educators?
A majority of any one constituency would unbalance the council. The council needs members from diverse backgrounds and different segments of the community to represent the people it serves. A council dominated by business owners might well make decisions that disenfranchise all the other groups, including homeowners and neighborhoods.
“The simple answer is that a business professional would rather be part of a smaller decision-making group in which that person could effect change,” Carroll wrote.
Is effecting change anything like getting your way? It sure sounds like that.
Maybe, for example, it would be easier to get the city to close a street to benefit your development.
Or to convince the city to enact a noise ordinance that placates your condo owners but hurts nightclub businesses.
Oh, wait. Carroll won both of those battles despite the objections of residents and other business owners.
How much more power does he need?
But Hammer might not find that as outrageous as Ladd’s claim that “aside from an occasional spat, is a high-functioning body that broadly represents the residents of Greensboro.”
Not sure how many City Council meetings Ladd has attended, but I’ll be it’s not as many as Hammer—maybe not as many as I’ve watched over the years on public access TV.
I guess it all depends on your definition of high-functioning—look as I’ve said Gboro’s a relatively mellow city where the living’s pretty easy, if that’s what you’re into —understand that the younger crowd finds it too boring.
In that sense, the council functions pretty well. But’s definitely right when he writes that the council allows itself to be “blindsided with controversial issues.” The security ordinance is a perfect example —the council passed the first version without adequate input from club and bar owners. So when club and bar owners started speaking out, the council made changes on the fly, and still nobody’s sure what kind of economic impact the ordinance will have.
Hammer adds (t)his council has a lot on which it doesn’t agree….. discussions on naming High Point Road “International Restaurant Row” were much more heated, as were the ones on giving a loan to Purpose Recycling and Bedex for recycling mattresses.”
But there’s no better example than a political blindside than this week’s debate over the proposed historical marker commemorating the Nov. 4 1979 Klan-Nazi shootout. I’ll go out on a limb and say that among a “broader representation of Greensboro residents,” the majority either want to forget about that ugly episode or don’t even know about it.
Odds are the council will sign off on the marker, and we won’t have to hear about the Klan-Nazi shootings again until maybe the 40th anniversary come 2019. But the debate won’t be pretty, and it certainly won’t reflect well on our elected representatives.
*Bonus observation— N&R’s attitude toward Wade’s plan —there is no legislation yet —is the legislature should keep its hand out of city matters. But Hammer did a little digging and discovered that none other than the U.S. Department of Justice dictated the current 5-3-1 representation.