May 302012

It is said a photograph is worth a thousand words, so a video must be worth a couple thousand, right?

Today the YouTube video has become the new communication vehicle of politics, as last month’s primary demonstrated in abundance. In recent years, a new cottage industry of small scale video producers has sprung up, creating and distributing video on as many subjects as there are interests. Applying humor and satire to address the shortcomings of our elected politicians is a natural fit and often times it serves as a subtle (or not so subtle) means to focus public opinion on the issues at hand. After all, who hasn’t seen a JibJab video?

hypocrisy |hi?päkris?|
noun ( pl. hypocrisies )

the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

In calling attention to Commissioner Todd Johnson’s recent meeting absence, I could have written a letter to the editor (I may still do that) pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of his attack on Commissioners Rogers and Kuehler a year ago, when they went on spring break with their families. A video just made the point better and of course, in a more entertaining way.

“During closing comments, Johnson said the county was dealing with major problems and all board members should be present.” is a quote from the EJ story, “Johnson criticizes meeting attendance of Rogers, Kuehler”, published April 20, 2011.

Johnson attacked both Commissioners who were out of state on vacation with their families. He conveniently used commissioners comments at the end of the meeting — it was premeditated, mean-spirited and most of all unnecessary. In fact, the hallmark of Commissioner’s Jonathan Thomas and Johnson time in office, has been the constant attack on both women Commissioners.

A year has passed and the Union County Public Schools is in a funding crisis, teachers are being laid off! What more of “major problem” is there?

Is Johnson’s reported “working” vacation to the Virgin Islands any different than other Commissioners taking vacations during the year? No. Being an elected official does not mean you sacrifice your responsibility to your families — Todd Johnson is not the exception. Conventions and “Spring Breaks” are date restricted, so some accommodation is due, but I do think all Commissioners should be present for the budget hearings and budget vote.

Making it political and sowing discord among on the board members was result Johnson’s rant last year. There is no vacuum in local politics and as long as elected officials break “promises” or attack others, they themselves can and will be justifiably criticized.

The caustic atmosphere of commissioner meetings now and for many, many years in the past, do not serve the county or it’s citizens well. It only serves to minimize the number of citizen candidates interested in serving on the board.

Commissioners should respect each other for their opinions and let the show of hands be the final decision on an issue.

May 252012

Great schools are key to economic future

Union County has no professional sports arena, research triangle, or major university. We are not known as a financial center, a tourist destination, or technology hub.

Yet, even in the absence of attractions like these, we have been one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. Some will tell you it is because the taxes are lower; some will claim it is the small-town rural feel; but MOST will tell you it is because of the reputation and performance of the school system.

Our schools have become a very high-profile draw for residential growth which, in turn, leads to retail growth and creates the labor market for industrial growth. This ultimately translates to new business and jobs, a more vibrant economy, lower unemployment, and a better quality of life — all of which were direct promises made in the last election.

Because we don’t have the other typical inducements, the quality of education drives the entire economic health of this County. That, in turn, determines the revenues, the tax base, and ultimately, the tax rate. The issue of school funding has been discussed, spiritedly debated, and is very emotional for a lot of people. It affects not only those that have school-aged children, but every citizen in this county in terms of property values and the desirability of this County to others, today and in the future.

It strikes me that every time there is a disagreement on an issue, Commissioner Rogers and I are accused of “playing politics.” Well look around. This is the government and this is a political board—everything we do is politics. However, I did find my flyer from when I ran four years ago, and it states very clearly that I stand for “funded schools” and “continued emphasis on education.” I am not “playing”.  I am standing up for what I said I would and for what the people are continuing to tell us they want from their elected officials. The current proposal of one-time funding of teacher assistants, while not the most desirable solution, is quite simple. We have the means to help stop, or at least delay, this damage to our children’s education and the overall quality of life to the citizens of this county.

We can pass the buck and the blame, get hung up on semantics and control, or we can decide to preserve and protect the number one economic driver in this county and take care of our kids and our future! It has been said that the monies from the hospital belong to the taxpayers — to the people.

So far, the only request that I have heard via email or public comment is to preserve the integrity of the school system — especially for our youngest children. The voices of the people have been very clear, very consistent, and very specific. I believe we have two more meetings before we must adopt the budget and I urge every Commissioner to put personalities and blame aside, revisit the promises they have made and priorities they claim to have and do the right thing in the name of our children.

Tracy Kuehler
Union County

May 242012

Draft Kuehler effort begins

by Heather Smith
Enquirer Journal – May 24, 2012

A petition to put Commissioner Tracy Kuehler on the November ballot is circulating among western Union County residents.
The terms of Kuehler and fellow commissioner Kim Rogers end this fall. Neither filed for reelection. Richard Helms and Frank Aikmus were the only people to file. Since there was no competition, it appeared both were presumed to be the future commissioners.

But a number of residents on the county’s western side want to see Kuehler on the ballot. John Whitley, Union County Board of Elections director, confirmed that Weddington Mayor Walker Davidson filed the paperwork to begin a petition. The group must collect 5,097 signatures by the deadline of June 29 at noon, Whitley said.

Davidson said he would like a different point of view on the commission. When he saw that only two people filed for two seats, he anticipated the need for a third option.

“The number one reason is that I’d like to have an election in November,” Davidson said. “Voters deserve to have a choice.”

Residents had some interest in the petition earlier, but the recent debate about increased funding Union County Public Schools prompted more people to sign.

“They feel like there are only two people, Kim and Tracy, who are speaking up for our schools,” Davidson said.

A YouTube user called “TheVillageSpine” created a video critical of commissioners Jonathan Thomas and Todd Johnson, as well as Aikmus. Links were posted to several Facebook profiles Tuesday. The video focused on requested funding for teacher assistants made by the school board to the county. The video suggests that Aikmus, like Thomas and Johnson, would not financially support county schools.

The video ends with the words, “Let’s have an election in November, not an appointment.”

Kuehler reposted a link to the video Tuesday, with a message about the petition and her original decision not to run for reelection.

“Since my decision not to run, a huge issue has emerged that I am very passionate about, and the support shown by citizens all over the county for my stance has been overwhelming to say the least,” Kuehler wrote on her Facebook page. “Based on that support and passion, I respectfully agreed to run if the required signatures were obtained.”

While she does not know Aikmus or Helms personally, Kuehler said their political views are likely not different from the current board majority.

“I won’t be able to do much with one vote, but you need someone on the other side asking questions,” Kuehler said.

So far, the group has collected about 1,000 names, Davidson said. That leaves less than a month to collect about 4,000 more. But many of the petitions are still circulating, he said, and even more have recently gone out as anxiety over school budgets rise.

“Based on the recent interest and how much interest it’s gotten in the past few weeks, I think it’s possible,” Davidson said.

The Enquirer Journal – Draft Kuehler effort begins.

The following link is for the Petition Form. Download and print it. It is acceptable with just your own signature, but you can always ask your neighbors to sign as well.

[Click Here] for PETITION

For information as where to send your signed petition – please email the VillageScribe.

NOTE: In the EJ story above, there is a reference to a video from a YouTube user named VillageSpine. Do not be mislead by the similarity in names, the Village Scribe DID NOT produce or distribute this video.