Monday, December 21, 2009

From the soapbox: Don't drink and drive over the holidays

Bluffton Today

Mary and I want to wish you a merry Christmas, or happy Hanukkah, or whatever you might be celebrating this time of year.

Please give a thought to the more solemn aspects of your celebration and try not to get too carried away with the parties and the holly jolly. You are not only my constituents; a huge number of you are personal friends. We don’t want this holiday season to include avoidable family tragedy. In that spirit, please indulge me a moment on the soapbox.

When you party, have a designated driver. Failing that, make sure you have the number of a local cab company with you, log it into your cell phone, or pin it to your shirt. If you are impaired, call a cab. It’s so easy and so prudent to avoid what may be a life-altering event caused by a split second of inattention.

Forgive me if I sound like a scolding parent. If you must know, I am the father of a child with a driver’s license and as such, am always in a certain state of traffic-related anxiety.

I know that preparing for the holidays is a lot more fun that writing emails to your representative, so I want to express my gratitude and amazement at the incredible number of letters and emails we got in response to my column on government red tape. You not only had complaints about what you have endured, many of you included good suggestions for making things better and more efficient. Friends, your words and ideas are going with me to Columbia, and we are going to make a difference. Thank you.

I also want to thank the Democratic Club for their hospitality and kind reception of my remarks last week. I gave a brief overview of the upcoming legislative session and what they can expect from their legislative delegation in the coming year. They may have learned a little from me, but I learned a lot from them. Good ideas on good governance are always appreciated regardless of party affiliation.

Awhile back, I told you about Clemson student Rachel Bedowsky and how she had interned with the SC Dept. of Employment Security, and how she impressed all with her ability and dedication. I have been told that Rachel has taken another highly coveted internship in the private sector with a prestigious company, where her work ethic and drive continues to impress. Rachel’s successes speak volumes about solid family support, a good educational foundation, and the importance of personal initiative.

Finally, this may be the year when we break the shutout with regard to the state funding formulas of our public schools. Not only is the delegation gearing up for a battle on this, County Council Chairman Weston Newton and School Board Chairman Fred Washington have outlined their own aggressive strategies to finally achieve funding equity for our schools. We are prepared to utilize the courts; we will look at a charter school strategy, and even consider creating a unified school district to bring a fair share of your tax dollars back to support our local schools. Watch this space for play by play.