Monday, November 9, 2009

Should legislators impeach governor?

Bluffton Today

I had a great meeting with an interesting group of folks over at Island West last week. The affair was put together by my friends Bob and Phyllis Bidwell, who are residents and among the community leaders in that pleasant neighborhood. I had a good time, and as usual, I learned at least as much as I was able to impart.

One of the issues of interest to those in attendance had to do with the particulars of annexation, especially as it applies to “donut holes”.

Donut holes in this context are neighborhoods, which are in the unincorporated areas but are surrounded, at least partially, by a municipality.

There is concern that Island West may be compelled to annex into Bluffton against the wishes of the majority of residents. Under current law, that would be extremely unlikely. My efforts at annexation reform have not been aimed so much at resolving jurisdictional discontinuities, as with the common practice among some developers of “zoning shopping”. Residential communities have greater safeguards against unwelcome annexation than commercial properties. With commercial, if they are contiguous to a municipality, they are subject to annexation with no vote, and precious little due process. While there are two sides to that story, my sympathies are certainly with a process that involves the “consent of the governed”.

Another area of concern that we talked about was a senate bill that is being carried over that would impose certain obligations on neighborhoods or subdivisions that I feel are onerous and inappropriate. Property owners associations (POAs) have a great deal of legal authority and are a de facto unit of government. They allow for a great deal of self-determination within the community and generally do a pretty good job of responding to the needs of the residents. If folks are unhappy, they can support a change in leadership, or run for a seat themselves. Once again, we have a version of government that operates with “the consent of the governed”. The senate bill will not pass the house.

The recent municipal election in Bluffton didn’t attract much attention. It also didn’t have a degree of turnout that should make one proud. I was, however, proud of how all the candidates kept the campaigns to a high level and disagreed on matters of policy and implementation, and not trivia.

Back in the late spring and early summer, I absorbed a fair bit of abuse for not jumping on the impeachment bandwagon when the governor’s personal life became a public story. After the Boeing announcement last week, a got a few calls and a few email apologies from friends who belatedly made the connection between the Boeing deal and my seeming to let the governor off the hook.

Those of us in the leadership of the House and Senate, who were also involved in the negotiations, could not publicly advocate the impeachment of the governor while he was a key player in that process. At least a thousand good jobs were directly on the line in the Lowcountry. The number of ancillary jobs may be twice or three times that many.

When the General Assembly reconvenes after the first of the year, the impeachment issue will be on the early agenda. What do you think needs to happen? Let me hear from you.