Wednesday, January 4, 2012
It will be interesting to see who the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board chooses Thursday to fill the District 6 seat left vacant when Tim Morgan was elected at large last November. Twelve people interviewed for the job Tuesday, and several were good candidates. That confirmed what I've observed before when the school board selects replacements for vacant seats - many informed, articulate, passionate and highly qualified people will throw their hats in for public office when they don't have to run a campaign to get elected.
In fact, I dare say, the range of good candidates (in age, occupation, ethnicity) seems to be broader among candidates in the cases where the board chooses as opposed to cases where the voters choose. I saw it both when Democratically leaning districts had vacancies and when Republican leaning districts had vacancies. District 6 is a heavily Republican suburban districts.
That means school board members shouldn't have any trouble picking someone who could perform well on the board. The challenge for the community is to get some of the people who are willing to vie for public office when politicians are choosing to consider taking the plunge before the voters too. Their service is needed.
What's that about crap?
Most of the candidates steered clear of antagonizing the school board, seeing as how each wanted to get enough votes of the members to actually get appointed to the District 6, to fill out the nearly two-year unexpired term. Not so for perennial candidate Larry Bumgarner. He derided the questions that the board asked, saying they were only questions designed to see how much candidates agreed with board members. He told the board they should serve for free because that's what he would do. He asked about getting his parking ticket validated in the midst of the interview.
His most intriguing idea was related to what I'll call the "crappy car test." He said he'd observed that most teachers drive crappy cars which is an indication they're not paid well enough. He said students drive better cars than teachers. He suggested finding a way to help teachers get a 1 percent car loan. Not a bad idea, and school boards of the past have considered and urged similar help for educators with home mortgages. But I'm betting that many teachers, who've been without raises for the last three years, would prefer the money.
Occupy Charlotte - in 1840
One of the things that stand out Former Observer editorial board member Lew Powell pointed our way to this nugget. It's from the blog, North Carolina Miscellany, and it's about Charlotte "occupiers" - from 260 years ago!
The piece from Nicholas Graham, called "Occupy Charlotte, circa 1840s," opines at the start, "Does this sound familiar?" Then it quotes the following:
"The most odious feature in this system is that it robs the MANY, imperceptibly, to enrich the FEW; – It clothes a few wealthy individuals with power not only to control the wages of the laboring man, but also at their pleasure to inflate or depress the commerce and business of the whole country – exciting a spirit of extravagance, which it terminates in pecuniary ruin and too often the moral degradation of its victims. This system must be thoroughly reformed, before we can hope to see settled prosperity smile alike upon all our citizens."
That quote, Graham notes, is from the first issue of the Mecklenburg Jeffersonian, a Democratic paper published in Charlotte in 1841. Issues of the Jeffersonian from the 1840s are now online as part of the North Carolina Newspapers collection on DigitalNC.org.
Yep, things that seem new and fresh to some - sometimes aren't.
Posted by The Observer Editorial Board at 8:30 AM