There was an awful lot of hot air circulating up in DC last night. I got home in time to watch the Dubya train ... rolling off the tracks in slow motion. Lucky me. The saviors of the evening were Jim Webb and the SOTU live blogging thread here. Most excellent friends -- y'all had me in stitches when I shoulda been dozing off to sleep. But let me get to the question in my title ...
[Editorial note: the kitties are just for decoration. No kitties were harmed in the writing of this rant.]
In case you weren't aware, we had an open meeting of the Johnston County Growth Management Committee last night in Smithfield. Woohoo!, right?
Well, GUESS WHO CAME to stick their nose where it don't belong?!
The first two people who talked didn't even live in Johnston County. At least the first guy owned land here. He's upset because he's afraid his land value is going to go down. We'll ignore the fact that it's value has quadruppled over the last fifteen years and that there are still special use permits that will be considered. Those are issues for another day.
I'll tell you about the second out-of-town guest in a minute ... or ten.
As you can imagine, the Old Superior Courtroom in Smithfield was full of Realtors. One well-dressed, well coiffed Gentlewoman stood to speak on their behalf. She voiced opposition to the committee's plan. As Gomer used to say,
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
Then the Realtor went on to complain about the trouble of trying to sell homes when there were trailers at the schools in the neighborhoods where the "Homes for Sale" were. Excusing me for waxing simple-minded, but
Senator Smith hisownself had a little dust-up out at his Riverwood development when parents tried to get him to make the School Board move the trailers, (and the students who had classes in them), out of the Riverwood schools. He didn't get too far with that. Apparently, Fred is not quite the rock star he thought he was. Who knew?
Anyway ... back to my tale of small town politics ...
This dear Gentlewoman Realtor talked for what seemed like three days. She sounded like everybody's Grandma, concerned for the first time home buyer and pricing people out of the market and how much more satisfying it was to give keys to a couple buying a 115 thousand dollar house than selling the 400 thousand dollar house.
... (heh. Made you laugh!)...
Ok -- picked yourself up off the floor, y'all. Let's not be disrespectful.
On with the story.
Then, in the middle of all of this dear grandmotherly woman's well practiced parsing of buzz words that all mean the exact opposite of what they appear to mean, I caught this ...
... the stakeholders in this process -- property owners, business owners, developers, contractors and realtors ...
Notice anything missing from that list of stakeholders?
The Association of Realtors in Johnston County doesn't believe that the citizens of Johnston County -- the very people who pay the taxes that build the schools the Realtors demand so they can sell more houses -- are stakeholders in county planning or growth management. hmmm. Interesting. I would submit that THAT attitude is the root of all the conflict that ever happens between citizens and developers.
YOU (Realtors, contractors, developers and their attorneys) discount our concerns because you honestly don't think we have a right to have our concerns counted because you, very wrongly, don't see us as stakeholders in the process.
Then WE (citizens and tax-paying residents of the towns, cities and counties you think you own) come back all BANANA's on your sorry arrogant asses because you've proven yourselves to be a bunch of greedy grubbers who don't give a flip about anybody but yourowndamnselves. [BANANA -- Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.]
That sound about right? Brain exploded yet? Well, take a kittie and keep reading ...
You know, the Realtor's spoken belief (bless her heart) about citizens not being stakeholders was irritating enough -- enough for me to notice it after several minutes of her talking, anyway.
However, what pushed me over the top and made me decide to write this little diatribe about the incident was watching the distain, the condescending grins and silent snickers, the whispers, the snobbery and the contempt on some of the Realtors' faces from time to time as some of our regular Johnston County citizens got up to speak their minds. If I coulda bored a hole in some of those arrogant Realtor heads with my eyeballs I surely would have. The outward attitude observed in those rows of Realtors was fairly disturbing, to say the least. Their whole group earned nothing but my disrespect as a result. Here's hoping it's dripping from my finger tips as I type and displaying their collective unprofessionalism and lack of comportment for a wider audience to see.
Ok, so what about the answer to the original question?
Strap yourselves in, friends ...
We, the people of Johnston County were honored by none other than the John Locke Foundation last night.
Yes, boys and girls, the JLF sent a paid spokesman. He dressed smartly in a suit and tie. He lives in Cary. Joe was his name. He was there to present a "study paper" produced by another paid spokesman at the JLF. He didn't seem to really understand the details of the paper he presented. He didn't know where the numbers in the paper came from. He has no connection to Johnston County at all. He was totally unimpressive. So unimpressive, in fact, that the morning news cast on WTVD labeled him as "Resident." The dude would have come out better had he just sat there and looked informed and intelligent with his suit and tie and clean shaven head. Getting up and speaking up just blew his image totally out of the water.
Here's a tip ... the next time you JLF folks get a wild hair and decides to mosey on down here to help guide us simple uneducated folks in Johnston County as to who actually gets to call the shots in matters of local management and planning ... stay home.
No, really. Stay home.