Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 8:34 pm

SB 36: Baby, meet bathwater

A couple of folks in the local blogosphere — e.g., George Hartzman, here — have suggested that SB 36, State Sen. Trudy Wade’s misbegotten monkeying around with the city of Greensboro’s election system, will be good for Greensboro because it will rid the city of a corrupt City Council. Their thinking is that because the redistricting that SB 36 calls for would place several council members in one district, forcing them to run against each other, several inevitably would be voted off the council.

If in fact most or all council members are corrupt, then this is a legitimate point. So let’s examine it.

Caveat: I’m not prepared right now to say as a fact that one or more members of the council are corrupt — or not corrupt, for that matter. So, for the purposes of this post, let’s posit that all nine of them are dirtier than a ’57 Buick’s oil pan. Let’s further posit that, for whatever reason, law enforcement cannot or will not deal with the corruption for us.

SB 36 still would be the wrong solution to the problem.

Why? Simple. Although it might get rid of some incumbent council members, there’s no guarantee that it would get rid of those who actually are corrupt. Moreover, because it would give voters a say over fewer seats on the council (one district member plus a mostly-non-voting mayor, as opposed to a district member, three at-large members and a voting mayor on the nine-member panel under the current system), it would make unseating future corrupt council members even more difficult than it is now — to say nothing of the fact that council members would face voters only every four years, instead of every two as they do now.

So SB 36 would be, at best, an uncertain and temporary solution to a problem that, history shows, tends to recur among politicians. And it would make dealing with recurrences of the problem even harder.

Look, if you think that a council member is corrupt, your path is clear: WORK TO GET HIM/HER VOTED OUT. Unlike congressional and legislative districts, Greensboro City Council districts aren’t gerrymandered. Nobody’s seat is safe, particularly if he or she is corrupt. We already have a sufficient mechanism in place to replace corrupt council members. SB 36 remains what it always has been: a solution in search of a problem and an attempt by anonymous corporate interests to win through their puppet legislature what they cannot win in Greensboro’s ballot boxes.


  1. As I wrote at the News and Record Post, one of the biggest hurdles is our compromised press. If they don’t report what is actually happening, nothing is going to change but the names of Roy or whoever’s puppets.

    Comment by ghartzman — Wednesday, April 15, 2015 10:46 pm @ 10:46 pm

  2. Related;

    On the Rhino push poll, Trudy Wade, Joe Killian etc… from a couple of Facebook threads

    Comment by ghartzman — Wednesday, April 15, 2015 10:49 pm @ 10:49 pm

  3. Speak directly to my point, George. Do you not understand the longer-term problem that SB 36 would create, or are you so hell-bent on getting rid of current incumbents that you’re willing to screw current and future voters, perhaps saddling them with a corrupt council that it would be even harder to oust?

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, April 16, 2015 6:01 am @ 6:01 am

  4. Who controls what gets put on City Council Agendas?

    Who controls what’s reported?

    It’s FUBAR either way.

    Comment by ghartzman — Thursday, April 16, 2015 10:46 pm @ 10:46 pm

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