In telling a gathering of historic preservationists about his fondness for stucco, Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry both missed the point and trivialized the concerns of those who are protesting the design of a CVS pharmacy at downtown's eastern entrance.
To those pushing for a design that's more compatible with an urban gateway and the Downtown Master Plan, the fight is about much more than brick versus stucco.
It's about whether Lexington can muster the vision and discipline to create the kind of urban core that will enable it to compete with other cities where appealing, livable, well-planned downtowns are fueling economic growth.
The action today is at the corner of Main and Vine. Two summers ago it was at the heart of downtown, where a block of historic buildings was demolished to make way for a grandiose development that has fallen through.
Tomorrow it will be somewhere or something else.
Somewhere or something else that demands leadership, a quality that seems at odds with Newberry's philosophy of governing.
In defending his support for the stalled CentrePointe project at a candidate forum last spring, he said that a mayor shouldn't try to influence or interfere with a property owner's decisions as long as they're within the law. A remarkably passive approach to urban planning.
Earlier this week, he said "whenever any individual elected official starts sticking their own personal opinion into the discussion, you're just asking for major problems."
He was explaining why he would do nothing to influence the design of the downtown drugstore, something that would require exercising some leadership.