Still all in this together

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 23, 2013

Rowan County commissioners cut their ties with the Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations Council two years ago. This month, they added an exclamation mark to the withdrawal.
The vote in 2011 went like this: Jim Sides’ motion to zero-fund the council passed 3-2. Chad Mitchell then made a motion to set aside $3,150 to be earmarked for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast, and it passed unanimously.
This year the board again approved the $3.150 allocation, emphasizing that it was a direct payment for the breakfast only. More important, the motion also formalized the fact that the county would no longer participate in the council in any way. It will no longer make appointments to the council or send a liaison and staff to their meetings.
Kudos to Commissioner Jon Barber for noticing this item on the consent agenda and asking to have it pulled out for a separate vote. He was against terminating the county’s support of the council, and evidently he wanted everyone to know it.
Kudos also to Vice Chairman Craig Pierce who at least offered an explanation, however brief, after the meeting. “We don’t feel like, in our opinion, we don’t feel it represents all of the citizens of Rowan County,” Pierce said.
The council has even less chance of representing all Rowan citizens without county appointees, but no one can claim to be surprised by the commission’s action. Under current leadership, expectations for this board do not include improving relationships or bridging divides.
The county’s past support for the Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations Council was mostly symbolic, a vote for promoting diversity and cultural understanding. In addition to Martin Luther King Day events, the council and its offshoots support Let’s Get Connected Day, Meet Your Neighbor forums, La Fiesta de Rowan, Mayor’s Spirit Luncheons and the Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Awards. Its mission is to create an environment of hospitality, inclusiveness, acceptance and appreciation of the diversity of all.
If today’s county-commission majority doesn’t want to stand behind that, so be it. “Rowan” is nevertheless very much a part of the Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations Council. More than 33,000 county residents live in Salisbury, and many realize city and county fortunes are inextricably intertwined. The council has reached out to the whole community of Rowan, and it should continue to do so. That includes people of all ethnicities, races, colors, genders, orientations, religions and beliefs. One vote doesn’t change much. We’re still all in this together.
Those who wish to show their support for the Human Relations Council can make a donation or volunteer. You can find more information