What is it about mothers that they like to recant tales of how bad you were as a little boy in front of company? Since my early teenage years, my mama always reveled in sharing with my “dates,” stories of me as a precocious little tike. Now, fifty years later, I cringe when my mama comments on “Face Book” just how much trouble I used to get into. It’s one of many reasons I don’t allow people to post on my “Face Book wall.” However, that doesn’t stop my mama from commenting on a picture or two.
She loves to tell folks about the time when I was five that she left me in the backyard playing and in an instant I was gone. She drove up and down the streets of the neighborhood finally locating me at the home of Hope and Lori Richardson, whose parents had recently purchased the girls a new swing set.
My mom states that my dad, grandfather, and close family friend, Mr. Teague, spent a Saturday afternoon putting up a new fence in the backyard. After working all day on the fence, they were sitting around the kitchen table enjoying a cold drink when Mom looked out the window and saw me scale the five foot fence and go over the top like my boyhood hero G.I. Joe. “There he goes,” she said as the men stood looking in disbelief. I cannot tell you how many stories my mama has told that all end with her favorite catch phrase, “That boy just wouldn’t listen!”
This past January, the Chamber hosted two state senators in a roundtable meeting with local Chamber members. Near the end of the meeting, a Chamber Member asked one of the Senators, “In light of the shortfall in state revenues and the fact that Charter Schools are at least competitive with, if not less expensive than, public schools, would the state legislature be willing to discuss removing the cap?”
The simple answer could have been, “Yes, we would consider discussing it.” Instead, the Senator spent the next five minutes explaining how it was difficult to make the comparisons in operational costs between the two systems. While the North Carolina legislature digs in their heels on their reluctance to not only lift the ban, but to even to discuss the measure, a North Carolina survey taken last year found 65 percent of voters want the state to allow more charter schools and a national poll shows that 74% of voters believe states should lift the limits restricting their growth. Clearly, our state and national leadership may not be listening.
This past month, Chambers of Commerce and other business groups protested a move by Gov. Beverly Perdue that we see as a step toward unions for public employees. She signed an executive order that pushed state employees a tad closer to collective bargaining rights. Currently, North Carolina and Virginia are the only states with specific laws prohibiting collective bargaining by public-sector workers, although most states ban strikes by government employees. Unions want the law changed. So over the last decade, the Teamsters and Service Employees International Union have been pouring money into North Carolina political campaigns. Again, this is counter to the wishes of North Carolina voters. In a poll conducted last April by Public Policy Polling, 51% of North Carolinians had an unfavorable opinion of labor unions compared with 31% who had a favorable one.
My mama would tell you she finally broke me of my habit of not listening by taking something I valued away – “play privileges, my bike, or the TV and with it my favorite shows like The Wild Wild West and Batman! In a state as diverse as ours, we cannot expect every elected official will be in total agreement with their constituents. In a democracy, we value healthy debate, where every voice can be heard and the will of the majority prevail.
However, it is disappointing when an elected official just does not seem receptive to listening. They instead claim to know what’s best for their constituents in spite of polls, letters, and phone calls to the contrary. Mama would be the first to tell you that there is something you can do when you believe politicians, like precocious little boys will not listen, come election time – you can take something away.