Anyone caught flatfooted by the reintroduction of Senate Bill 36 — the ham-fisted attempt to exact revenge and settle petty scores by completely redrawing the city council districts in Greensboro and recalibrating the council itself — must have not been paying attention.

For one, just two of nine sitting councilmembers have announced an intention to run for re-election —District 4’s Nancy Hoffmann, who opened her candidacy earlier this month, and Jamal Fox, who is campaigning quietly but openly, though just for council in general. The  filing date is just weeks away.

Zack Matheny, a powerhouse in District 3, jumped ship before the end of his term, preferring his chances to land the gig as executive director of Downtown Greensboro Inc. more than the odds of winning his election in a district that could be stacked with incumbents.

The DGI job pays a lot better, too.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan needs to know if she’ll be able to vote before deciding whether to run again for mayor.

And because the new configuration does away with all citywide seats except for the mayor’s, we’ve heard no campaign announcements from the at-large representatives on council either.

Facing pushback from the House, Sen. Trudy Wade Tucked SB 36 into another bill — HB 263, which initially set out to reduce Trinity City Council from eight members to five, one for each ward plus a single citywide position, and reduce terms from four years to two. It sailed through the Senate and as of press time needs only a House concurrence vote to become law, which despite last-minute heroics from Rep. Jon Hardister and Rep. John Blust, looks like it’s probably going to happen.

It’s a sleazy ploy of political gamesmanship and leveraged power, the only tools open to those who do not have the will of the people behind their actions.

The caper fits neatly into Wade’s general modus operandi, which seems to involve using her elected office not to help those she represents, but to smite her perceived enemies and reward her malevolent benefactors.

And through it all she shuns reporters and constituents, leaving us to figure out her motives for ourselves.[pullquote]It’s a sleazy ploy of political gamesmanship and leveraged power, the only tools open to those who do not have the will of the people behind their actions.[/pullquote]

It’s toxic behavior from anyone, let alone an elected official, the sort of trifling one might expect from a rogue member of a homeowners’ association or a mean-girls’ prom committee.

But this is the North Carolina General Assembly we’re talking about, an operation now embroiled in a race to the bottom — culturally, politically and economically — while currying favor with gun nuts, power brokers and religious zealots.

It’s happening just as the Triad’s cities are starting to emerge, this strong push against enlightenment, this rejection of progress, this thumb in the eye of good people across the state.

These changes to Greensboro from on high will be here to stay until 2020, when the law sunsets, by which time no one will care anymore.

And once again, the acrid smell of futility fills the collective nose of Greensboro voters.

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