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Editorial: Backward commissioners

Editorial: Backward commissioners
October 17
00:00 2013

The right-wing majority of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners hit residents with a one-two punch this week.

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They dug in their heels on an asinine ordinance to allow residents to carry concealed weapons in Tanglewood Park and decided – against the wishes of just about everyone – to keep the Central Library at its current land-locked location.

The Commissioners – and to some extent the School Board – were Tea Party-ish long before the Tea Party existed. Backward-thinking has long been their friend. We are not surprised that they took it upon themselves to stick it to gun-hating liberals with the ordinance; however, we, like many, are simply repulsed and horrified by such an act of malfeasance.

Tanglewood is arguably the county’s most family-friendly site, from its swimming and picnic facilities to the popular holiday light show and pumpkin hayrides. How the commissioners convinced themselves that guns belong in such a mix is beyond us.
The Right is maniacal when its comes to protecting the Second Amendment. It’s strange since they routinely ignore or degrade some of the Constitution’s other amendments, namely the First (freedom of speech), the Fourth (unreasonable search and seizure) and the equal protection clauses of the 14th.

We find it hard to believe that the white, slave-owning men who drafted the Constitution intended for the Second Amendment to be used to enable folks to take guns to the playground.

The Commissioners’ library move was predictable. The Republicans on the board have made it clear that they aren’t fans of the library – at least not the downtown main branch. They feel it has become a place for the poor, minorities, the homeless and other unsavories. We have no doubt that if a proposal were on the table to create a grand new library in a suburban haven like Kernersville or Lewisville, the commissioners would bend over backwards three times to accommodate such a project.

After dragging its feet for years after bond money was passed for a new Central Library, the commissioners feigned enthusiasm earlier this year by inviting residents to weigh-in on the proposed library. A number of site possibilities were touted; some of them had the possibility of not only giving Forsyth County the 21st Century library it deserves, but helping the ongoing exciting transformation of downtown.

Of all the possibilities that were tossed around, the idea of simply renovating the current library or building anew at the current site received the most lukewarm receptions. Renovation or a rebuild would leave the library on the outskirts of downtown and do nothing to fix the facility’s major problem – lack of parking.

The Central Library truly could have been central had commissioners opted to relocate it to the former Sheriff’s Department on Second Street or Winston Square Park, where it would have co-existed nicely with a planned theatre district.

Money should always be a consideration, but there was only about a $2 million difference between fixing the current location and buying and building elsewhere. Commissioner Walter Marshall – one of only two Democratic commissioners and one of just three sane ones – has said the difference could have easily been made up through partnerships with the city and other entities.

The library isn’t what it once was. Like so many other American institutions, libraries have become victims of technology. With books, magazines and research resources just a click away, they are no longer top destinations for students and bookworms. But libraries are reinventing themselves, the local library is a prime example of that, by offering e-books, free digital music downloads to teens and popular community reading programs.

The commissioners had – still have, actually – an opportunity to help in the library’s revolution, to help bring it out of the shadows and into the limelight. Cities and counties are judged by their appearances, their culture and sensibilities. Giving gun-owners the go-ahead to be strapped at the park while condemning the public library to remain a relic of the last century is not a good look for us.

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