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Have you seen latest television series about the Hatfields and McCoys?
If not, don’t bother searching it out in reruns because a battle here between city and county government is remarkably entertaining — even without all the bloodshed.
For our purposes, we’ll make the fiscal court the County Hatfields and the city council the City McCoys. (You’ll find out why shortly.)
Like the famous families, the County Hatfields and City McCoys have been locked in battle for years, and no one is absolutely certain exactly what caused the ruckus.
We do know it’s a safe bet that Judge-Executive John Wayne Hatfield never pulled a cart loaded with hogs past City Hall, only to have Mayor Edwinna Baker McCoy accuse him of swiping one of the city’s hogs.
Litter abatement money, yes, but no hogs.
But there have been numerous skirmishes, the latest being last Monday’s decision by the City McCoys to have their attorney, “Perry Cline” Myles, send a letter to John Wayne, kicking him and other county officials out of the reserved parking spaces they’ve had for years near the county courthouse.
In typical McCoy fashion, the City McCoys (council member Sandy Goodlett McCoy being the exception) drew their guns without thinking and, in their zeal to fire on John Wayne, ended up making it riskier for the district and circuit court judges as they enter and leave the courthouse.
Not they care; the City Hatfields were just trying to get even with John Wayne after he refused to hand over their share of state-provided litter abatement money.
They’ll deny it, but it’s true, and claim John Wayne withheld that money as retaliation for the City McCoys breaking a years-old handshake deal to trade water line easements in the Hatfield’s community park for free water and sewer from the City McCoys.
Well, the City McCoys broke that agreement a month or so ago, and, yes, John Wayne was none too happy. But did he take it up a notch over the litter money? No, he simply allowed the McCoys, who forgot to apply for the litter money, to suffer the consequences of their incompetence.
Their grievances go even deeper, and are composed mostly of petty disagreements that have spiraled out of control.
And that’s a shame because, like the little McCoy girl who was gunned down by Hatfield supporter Cotton Top as she fled her daddy’s home, none of this was really necessary.
When he took office in 2011, John Wayne made nice with the City McCoys, even offering to let them have a say in how the 911 tax money cell phone users pay is spent. Unlike the previous judge-executive who wouldn’t let the City McCoys have a dime, John Wayne formed a committee of Hatfields and McCoys to figure out how to best spend those funds.
They got along famously and bought all sorts of new gizmos, but it wouldn’t be long before talks started of actually merging the Hatfield and McCoy families into one form of government that both remounted their horses and rode back to their respective encampments to settle in for war.
That is until now. Those who expected John Wayne to blow a gasket and come out blazing over last week’s reserved parking decision were just wrong.
Instead, like his predecessor Devil Anse, who allowed Cotton Top to hang to end the feud, John Wayne took what he called the high road and vowed to work as best he can with the City McCoys and simply remove the reserved parking signs on Ollie Bowen Street. Like Devil Anse himself, it’s a certainty the John Wayne had plenty to say, but bit his tongue in an effort to end the feud.
It’s up to the City McCoys, now, to determine if the ceasefire will last.
Don’t bet on it, folks.