Over the last six years, I’ve learned more than a tad about how our local political sausage is ground. The manufacturing of poor public policy for political gain adds a distinctively bitter taste to that meaty melange.

Yes, at times, pettiness, spite, gamesmanship and ego overwhelm good sense and reasonable public policy. For a few of these “powerful” folks, public disagreement at any level, is a line-crossed forever – a sin never to be forgotten.

Fortunately, at least as I’ve discovered, most of the local “movers-n-shakers” operate using a different calculus – follow their own internal compass – center their arguments more on solving problems – than working to belittle those philosophically opposed. Sure, sometimes the waves of disagreement toss the boat of local discourse about. Maybe a few intemperate barbs about “tone” are thrown around. Debate can and sometimes does devolve into vileness.

In the end, though, whether at OrangePolitics (OP) or SqueezeThePulp (STP) or the Chapel Hill New’s OrangeChat or BlueNC or even on a WCOM radio show, valuable signal seems to punch through the noise of mean-spirited divisiveness.

I don’t buy all the hype about “the wisdom of crowds” but I do know that the folks participating on these forums – whether I agree with them or not – have provided me a new perspective and an invaluable education on local, state and national issues.

There is wisdom in yond hills.

It’s a shame, then, when a healthy dose of disagreement descends into the provinces of puerile, petty vindictiveness (or worse).

Heck, I don’t want to see a group hug or a chorus of Kumbaya but maybe, in these, our country’s current troubled days, just a small crumb of Rodney Kings “can’t we all just get along”.

That’s why I’m happy to see this Geoff Gilson post over on STP:

People, we are lucky that we live in a community that cares enough to be as active as it is. And we are all of us intelligent enough that we should be able to engage in that activity without needless vitriole.

Now, I’m as guilty as anyone of getting a few cheap laughs out of a local politico’s discomfort. But the events of yesterday have got me thinking.

So. Let me start the ball rolling. Dan Coleman, I apologize. I know you are a good and decent man. What happened on ESP was cheap. I’m sorry. On my new show, I will ask you tough questions. But the histrionics will be…well, history.

That bit of radio theatre was a hard listen.

I know Dan. I had listened to and read Gilson’s work. My (quite extensive) stomach sank as the show unrolled. I knew these two had significant disagreements on policy. They had an opportunity to publicly sharpen their cases for and against. Maybe even a better than good chance to shed a little light on the local scene.

All lost in the noise.

Sure, Geoff is working on a new show for WCHL 1360.

Cynically one might presume that this fence-mending is more about dissipating potential guest’s concerns than an honest attempt at rapprochement.

I’m taking Geoff’s bridge building on face value. I think he wants to restart a conversation and not a shouting match.

Good for us. We all win when our local “movers and shakers” expound and sharpen their arguments over local policy in the arena of public debate.

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