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A better use of time

Published 11:04am Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rather than waste another year of time and energy trying to change the city charter ­— and encourage more political posturing in a city whose citizens prefer results over showmanship — the Franklin City Council needs to quickly change its priorities.

At best, the charter tinkering rejected by the Virginia General Assembly would engineer a few short-term political outcomes that might be beneficial. Well-intentioned as the drafters may be, there’s no guarantee that the amended charter would fix what ails City Hall. At worst, the onerous, divisive process of getting it changed will divert the council from work that matters.

Such as:

A serious discussion about whether the city’s charter should be surrendered rather than rewritten.

It speaks to the void of forward-thinking elected leadership in Franklin and Southampton County that Franklin Southampton Futures, an organization of civic and business leaders founded on the need for the neighboring localities to begin functioning as one, recently conceded defeat, opting to disband rather than continue to fight a losing battle.

It was, by any measure, the wrong decision, but it’s hard to blame Futures for throwing in the towel in frustration. Other than lip service, the group got zero support from the elected leaders of Franklin and Southampton County, who haven’t lifted a finger to explore how government services might be delivered more effectively and less expensively by working together.

The occasion of Franklin’s 50th anniversary as an independent city — to be celebrated, with appropriate fanfare, at a gala event next weekend — is the perfect time to ponder the next 50 years and how to make “One Economy, One Future” — the words that inspired the creation of Franklin Southampton Futures seven years ago — more than a slogan.

Franklin’s had a great run as an independent city. The logic of city fathers in the early 1960s was reasonable for the era in which they governed. They couldn’t have foreseen what now confronts us: two hugely expensive, unsustainable government bureaucracies serving a small community of common interests, divided only by artificial electoral boundaries and a few old grudges.

Recognizing and adjusting to the new realities will require bold, statesmanlike leadership — not unlike what Franklin leaders sincerely believed they were providing in 1961. They had a vision of a vibrant community. Those involved in creating the future of Franklin-Southampton should be no less optimistic. Working together, Franklin and Southampton can flourish.

It will be tough, time-consuming work. Those engaged in it won’t have time to burn up the roads to Richmond, trying to convince skeptical state lawmakers that city government’s engine needs a mere tune-up when it’s time for an overhaul.

STEVE STEWART is publisher of The Tidewater News. His email address is steve.stewart@tidewaternews.com.

  • Conservetive

    Note the time of this post, I just heard that Councilman Blythe & McLemore could not attend the City’s 50th Anniversary Gala because it was sold out. The leader of the event Holt Livsey told Councilman McLemore “sorry you couldn’t get a ticket” as if they could not except his 25.00 and add another chair for a Councilman to attend. It’s my party and you can’t come ha ha ha!!! And this guy wanted to run for Mayor in 2008. Would it have been so unreasonable to reserve out of 385 20 seats for the City Councilmember’s their guest along with the New City Manager, the old City Manager and their guest, the room capacity is 458? Coincidentally the Mayor’s wife is on the event committee also. This is just the latest show of disrespect to Councilman McLemore and Councilman Blythe. I’m told that Councilman Blythe is trying desperately to try to get two tickets for him and his wife no luck so far. McLemore said let them have their party while our City is dying its alright, “remember the story of King David in the Bible and how he was treated by his family” This is wrong but, its o.k. in Franklin esspecially to employee2, Makalani, 2hokiepapa, johnhenry and the other B/M bashers.

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    • employee2

      And just how long have you known about this dinner? And you waited until this time to try and go? Sorry for your luck. Just because you are a council person doesn’t entitle you to some special treatment. Too bad.

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    • employee2

      Glad Blythe & McLemore were able to contact YOU with this information, what are you their press secretary?

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    • handkusp45

      Conservetive, You never cease to amaze me. Both were at the event. Of course, the City probably paid for their ticket. (at least if there was any way they could pull that off) Plus they could have purchased a ticket any time in the last couple of months. They are both drama kings. And its always someone elses fault. Blah, blah, blah…

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  • employee2

    @conservetive “@Makalani, I’m very confused ” could have/should have stopped right there!

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  • Makalani

    LOL @ handkusp45 — “They are both absolute idiots who don’t have enough sense to run a lemonaid stand much less serve in government. ”

    I think that they are both sincere in their beliefs as are many extremist politicians but I would insert the euphemism “misguided” for “absolute idiots!”

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    • handkusp45

      Makalani, You are right. My bad. Thanks for pointing that out.

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  • Makalani

    @Conservetive“… because you stabbed him in the back it’s no reason for me to not offer you an apology if you feel you want one, even if I don’t feel one is warranted.”

    I accept your apology — albeit a “left-handed/insincere one” because you “don’t feel one is warranted.”

    I remember apologizing to Councilman McLemore because my criticism became personal as opposed to criticizing his political methodology! I try — but forgive me because I am only human — to not personalize my attacks. For instance — “obstreperous obstructionist” is critiquing the Councilman’s political methodology not him personally. Now if I had said — “ornery — obtuse — obstreperous obstructionist” — that would have been personal. You get my drift?

    As far as talking out of both sides of my mouth — mea culpa! Unfortunately — that is an all-too-common human foible — we all do it at times — more so with politicians!

    If the Councilman has an axe to grind with Mr. Stewart — that has nothing to do with me. I have no problem considering others’ opinions and formulating my own/rebutting others’ opinions that stick in my craw. I have disagreed with Mr. Stewart on many occasions.

    As far as calling political candidates “lunatic fringe candidates and extremists” — that is a political reality — not something I say to be mean-spirited! As much as I like and admire Cynthia McKinney — it would be an unmitigated disaster (with a capital “D”) to have her sitting in the Oval Office! I couldn’t hold my nose and vote for the (D) or (R) candidates/the lesser of two evils! She received my vote as a “statement” as opposed to a sincere desire to see her elected Prez! She is waaayy too extreme in her political views!

    You have to remember that most voters are middle-of-the road and not looking for radical change. They are frightened by extremist politicians. Cynthia McKinney got
    0.12% of the vote — not even 1 whole percent. Third Party “lunatic fringe candidates” don’t do well in national elections!

    So as not to get too far sidetracked — I believe that Councilman McLemore is very sincere in his desire to “serve the people” and change the status quo. I just question his methodology and political tactics. He is very thinned-skin with a volatile temper! Those two traits seem to undermine his ability to function politically. He would come under even more scrutiny and criticism as mayor. In my estimation — the two aforementioned traits alone make him unsuitable for the position.

    Councilman McLemore is probably very frightening to many middle-of-the-road White Franklin voters and Blacks for that matter. Without their support — he doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance of winning. If he could motivate and mobilize the apathetic Blacks to vote who don’t follow local politics LOL — he could win without many White votes. But that is an unlikely scenario!

    Since he is part Irish — he probably has a lock on the the White Irish vote — the McIntoshes- the McGillicuddys– the McMahons — the McNamaras etc!

    That’s the bad news! The good news is — I will be signing off from this forum for another extended hiatus — unless Councilman McLemore pulls another outrageous stunt! CIAO!

    PS to Mrs. Evans: Please forgive any grammatical glitches — in a hurry and it’s been 49 years since I was in your English class.

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  • Conservetive

    @Makalani, I’m very confused because I believe that it was you that used the phrase of “talking out of both sides of one’s mouth”. First of all I recall you apologizing to Councilman McLemore in one of you past blogs for attacking him for using methods that weren’t necessarily the same methods that you might choose to use, because one man might not use the same approach as another man so, you were wrong for criticizing him because he didn’t use the methods that you would prefer. Then you turn right back around and started attacking him with your, over most people’s head vocabulary and insults. However, because you stabbed him in the back it’s no reason for me to not offer you an apology if you feel you want one, even if I don’t feel one is warranted. So, I do apologize if it makes you feel better. I’m glad that you voted for and recognize the Honorable Cynthia McKinney as in my opinion all righteous Americans should. I wish you would not feed the feeding frenzy against McLemore by a select few by using media phrases that are designed to demean and marginalize candidates that present the truth and honesty as they see it. Because when people come to respect one as some have come to respect your obvious writing skills it’s a shame that you choose to turn those skills against patriots like Councilman McLemore and some of the others that you mentioned in an unfavorable light. So that is what prompted the traitor remark and you SHOULD know better that to lead the people away from someone who cares for their well being as Councilman Blythe & McLemore. I would urge you to not be like or support someone like Steve Stuwart who has a personal agenda against Councilman McLemore and uses his newspaper as his personal bullying pulpit to discredit Councilman McLemore at any and every opportunity. If Steve Stuwart says its sunny I’m taking my umbrella as should all readers of the TWN.

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    • handkusp45

      I don’t know why you are bashing Mr. Stewart. He has been more than fair to McNomore. And his columns are filled with great wisdom and insight. I’m not saying I always agree with him. But I certainly listen to his POV. As far as McNore’s POV, all I hear is blah, blah, blah. How can you accuse the Tidewater News or Steve Stewart of a personal agenda. Now if that isn’t calling the kettle black?

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  • Makalani

    “taking periodic breaks … is necessary” = are necessary

    Sorry about subject — verb disagreement Mrs. Evans — dementia setting in — plural subject “breaks”=plural verb “are!”

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    • happycamper

      “taking periodic breaks” = “IS” necessary

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  • Makalani

    @Conservetive — Just like a certain City Councilman — who shall remain nameless — you also “put mouth in gear before engaging brain.” AND you just pluck “facts” that fit your POV out of thin air. How can you make assumptions about my political preferences without EVER personally interacting with me?

    FYI — I hold Cynthia McKinney in very high regard. I even voted for her in the 2008 election as the Presidential Candidate for the US Green Party. Mine was one of the 0.12% of the popular vote that she received.

    Somewhere in the TN archives is the discussion where a poster ASSUMED SOMETHING (just like you) — that I voted for Prez Obama! I informed him/her that Cynthia McKinney was my choice!

    However my voting for her — like for her — AND your apparent LOVE for her does not negate the fact that she is by definition a “political extremist.” The political pundits who know waaaaay more about such matters than I — conjured up the phrases — “political extremists” and “lunatic fringe candidates.” Those labels in no way negate her stature in my eyes as a political renegade who stuck to her principles at the cost of her Congressional seat.

    You sir — owe me an apology! “TAP…! TAP…! TAP…!” (drumming fingers on desk) “I’m waiting….!”

    PS — Your query: “Plus what happened to you not blogging on this site anymore for a while, traitor and liar.”

    I find that taking periodic breaks from the insane POV promulgated by a certain person in this forum (who shall remain nameless)is necessary to preserve my own sanity!

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    • employee2

      Maybe our favorite writer should listen to this quote from Vivian Page’s website…”The mind is like a TV set — when it goes blank, it’s a good idea to turn off the sound”

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  • Makalani

    “with lost of salient points” = “lots” (darn dementia/dyslexia kicking up again)

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  • Makalani

    Normally — during elections — the middle-of-the-road — sensible voters prevail — keeping “lunatic fringe candidates” like Ross Perot — George Wallace — Lyndon LaRouche — Cynthia McKinney and others of the extremist ilk from taking the reins of national power — causing chaos. Occasionally — an extremist hoodwinks the voters in lesser elections and wins — sometimes bringing chaos to that elective body.

    Hopefully — in the upcoming mayoral election — the middle-of-the-road — sensible voters will again prevail — electing either Mr. Councill or Ms. Johnson — preferably the latter!

    Despite having an obstreperous obstructionist (who shall remain nameless) on the Council — both are more than capable of providing the leadership that “the Franklin City Council needs to quickly change its priorities.”

    PS — Good objective commentary with lost of salient points — especially about the costly duplication of govt services!
    Politicians and bureaucrats are loathe to give up their little “fiefdoms!”

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    • Conservetive

      If I doubted you intellect before, I am now sure that you are a misinformed, vocabulary overstocked, typical American that makes statements without a bit of research or lead by a controlled media that you choose to believe. I make this assessment because you have the nerve to ridicule former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of being anything less than a super hero of the people and an excellent role model for young African American girls and all politicians. Because you choose to bury your head in the sand regarding details, how dare you insult the truth and service that woman has given to people. You are like most Americans, victims of bias media propaganda. You need to watch the documentary “American Blackout”. You might find it on utube. Shame on you for casting her in a negative light. It’s one thing to take cheap shots at McLemore but you have gone too far attacking The Honorable Cynthia McKinney, you are a disgrace to all Americans, particularly African Americans and traitor to your Nation. For those that don’t know, Cynthia McKinney was railroaded out of her seat by a republican voting trick for asking the then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, where was the missing TRILLIONS of dollars from the defense dept. and about the connection between the Bush family and the Bin Laden family, which is proven documented, just check for yourself. She like McLemore had the courage to ask the hard questions and speak truth to power. You are such a traitor. Plus what happened to you not blogging on this site anymore for a while, traitor and liar. Now I hope if this bias site deletes this you have a chance to read it first, disgrace to your name!!!

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      • handkusp45

        I finally agree with you on something. I would put McNomore and McKinney in the same group. They are both absolute idiots who don’t have enough sense to run a lemonaid stand much less serve in government. And they both are more racist than anyone I have ever met.

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  • employee2

    “instead of the lively full of ideas underdog Councilman that has ideas and plans that will reverse the perverted leadership”. Not the adjectives that I would have used to describe McLemore. Why don’t you write down and submit these “plans” you have. Or are they empty promises to get a vote. Can’t be any more silly than the “solar City” non-sense.

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  • happycamper

    Wise words, indeed. It seems to me that this is the perfect opportunity for area leaders to look seriously at the changes required to make Franklin and Southampton County more unified and efficient. We, the voters of the area MUST hold the feet of our elected leaders to the fire. Our future is in OUR hands. To paraphrase the words of another wise man as our organization faced radical change … “We will change our leaders or we will change our leaders.”

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  • Conservetive

    Like Rastine Johnson, you Mr. Stewart want to see the City die for some morbid reason. I feel you are wrong; Franklin is not ready for burial yet. However, you in your editorial accused Councilman McLemore of splitting the African American vote when YOU know that she is the one that decided to enter the race last, she had 12 years to run against Jim Council, only after McLemore announced did she decide to join and split the vote. That’s her way of assuring Jim Council stays there after she’s booted out for lack of performance or leadership. So what she has experience in conducting a Council meeting where they all agree on everything without debate. You might pull the wool over the general public’s eyes with your stealth posturing to make voters that would support Councilman McLemore believe that they are wasting their vote because McLemore can’t possibly win. There is one thing you can’t control as you try to do with your bias paper, that is the people are not as stupid as you encourage them to be or think they are. There’s a GREAT chance that the people will except the fact that both the Mayor and Vice Mayor have had over 12 years to lead our City and under their leadership the City is in great debt and dying. I guess that’s why you are encouraging that people call the undertaker to take over instead of the lively full of ideas underdog Councilman that has ideas and plans that will reverse the perverted leadership that people like you have profited off for decades now. It may be time for a overhaul but not time to bury Franklin yet. I for one don’t see Franklin ready for the undertaker. A better use of time would be to not waste another two years on these failed leaders.

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