Today’s blog post is dedicated to my tutorial professor who reminds me from time to time that my job as a writer is to set us on higher ground. This admonishment caused me to think beyond the current crisis of allegations, where we are all focused, to what comes next once the future of our city government is determined. This will be a new beginning.
The two quotations from the professor’s private papers, Naval Wisdom, have been selected because of their relevance to the Telegram’s well-written serial story making news.
“If you can not explain it here and now, in the dark of the mid-watch,
how will you ever explain it later at the long, green table?”
The Rocky Mount Telegram has been writing a kind of mystery story that has people staying up late at night in order to read the next chapter as soon as it is available. I think of this story as a book found shelved in the business section with chapters devoted to management, in this case, mismanagement, incompetence, and cronyism. The ‘book’ has become an instant best seller in the genre of political intrigue. There is a lead detective, Lindell John Kay who has uncovered serious allegations of mismanagement. He is a methodical man who prides himself on building his case carefully, looking into records, acquiring evidence, and taking interviews with those who are or have been working in city government or are small businesses owners who can substantiate the allegations that are coming to light.
As the plot unfolds, Detective Kay continues to apprise the citizens of Rocky Mount, where the story is set, of further revelations. Opinions are being formed as to who else may be responsible, either because of their complicity or because they have gained from the graft and corruption under suspicion. There is an attempt to turn the spotlight from obvious mismanagement to a knee jerk fall back position: this is merely a black and white issue, (racial) which explains away any responsibility to make this right. The flip side of the coin is that this story is about right and wrong. It is about actions, process and good governance that is under scrutiny.
Ever collision at sea and ship grounding is the result of multiple
failures by many individuals, and had its origins long before, in
failures of training and management, only coming to the sad current
result through process failure, including inept leadership, exhibited by
the failure to apply prior lessons learned by others through painful
experience, via a disciplined, continuous application, supported by
repeated, constant re-enforcement, in pursuit of excellence, all the
time, in every evolution.
The naval findings in this quotation are applicable to our collision, the result of multiple failures by many people that have had their origins before this unfolding story came to light. The Navy found inept leadership and a failure to pursue excellence in every situation. Those who will be attending the City Council meeting scheduled this afternoon will represent many others who ask for a simple outcome: a fair game played on a level playing field for all. We all expect the right thing to be done in order to let us get on with the game of revitalization, the saving of our Main Street, and further reason for economic investment. A new beginning starts with a political solution to the problems that reside in City Management. After a financial audit as well as a management audit, we will have new procedures and a new resolve to say every day, “Yes!” to Rocky Mount.”
Having a day on my own in London, I spent part of it on Charing Cross Road in and out of the bookstores that were still open in those years. I was collecting Beverley Nichols on that jaunt and imagining that at any moment I would see Anthony Hopkins coming towards me straight from one of my favorite movies, 84 Charing Cross Road. Headed to the tube with a few wrapped books, I felt a restraining hand on my elbow. I had started to step off the curb forgetting which direction the traffic was moving. It was a stranger holding my arm. He said, “Don’t do that luv, it makes such a mess at rush hour.” I have never forgotten his kindness or the wonderful humor of this moment. I think it is safe to say that the Rocky Mount Telegram has made quite a mess at rush hour!
As part of this same trip, Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car chase by the paparazzi. I’d read enough English mysteries by then to have no doubt that the government was involved. Riding the tube later that same day not a word was spoken. Everyone had their heads buried in the newspapers. I was reminded of this experience when the Rocky Mount Telegram’s staff writer, Lindell John Kay began the expose on the City Manager and Landis Faulcon, Director of Community & Business Development — and anyone else that deserves this scrutiny. Of course, here in Rocky Mount, everyone is talking! Phone calls, e-mails, clandestine meetings, Facebook posts, conversations over lunch, dinner, or standing in the driveway. There are people worrying about how deep this investigation will go, some sorry they backed the wrong horse and those of us who are hopeful and ecstatic that at last the truth is being told. Later today many of us will be headed to City Hall to make our presence known while the Committee of the Whole meets behind closed doors.
I grew up reading The Chicago Tribune and thought I was headed to college to become a journalism major. I resent the state of journalism today. I canceled my Telegram subscription as a point of honor. But wait, a reporter actually investigating! Checking records, laying out a fact-based case step by step. Can you believe it? An investigation long overdue about things known, suspected, rumored, but usually stifled one way or another. I need to subscribe again in thanksgiving for Lindell John Kay and the revelations that are being spelled out, no holds barred.
When the taillights of at least two cars head out of Rocky Mount, let us hope and pray that the damage left behind continues to be investigated. Surely this must include the City Council who hired the City Manager in the first place. There is quite a mess to clean up. Now is our chance thanks to The Telegram who have dared to name those who must not be named and expose what I call the shenanigans of City Government.