The blueprints

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

We’re slowly, patiently rebuilding our AFP archives, though honestly it wouldn’t be slow and patience-testing if there weren’t so many goldmines contained therein.

Case in point – I’m scanning the files on an old hard drive for stories about local government in 2005 the other night, and I come across a nugget from June 30, 2005, entitled “Waynesboro’s growing pains.”

By way of offering a preface – Isn’t it funny how soon you can forget?

The lede – “Waynesboro City Council members have come across in recent weeks as being at odds among themselves and with city manager Doug Walker over issues involving the debt load that the city can take on and the city government’s handling of a recent political controversy regarding a proposed West End fire substation.

“As a Friday-morning vote looms on Walker’s reappointment, at least his job appears to be safe.”

I gasped as I reread the words that had flowed through my own forgetting fingers. Next in the story were comments of support from, yep, you guessed it, then-mayor Tom Reynolds and then-vice mayor Nancy Dowdy. And surprisingly given the ’08 context from current mayor Tim Williams, who attributed the discord on council to “growing pains” from his election to city council a year ealier and the appointment of Frank Lucente to replace former mayor Chuck Ricketts that April.

“In Doug’s defense, he’s had to make some adjustments to his way of doing things because of the changes on council,” Williams told me for this ’05 story. “I’m still relatively new, and Frank Lucente is new, so there’s a new dynamic on council. Doug’s adjusting to that new dynamic.”

He adjusted well enough to get reappointed without dissent the next day, and then the political makeup of the city council shifted in the spring 2006 elections, and whatever issue had been at play in 2005 faded into the memory banks, for most of us, anyway.

It obviously didn’t fade too far into the backs of the minds of those who raised the issue in the first place, and at the next opportunity, they finished the job that they’d started on three years ago.

Given the discontent that erupted as a result of their actions, it’s probably fortunate for them that they kept us on the down-low about what they had in mind – even if all we had to do was go back and read the back issues of the AFP to get a blueprint for what was to come.

The sound you hear is of me smacking myself on the hand for failing to do my homework.

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