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David Post: After the fact, a lot of maybes

By David Post

Maybe I’m the bad guy. If so, I accept responsibility

I’m the one who was told that if the DA “cleared” the officer in the Ferguson Laurent shooting, there could be trouble. Then I received an email from Carolyn Logan who told me that she had heard about the “possibility of innocent people dying just because they are white” and that “this city needs to be on high alert.”

When the Post and WBTV submitted public information requests, I was told both by the city attorney and my personal attorney that the law required me to give the rest of my personal emails since they related to “public business.” Maybe I should have followed another attorney’s advice to refuse the request and let the press sue me.

Maybe I’m the bad guy who allegedly made “disparaging remarks” at a City Council meeting.

AlloyWorks had just completed a presentation about Salisbury being one of three cities where it is considering an investment of up to $70 million and the creation of 40-50 jobs paying $45,000-50,000. That is more than double the cost of Fibrant and more than triple the hoped-for investment in the Empire Hotel. With more employees at higher pay.  That’s a big deal for Salisbury.

When a break was called during public comment and the local economic development team and the AlloyWorks leaders exited City Hall, I ran outside and asked, “What can we do to make sure you select Salisbury?” They told me that they were impressed and found our City Council meeting to be “lively.” And like those in other communities.

When I returned, someone asked me what I told them, and I said, “Good.  They thought we were entertaining.”

Maybe those are fighting words.  Who knows?

Since these events, Facebook “friends” have “unfriended” me. Some on Facebook have posted that they are “disappointed in” me. Several community activists will no longer respond to emails out of concern that our written conversations on private email accounts will become public.

Despite the bumps and disagreements we, as a city, have had over the past few months and years, including the occasional long public comment periods, everyone who has contributed wants the same thing — for Salisbury to be a better place for everyone.

In my mind, Carolyn Logan is a hero.  She alerted the me of possible trouble.

The city listened and tried to reach out to the community. Women for Justice and Justice for Salisbury reached out. Hundreds of people engaged in the different dialogues.

Communicating these days is a treacherous minefield. Efforts to do the right thing are often perceived as the opposite.

Tragedies in other cities have led to trouble. An election forum in October 2015 by some who are now leaders of Women for Justice addressed the events of Ferguson, Missouri, asking, “Could this happen here?” and “How can we avoid that from happening here?” Unprepared cities, including Charlotte, suffered substantial harm with public unrest driven not by members of their local communities, but by outsiders.

Was trouble possible after the DA released the SBI report? Maybe.

The tragedy of Ferguson Laurent had terrible optics and was rightly overwhelmingly emotional. No good outcome was possible. City Council faced some very heated, spirited, contentious, and time consuming public comment.  Now, there are calls to limit public comment because of that, but there was no trouble.

Maybe all the talking and even all the venting and all the allegations that the city was hiding something (remember my offer to take a lie detector test at the Square in the nude?), even if in the face of distrust, helped.  Maybe public comment played a pivotal role, even if uncomfortable.

Maybe being prepared is not a bad thing.

The good news is that there was no trouble.

Maybe I made a mistake turning that email over. Maybe I made a mistake begging AllyWorks to invest here. Maybe I made a mistake reporting their comments about City Council.

Maybe everyone — the city, the public, the organized groups, the press, me — could have done better.

Life is full of maybes.

David Post serves on the Salisbury City Council.

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