McCULLOUGH: Mort the miracle-worker

Let me share with you this week a tale of ridiculousness and a tale of hope.

In the California town of Encinitas, sometime around Easter, a group of artists disguised as construction workers created a mosaic under a bridge of the Virgin Mary riding a surfboard. That’s weird enough, but it’s not what this story is about.

The city has an ordinance against graffiti, meaning it has to be removed once it’s discovered. However, some residents and city officials apparently know art when they see it. Instead of gang tags and profanity, this is the Virgin Mother. It’s not Madonna, it’s the Madonna. And despite her rather un-Biblical pursuit of surfing, some people kinda like it.

But it’s graffiti, right? Agin the law, as they said in the Old West. Gotta come down.

But, never wanting to do anything the easy way in California, the government instead hired an art firm to examine ways the mosaic could be perserved — just not in its present location, where it would technically be graffiti. After much examination and consultation, the Sculpture Conservation Studio’s conclusion was learn to like it because moving it would be impossible.

Then on Thursday, the artist came forward and said, yeah, you can move it without breaking it. He even offered to take it down.

The city said it would let him know. They were busy figuring out how much to fine him.

So, to review, instead of a) following the law and just removing it or b) just leaving it where it is, the city actually spent taxpayer money to study what to do with it, was offered a solution, and it still hasn’t decided.

This is what’s wrong with America. Wasting this kind of time, effort and money on a picture of the Virgin on a surfboard is why people have lost all confidence in government. It’s ridiculous. It’s every bit as stupid as that jibber-jabber Sarah Palin tried to sell us the other day about Paul Revere.

You just take it down. It’s against the law. Or, if it’s so beautiful you can’t stand the thought of removing it, then you leave it. And then you leave all the other graffiti that people put up and call art because you obviously don’t follow your own laws.

That’s what you do in California.

But I’m glad to report, friends, that not all government has lost its mind.

Zoom back this way 3,000 or so miles to Newton County in our own fair state where my government hero of the week is County Commissioner Mort Ewing.

Now I don’t know the man. I don’t really have an opinion on his abilities as a leader because I don’t live there. I do help produce the local paper, so I read about him a lot. Like any politician, I’m sure there are people who think he hung the moon and folks who’d like to see him run up a flagpole. I’m mostly indifferent.

But this week, Ewing did a great thing. His county has been mulling buying an old railroad — for what seems like eons — to turn into a trail system for walking and biking and such. But it was going to be really expensive.

Really expensive.

Newton County, like nearly every county (and person) in America, has a little problem with its wallet not being so fat anymore. So this week, Ewing made a motion not only to not buy the railroad, but to quit wasting time talking about it. As quoted in the Newton Citizen, he said:

“Bottom line, it did not make economic sense for the county to expend further resources, whether it be staff time, county money or whatever.

“I just was tired of fooling with it. We’ve got too many important issues we need to be working on for us to be dilly-dallying around trying to buy something we can’t afford and don’t have any use for.”

I’m almost stunned to the point of being speechless. (Almost.) Imagine, a politician who understands that some things are ridiculous and not worth wasting time on.

Re-read Ewing’s quote and then print his last sentence on billboards. Make T-shirts. Post it on the Internet. Email your congressman. (Keep it clean — that’s my one Anthony Weiner joke.) And send it to the Encinitas City Council. Or maybe we should make a mosaic of it on an underpass.

Nah. That they’d just tear down.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.