The mill boss forever would wink and tell people like you and me, "That's the way it is. I don't need to tell you nothin.' Trust us to do what is right for you. I'm looking out for you."
What the York County Council gave the 200,000 people who live in York County this week is a dose of who the boss is.
You are not their boss.
The council vowed to do things more openly and graciously after November's elections, after years of backroom political deals for power and front-room discord. They vowed to play nice so you could decide if the new council is made up of gentlemen or cads.
Now, after weeks of temper tantrums and one cussing that caused an Internet sensation, here's the latest. The council said last week it had four people under consideration for the vacant county manager's job. Only among the most important jobs where you live. The CEO, the man who supervises about 800 employees, the man who decides how work gets done and who does it.
These seven councilmen named Buddy Motz, Curwood Chappell, Rick Lee, Roy Blake, Paul Lindemann, Tom Smith, and Joe Cox, have so far refused to tell you who the four people were. They haven't told this newspaper.
They sidestepped the required disclosure under freedom of information laws -- the law says they must name three finalists -- because they claimed to have four people, and none were really finalists, anyway.
Each of the councilmen looked at the applications received and then got together Monday night to discuss their top choices. They did so in a closed-door meeting, in the back where the cold drinks and snacks are.
"Boss, can I come to the party?"
"Put on a servants' uniform, maybe you can clean up," the boss tells you.
These councilmen decided Monday in secrecy that Jim Baker of Missouri was their man. The chairman, Motz, the interim county manager, and the county lawyer were told to start negotiations with Baker.
Nobody except the councilmen, and these two others, ever heard of Jim Baker in York County. We hear the name Jim Baker, we think Jim Bakker, the disgraced evangelist who had PTL in Fort Mill.
But we in York County had never heard of the new Jim Baker, who has since accepted the job, until he was offered the job.
What happens if Betty who used to work in a mill in York wants to ask Baker his position on construction and debris landfills next to her house, or if any women had a chance at the job? What if York County's 30-plus percent black population wants to know if any of the candidates were black?
Betty with no job because the mill is long gone has to take what she gets because the York County Council says so.
The black people, who have never had a black manager in York County, will have to take what they get, too.
Motz, the chairman, told The Herald that he was following the advice of the county lawyer. The lawyer for the county then told The Herald a decision was not made by the council behind those closed doors so no laws were broken.
The S.C. Press Association's chief and lawyer say that's a load of baloney.
You know York County is in bad shape when the city of Charlotte, which built a huge arena on the backs of taxpayers after taxpayers voted no, is holding public forums for the three finalists for the Charlotte city manager job.
Yet, your council never asked you, the voter, the public, the person who pays the taxes, not once, what you thought of anybody. You never got to ask anybody anything.
Jim Baker is without a doubt a great guy. But how would anybody in York County know, except those behind the closed doors?
A formal vote on contractual terms comes Monday.
"Boss, can I get on the train?"
"The train has left the station. Get back to work."