Monday, October 16, 2006

Blust Continues Batting Zero

Hand it to N.C. Senate candidate and sitting (!) county commissioner David Blust ... he's stuck to his guns on ASU student voting (not!) and a new high school for Watauga County (no!). At tonight's County Commission meeting he was the lone dissenting vote against a plan to finance the $7 million needed to purchase 89+ acres of prime Boone real estate for the project. "No!" he said in a clear, almost overly loud voice. The words of Mr. Emerson came to mind: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Earlier in the year, Mr. Blust decided that opposition to a new school was going to be as popular as opposition to zoning was in 2002, so he hitched his wagon to Deborah Greene's star. Hasn't worked out the way that either Mr. Blust or Ms. Greene envisioned.

Of the 21 people who spoke at the public hearing tonight, only three were opposed to the high school project. Among the 18 in favor were some leading Republicans on the school board and in the business community. Are they going to turn around and vote to put Mr. Blust in the state senate? Why would they do that? So that he can fail to rise to the demands of public office at a higher pay grade?

In the extemporaneous speech County Commission Chair Jim Deal delivered after the public comments and prior to the vote, Deal displayed again the rhetorical power that good lawyers are paid for. Very few people can stand up to his strength of conviction, his clarity of vision, his command of facts. His riff on building a "green" school was itself worth the price of admission, a clarion call for sustainable environmental practices long overdue in Watauga County. There sat ex-commissioner chair James Coffey in the audience, wisps of hot steam visibly lifting off his ear lobes. If Mr. Coffey were still chair of the board, nary a step forward would have occurred.

No one knows that better than fellow Republican Commissioner Keith Honeycutt. Honeycutt was fully off the Republican reservation tonight, repudiating the local GOP platform so recently published in the press. He now thinks a referendum is a very dumb idea. And we bet he wishes he'd shown up for that budget vote months ago, when he skipped out rather than cross the grandees of his own party. He seems to think it's safe now to defy them in his race to get reelected. But he's got a formidible opponent in ex-teacher Mary Moretz. The thing about Mary Moretz is that she doesn't have to run against her own party to run on what she believes.

It was a good night for Watauga County education. And for the future.

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