Monday, August 3, 2009

Lead by example, not rhetoric

Bluffton Today

The Conservation Voters of South Carolina is a bipartisan advocacy organization that seeks to make old-fashioned conservation values a priority for elected officials in our state.

They help us, as elected officials, to understand the necessary connection between environmental issues and the overall productivity of our state’s economy. More importantly, they provide a mechanism of accountability that fosters coherence between our political statements and our votes on key issues.

This year, your representative has been named one of the Legislators of the Year by Conservation Voters of South Carolina. We will be recognized at the Green Tie Luncheon at the Grand Hall of Historic 701 Whaley in Columbia on September 16th. Essentially what this means is that what you read in this column about the connection between jobs and a green and clean environment is also the way I vote in the House of Representatives.

It also means that what I hear from you about what you want for your county and your state is reflected in how I represent you. What you hear from me in Bluffton is what I vote for in Columbia.

The fact that I am a developer, and have been for over 20 years, makes this honor somewhat extraordinary. In the ideal world, developers should be the “greenest” folks in the country. As we see in Beaufort County, that is not always the case-- witness the runoff problems in Bluffton’s incomparable May River.

By contrast, in my latest project, the Calhoun Street Promenade, we far exceeded the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for stormwater by engineering a system to keep all our runoff on the property, as well as treating water flowing from the county recreation property to our north. In fact, one of the proposed solutions to the May River debacle is to require a version of what we did voluntarily six years ago. Friends, that is leading by example, not by rhetoric.

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Bob Dixson’s Political Science class at Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL) at the New River Campus. I hope they were half as impressed with me as I was with them. They were astute, informed, and were not shy about asking hard questions. If these young folks are examples of the kind of voters we are about to have, I promise you we will get a better, more effective class of elected officials in short order. Some of Professor Dixson’s students may well be those elected officials.

With the retirement of my friend Ann McNutt from TCL, they did an exhaustive, nationwide search for a new president. That new leader is Tom Leitzel, who, by all accounts, is doing an excellent job. David Carter is the vice-president for the New River Campus. He is not only engaging and personable, he runs a tight ship. Together, these fellows have managed to weather a challenging budget environment while still accomplishing their crucial mission.

You hear me talk about jobs all the time, and how important jobs are, and how we must have good jobs to have a stable and prosperous community. The mission of TCL is to prepare motivated students for those good jobs, whatever they might be. My conversations at TCL were all the more impressive because they see their mission as not simply job training, but preparation for careers and productive citizenship.

TCL, and all of Beaufort County education, has a friend in the House of Representatives.