Wednesday, August 1, 2012

From the House

Bluffton Today

I believe it’s time for some more gratitude. I realize that for the last few weeks, we have been so caught up in the urgency of the extended session, as well as the foment surrounding the governor’s vetoes, I have failed to properly acknowledge the hard work of some very good people. My disappointments over what we failed to accomplish and my anticipation of what we are going to accomplish next session can wait. I want to issue some well-deserved kudos.

For nearly ten years, this column has been one of my most effective platforms for including you in the extended conversation that is reflected in how your business is done at the statehouse. Staff and I have a process for these pieces that often involves multiple drafts and levels of review before it shows up in the pages of the Wednesday Bluffton Today. Unfortunately, I have omitted the first step in the process each time I have sought to shine a light on how we go from a blank sheet of paper to 600 words of weekly column. Today, we begin at the beginning.

Whether we are in session or out, I try to call the Word Processing Center on late afternoon Thursday or early Friday morning. I dictate the first draft of the column to one of the efficient women who work at Word Processing. They are helpful and attentive as they transcribe my thoughts, often assisting if I am at a loss for the best word or phrase. From this roughest of rough copies, they create a draft and email it to Bluffton where staff and I boil it down, make changes, do a final rewrite or two, and finally ship it off to the editor. Without exception, these folks are pleasant, efficient, motivated to do excellent work, and handle a huge workload without complaint. If every employee of the state were like Word Processing, this representative might be working to expand instead of shrink our government.

I also want to commend the efforts of the Moss Creek Marines for their good work with our returning service members. They are in the process of designing the USMC license plates after we passed the bill granting their cause. The bulk of the dollars raised from this specialty plate will go to the Moss Creek Marines to further their mission of helping to aid our returning warriors. It’s a great cause and they are a superb bunch of men and women who remember when it was they who were returning from one set of challenges to another, often more perplexing experience. If you want to help, please contact our office. We will put you in touch.

I was chatting with a good friend and constituent the other day. He pointed out that about ten or fifteen years ago, the term “public servant” began to morph into “public official.” It was his contention that the changing of the words seems to have given a different meaning to public employment, with the change not being for the better. To his way of thinking, it was more about entitlement, or attitude, or some way of looking at employment that differed from public service. By no means does this change cover all public employees, but it does point out how sometimes words do really matter.

As I think about our conversation, I wish I could have offered more compelling examples of public servants. That’s when I thought about the ladies of the Word Processing Center. They are certainly public servants for whom I am personally grateful.