Editorials

Congratulations on ignoring public

The Observer editorial board

TO: Legislators and other political leaders

FROM: The Powers That Be

SUBJECT: That meddling public

We wanted to send this quick memo just to commend you on your performance in ignoring members of the public on matters that directly affect them. As you know, this is an essential part of our approach to governing, and your performance recently has been stellar.

Indulge us and let us single out a few individuals who have shone brightly in this regard.

First, N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry. Cherie has ignored a state law that requires her to meet with an outside advisory committee at least twice a year. Despite this burdensome regulation, Cherie has shown the courage not to call a single meeting of this group in five years.

The 11 citizens on the State Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health include labor advocates, a migrant labor expert and three others with an understanding of worker safety issues. They could be quite an annoyance as Cherie fashions a business-friendly approach at the agency created explicitly to look out for workers. Aside from not wasting precious time hearing from these labor advocates, Cherie is saving the state several dollars in travel reimbursements each year by not following the law. Thank you, Cherie, for your existence in the labor commissioner’s office.

Another group seeking to diminish the public’s input is Rep. Skip Stam and his colleagues of both parties who seek to abolish protest petitions in North Carolina. For nearly 100 years, those petitions have let ordinary citizens make developers work harder to show that their rezoning request is a good move. With House Bill 201, Skip admirably strikes a blow for the developers and raises the bar on the affected neighbors. Well done, Skip!

Skip’s bill also changes local policy from Raleigh, which brings us to our next honorees: Sen. Trudy Wade of Greensboro and Sen. Chad Barefoot of Raleigh. Trudy, in the face of opposition from the public and even fellow Republican legislators from Greensboro, has shepherded a bill through the Senate that would overhaul the Greensboro City Council. Her bill would cut the number of members and change how they are elected. It has been an unpopular idea and would surely be defeated if the people of Greensboro could vote on it. Congratulations, Trudy, for pushing on despite that.

Similarly, Chad led an effort to redraw the Wake County commissioner districts. Democrats won all seven seats last year, which cannot stand. Chad’s bill will take care of that. Opponents of the bill learned about one opportunity to speak out against it only two hours before the meeting convened. Then, legislators defeated an effort to let voters have a say on the change, and Chad’s bill is now law.

That’s the way! Now the rest of you, go and do likewise.

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