Green’s Law

by Joe Fitzgerald

Green’s Law was in effect this week.

Green’s Law was named, by me, for longtime mayor and councilman Walter F. Green III, and originated at a council meeting when he did an even worse job than usual of hiding his disdain for opponents of the golf course. I don’t remember what was being said, discussed, or argued, but I remember his comment:

“You people need to understand how government works.”

I always think of Green’s Law when I listen to people running for city council. This week it was two supposed independents listed on the Republican sample ballot and seeming to run against Chris Jones.

They know, presumably, that they are actually running for four-year seats against the two Democrats on the ballot, and that Chris is running in a separate special election for a two-year seat. On the other hand, they know that Chris is the only current member of city council running, which is why they run against him and, presumably again, why one of them criticizes a recent council pay hike by showing a Black hand slipping money into a coat pocket. Sometimes the dog whistle is a tuba.

One of them – I’ve already voted, so I don’t have to tell them apart – noted that police officers in surrounding towns are paid more than Harrisonburg police officers; he seemed to suggest that’s why the HPD is down by 20 or so officers.

The catch is obviously, to some, that giving a $5,000 raise to officers in a town with four cops will cost you $20,000. In a city with 120 officers, it will cost you $600,000 or about a penny-and-a-half of real estate tax.

If a Republican running as an independent would once stand up on his hind legs and say, “This issue is a problem for the city and I’m willing to raise your taxes to solve it,” I would probably vote for him. Not this year, though. I already voted.

I often wonder if the people practicing this type of accusatory politics – “the Black guy isn’t paying the cops enough” – really understand what they’re saying and how difficult it actually is to enact policy. Or do they just need to understand how government works.

Joe Fitzgerald is a former mayor of Harrisonburg. This column is republished with permission from his blog, Still Not Sleeping.

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4 responses to “Green’s Law”

  1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    They know very well what they are doing…

  2. Teddy007 Avatar

    A good test for those who discuss policy at the national scale: How would the government bend the cost curve on healthcare spending without either creating a massive number of layoffs or reducing the pay of everyone involved in healthcare?

  3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
    James C. Sherlock

    The author started in the middle of the story.

  4. VaNavVet Avatar

    Strange goings on for what are supposed to be non-partisan elections at the municipal level. In reality the local committees of the parties fight for control of the city councils and boards of supervisors in order to monetize their advantage. Developers and realtors know which engineering and legal firms to hire in order to improve the odds of the governing boards granting approval. If you follow the money the political donations from these groups flow to candidates associated with the leaders of these local party committees. Hence, money changes hands out in the open rather than under the table. At a minimum these donors are investing in access to the elected officials. This is the dark underbelly of the American system of governance at the local level which unfortunately gets little or no attention in the public square.

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