sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Sunday, September 19, 2004

I was going to blow off Saturday's edition of the N&R upon my return from Raleigh because, as many of you know, it generally upsets me. But as I was gathering the mail and newspapers, I just happened to glance down and noticed the headline that school board member Garry Burnett had died. He's the second public official I've covered that died suddenly, the first being Robert McInnis, the High Point banker who was very active in community affairs in the furniture city.

This sounds crazy, but I was actually relieved to read that Burnett had previous heart attacks in 1997 and 2000, an indication of chronic heart problems. But when I first read the headline, my first thought was the endless controversy and stress surrounding the school board directly contributed to his heart attack. It still may have.

When you observe the school board closely, it's hard not to get angry from time to time. In my mind, many of their decisions, and those of other public entities, have defied common sense. As a result, it's easy to objectify public officials and cite them as "the problem," when it's way more complicated than that. It's unfortunate that it takes a tragic event like this to make everyone - watchdog groups and the media- stop and realize that public officials here in Guilford County are basically well-meaning, hard-working people dealing with the ordinary stress of everyday life just as we do.

Sometimes it's a good idea to just stop and take a deep breath. Kind of like the presidential election. After all the shouting and screaming, the earth's not going to shake on Nov. 3. There may be a mass suicide of young people, but....


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