A public moment with F’ville’s kings and princes

Ben Nelms's picture

Is it arrogance or ignorance?

It’s a question I’ve often been asked after residents witness whacky, stupid or rude actions by elected boards. Fortunately, these are few and far between.

But in the case of the April 20 meeting of the Fayetteville City Council it was, in my opinion, pure arrogance.

And I probably would not be writing this column if it were just the first time in the past year.

The matter involved a simple request by new Councilman Paul Oddo to have the minutes of the April 6 meeting amended to reflect the rationale for a position he had taken, a position that resulted in his voting against a 15 percent increase in water and sewer rates.

Rather than honor a request by a fellow elected official attempting to clarify his position, King Kenneth (Steele), Prince Walt (White), Prince Larry (Dell) and Prince Wilson (Price) ruled the day and trashed Oddo’s attempt.

Silence by the three Princes was deafening as Steele asked for a “second” that would have in resulted a discussion about the request.

Obviously, no discussion was needed. Does anybody out there really believe the issue was not discussed prior to the meeting?

Of course, in one way their treatment of Oddo is no surprise. His defeat of Al Hovey-King in November, his lack of membership in the “Fayetteville Good ‘Ol Boys Club and Development Society” and his propensity to ask questions that run counter to the local politically correct establishment were apparently enough to use this occasion to shut him down.

To be sure, Fayetteville Council members usually do a very good job at managing the affairs of the city. Yet on some occasions where a participative world-view and a little graciousness would accommodate government accountability and transparency, they clam up like nobody’s business.

As for the April 20 meeting, the actions of King Kenneth, Prince Walt, Prince Larry and Prince Wilson (Glenn Brewer was not at the meeting) were tacky, unprofessional and presumptuous.

No! That’s incorrect, I was confused!

That’s what King Kenneth called me when he interrupted a council meeting last year to chastise The Citizen for daring to tape record His Majesty’s meeting.

As you may recall, it was around the time that former Police Maj. Harold Simmons decided he would not go quietly after being fired.

It was around the time when the city was in process of continuing to harass its police officers, putting out the word that officers did not need to attend a city council meeting where some of their employment concerns were to be surfaced.

Then a few weeks ago, the council threw the Georgia Open Meetings law out the window when they improperly closed a council meeting.

But then, why shouldn’t they do these things? After all, they rule. We, on the other hand, are supposed to stay in our place, in line, like little ducks behind mama.

Perhaps what Fayetteville needs most, aside from some new elected officials, is to have council meetings broadcast on-line or on a public access channel.

The His Majesties would transform quickly or be exposed. Does the political royalty of Fayetteville really think people in the council room don’t hear their tone of voice or see the expressions on their faces as they dispatch those that directly or indirectly challenge their kingdom?

The Fayetteville City Council as an entity has plenty of power but, with the exception of Oddo, shows little respect for those that question their accountability and transparency.

They are the living embodiment of the world-view that might (in the form of elected position) makes right and to the exclusion of everyone except those in their orbit or those in whose orbit the council resides.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t do well at having to bow. And I certainly don’t do well at turning a blind eye to the not so subtle and disrespectful machinations of the King and Princes of Fayetteville.

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Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:20pm.

I was searching for something and found this column by Ben Nelms.

Not shy is he! Smiling

Ben, are you still covering the council meetings?
(I hope you are!) Smiling

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Wed, 04/26/2006 - 4:29am.

My goodness man, your column reads like a Steve Brown free speech posting. Some dignity is needed if you are expressing opinions for the entire paper.

You are however 100% correct about the royal airs wafting from the Fayetteville City Council and their shunning of Oddo. Correct, for sure, but you will have a tough time covering their meetings after mocking them in your column. Right is one thing, smart is another.

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