The Good and Bad of Public Service

It pains me to make people mad, or even upset and when I received the first email below (the latest of many), I was also disturbed that our staff members had to handle this. But it is our job — people will rewrite history, people will get mad, people won’t try to work together. The email below is about a road concept that was not an easy decision, nor a sole decision by any person and the road has not even opened yet.

But I post it because of its anger and because this morning, I read a blog from a woman whose husband was killed in Afghanistan. I found the contrast amazing and hope you feel the impact I did.

First the email, then the blog:

Mayor Swain, Commissioner Julian and McAulay,
I want to thank you for showing your great courage today and not showing up at the meeting this afternoon. You created this mess and now want to hide from it.
Let me give you the highlights of the meeting.
1. Your ace traffic planner that dreamed up this stupid concept sat in the back of the room on the side of the business people. The room was divided with one side everyone involved in the project, NCDOT, engineers, contractors and the other side the business people. Your spineless traffic “Planner” should of been up front and center and running this meeting. Instead he sat in the back, on the business side, like he’s our friend and made everyone else face the music for his mess. He now wants to make it look like its NCDOTs fault.
Great leader….
2. Mr Buchanan, from public works ran the meeting. Here is a man that didn’t play a role in this mess, having to take on explaining this mess that Bill Cox created. I have a lot of respect for Mr Buchanan, If it were me I would of said to Bill Cox, this is your deal, you created it, now go deal with it.
3. Jim Dunlop (NCDOT Congestion Management Engineer) showed he is as stupid as Bill Cox, but at least he had the courage and guts to stand up and say he was part of this concept and took credit for it.
Let me show you how stupid he is: He showed two other no left intersections in the US, but neither of them had buildings or businesses on them. Not a business. Great example Jim! When I questioned it Mr Buchanan was quick to say point taken and wanted to move over this real quick. I said wait a minute, your using them as an example. Mr Buchanan was smart enough to see that and was real quick to see that rocket man Dunlop just opened a can of worms.
I asked Jim Dunlop how many of these great designs are in operation just like 73/21? Answer: None! How many are in the US? his answer: the Two he showed that have no businesses on the roads. I asked how many are in the planning stage to be built in NC? his answer: None! I said how can a great design not be in the works somewhere else? He said we are doing one in Wilmington. Wrong! Wilmington killed it. I asked if his data was real life or computer generated? his answer computer generated. I asked if the computer takes into account the intersection is new to “EVERYONE” driving on the roads and there will always be driver confusion. Did he take that into account with his computer? his answer no, the computer can figure that out. I asked if he was smart enough to do it? I got no answer. What he did say was we are all going to get through the intersection faster and save gas. That’s BULLSHIT… because he didn’t factor in the driver confusion into it and you don’t drive farther and save gas. The rest of his examples got stupider and stupider.
Here’s the only smart thing Jim Dunlop did say: He said the road before was a problem and he got involved and the “TOWN”  BILL COX! wanted this design and after reviewing it embraced it. THE TOWN wanted this, so don’t blame NCDOT for this. They did the best they could with the BILL COX dream design.
We got a congestion management engineer Jim Dunlop and a traffic planner Bill Cox, put them together and we got the worst designed intersection in the US. Great job!
Jim Dunlop, your proud of the intersection so lets make a deal. If I’m wrong and the intersection is the best thing since sliced bread… I’ll have a bronze statue of you and Bill made and install it on the corner in front of my building, but if your wrong and its a nightmare, you and Bill resign and agree never to work on road projects again. Let me know if you want to take me up on it…….
4. Scott Cole with NCDOT: he’s a nice guy and tried to explain the signs and traffic controls. He and the rest of the guys put on a nice face trying to cover for this mess, but it was clear they all know its a cluster mess. I asked Scott if the intersection was a full movement intersection if the big ugly green traffic signs would be needed? his answer: No!
I put a banner on my building I get finned, but you install huge, ugly signs to try to direct people into your mess and that’s OK.  
Another person asked if coming off 77 and they want to go North on 21, isn’t the natural thought process for a driver to get in the left lane only to find they can’t turn left and then have to try to get over to the right to turn on Holly point? Scott agreed the driver would have to pay attention to the signs. The gentlemen then said that most people don’t read the sign because common sense in driving would lead you to believe I need to be in the left lane to go left, correct? answer: they are going to have to follow the signs closely. question: if they don’t its going to cause a problem correct? answer Yes!
5. Chris Davis with Parsons Brinkerhoff: Another nice guy caught in the mess. I asked Chris if Parsons was one of the largest traffic engineering firms in the Country? Answer Yes. I asked how many of these great designs has their firm done? answer None. I said how many are they working on like this since its such a great idea? answer None!
Mayor and Commissioner Julian and McAulay, does it make common sense that such a great, brilliant design that’s going to save the traffic world is not anywhere else in the Country? Does it make sense that its not being designed anywhere else? Does it concern you that Huntersville is the only place in the Country that has this mess and you supported and approved it? You pushed NCDOT to design this now you and your idiot traffic planner are hiding?
Mayor and Commissioner  Julian and McAualy, why don’t you ask your dream team what’s the only way to access my property? Why don’t you ask them why the U-turn promised on Holly Point is gone?
I could not take the crap any longer and Mr Buchanan asked me to leave, but before I left I made it perfectly clear that I was going to raise “Holy hell” and was not going to take this. So everyone understands what I mean… I’m not going to brake laws, or hurt anyone. I’m going to spend every dollar I have to make sure everyone in the Town knows the truth about who is behind this. After I left the meeting the police officer that was in the meeting ( why we needed one is beside me) came up and talked to me. He was concerned about the comment. I explained I’m 50 years old a father of 4 and a grandfather, I’m not going to hurt anyone physically but I would use the media, and all other means of communication to see to it that the Mayor and Commissioner Julian and McAualy are never re-elected and Bill Cox is fired.
I asked the officer a question: I said your going to have to deal with this mess more then anyone. I asked if he thought this was the most confusing intersection he has ever seen, he agreed. I asked if your told to go over and ticket people making lefts at 73 and 21 and the people you pull over say: I’m sorry officer but this intersection is so confusing, I didn’t know how to get over there” what are you going to do? He said I’ll have to do my job and give them a ticket. I asked how are you going to feel about that knowing full well its not really the drivers fault, its the knuckle heads that created the mess? He said I hear you and agree, but they make the rules, I have to enforce them its my job.
I think every officer should have a leaflet that has a picture of Bill Cox, the Mayor and Commissioner Julian and McAualy on it with their phone numbers and email address on it. Its should say welcome to Huntersville, home of the only no left turn intersection in the Country. If you want one in your Town, just give us a call.
Mayor and Commissioner Julian and McAualy, you have destroyed access to my business with this stupid road design. Not only will it hurt us but it will hurt every business along this mess. People have options and they will avoid this area. Unlike you, I’m not going to hide from the issues, meetings or the truth. I’m going to spend the next 20 months telling every person in Huntersville and the area about this mess “you” created. Trust me…. if I have to go door to door I will do everything possible to make sure you never get elected again.
I also find it funny that other Commissioners have called me and expressed concern, but the three that endorsed Bill Cox and this great idea hide. Here’s my number 704-363-7902, lets see if you have the courage to come and see the mess you made. In case you do come out, the only way you can get to my property is to be heading north on 21 and take a right on Holly Point.  
Jake Palillo
As I walk this Lenten season and finish my blogging journey, I am working on forgivness. I never once imagined that in forgiving and reaching out, I would receive the best gift of all. I received the gift of a friendship restored. Forgiveness sometimes illuminates a misunderstanding or a notion that is so wrong that a person is left gasping at the time lost. Today, I see the hand of God working to restore a relationship that was never truly broken. My friend withdrew because she didn’t know what to say. She is Muslim. She thought that I would hate her because a Muslim killed my Phil. I was stunned. How could that be so? I love my friend. I never once stopped loving her. I look at her and Ii see only her goodness and her soft heart. She is a woman who would give to a person so that they might not have need. She is a person who will cry and rail against the injustices in my life, yet not her own. In short, she was often a better friend to me than I was to her. She made me a better person because she was my friend. I never thought that her pain and anger at the assassin would lead her to withdraw from our friendship. I never thought that she ould withdraw to save me more pain.

While I do struggle with the most extreme Muslims, I have friends that are Muslim. They love me. I love them and I see them as people. I don’t see them as terrorists. They eat with me, know my family, and they are good people. I am better because they are in my life. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t acknowledge that I do feel fear and trepidatation in certain countres and situations. I feel anger at a society that can call for violence and seath because their holy book was burned. While I would not like my Bible being burned, I would not see to exact revenge through death and violence. I cannot understand the extremism and fanaticism that compels a person to do unthinkable acts in the name of God.

Jesus did not call us to violence. He called us to love. He showed us love by forgiving and healing the most corrupt, the most depraved, and the most unworthy. He forgave me all of those things. He was willing to die for me. He suffered a brutal death for me. He forgave his killers even then. Maybe in forgiveness, my faith can shine the beacon of light and hope. Maybe in forgiveness, extremism and fanaticism can be negated. I know that in forgiving and reaching out, I found a friendship that lay dormant because of misunderstanding. I have been blessed with a remarkable person in my life that I am proud to call friend.


Author: jillswain

Former Mayor Chamber of Commerce Exec. Director Advertising consultant Mom and spouse (30 years and counting!) Rec league girls' volleyball coach Champion of all things Huntersville, North Carolina

2 thoughts on “The Good and Bad of Public Service”

  1. What is done in secret does always come to light. As I read this I thought what a step of Faith you took as Mayor of this great town. I also know that Faith is the key to pleasing God. We have to be willing to be guided and directed by a spiritual source that is higher than us. I say to you Mayor Swain Speak Sister Speak…. you have been heard!

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