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Letter: Chris Smith is going to need a bigger bus

To the editor,

Remember the iconic boat scene from the movie “Jaws,” where the police chief is nearly swallowed whole by the massive Great White? He turns to the boat captain: “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

I think Chris Smith is going to need a bigger bus. Room is fast running out underneath the bus he has thrown everybody under in the remarkable blame fest ginned up to explain the loss of his city council seat to Susie Keck. 

In the space of one paragraph in last week’s newspaper, he blamed his whupping on lifelong friends working against him (Under the bus you go, friends! Watch out for the axel grease.), chamber of commerce officials conspiring to derail him and the audacity of people we’ve “never heard of” to run for office.

But what struck me most was Smith’s assertion that he is going to “work hard” to remove “outsiders” from our midst. These outsiders, he says, are “trying to take over my town.” Huh? I always thought this was my town. Or my across-the-street neighbor’s town. Or the town of 12,000 other people. Nope! This is Mr. Smith’s town. Who knew?

When I lived in Colorado, the joke was that if you were caught in a blizzard you’d be a legal resident by the time you dug yourself out since the state’s only residency requirement was that you stick around for 30 days. Later, in an old Atlanta neighborhood, my wife and I owned our Victorian for 25 years, but the neighbors steadfastly referred to it as “the Grissom’s house,” the previous family who restored it decades earlier. So, I suppose “outsider” is relative.

Perhaps Mr. Smith could define outsider for me? I’ve been here six years. I pay business and property taxes. I hang out on the square and give advice to people who aren’t seeking it. Am I an outsider? Susie Keck, a 17-year resident – another pesky outsider? I’m going out on a limb here, but I suspect no sign hangs on the door of Smith’s business that says: “We don’t sell to outsiders.”

Do not misunderstand me. Smith put in eight years on the council and is to be commended for it. In my former professional life, I estimate I attended more than 750 city council, zoning review board and school board meetings. My admiration for those like Smith, whether I agree with his politics or not, is huge. You couldn’t wish it on me.

But let’s tug on our big-boy underwear and allow an itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy possibility that some people voted for Keck because they harbor a vision of Covington that is separate from Smith’s—and their voice won.

I knew a guy once who, whenever he purchased a used car, first thing he did was yank off the rear-view mirror. “You gotta look where you’re going,” he’d pronounce. “Not where you been.” Yeah, it was moronic, but that was Ray. Perhaps Susie Keck is simply looking where Covington can go, not where it’s been.

Rob Levin