It probably doesn’t mean a thing because there were no assigned places at Thursday’s lunch for Congressman G.K. Butterfield at Uptown Rose, but the seating arrangements were at least interesting.
Back in the days of the Soviet Union, Kremlin watchers would pay close attention to who was near the premier and who was far away in official photos. The thought was that physical closeness reflected real power.
In that light, we couldn’t help but notice that Butterfield was flanked by cleanup chief Lynn Harper on his left and Assistant City Manager Mark Warren on his right, with Mayor Clem Seifert directly across the table. Police Chief Glen Allen, who knows Butterfield from their days fighting crime in Wilson, was on the other side of Warren, while Shelton Barnes, from Butterfield’s Weldon office, sat to Harper’s left. City Council members Bernard Alston and Mike Rainey sat to Seifert’s right, in constant view and in easy earshot of the congressman. Council member Elissa Yount was stuck at the head of the table, about 10 feet from Butterfield, but she made sure he heard her throughout the lunch conversation.
Out of sight and, through their silence for most of the meal, largely out of mind were City Manager Eric Williams, at the far end of the table on Butterfield’s side, and council member Lonnie Davis, at the same end of the table on Seifert’s side.
Of course, they were a lot closer to the congressman than council members Harriette Butler, John Wester, Ranger Wilkerson and Mary Emma Evans, who didn’t make the lunch.