#129: Fayetteville, NC 9/11/17

My jaw hung WIDE OPEN for the first two minutes of the Fayetteville city council meeting.

It began not with the bang of a gavel. Not with a hello from the mayor. But with the gentle piano chords of a full-on country music video.

My home town Fayetteville / I’m so proud to be from here!

The lyrics ranged from cheesy to…well, whatever level of civic pride this is supposed to stir up:

Babe Ruth hit his first one heard around the world /

Sherman marched for the Union and burned the arsenal.

Being honest though, there is something admirable about a city that opens its council meetings with a slickly-produced, tearjerking, chest-puffing video. Raleigh, take notes.

I’m talkin’ ’bout my home town, Fayetteville.

Council Member Kathy Jensen promptly directed attention to the extra chair on the dais–a little shorter than the others, but occupied by a special visitor.

“Casey is a senior at Pine Forest High School, go Trojans!” she smiled. “She is gonna tell you about the upcoming event we have at the Fayetteville-Cumberland Youth Council.”

The young woman looked down at her script. “This weekend, FCYC is having their second Glow Fest 5k Fun Run.” She glanced around the room and gave it the hard sell: “Just have a lot of fun with food trucks and dancing.”

Mayor Nat Robertson, being skilled in the art of event promotion, quickly fired a follow-up her way. “Casey, where can people register?”

“Uh, people can go online at fcycnc.org,” she replied.

The mayor prompted her gently. “Anything else we need to know?”

“No, sir, that’s it.”

“I understand,” he kindly took over the narration, “there’s gonna be music and a DJ following the run. So hang out afterwards and just kinda ‘glow’ with us.”

He nodded. “Great to have you joining us.”

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More importantly: will that bow tie be there?

However, my smile immediately turned to a frown, then further turned into a string of profanity: it was time for public comment (good), but the cameras WERE TURNED OFF (BAD)!

“I’m here to speak on the horrifying and ongoing assault on our waterways and drinking water,” a woman railed to the council, masked by a sinister screen graphic.

“Duke Energy is a reckless and intentional polluter with the main interest in making profits for itself….Next month I’ll come back and finish this,” she seethed as the timer beeped.

“Always glad to have you,” Mayor Robertson quipped cheerfully. “That’s why we give you the time.”

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GIVE ME THE LIVE STREAM

She was replaced by a disgruntled resident who, in my mind’s eye, was wearing flannel and a baseball cap as he registered this complaint: “I’m still living in the same city I retired in, thinking that an ‘all-American city’ would mirror all-American values.”

He shook his head (probably). “When mom makes her apple pie, she’s doing it under locked doors and closed windows.”

Fella, I do all of my cooking under locked doors and windows. (I’m very protective of my pies.) Besides, if you’re looking for “all-American values,” may I refer you to the Fun Run?

The mayor flicked on the cameras just in time for a touching farewell to retiring Council Member Bobby Hurst.

“Bobby!” exclaimed Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin to laughter. “Thank you, man, for your hard work. You hung in there and you put up with my questions. Thank you!”

Hurst beamed–the living personification of that opening song.

I’m talkin’ ’bout my home town, Fayetteville.

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