Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Government by, of, & for land-owners.

Mr. Allen Trivette's current assault on the "scenic byway" status of Hwy 194 is very much part of a pattern and seems to represent the thinking of the rest of this current Board of Commissioners. Back at the beginning of December, upon learning that the State Board of Transportation was on the verge of designating the Doc & Merle Watson Highway a "scenic" road, Watauga County Commissioner James Coffey was quoted in the Raleigh New & Observer (Dec. 4, 2003):

"You've got to look at who it affects directly," he said. "It's the one that owns the property. They [the State Bd. of Transportation] are listening to all these college students, summer people and people who don't have any direct interest in it."

Coffey's fellow commissioner Allen Trivette is taking the same approach to Hwy 194. "The people" he wants to hear from on this issue definitely don't include many of us. For purposes of Coffey & Trivette's politics, "the people" only include those who think exactly like them. If you weren't born here, you don't count. If you're a (gawd forbid!) student, you don't count. Apparently, those of us who drive these roads on a regular basis don't count, if we don't also own frontage. Apparently, those of us whose taxes paid for the construction of these roads don't count. Apparently, only the landowners on these roads should have a say (and if you got right down to brass tacks, I suspect Mr. Coffey, at least, really means "the rich landowners along these roads," of which there are several on the new Hwy 421).

Apparently, to listen to Commissioners Coffey and Trivette, there never was a revolution in this country. The old regime of King and aristocrats gave ALL the power to landowners, and that system seems to suit Coffey & Trivette just fine. If you don't own land, you got no right to an opinion.

Fortunately, we became a democracy, though you can't always tell it.

As far as "all these college students, summer people and people who don't have any direct interest in it" ... Mr. Coffey is just wrong. Over 3,000 people signed the petition to keep billboards off that road (including a few with the same surname as the Commissioner). We worked the petition table at the Lowe's Food Store in New Market Center and saw all sorts of ordinary and native-born Wataugans come up and ask to sign. That fact apparently means precisely zilch to Coffey & Trivette.

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