The old Southern saying goes “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Then again, there’s nothing like a little vinegar or Tabasco to cut though the cloying fat of smoked BBQ.

An open e:mail to the Orange County Board of Commissioners:

On Tuesday evening, at the Orange County BOC meeting in Hillsborough it became glaringly apparent there was a complete failure of do diligence in the Waste Transfer Station site selection process. In fact there was no real process at all. Chairman Carey, 2 years of talking is not a process, it was just 2 years of talking and no basis for a decision.

Unfortunately if this failure is allowed to stand the people who will most directly carry the consequences and burden will be the working class African American community on Rogers Road, the same people who have carried the burden of the county’s landfill for 34 years. There is absolutely no way to deny that this failure to act professionally is in itself an act of environmental injustice. There is much irony in that Orange County is considered the most progressive county in North Carolina, and home to Senator Edwards and his Presidential Campaign which is centered around helping the “Other America”.

My anger was apparent at the meeting and still apparent in this e-mail, I make no apologies. I am not a politician or a policy wonk. Nor do I make a pretense of tactful persuasion. My wife’s parents lived their lives in north central Philadelphia and were 50 plus year members of the Zion Baptist Church which was led for many years my the late Reverend Leon Sullivan. When visiting my in-laws they would bring us to the church even though I am not a Christian. Listening to Reverend Sullivan was always an education and an inspiration. In my early twenties I remember Reverend Sullivan talking about personal integrity and professional integrity and that both were tied hand in hand. He told us that we can not claim to have one without the other. He was relating this concept from his involvement with American and international business executives and political leaders.

It became obvious in Tuesday’s meeting that the Waste Transfer siting process had , no professional integrity, no intellectual integrity, no moral or ethical integrity and formed no solid basis for any decision. Chairman Cary, in your e-mail response of 2/17/07 to my request of all the leaders of this community to take as stand on this issue, you said to quote:

“… it would be premature and unethical in my opinion for any elected official to respond to you as you have requested prior to considering all information which must be considered to make an informed decision on this matter.”

With all due respect, by calling for a vote on this issue on Tuesday you were violating your own stated ethical standard. It is clear The Orange County BOC nor anyone else for that matter has all the facts needed to make an informed decision. It is now in the open that the Orange County BOC has never directed anyone or any group to get all the facts.

It is also misleading that the BOC can only start “mitigation talks” to compensate the Rogers Road community after a site is chosen. The Rogers Road community has already earned that compensation through their 34 years of sacrifice. Why should they have to acquiesce to a Waste Transfer Station to receive compensation? Discussions can start whenever the BOC decides to do so.

It was also clear that Commissioner Foushee, Commissioner Jacobs and Commissioner Gordon were struggling with what they witnessed Tuesday night. Commissioner Foushee was the first to speak with eloquence and concern, articulating her distress on the deficiencies of the process to date. She expressed the desire to get this right. If an academic study were to be conducted on the right and wrong ways to site a waste facility as things currently stand Greensboro would be the case study of the right way and Orange County would be the contrasting case study on how get it all wrong. I am asking all the commissioners: Are you proud of where we are on this issue? Are you proud of how we got here? Is this an example of good governance?

If each of you abide the principle of tying personal and professional integrity together then you have no choice but to vote against siting the Waste Transfer Station on Eubanks Road. You have no choice but to restart the siting process.

David Richter

I published David’s earlier correspondence with Commissioner Moses Carey highlighting the lack of a systematic approach in selecting a waste transfer site. Since then, even knowing of this troubling deficit, Carey pushed for an immediate vote to solidify the choice of the Eubanks Road site.

But some sense prevailed during last week’s Orange County Board of Commissioner’s meeting as the other BOCC members responded to both the illogic of the current situation and to the many folks that showed up to ask for more prudence. They directed staff not only to do a more exhaustive evaluation but to incorporate a more multi-dimensional approach like the one I’ve previously suggested.

I’ve heard a few comments from folks that David is coming on a little too strong. I understand his passion.

The calculated lack of process was destined to produce one answer – an answer BOCC member Carey is obviously comfortable with – an answer extending the 34 years of ills the Rogers Road community has borne by decades.

That deficit is so glaring, the troubling consequences to the Rogers Road community so apparent, it is an injustice crying for redress.

And when the redress comes slowly, grudgingly, even a bit bitterly from our elected folk, well, a little bit of vinegar is quite excusable.

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