MILLEDGEVILLE — It is disappointing to hear that Rep. Kidd has interjected himself in local politics by forming a consolidation committee. His tactic is right out of the 1970s rural-southern political playbook called “The Classic Good Ol’ Boy Power Play.” This power play tactic has three main elements. First, it must have a name that can expend a great amount of political capacity to quell any public challenge; do so at your own risk! We have that in the Kidd name. Secondly, you must communicate the inevitability of what said name is championing. Rep. Kidd communicated the predetermined outcome when he spoke of the consolidation bill being introduced in 2015 to assure it is on the ballot in 2016. Either Rep. Kidd is a great prognosticator or consolidation being passed in the council and commission is a forgone conclusion. Finally, you must communicate “a sense” of inclusivity: This “Kum ba yah” effect is designed to outwardly display a fake, diversified cooperativeness tempering any public outrage and magnifying community-apathy. Let’s not forget it’s already a forgone conclusion so any committee participation is symbolic at best. Yep, “The Classic Good Ol’ Boy Power Play” is what’s going to allow this consolidation referendum to be placed on the 2016 ballot.
I would be remiss not to speak to Black American leadership who are participating with Rep. Kidd. The opportunity for Black Americans to be elected to local public office has only been realized in my lifetime, so there is still great historical significance. Though you might have little respect for the Black Americans who presently holds the office, you should have great respect for the blood, sweat and tears sacrificed for the office to be held by them. This is why I am grieved that you decided to participate and/or endorse Rep. Kidd’s “Classic Good Ol’ Boy Power Play” and its degradation of duly elected local officials, including Black Americans. It seems you have forgotten this same tactic has been used against Black American locally for generations and is still affecting our socio-economic mobility. Your participation with Rep. Kidd is akin to the oppressed joining forces with the oppressors with the hope of sitting at their table of influence. Have you already forgotten just one decade ago the City Council decided to change its charter; it was without a citizen-vote. This included then Councilman Ken Vance. Now, on a very similar issue he has switched positions, and that does not give you pause?
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana.
Let’s take a few lines to talk about consolidation in Baldwin County: I must admit that those who favor consolidation have done a great job marketing their narrative of “every person deserves to vote on this issue.” The problem is their narrative is illogical at best. Their narrative speaks of a clamoring community passionately seeking to vote for and/or against consolidation. It is unreasonable to suggest that people who are content in their present form of government is passionately pursuing a referendum to vote for their present form of government. That’s like saying those of us who love our great United States Constitution seek a referendum so that we might once again ratify our great Constitution. Huh? This is where their narrative breaks down. It is not those who are content who clamor for a referendum, it is those who are discontented.
I respect the fact that there are some people discontented with our local form of government. But no one has offered any data as to just how many are in the community. In a community where knowledge-based learning is one of our top assets, we are actually having people force the issue of consolidation without any corroborating data; how dangerous is that? The truth is if you take away the smoke and mirrors, the percentile of those seeking consolidation in Baldwin County is very small; they have done well to create the illusion of many.
What Rep. Kidd and those working with him fail to understand is that the process is just as important as the referendum. The “means” must justify the end! By him injecting himself in this consolidation process in forming an independent committee is divisive and counterproductive. His assertion that he is doing this “for the people” is meritless without corroborating data. But it does prove that he is representing someone; a very small group of people who have decided that Milledgeville-Baldwin County will inevitably be unified “by any means necessary.”
Gregory L. Barnes