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Ratliff: Listening vs. Hearing

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Kim Ratliff says she’s listening. Ever since the at-large county commissioner let loose a whopper of  a Kinsley gaffe, opining that Mecklenburg County’s next manager should’t be a white man, she has apparently been deluged with emails from people asking her to resign her commission seat or, at the least, recuse herself from the process of hiring the next county manager.

So, Ratliff says she’s listening. Pfftt. Anyone who has children knows that listening doesn’t count for much. Kids will listen to you all day long without really hearing a word of what you say. It’s a finely toned art, and in this case it’s hard not to suspect that Ratliff saying she’s “listening” amounts to little more than cheap political prattle.

If Ratliff were actually hearing the complaints and concerns, she would have already recused herself from the county manager hiring process. Instead the public is offered a load of doublespeak, with Ratliff using one side of her mouth to insist her words were quoted out of context, and the other side to declare that she stands by what she said.

Several of Ratliff’s fellow commissioners have privately expressed their own outrage and concern over her comment. That’s great, but not enough. They need to voice those same concerns publicly, and tonight’s commission meeting (6 p.m. at the Government Center) provides a prime opportunity. The same meeting offers a similar chance for citizens who have been emailing Ratliff: sign up as a public speaker for tonight’s meeting and let your voice be heard; if public speaking isn’t your thing, just show up with a sign to express your concern from the audience (TV media folk love signs).

Who knows, with enough public pressure, maybe Ratliff will be forced into doing something more than just “listening.”

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