The following editorial appeared in the Greensboro News & Record:
In a statement laced with equal parts gall and hypocrisy, state Sen. Trudy Wade last week lauded her bill that would shrink and reconfigure the Greensboro City Council.
“The vast majority of Greensboro neighborhoods lack representation from someone who truly understands their community needs,” said Wade, a Republican who formerly served on the council.
Then she voted with a group of lawmakers from Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Henderson, Mitchell, New Hanover, Watauga – and wherever else – to dictate, from Raleigh, how Greensboro governs itself.
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Still glaringly missing from the bill was the chance for Greensboro voters to approve or reject the changes in a referendum.
“I challenge you to step up to the plate and allow the citizens of my community to have a voice in their own form of government,” state Sen. Gladys Robinson, a Guilford County Democrat, said in an appeal that fell mostly on deaf ears.
Unfazed, Republicans quashed Robinson’s attempt to amend the bill to allow a referendum and rumbled ahead.
Cue more Wade hypocrisy: “This small, but vocal group of Greensboro residents and elected officials who have spoken against this bill have a personal vested interest in maintaining the status quo.”
If this is such “a small but vocal group,” why the mortal fear of a public vote on her legislation?
The bill was passed as expected, by the full Senate, 33-15, almost entirely along party lines.
Now it is up to the House to block this affront to local cities’ right
to manage their own affairs and local citizens’ right to determine their own form of government.
The bill eliminates at-large members, aside from the mayor, and reduces the council to seven districts. Thus, voters who now have the opportunity to choose five council members (the mayor, their district representative and three at-large representatives) would get to vote for only two (the mayor and a district representative). In Wade’s world, that supposedly increases voters’ input. The bill also allows the mayor to vote only in the event of a tie and extends council terms from two years to four.
For what it’s worth, we are not alone. Overreaching Republican state lawmakers are intruding in other communities.
A bill affecting Wake County reconfigures the Board of County Commissioners. A bill affecting Rockingham County shrinks the school board and adds partisan elections.
Although, even in our collective misery, all voters are not created equal. The Rockingham County bill allows voters the final say on the proposed changes in a referendum.
What gives them that right and not us or Wake County? The whims of supposedly small-government-minded GOP bureaucrats in Raleigh.
We can only hope that the House will be more fair-minded, reasonable and responsive to the need for residents in Greensboro to determine what’s best for Greensboro. At the very least that means residents here should get to vote on the proposed changes.
Not someone from Mecklenburg or Watauga who doesn’t know High Point Road from West Market Street.
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