The law and unintended consequences

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The plan by Trudy Wade, the state Senate and at least one prominent Greensboro businessman to rearrange city council to their liking was pulled off with all the grace and subtlety of monkeys flinging poop.

What was once a city of five districts now has eight, with boundaries drawn, it seems, more to settle personal scores than to achieve any long-term conservative goals.

The at-large seats are gone, leaving the mayor as the only official elected citywide, though without a vote except in some personnel decisions and as a tiebreaker.

It was likely sold as a way to bring more conservatives into this nonpartisan body, an attempt, perhaps, to bring what local right-wingers remember as a golden age on Greensboro City Council, when Bill Knight, Danny Thompson, Mary Rakestraw and, yep, Trudy Wade made a power move to reopen the White Street Landfill.

Maybe it’s easy, through the gauze of nostalgia, to forget that this was a failed council.

The landfill ordinance was killed when Nancy Vaughan, an at-large rep at the time, was able to vote against it after her conflict of interest was lifted. In 2011, Rakestraw lost her bid for re-election to Nancy Hoffmann. Robbie Perkins took out Bill Knight. Danny Thompson was never heard from again.

The only one from the cabal to move upwards and onwards was… Trudy Wade, who won the Senate District 27 seat formerly held by Don Vaughan, Nancy’s husband, after a brutal round of redistricting in 2011.

It’s like a bad telenovela.

And while there’s nothing to suggest that these new districts will do much to advance the conservative cause in this blue city, it’s an eternal truth that when the deck gets reshuffled, there are always unintended consequences.

Among the most delicious of the potential sideshows is a possible face-off in District 6 between former Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston and former Councilmember Dianne Bellamy-Small, who lost her 2013 bid for District 1 to Sharon Hightower by just a dozen votes.

Alston backed Wade’s bill, saying that it could lead to more African Americans on council. Bellamy-Small needs the work. Their distaste for each other is palpable, especially after he backed Hightower last go-round. And former Mayor Robbie Perkins, who teamed with Alston for his last re-election bid in 2013, when he lost to Vaughan, but was front and center at Bellamy-Small’s campaign announcement last week… well, his head just might explode.

A showdown like that might make this monkeypoop sandwich we’ve been forced to eat go down just a little easier.