Bob Levy is one of the nicest, most mild-mannered people you’ll ever meet. He has been a real unifying force — relative to past chairs — during his tenure as Moore County’s Republican Party chairman. It’s usually pretty tough to get Mr. Levy to lose his cool. Apparently, Southern Pines Town Councilman — and mayor wannabe — Chris Smithson has managed to do it.
Pull up a chair and let me lay out this story for you.
When he is not leading the party, Mr. Levy runs a small business on Broad Street in Southern Pines. He, like many other merchants in that area, is greatly concerned about plans to pave Broad Street. In August, Levy sent the following email to Southern Pines town manager Reagan Parsons:
Dear Mr, ParsonsYour statement that a march through Sept paving time frame is as disruptive as a Christmas season ( oct to dec) closing of Broad Street is simply factually incorrect. Merchants make 50% or more of their gross income over the 4th quarter of the year. Closing Broad Street for 2 of those 12 weeks represents a loss of both income to the merchants and sales tax revenue to the city and county.There is no reason why this paving cannot be scheduled during other than the fourth quarter of the calendar year.I hope that the members of the council and you as their executive will go to bat for the merchants and residents of Southern Pines so they can choose to shop both locally and conveniently in downtown Southern Pines. Remember each dollar spent with a local merchant stays in our local economy. We do not need to add to the riches of Arkansas by encouraging people to make more profits for WalMart. Please do not tell us only the position of the state. Tell us what you will be doing to change that position in the best interest of local merchants and residents.Bob LevyThe Little Toy Shop
Mr. Levy,Without question and to a person the Town Council and staff will do whatever we can to “go to bat” for the merchants and residents of Southern Pines in this situation.As you know, this is a State project with a contractor obliged to the State and not the Town. Thus, I ask you, the head of the Moore County Republican Party, to also “go to bat” for the merchants and residents of Southern Pines by using your personal influence and direct line to our Republican NC House Rep. Boles, our Republican NC Senator Blake, as well as any other contacts you have in the Republican-led NC Legislature. I can only imagine a pro-business position like the one we are all advocating will strike a chord with our leaders in Raleigh.As the true power lies at the state level and the Legislature is controlled by the party in which you are an influential officer, I am sure our combined efforts will give all of us the best chance at resolving this matter in the best possible way.Thank you in advance for your help.Sincerely,Chris SmithsonSouthern Pines native, resident, and Councilmember910-692-9766 (home)910-692-2571 (work)
Dear Chris:Your reply to my inquiry is at best flippant and certainly disingenuous. First, the DOT is part of the executive branch of state government with appointees made by our Democratic governor. That being said, many of us have voiced our concern to our legislative representative who, I know will do his best to help.The problem here is that the town officials do not seem to understand the needs of the merchants. Autumnfest and such things are actually a negative with respect to merchants’ business. They tolerate it because it is good for the town and good for our friends and neighbors. However, it has little to do with profits or sales for year round businesses.What actually made me upset is that your response was, quite frankly, juvenile. When I asked you as a councilman for help (and I have never asked you or the council for anything before) you turn it into some discussion of partisan politics. The town council is specifically nonpartisan and for good reason. There is no Republican or Democrat way to pave a street. There is only the need to assess the needs of the constituency and do it with that goal in mind.This is not a matter for quips or banter the way we both opine in our Pilot articles. This is a matter that will affect the livlihoods and families of hard working merchants, the people responsible for keeping the character of our city unique, but more importantly, the income earners for real families.If you truly want to be mayor, you need to begin writing letters like this:“Dear Mr Levy:Your concerns and the concerns of the merchants in our city are of great importance. I have let all members of the council as well as the City Manager know that we must communicate the position of the merchants to the DOT so that we can improve our city with the least disruption possible. I have personally contacted the DOT on the merchants’ behalf and I have urged the City manager and other council members to do the same. While I cannot predict an outcome given our limited influence with a state agency, I will do my best to help as will my council colleagues and our executive staff. Please call me if you have further concerns on any subject which affects our town.”Please try to take this and all town matters more seriously…. if not for me, then for the other merchants who must rely on your leadership.Robert M. Levy