Editor responds to query about annexation stance

Published 3:29 pm Friday, December 18, 2009

Have you lost your mind?
by Jeff Byrd
Editors note:A friend wrote to me Thursday, berating me over annexation. I say a friend because it is a true friend who will berate you. Your enemies just talk about you. Anyway, I thought you, dear readers, might enjoy his beration and a chance to hear my response.
Dear Jeff:
Have you lost your mind? You are not living in Charlotte, Atlanta or even Asheville. In case you have forgotten, it is Tryon, N.C. In my opinion you have been digging your own grave with the intent of committing public suicide. You are also contributing heavily to the community dissension which you claim to be against. I have hope that you will soon come to your senses and do the job that a small local newspaper is supposed to do.
You and certain town officials little contrived plan to control the election backfired as it should have and I am proud to say it did. Too damn bad. This is AMERICA, you know.
Dear Friend:
I didnt contrive any plans to “control the election.” I went with a friend to ask one up and coming young man to consider running because he is really sharp and would be a great leader for the town. He declined. That is all I did towards anything to do with the election. I imagine others went to people and asked them to run, right? Was that some crime?
Oh yeah, and we helped CAFA sponsor a forum.
Dont believe everything you hear or let the rumor mill control your imagination. I have no powers over anything and no desire to control anything.
My opinion on the annexation was stated fairly clearly Wednesday. I think that it would have been best for everyone if Tryon were allowed to grow. I dont know what you mean about Charlotte and Asheville.
My other objection, and the one that put me off the most, was the way the opposition handled itself, and I spoke to that as well.
When people begin attacking individuals and their families and all the rest, attack them for doing what they believe is truly in the best long term interest of the community, I will stand by those being attacked. Sorry. I will. I cannot stand to see that kind of behavior. I have seen it over and over and have never abided it.
You may think it was justified due to the extreme circumstances of annexation. I do not. I will stand by people who have guts and are taking the hit on others behalf for what they see as a public good.
People in government get creamed around here. It is outrageous how they are treated. It is as if people truly believe we should have no government at all, and that once one of us steps up and offers himself as a volunteer, citizen electee, he becomes part of some terrible conspiracy. Its nonsense.
You should run for some office and see for yourself how you are treated for trying to do something good for your community.
As for annexation, you may think I am alone out there, but that also is not true. I am just one of those who cannot easily duck. People in Tryon were grousing about the fairness of the city lines creating a weird set of Tryon community payers and non-payers long before the issue ever arose or I cared about it. It was at least mildly considered by every council for 20 years. I never advocated that it be done, but when it came up and the towns situation was explained, I thought it might work. I actually never supposed it would garner such opposition. I dont think it would have meant much in the way of new taxes by the time all the factors sorted out. Lynn was probably a bad annexation but the one just dropped was sensible.
Anyway, it is over now and we in Tryon will go on. We will have to cut services and that is that. You own property in town. You must not want to see taxes rising constantly. Personally, I think we should cut and not raise taxes, and perhaps do so more boldly and deeply than this council will contemplate.
While we all will now root for their success, I hope the council will not just tinker around the edges and leave Tryon to reach budget crisis proportions again in about ten years or so when some new council will be in place and will have to deal with it.
I truly think a crisis would not be good for the folks who fought so hard to prevent annexation and that the entire community would be poorer for it. Sort of cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Do you think we should consider unincorporating Tryon? Just become an unincorporated village? Let the county run the water system and provide the policing? I think it should seriously be considered.
As for my job, it is constant public suicide. If I take no stand, I am “a wimp.” If I take a stand, I am “digging my grave” with some and likely have no supporting troops at my back among those who agree. In a small town we mostly prefer not to take any heat, and that is why the attack strategy is so effective.
What the heck? These are public issues, not life and death. We debate them in a democracy and move on.
This was a democratic move, since the state of North Carolina provides annexation as a legal measure. So, the “freedom” argument was always a bogus one made for rhetorical flare. Anyway, I am going to take a stand on things at times.
I didnt say much about annexation, but folks knew where I stood and so I am sure some found in that reason for slander. Fine. That is something I do not do to others and cannot stand.
My answer also is that we covered the issue fairly on the news side, and on the opinion side we ran more column inches of anti-annnexation letters than I care to remember. We printed more anti-annexation on the order of 20 to 30 times any supporting letters and on the order of 200 to 300 times any words I wrote myself.
So, what job is a small local newspaper supposed to do in your opinion? I am reviewing right now the past ten years, issue by issue, and we have covered every story, every controversy, every achievement in this county and region.
I can tell you, there are few small newspapers around doing as thorough a job anymore, as most are cut to the bones by their chain owners.
So, please quit trying to put me in a box. I can have an opinion. I am not running for anything, and I am not trying to control anything. You only say what you say because you disagree with the opinion I held.
Best, Jeff

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