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Banks should apologize

Lloyd Banks, the thin-skinned bully who leads Cumberland County’s Board of Supervisors, needs a refresher course on his role in government.

“This is my meeting,” Banks thundered at a recent public hearing in which he ordered good citizens physically removed by the sheriff for daring to stray from the chairman’s absurdly narrow definition of legitimate speech.

No, Mr. Chairman, that was not your meeting. Government in this country — and in all of its political subdivisions, including Cumberland County — remains of the people, by the people and for the people. You and your elected colleagues serve the people. They don’t serve you.

Public meetings have a single purpose: for elected servants to conduct the people’s business. Public hearings, such as the one in which you lost your temper on April 26, are especially sacred forums, set aside by state law for citizens to comment on the way that you propose to spend their money.

Mr. Chairman, you created a spectacle for no reason other than to support your own overinflated ego. You intimidated law-abiding citizens who simply wanted to exercise their right to have their voices heard. You put one of this region’s finest and most decent public servants, Sheriff Darrell Hodges, in the awkward position of being asked to remove his own constituents from a public meeting.

The good people of Cumberland County — those in attendance and those who have since learned of your actions — are disillusioned by yet another reminder of the power-hungry political class who’ve lost your way since high school civics class.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have tapped into voter angst nationwide with politicians who put their own interests above the people’s. Mr. Chairman, you are part of the problem. You owe the citizens of Cumberland County an apology.

STEVE STEWART is publisher of The Farmville Herald. His email address is steve.stewart@farmvilleherald.com.