Monday, December 1, 2008

Ahem, new commissioners ...

As the new county commissioners are sworn in tonight (6 p.m. at the Government Center), two arrive with significant baggage. And by “baggage,” don’t think briefcase. Think container shipping.

Vilma Leake and George Dunlap, both Democrats who served on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, aren't the only ones responsible for that board’s unfortunate reputation for squabbling. Plenty of others share blame. But now they'll serve with a guy who may well be the most squabble-inducing elected official in the Metrolina region: Bill James.

District 6 Republican James delights in rhetorical hand grenades, often with a racial tinge. In 2004 he wrote in an e-mail that urban blacks “live in a moral sewer.”

Dunlap gives it right back -- fun for journalists seeking quotes, but bad for governing a large and diverse urban county. And the loquacious Vilma Leake, while on the school board, proved oblivious to gavels, rules, time limits or the rudeness of speaking over others. Let us hope she learns some courtesy.

Over the past decade we’ve spilled plenty of ink advising school board members to grow up and play nice. We don’t want to have to start writing that about the county commissioners. So, one more time: Keep the broader community in mind. Treat your colleagues respectfully, even in disagreement.

-- Mary Newsom


Anonymous said...

San Francisco went to districts for their Board of Supervisors a few years ago and many there lament the change. They have similar issues that we have, including a certain district parochialism and lack of seeing what's best for the city nas a whole as well as petty squabbling and posturing. Maybe we should return to at-large for every seat, or at least more at large seats than district seats.

Anonymous said...

So which came first, this blog entry or the editorial (

Just curious.