Board of commissioners again takes low road

Published 1:55 pm Thursday, April 9, 2009

By Staff
At least the Marx Brothers had talent.
Loads of it.
Not so our Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.
In its latest display of immature, embarrassing behavior, a few on our board railed Monday night against “long-haired” environmental activists.
Sheesh, we thought that sort of rhetoric died with Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew and Col. Flagg of the television show “MASH.”
Seems the boys have their jockey shorts in a wad because those nasty flower children out there want to protect the county’s wetlands, and in so doing could jeopardize the future of PCS Phosphate, the county’s largest employer.
While several commissioners blathered on in typical testosterone-filled rants, other board members remained silent or just sighed. To his credit, though, one urged his comrades to behave with more dignity — this, as he readied the board’s tar and feathers and vowed to “fight these people (environmentalists) tooth and nail.”
That the board wants to protect the mining company certainly isn’t surprising or unwarranted.
PCS Phosphate — which wants to expand its operation and is close to the end of a very-long permitting process — is critically important to the county tax base and has been keeping many county families afloat amid one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history.
The WDN has consistently urged compromise on the matter, as it did again in Tuesday’s editorial.
We’ve argued that neither environmental activists nor PCS Phosphate supporters can claim total right and wrong on the company’s desired expansion.
We also know that PCS has met, and must continue to meet, stringent requirements as it mines for high-grade phosphate ore.
The company deserves a fair chance to continue operating. Unfortunately, though, its cause is being hampered by knee-jerk supporters on the board who attack environmental activists simply for wanting to protect the area’s natural resources.
Both sides deserve better than that from our elected officials.
The mining company wasn’t the board’s only concern Monday night.
When it wasn’t sharpening its pitchforks and shining its brass knuckles to battle those diabolic longhairs, the board took up the issue of marriage.
Seems everything else in the county must be OK, so they figured they’d discuss endorsing a measure to define marriage in North Carolina as between one man and one woman.
This issue is important to people, and it’s a good bet many board members’ constituents want marriage defined in this way. But to take county time discussing an issue over which the board is virtually impotent makes little sense.
And then, of course, our boys got around to one of their favorite topics: illegal immigration. They argued that even though jobs in the area have dried up for “illegals,” the board must remain vigilant “before this swarm comes back on us again.”
The curtain should close on this vaudeville act called the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners. The board has repeatedly violated the show-business axiom “always leave them wanting more.”
Board members must halt their pointless, insulting grandstanding or book a night at the Turnage Theater where their song-and-dance routine will be more appreciated.