Archived Story

Job creation or job loss?

Published 8:24am Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don’t you just love political double-speak?

In placing his signature on a new $20.6 billion state budget last week, Governor Pat McCrory, in a press release, said, “This budget is about job creation.”

As a small, perhaps unnoticeable to most, portion of that budget was the combination of Judicial Districts 6A (HalifaxCounty) and 6B (Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties).

Combining those counties into a single district will, without doubt, save the state some money. But at the same time it eliminates the seats of two local judges – the Honorable Rob Lewis and the Honorable Tom Jones. It will also mean there will be only one district attorney instead of two. Come 2014, 6A’s Melissa Pelfrey and 6B’s Valerie Asbell will face each other for the first time. Who knows, a wildcard may enter the District Attorney race and upset the entire apple cart.

So much for job creation…not unless you are in the new Judicial District in another part of the state, a single-county District created at the expense of 6A and 6B. Partisan politics, no matter which side of the aisle is responsible, stinks to high heaven on this deal. That’s why McCrory did not get my vote, even though I consider myself a Republican. I haven’t voted for any state politician from Charlotte during my lifetime and I don’t plan to start anytime soon.

How is this merger fair, particularly to Judge Lewis….who could have retired in a few years after serving admirably on the bench for the past 19 years. Or to Judge Jones, elected for the first time in 2010 and because he sold his local law practice he cannot return to it…at least practicing in northeastern North Carolina.

And what about the voters of District 6B…what does this behind-the-scenes deal tell them? It shouldn’t take a lot of thought to answer that question….it tells the citizens of Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties that our state leaders, particularly those standing on the GOP side of the aisle, do not care about your vote. We elected Rob Lewis and Tom Jones to serve as our District Court judges and now they are being taken away, all because of greed and partisan politics hundreds of miles away in Stanley County.

I’m struggling to comprehend the need to consolidate two judicial districts. For starters, the resulting case load will be a mountain to climb for a single DA and only four judges. Secondly, did anyone in Raleigh break out a state map and look at the sheer size of this consolidated district. Better yet, did any of our state leaders hop in their car and chart the time and distance from Hollister in southwestern Halifax County to Merry Hill in eastern Bertie County? They better pack lunch and supper if considering to embark on that road trip.

Honestly, I doubt if they even studied the size of the District. After all, it is in northeastern North Carolina….that land that Raleigh forgot. All we are is a bump in the road on the way to the Outer Banks.

You wouldn’t believe how many times a year I receive a phone call from a member of the office staff of one of our state leaders, people that apparently don’t know the difference between Mt. Airy and Mt. Gould.

The conversation typically goes like this:

“Mr. Bryant, Senator ABC is scheduled to visit Edenton on such-and-such date. He would love to meet with you and the Chowan Herald staff.”

My answer is always the same….“I’m in Ahoskie, not Edenton, and we are the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, not the Chowan Herald. If Senator ABC wants to visit with me in Ahoskie, I can arrange my schedule to meet with him (her).”

So much for Raleigh giving a hoot about us!

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

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