Darts and Laurels: Edds keeps county commissioners on transparency track

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2021

Laurel to Rowan County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds for taking an important step toward maintaining transparency on a matter that drew intense public interest.

As commissioners last week considered whether to approve a rezoning request for Reaper’s Realm, it became clear a majority of the board would vote “no.” That resulted in an impromptu discussion in hushed tones behind the dais as commissioners presumably discussed what to do next.

Denying the rezoning request meant Reaper’s Realm Haunted House and Trail wouldn’t be allowed to open this year because of concerns that arose after a shooting last year. That would be a major revenue hit for a small business. Approving it would fly in the face of clear concerns communicated by neighbors.

Edds, who could have been the deciding vote, appeared to recognize he would make a large swath of the audience unhappy whether he said “yes” or “no.” He called a decision “heartbreaking for everyone.” Ideally, the next conversation would have been one audible to the public about what to do next. That the opposite occurred to the audience took place instead was a brief detour in the wrong direction.

Edds did the right thing by redirecting the talk toward the public.

Elected leaders in Rowan County are generally good about having discussion in a public forum, but there’s no question that talk about public business happens in text message threads, email chains and one or two at a time in casual conversation. The first two are public records that can be obtained later. The third isn’t.

As often as possible, Salisbury’s and Rowan County’s elected leaders should strive to shift conversation back into a public mode of communication when it might be headed the wrong way.

After a period of quiet, dart to the resurgence of violent crime in 2021.

Salisbury has seen three homicides in as many days this week. The number grows to four when counting a homicide in the county.

Near the start of June, Salisbury and Rowan County also experienced a particularly deadly period for homicides after there were multiple in the Salisbury city limits and one in the county.

Salisbury is now at 11 homicides in 2021, which tops totals from the previous several years. So, it’s understandable the public and 2021 Salisbury City Council candidates will be concerned about how to “fix” crime. It’s also important that people recognize ways to reduce violent crime involve multi-faceted solutions that can’t start or end at the Salisbury Police Department.

Violent crime is a public health issue. There are economic and personal factors, too. The roots for a violent crime do not form in the moments before shots are fired.

Programs such as the Salisbury Police Department’s Cease Fire is just one part of a multi-faceted plan. Are the other facets there, too?

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