The wheels are in motion

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Maybe some people are talking about it after all.

We refer to the reorganization of Greensboro City Council, dropping it from nine to seven members by scrapping two of the three at-large seats, fully half of the offices elected citywide.

It’s the scheme floated by state Sen. Trudy Wade, who represents a small section of the city, at the behest, she has said, of “business owners” who perceive the current city government as an obstruction to their plans.

It has been distributed in the way all good right-wing propaganda is spread in these parts: the pages of the Rhino Times, whose publisher, Roy Carroll, is thus far the only Greensboro business leader who has stepped up to claim the plan.

Not that people need to be sold on it: If Sen. Wade decides to file legislation making the change in Raleigh when the General Assembly reconvenes on Jan. 14, that would pretty much do it, with nary a local vote nor debate in the proceedings. City council has the power to pass a resolution for or against the plan, but no control over the outcome. The GA holds the ultimate authority, and Wade’s colleagues in the Republican majority are likely going to defer to her on this issue.

It’s part of her party’s overall move in the GA to draw power away from the cities  — where the highest property values in the state are concentrated, with the largest economies and, not coincidentally, the greatest numbers of registered Democrats.

It also scratches an itch that goes back to 2011 when Wade sat on city council. That was the year District 4 rep and Wade ally Mary Rakestraw claimed to have discovered on her doorstep, like a foundling, a redistricting plan that would redraw the city to GOP advantage.

And while her current allies on council shrug their shoulders, stooge like, when pressed about the advantages a smaller council could bring, the answers are as simple as the math.

The drop in majority from five votes to four may seem insignificant, but it cuts off a key constituency: African Americans. Districts 1 and 2 were drawn to be majority-minority districts — that is, they were meant to have black representation. Because of the strength of the voting bloc, an African-American or someone seen as sympathetic to the community is often elected to one of the three at-large posts as well. Because the city is still overwhelmingly blue, someone from the left side of the aisle generally gets one if not both of the remaining seats.

Reminder: This is ostensibly a nonpartisan election — a good thing, because city politics are supposed to transcend party loyalties for the benefit of all.

It’s also puzzling as to why guys like Carroll need to stack the deck in the first place. They always seem to get what they want, no matter who is sitting on council.

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