Is Chairman Praying Up Storm Of Controversy?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2013

Should we send them to chairman college before giving them the gavel?
In his first solo performance, newly designated Davie County commission chairman Robert Wisecarver stumbled out of the gate this month.
“Before we start, we’re fixin’ to have the invocation. If anyone could possibly be offended by a prayer, we’re going to give you an opportunity to step outside,” he said, turning the task over to his minister.
Step outside? Why not just poke the ACLU in the eye and invite an expensive lawsuit financed by taxpayers?
The chairman should not be in the offending business. No person attending a public meeting should be told to step outside.
District Court Judge Jimmy Myers last year gave the board detailed instructions in how to pray in public meetings and meet the very precise guidelines of the courts. Myers is an ordained minister, Navy chaplain and long-time jurist. He knows about both praying and the law.
The commissioners have sworn to God they will up hold the laws of the land. Following the mandates of the court is their sworn responsibility.
Following the laws of the General Assembly is also their duty. The commissioners also played fast and loose with the Open Meetings Law when they went into private session to discuss the organization of the county offices. That doesn’t merit the cozy blanket of secrecy. Unless some of the commissioners are up to some new shenanigans, they shouldn’t hide their actions.
Last year Carl Humphrey had his own difficulties managing the commission meetings before he settled into the role in his final months. The commissioners all get a turn — one year — with the gavel whether they know how to run a meeting or not.
Wisecarver needs to learn quickly. Be polite. Be tactful. Be fair. Be firm. And follow the law — even the inconvenient ones.
Some public boards turn over the gavel for years to the same person — someone who can handle the role with dignity and proper decorum. New commissioner Terry Renegar chaired the school board for several years. There is no political advantage to being chairman. His vote counts no more than the other members of the board.
Public prayers have long been divisive … and stale.
Clemmons Mayor John Bost quickly discovered that when he took office. He wanted to pray and follow the law. A devout man who does some preaching on the side, Bost went through all the contortions of public prayer, trying something different meeting after meeting — a moment of silence, inviting ministers of various stripes to perform the duty, performing the prayer himself — until he gave it …