My column this week is a tribute to free association … had a lot going on. Apologies, it’s the best I could do this week.
Concerning the fluoride in public water imbroglio, I don’t really have much of an opinion.
But here are a few thoughts.
Where I grew up there was not a drop of what my dad called “town water.” We tapped into a spring a couple hundred yards in the woods behind the house.
It was the best-tasting water in the world. My dad always said that was because the spring lizards pooped in it.
Every time I went to the dentist as a little kid I had a mouthful of cavities, even though I brushed my teeth three times a day per my mom’s instructions.
Well, maybe two times a day.
Years later when I worked for the Daily News in Jacksonville we covered a long-running story about people who lived aboard Camp Lejeune whose children became tragically sick over decades. They traced the illnesses to chemicals from groundwater contamination stemming from a civilian business adjacent to the Marine Corps base.
Bad chemicals lurked in the otherwise innocent-looking water. The folks at the Centers for Disease Control called the situation like the one depicted in the movie “A Civil Action.”
So who knows what’s in drinking water anywhere at any time on any given day.
Concerning the appointment of former councilman Jim Butler to Burlington’s City Council I have this to say first: Congratulations to Mr. Butler. He served the city well once and should probably do so again.
But his appointment to Steve Ross’s vacant seat was more predictable than Duke making the NCAA Tournament.
Really, who didn’t see it coming?
Burlington leaders have a history of choosing friends and former colleagues instead of venturing outside their collective comfort zones for perhaps a fresh voice from the community. Councilman David Huffman said as much when the selection process began.
So this application deal was something of a sham probably.
Would a new face really be so terrible?
Concerning the town hall style meeting to discuss restoration of East Burlington, I originally thought elected city leaders not showing up and leaving the talks entirely up to residents was a bad idea.
But I was wrong.
The turnout Thursday night for the first meeting was exceptional. Fact is, they had to find more room to house all the folks who came in, rolled up their sleeves, and proceeded to get to work providing ideas for city leaders to ultimately act upon.
Public transportation came up again, it’s the gum on the collective shoes of local government in the area. The city doesn’t appear able to afford it.
But can the city afford not to?
Either way, let’s hear some applause for residents working toward a common goal without political oversight or interference.
But I hope city politicians are there to listen when the recommendations start to take shape.
Concerning a meeting last week of downtown Burlington supporters and an expert on revitalizing cityscapes, I have one observation.
Why hold such a meeting at Elon University instead of downtown Burlington?
Concerning the clash last week between the Alamance County Board of Commissioners and Alamance-Burlington Board of Education, I think it’s clear these two sides are almost as far apart as fans of UNC and Duke.
And that was before the name-calling began, though I’m not sure a school leader wanting to be left alone by county politicians is a “radical” idea — just interested in protecting the interests of those they were elected to serve.
What seems clear is that the school system is dickering with the county to restore funding to previous levels and promise to keep it that way before agreeing to meet the county’s request for a policy of how the school system handles rainy day money, or the fund balance
Not sure that can happen. Not sure it should, either.
What also seems clear is that the commissioners want to micromanage how the school system spends every nickel of its money.
Not sure the commissioners are qualified for that particular job either.
In the long run, it would be in everyone’s best interest if both sides could somehow find some common ground, join hands and sing “Kumbaya.”
Now that would be “radical.”