Monday, November 23, 2009

Red tape will never be good for my constituents

Bluffton Today

I am gratified when I get feedback from this column. There is a lot of thought and effort that goes into this 600 or so words every Monday. Whether the feedback is in agreement or not, I take it seriously and respond when appropriate.

My fellow columnist Carl Lehmann from Sun City read my column of 9 November and essentially devoted two of his columns to explaining my wrong-headedness on a matter touched upon in my effort.

For the matter in question, I wrote three paragraphs recalling my speech before the property owners group at Island West, a pleasant golf community somewhat east of Sun City off Highway 278. The property owners were concerned and upset about the possibility of being annexed into the Town of Bluffton because they were an unincorporated “donut hole” surrounded by the town.

I explained that my work on annexation reform was concerned mainly with developers using annexation as a means of jurisdiction shopping and shouldn’t concern them.
They were also in some anxiety about a senate bill being carried over that was not only going to add to their already considerable maintenance costs, but also add a paperwork burden that seemed gratuitous at best, and silly at worst. Again, my response was not to worry, the senate bill would not pass the house. I stand by that statement.
Mr. Lehmann’s columns of 12 and 19 Nov. took me to task for apparent insensitivity to the needs of the residents of Sun City, a suggestion with which I can’t agree. To his credit, Mr.

Lehmann had done his homework and most of the information he used was correct, although his implication that he and his neighbors were close to insurrection over abusive Pulte policies seemed overwrought. In truth, I agree that some Pulte policy could be made more transparent and user-friendly. However, I don’t believe the senate bill, as written, would do much to ameliorate the ills articulated in Mr. Lehmann’s columns. The bill, if law, would certainly add to the Sun City POA’s costs (his estimate is $75,000/year). It would also add a number of paperwork obligations that, in my view, would not add to the value of the Sun City property.

Most importantly, Mr. Lehmann seems to assume that his neighbors are not the savvy bunch that I know they are. The average Sun City resident is at least 55 (mature), well educated and prosperous enough to be able to afford to live in an upscale community. They or their lawyer presumably read and signed the contracts that defined their relations with Del Webb or Pulte. They didn’t catch the turnip truck from Ohio to get to Beaufort County. To me, the uncertain potential benefit to this bill, as written, is not worth the dollar cost, nor do those possible benefits justify the gratuitous intervention of the state in a private matter.

Mr. Lehmann is a knowledgeable, serious man for whom I have great respect. He deserved a serious response to his argument. While he and I agree on much, on this we disagree.

If I seemed to have gone farther in my rebuttal than required, it is because I am currently working on legislation that would cut red tape instead of create more, as I think the bill in question would surely do. More on that later.

Once again, Bluffton Township Fire District is cooking Boston Butts by pre-order. They are to benefit Ray Nettles, a brave ten-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia. Call Crystal @ 757-1948