Franklin County, NC - not a Monarchy
I remember Emily, my surrogate grandmother, the only grandmother I ever knew. She would start a new lesson with, “Now everyone sit up, listen, and pay attention”.
What a wonderful woman; one of the most influential loving people ever to enter my life. Not a school teacher or someone of authority in the community. She was a Mennonite woman that simply loved and listened to me. I think of her often and miss her a great deal.
A humble woman with very little material wealth, I would come to learn she was one of the richest people I would ever know.
Miss Emily had the ability to make people feel they were wanted and important. She would not dictate or belittle, she would guide and attentively listen.
I was but a little boy, much of what I had to say was of little importance, but she listened. I leaned the importance of listening to what others have to say. Even if I do not feel it is important; people matter.
Over an extended period I have attended many, Franklin County Board of County Commissioner’s meetings. On occasion I have addressed these meetings, and like others have posed questions.
You see there is a time in the format that allows for the public to speak. I have learned it is not a time when Commissioners listen.
Recently I attended a meeting with the unexpressed intent of simply observing Board members as citizens came forward.
As each speaker would take the lectern it was as if the Board would go into recess.
While they were being directly spoken to members were text messaging, making small talk with one another, tilting their heads down reading, and or simply starring off into space.
This was being done while concerned citizens passionately offered facts and asked important well stated questions. Franklin County residents Roger Lytle and Mary Ella Hutchinson are only two examples I can site.
Lytle, founder of “We the People”, and Hutchinson, who is leading the fight in Franklin County against some banks that want to take away people’s homes anyway they can get them.
At the end of their comments they were left standing in awkward silence. Their questions simply ignored. I recall hearing a Board member say, “Are you done?” I was left feeling the intent was to try and embarrass them.
They were treated as if pleading to a king for absolution of sins. Not like the unpaid citizen patriots they are.
The unstated, but clear message was being sent, “let’s get this over with, and or how dare you have the temerity to ask me questions. “
I use to ask why so few attend these meetings. Now I am asking myself why I attend the meetings.
It is abundantly clear while the public can attend, they are not welcome, and their input is not wanted. The impression I get is they see the public as an obstacle to overcome.
This general attitude is not reserved just for the meetings. I routinely hear of phone calls and email that go unanswered. I have heard it is not uncommon, do to Party politics, for officials not to return their peers call.
This is more than a condition of inattentiveness. I am going to characterize it as one of a corrupt culture with imperial contempt for those they are to serve.
The only people at these meetings, which are paid for being there, are the officials and county employees. The irony is citizens asking questions contribute to the paid attendees’ compensation.
If Franklin County, North Carolina were a monarchy with lords, and the people were mere surfs and peasants this treatment would be at the king’s pleasure.
Well now, hear ye, hear ye; it has been spoken, let it be written, and now let it be known. “Franklin County North Carolina is not the kingdom of the elected and privileged”. These meetings and buildings are “We the People’s”. They are paid for by the people and exist to conduct the people’s business.
Officials serve with the consent of the people, not vice versa.
Even in the king’s court common courtesy is required deportment. If one asks a question, good manners dictate an answer. Even if just,” I do not know, but I will get back to you”.
I would like to say this is just perception; however I know it not to be the case. I remember a dear friend, the late Vi McCain, asking, “What will it take to get an answer from you people?”
This is not a democrat or a republican thing. Every Board member is responsible for their own conduct. The Board Chair should not allow citizens to be subjected to such disrespect.
I wonder what Miss Emily would say? I bet she would say. “Now everyone sit up, listen, and pay attention”.
Next week I will tell you about a sin I committed that resulted in me doing a bit of the Chicken Dance with Commissioner Dunston.
“We the People” A non-partisan citizen’s patriot group will meet at Johnny Bull's Steak House, 32 Golden Leaf Drive Louisburg NC. At 7Pm on 3 Oct 2013 everyone is invited. Socially gathering beings at 6pm for dinner