The city with an asterisk

1
45

Know them by their words.

“We need to understand who is now in charge,” Greensboro Councilman Tony Wilkins — the only sitting member of council on board with the plan to radically alter its makeup — said ominously at a hastily called press conference last week.

After all these years of what he called “fiscal irresponsibility” on the part of council, he said, “What do we think is gonna happen?”

But no one else seemed to make this connection, that Greensboro would be singled out, alone among every other city and town in the state, the only one not empowered to draw its own districts and actualize its own government because of a perceived liberal bent. In order to make this thing fly, a portion of the state constitution must be repealed specifically as it applies to Greensboro, basically putting an asterisk on it. Wilkins gave no indication how this new configuration would alleviate the problem in this relatively blue city.

The plan seems designed to countermand this very council — five of them are bunked in the same district on the new map — a council which, it must be pointed out, has less than a year left to serve.

From the cheap seats, where most of us are sitting for this one, it certainly seems extraordinary.

Add to that the law’s provenance — from a two-term state senator whose district does not cover most of the city she aims to control, with neither consent nor support from the eight of nine city council members and members of the state legislative delegation who actually do represent the city.

It goes back even further — developer Roy Carroll has been making noise about the perceived business-friendliness of current council almost since it was seated, usually in the pages of the propaganda sheet he bought, possibly expressly for this purpose.

The Rhino Times didn’t begin floating this story until November 2013, by which time the caper was well underway.

The gloating that’s coming from that quarter is unseemly — it’s not a scoop if it’s a scheme and you’re in on it. And it’s possibly premature.

Though the law doesn’t require city council to be on board, it won’t pass without the support of the county legislative delegation, none of whom has signed on as of yet.

They’ll be meeting with the public on Thursday night, 7 p.m. in council chambers at Melvin Municipal. This may be the only chance they will get to hear directly from the people.