Updated: 2/15/2006; 7:14:20 AM.

   Hogg's Blog

            David Hoggard's take on local politics and life in general from Greensboro, NC

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Today I caught Jinni looking at herself in the mirror with a grimace on her face as she was getting ready to don one of her way cool head scarves.  I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I just don't like this look."  I hugged her and said, truthfully, "I do."

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Our City Council will soon be considering whether or not to offer itself health insurance benefits because, as our City Manager says, at least some additional benefit is warranted... (impetus post here and my follow up here)

"The fact that this is common practice now (in other jurisdictions), coupled with the increasing demands on council and our council salaries being below average, all lead me to conclude that this change is fully justified."

The comments here and in ALL other conversations I have had with regular folks over the past couple of years indicate that it's high time we look at not only how we compensate our Mayor and City Council, but also how the role of both entities have changed, and more importantly - how they should change, to better serve local government.

Greensboro is no longer the sleepy little mill town we were when this matter was last looked at back in 1979.  We have changed, grown, and become things that could not have been envisioned back then.  It's time to take a fresh look at some things.

Our City Council should take the upcoming consideration of providing itself with health insurance and use the opportunity to widen the discussion.  They should authorize some sort of a study to take a hard look at what else might need to change.

Do we need a fulltime mayor?  I think we do but our current and former mayors could answer that question more fully.  Let's ask them.

Is $9,500 per year enough for all the time that say, a hard worker like Councilwoman like Sandy Carmany, spends on the public's business?  I don't know, but my guess is that she would say 'hell no'.  That is if she wasn't cognizant of the potential political fallout that some future opponent of hers might selfishly mete out and use against her because of such a statement.  So let's ask former Council members their opinion (hard as they are to find), and adjust.

Let's look at other cities our size and see how they do things and ascetain if they might have some ideas and policies we could steal.  While we're at it we should go ahead and codify how often such a governance/compensation re-evaluation should take place in future decades.

The City Manager has opened this can of worms, but it is a can that needed opening.  I know of at least one Council person who has gone on the record as saying some things ought to change.  Do I hear a motion?


Update: We have a second.

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Animosities can run deep and long when citizens feel they have been treated unfairly by their elected officials and I suppose that is understandable.  Public policy decisions, especially those that affect one's children, can be taken very personally but most people so affected work overtly and openly to rectify what they consider to be a personal injustice.  Others snipe angrily from the shadows.

During recent conversations I had with some of our School Board about the changes for Lincoln and Aycock middle schools, I was talking to board member Kris Cooke about how I hoped all of the changes would work out.  During the conversation I thanked her for listening and assured her that regardless of how it all played out, I still appreciated her service.  She thanked me and said she wished all such controversies around school change could be so amicable and then said, "You wouldn't believe a Christmas card I received on Christmas Eve."  She's right... I found it hard to believe.  The postmark was not from Greensboro.  (With her permission)...

It started with a hand written 'Dear Krissy'.  Then the printed portion of the card read... "May the tradition of the holiday season bring you a special feeling of peace, hope and joy that carries through into the new year. Merry Christmas"

A line was drawn through certain words, and the message took on a different meaning when other sentiments were scribbled in their place.  Peace was replaced with 'helplessness', hope was replaced with 'hopelessness', and joy was replaced with 'anxiety'.

She said fellow Board member Dot Kearns received the same card with the same twisted message on Christmas Eve.

Now public servants better have some thick skin or they are better off foregoing a campaign, but I just found this gesture to be beyond the pale.  As I've said before, if I were a public official, such nasty behavior would not tend to make me want to do squat for whatever cause such venom might think it is advocating for.

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Mr. Sun once wrote that the News & Record's Maria Johnson "writes so well, I totally hate her guts".  Believe it or not, that was a high compliment indeed - and one that I share.  My "hate" (read love, of course) deepens everytime she is assigned to write an in-depth profile of a local citizen.  The subjects of her once-in-about-every-six-months articles receive what she and others have dubbed "the "Maria treatment".  I know first hand of the amount of time and effort she spends putting the 'treatment' together for everyone to read.

The Life section of this morning's N&R gives us the latest 'Maria treatment' with an amazing inside look at the life, dreams, hopes and precociousness of 19 year-old Iva Panayotova, a recent immigrant from Bulgaria.  I can't find a link to "Iva In Charge" online yet, so go out and plop down a buck-twenty-five for a hard copy.  Maria's profile of Iva is priceless, so you will be getting a bargain.

My only question: How in the world did Maria find this wonderful girl/woman who, before today, was anonymously just taking care of herself and her family?  However she discovered Iva, it was a great find.

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