Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fayetteville Chamber in the Cowbird Seat

I happened to be driving down West Avenue today and was delighted by the recently completed street and sidewalk project between Dickson and Lafayette. I promised myself that I would take a respite from my usual carping and write a blog entry praising the result and those responsible, so let me say something nice. It looks great, and the entire project was done by city employees. Furthermore, it brings to almost 14 miles of street overlays and 10,000 feet of new sidewalks constructed this year. Good work. Now my promise is fulfilled.

My generous mood was quickly doused when I read Mayor Coody's blog about the ribbon cutting ceremony that was held yesterday. He gave pride of place, both in the photo and in the caption, not to the department heads or the workers who were responsible for the project or to the taxpayers who provided the funding. Oh, nooo. Pictured right behind the Mayor were two representatives from the
Chamber of Commerce. Excuse me, but how many feet of sidewalk did Bootsie Ackerman finish and how many yards of asphalt did Virgil Neuroth lay? They are nice people, no doubt, but why does the Chamber always try to hog all the credit for other people's work funded by taxpayers? And why do our public officials let them get away with it while ignoring those whose rough hands and strong backs actually did the work and the citizens who paid the bills?

From now on, I'm calling this bunch the
Chamber of Cowbirds. As the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology explains, "Cowbirds are brood parasites, that is, they have completely abandoned the tasks of building nests, incubating eggs, and caring for hatchlings. Instead, each female deposits as many as 40 eggs per year in nests that belong to other bird species. The female cowbird finds these nests by crashing noisily through shrubbery with flapping wings to flush out potential victims. She typically chooses a nest with eggs smaller than her own and lays a single egg quickly at dawn once the host has also started laying eggs. Unlike the parasitic European cuckoos, Brown-headed Cowbirds do not evict their nest-mates, although the female may remove and sometimes eat eggs from the host nest. Instead, cowbird nestlings typically out-compete their smaller nest mates." That's what they do.

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