Playing nice: Billy and Skip on the links

by Jordan Green

A certain theory has circulated about the famously fractious relationship between Guilford County Commissioners Billy Yow and Skip Alston, whose frequent exchanges of insults often overshadow the more substantive elements of county policymaking.

Yow and Alston, the theory goes, are secretly best buddies, laughing in private together about the way they’ve put everybody on. Each depends on the other for political survival, using a barrage of insults against each other to keep their respective bases energized. Yow’s outbursts allow Alston to reassure his constituents that he’s there to keep the dangerous rednecks in check. Alston’s rhetoric, in turn, helps Yow persuade his constituents that he’s there on the county commission keeping the dangerous Negroes from running through the taxpayers’ money and wasting everybody’s time with those pointless anti-racism trainings, dadgummit.

Exhibit A for the theory about the secret alliance is the fact that Yow and Alston have played golf together a couple times.

It’s true, but Yow would like readers to know that notwithstanding that fact, the theory is pure hogwash.

‘“I have played golf with Skip twice,’” Yow told YES! Weekly on May 26. ‘“After we had a zoning decision and it was already over two attorneys on different sides got us together. One invited me. The other invited Skip. Skip and myself was not on the same team.’”

The second time also involved a third party putting them up to it.

‘“Grandover Resort each year has a big business tournament with all the entrepreneurs and such,’” Yow said. ‘“He’s a county commissioner and I’m a county commissioner. They put us on the same team together. The fact is we don’t go out on a Sunday or Wednesday afternoon and play golf together.’”

Yow said he and Alston disagree ideologically about 80 percent of the time, but the two can get along.

Alston concurs.

‘“I respect Billy; I don’t hate Billy Yow,’” he said in a May 31 interview. ‘“Billy’s a nice guy. Away from the courthouse and the county commission we get along well. I don’t like his politics, and I don’t think he likes my politics.’”

Yow said: ‘“When I come at Skip and he comes at me, do we go behind the room and laugh? No. The differences are real’…. If you know me you know this isn’t no game for me. When I’m setting on that board on public TV, whether I’m stepping on toes or falling on heels, if Billy Yow says something it’s what he really meant.’”