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Opinion Local controversies may create influx of potential candidates

In Franklin's last town election, all those running for reelection were unopposed. Perhaps the perception was that they were doing a fine job or there weren't any issues to prompt prospective candidates to step forward. In recent days, that has all changed.

One doesn't need a degree in Native American studies to realize that spraying herbicide on an Indian mound probably isn't the smartest thing to do. The stated intent was to save money on landscaping costs by replacing the natural grass with an “eco-grass” that would require less maintenance. Simply allowing the existing grass to grow on the mound without cutting it would have required virtually zero maintenance. The Nikwasi Mound now looks like a bad haircut. And, like a bad haircut, it's getting plenty of attention. I suppose it could have been worse. At least the mound wasn't covered with artificial turf.

George HasaraIn Franklin's last town election, all those running for reelection were unopposed. Perhaps the perception was that they were doing a fine job or there weren't any issues to prompt prospective candidates to step forward. In recent days, that has all changed.

One doesn't need a degree in Native American studies to realize that spraying herbicide on an Indian mound probably isn't the smartest thing to do. The stated intent was to save money on landscaping costs by replacing the natural grass with an “eco-grass” that would require less maintenance. Simply allowing the existing grass to grow on the mound without cutting it would have required virtually zero maintenance. The Nikwasi Mound now looks like a bad haircut. And, like a bad haircut, it's getting plenty of attention. I suppose it could have been worse. At least the mound wasn't covered with artificial turf.

The Cherokee asked for an apology from the Franklin Town Board concerning the handling of the mound. The request was turned down. The refusal on an apology is baffling. Saying your sorry doesn't necessarily mean anything dastardly was done or even that you are in the wrong. What's so tough about admitting that things could have been handled better? Common courtesy aside, blowing off the Cherokee was a political faux pas which is French for “screwing up.”

Franklin Mayor Joe Collins recognized the concerns of the Cherokee, and he issued a written apology as Mayor and not representative of the town board. For his conciliatory gesture – he got himself a censure from the board with Alderman Bob Scott dissenting. A censure from the board has no legal significance but is a fancy way to say “you've been a bad boy.” Scott asked to be included in the censure process since he, too, had expressed regret to the Cherokee, but his censure desire was unheeded. Some people just can't catch a bad break. Apparently, the board wanted Collins to apologize for apologizing. Collins refused, which is a good thing, because I might have asked him to apologize for apologizing over an apology.

While the censure has comical elements, it perhaps points to something more serious. Unlike the eco-grass on the Indian Mound, the motion to censure sprouted very quickly. The Franklin Town Board is not known for its lightning-speed decision-making processes. The “spontaneous” nature of the censure is suspect. The possibility of the violation of state open meeting laws needs to be looked at. If there had been prior collaboration even through emails, texts, etc., then that is something to examine and address.

At the base of Franklin's growing mound of controversies lies the planned $1.25 million property acquisition for a new ABC store. Of course, with money saved on mowing, this town-owned liquor store becomes a little more affordable, but not much. If North Carolina privatizes liquor sales, the Town of Franklin will be stuck with a large empty building, adding to the existing glut of vacant commercial space that is calling out for renters – such as an ABC store.

It is unlikely the next election cycle for Franklin will be as boring as the last. I doubt we'll see unopposed candidates on the ballot. While often times costly and uncomfortable, controversy is an excellent antidote for apathy.





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published: 10/18/2013
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