RIP Bill Snider

I didn’t know Bill Snider well, even though I spoke with him dozens of times over the years. He had left the paper — he had been editor and editorial page editor of the Daily News — before I came, but he maintained a relationship with many of us there because he loved the paper, he loved journalism and he loved Greensboro.

Our conversations centered around journalism and politics and Greensboro, and rarely entered personal territory, although my sense was that with Bill, what you saw is what you got. He was a natural, a Southerner with all the courtesy, the grace, the wisdom and the language that term imparts.

He has many legacies. His insightful books. His powerful editorials over the years. His great hires — Jonathan Yardley, Rosemary Roberts, Tony Snow, Ed Yoder, John Alexander — among them. Me, I will remember his kindness and counsel to a young editorial page editor and, later, editor. I’ll miss that.

Allen Johnson writes about him, too.

Free speech: Trying to control the uncontrollable

The local Tea Party group, Conservatives for Guilford County, is threatening to sue the county commissioners over a policy governing multi-media presentations in front of the board.

Such an unnecessary waste of time.

It started when the group used the public comment portion of the commissioners’ meeting to show a video that endorsed candidates. That upset some commissioners and the board passed restrictions. Conservatives for Guilford County then requested agenda time to show another presentation objecting to the restrictions. The chairman of the commissioners denied the group a place on the agenda.

I don’t know the number of people who watch the meetings on television — I’m one who does — but I suspect it’s no “American Idol” … or maybe “Survivor” is a more appropriate analogy. Had the commissioners simply given the group its three minutes in the spotlight, ignored the message and moved to the next speaker, who would have noticed? Not many. But this is what happens when you try to control a message that you have no business — or realistic hope — trying to control.

Now, it’s a story on the front page of the paper, the commissioners appear to want to squelch free speech, and the conservatives involve the American Civil Liberties Union, a connection that gives me my smile for the morning.