thoughts about local political talk

Rowan_County_nc_sealHere are some thoughts I thought about the Rowan County, North Carolina, campaign for County Commission — a very interesting and frustrating topic.

This blog is great. It describes what happened: “What is the Fish House?”

These Facebook pages are also great: Fire Jim Sides and Craig Pierce and La Resistance.

I may be wrong (and I hope I am), but as a strategy for electing a more progressive, responsive commission, I’m not so sure.

It’s a Fish House, Mall Tax, These-Guys-Aren’t-Good-Policy-Makers strategy.

Fire Jim Sides and La Resistance are awesome for generating interest and energy.

But a campaign requirers more than talk about the past. It requires a vision and promised actions for the future. Winning an election requires actual votes for one candidate over another — and I actually think focusing on the mall and the fish house and “wrongness” of people may help Jim Sides. It would not surprise me at all to see the opposition vote split 10 ways and see Mr. Sides increase his vote count in the next election.

La Resistance ad in the Salisbury Post. 4/6/14

He’s refusing to talk to the press and still getting all the attention. And he’s getting it for things that don’t matter that much.

There are good arguments against the county buying the mall, but there are also some valid arguments for buying it. Either way, it’s a done deal. Over. In the past.

If commissioners intend to damage the downtown and the city of Salisbury, that may be completely valid. There is evidence for that being the case. However, it’s hard to prove, much less run against, an intention or a motive. I’m not sure it can win a county-wide election.

The noise is good because it raises awareness and will likely increase voter turn-out.

But the noise needs to be channelled into a coherent strategy, and I’m not seeing that. It may actually be too late for that, since it’s too late for candidates to file.

I’ve heard the argument about switching party registration, as a strategy.

Okay, then what?

Which candidates on the Republican side support the schools? That’s what I want to hear. And I think that is what voters want to hear.

The schools are the backbone of any community. The economy, crime levels, jobs, quality of jobs, poverty, income levels — everything hinges on the quality of the school system. Every public problem the community faces could be dramatically transformed over time via the consistent presence of a high quality school system.

It’s a simple equation. Quality of Schools Now = Quality of Life in the Future. Period.

What about a candidate who champions the schools?

If there is one, who would that be?

For many years, Jim Sides has not worked WITH the school board. He’s worked against it. This way of governing has had an impact, and we’re seeing that all over. Rowan County has been behind for a good while and it’s going to take new leadership over time to catch up.

Politically, buying the mall was dumb. It’s easy to make jokes about it. But the county is growing and the government will need more office space. It’s a lot easier to justify buying the mall than it is to justify trashing the school system.

It’s almost like wasting valuable time talking about prayer at meetings. Fire Jim Sides and La Resistance are doing something similar to that. Being passionate about something that doesn’t matter that much.

Malls and fish houses are easier to talk about than facing the brutal facts about our school system and how much time and money it’s going to take to recover.

That’s the kind of noise and campaigning what I want to hear.

Spencer Tracy’s speech in Inherit the Wind is a fitting response to our commissioners and representatives

Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind

Here in Rowan County, North Carolina, our County Commissioners are defending themselves against an ACLU lawsuit, because they refuse to open the meetings with an inclusive prayer.

Coming to their defense, our brave representatives in the state house took a shot at establishing a state religion.

There’s not a lot to say that hasn’t already been said — so why not let Spencer Tracy make the point. He said it very, very well!

if you’re going to break the law, at least make it count [video]

These are the leaders of my county’s government.

This is an argument that has its roots in city-county school merger. 24 years ago.

Really. The conversation has changed a little. But this is basically a 24 year old argument.

Who owns the school system? The city or the county?

A new administrative building is badly needed. Where will it be? The city or the county?

I love this city. And I love this county. Which means I want a strong school system and all the great things good schools can bring to a geographic region.

Seeing a video like this of our leaders trying to talk about our school system is almost too painful to watch.

[Mr. Sides wants prayer in all country meetings. I don’t agree with him praying at the meetings, but I can pray for him on this blog. Please God, help him lead!]

A generation has paid for this attitude with their spotty educations.

We’ve paid for it with our economy.

And now, when something big is at stake, they can’t talk to each other at all.

What is so fascinating to me here is that the scripture he uses is quite appropriate for the event. If Jim Sides had read it with some meaning and then let it sink in, it might have made a difference, even changed the course of history for this county.

It’s an awesome quote for what they are dealing with:

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Really adhering to THAT could change the whole conversation and get everything resolved in one hour rather than extending a twenty-five year old argument indefinitely.

Bravo to Jim Sides for picking such great words.

Yet, he reads it like a little kid who’s been bad. Like somebody is making him do it and he’s just muttering a bunch of sounds as fast as he can. He’s actually reading it like he’s a guy who’s breaking the law (which he is).

So it has no power. Nobody is listening. He’s not even listening to himself.

Then he completely disregards the scripture he just read. He never looks at Dr. Miller one time while he’s talking. It looks like he’s not listening. And he doesn’t acknowledge or respond to anything he says. While Dr. Miller is talking, Mr. Sides is looking away and fiddling with his water. He fairly asserts that he’s the boss, not a partner.

That’s not “esteeming others.” Nor is it looking “also on the things of others.”

Dr. Miller does no better. He doesn’t look at Mr. Sides either and has a rather patronizing tone.

I say, pray at home and at church. Do the public’s business in public meetings.

But if you’re going to break the law and use scripture at your government meetings, at least pay attention to what you’re reading and put it to some use!

[Thanks to The Salisbury Post for posting this video.]