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One less blog

by YES! Staff

When the Greensboro City Council named Tony Wilkins as the replacement for District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade, who will go on in January to become the state’s District 27 senator, it put into place another member of the “Dream Team,” conceived in the YES! Weekly endorsements before the 2011 municipal election.

We endorsed Wilkins, who was not on the ballot, because of Wade’s indifference to our news operations and general disagreements about policy.

Wilkins did not walk into the seat. He got considerable pushback from Mayor Robbie Perkins and District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small, centered largely around a Photoshopped picture on his blog, Busy Being Born, of former Councilwoman Goldie Wells with her mouth stretched to suggest she speaks out of both sides of it.

As far as political humor goes, it was fairly obtuse. But judge for yourself — the picture still exists on the internet’s Wayback Machine at web-beta.archive.org. Don’t bother going to the Busy Being Born site. Wilkins has collapsed his blog, which he maintained since at least February 2008, on the advice, he said at Ed Cone’s blog, Word Up (at edcone.com), of a political consultant.

In an interview, Wilkins was coy about the name of the consultant he hired to aid him in this next phase of his political life, but smart money puts it on Bill Burckley, the architect of Bill Knight’s successful 2009 mayoral campaign against popular incumbent Yvonne Johnson, Wade’s Senate run and too many others to list here.

“Ultimately I had to make that decision [to shut down the blog],” Wilkins said. “And I did make that decision.

“I didn’t do it lightly,” he added. If this is the case, and we believe that it is, Wilkins could do a lot worse.

Burckley is notoriously skittish about weblogs for candidates, and perhaps rightly so. A blog is by nature candid and personal, and while it undoubtedly gives a politician a means of communicating directly with his constituency and a vehicle for transparency, it also will provide his enemies with a lot of ammunition, as exemplified by the case of the Photoshopped Goldie Wells episode.

It’s understandable, then, that Wilkins would try to scrub his blog, which contained information-rich posts from his time as executive director of the Guilford County GOP, his campaign for Guilford County Commission and as a member of the War Memorial Commission along with detailed descriptions of his gastronomic adventures and commentary on pop culture.

“I even blogged about the process when I was undergoing treatment for cancer,” he reminded.

And he pledges that his commitment to transparency will not die with his blog.

“I think you will see a similar style of leadership that you saw on the War Memorial Commission when it comes to transparency,” he says. “One thing I will be is very transparent. I don’t know what form that will be in.”

We will take Wilkins at his word… for now. His commitment to transparency remains to be seen. Yet in one way he is already doing better than his predecessor in District 5: Wilkins took the phone call for this interview.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication.

In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration .

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