By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Vindictive vote by petty politicians
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter that three of five county commissioners last month voted to force the commission chairman to vacate his office for a smaller one. But then again, it does.

It means that for some, vindictive pettiness is a justifiable exercise  of  political power.

It means that for some, personal spite trumps public service.

It means that for some, silly, empty gestures carry the weight of profound thought and action.

It means that for some, juvenile antics are more important than mature leadership.

And that’s sad.

Commissioners David Richard, Linda Ledbetter and Brian Tam voted in favor of forcing Chairman Charles Laughinghouse from the largest office in the county commission suite — saying as they did that it should be reserved for the county manager. Which is also sad, considering this inept board’s pathetic history in the recruitment, hiring and firing of county managers.

Once upon a time, when the county was able to retain a county manager long enough for it to matter, the largest office space was reserved for that employee. Stevie Mills was the last county manager to provide any stability in that position, and his tenure ended years ago.

Former Chairman Jack Conway then usurped the biggest office space, and was criticized for doing so by Laughinghouse, which is ironic in that Laughinghouse then did exactly what he had criticized his predecessor for doing.

But don’t be misled into believing that the commission vote to relocate Laughinghouse had anything to do with what was right or wrong. It didn’t. Instead, it had everything to do with payback, as a gang of three sought revenge for political slights real and imagined, and exacted their revenge.

Commissioners Richard and Ledbetter are leaving the commission at year’s end after tenures marked with frequent controversy. Ledbetter and Laughinghouse have been at odds repeatedly since her election four years ago. Richard’s political meltdown over the past year has been well chronicled and he has publicly attacked Laughinghouse in a very personal manner in recent months.

Their votes on the issue came as no real surprise.

Commissioner Tam, however, is a different matter. Having won re-election, Tam will continue to serve on the commission after Jan. 1, and will have to work with Laughinghouse for at least the next two years.

Given that, you have to wonder why he would expend so much political capital, and create so much ill will and animosity, over an issue of so little importance.

The most likely answer is that he was fulfilling a promise made to the other two. So you have to wonder, what was the purchase price of Tam’s political good sense? Did he promise to take a cheap shot at Laughinghouse in return for support of his effort to fire the most recent county manager? Was the bargaining chip something less substantive than that?

Perhaps Tam simply put his vote, and his common sense, on eBay and the Richard-Ledbetter coalition offered the winning bid.

Whatever the case, it is disappointing that a commissioner who once showed the potential to be a county leader so willingly allowed himself to become party to a pathetic bit of petty political showboating.

Tam is certain to defend his actions by saying he voted to do what he thought was right. That would be a valid defense had he led the charge for change anytime over the past four years, rather than waiting until after the primary to swim in a scummy pond with two lame ducks.