Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From the House

Bluffton Today

The Beach Sweep/River Sweep was a huge success. As always, my friend Kim Jones of the town of Bluffton was superb. Also, there were a ton of local folks, including a hug contingent from Sun City, on hand to clean up our river. This has traditionally signaled the start of a round of fall festivals in Bluffton, several of which I’d like to tell you about.

First, however, I’d like to clear up a matter that many of you have called about, which is the free credit monitoring and identity theft protection currently provided to residents of the state by a company called Experian.

In the wake of the hacking of the Department of Revenue database last year, we hired Experian to provide immediate credit monitoring and identity theft protect. This was a no-bid emergency measure designed to allow us time to evaluate our data security and put new policies in place to prevent such disasters. In continuing the safety measure, this year we issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), as part of a regular, prudent procurement process. For their own reasons, Experian did not respond to the RFP and will not be continuing as our vendor after their current contract expires at the end of this year. They have, as some of you have found, started to market their service to individuals in our state, even though they were aware we would award a contract after the competitive bidding process was complete, probably by next week. If Experian solicits you, please politely decline, as you are still covered by the free state-paid protections. There will be no lapse in your coverage, and probably some additional benefits as well. I would like to think that this is a miscommunication between the state procurement system and Experian, and not simply a company seeking to use our misfortune as a marketing ploy. Make no mistake, we did not adequately protect your data, and we will assume the cost of cleaning up the mess. I want to reiterate that it is already paid for in the current budget, and any offer you receive from a third party is redundant and unnecessary. However this shakes out, I am still a big believer in the private sector approach, but as Ronald Reagan famously put it, we must “trust but verify.”

On a more pleasant local note, we in the Promenade are hosting “Bark in the Park” on Saturday, October 12th as a fundraiser for the Bluffton Dog Park. This fun, pet-centric event will feature games for children and their pets, pet related vendors, low-cost vaccinations for cats and dogs, as well as food, music, and a silent auction. Friends, the dog park group has experienced several serious setbacks in their good efforts. I believe this event will put them back on a positive footing. Hope to see you there.

One of the signature events in Old Town Bluffton that combines two of our best things is the Arts and Seafood Festival. It is held from Sunday, the 13th of October through the following Sunday, the 20th of October. The fun begins at 11 a.m. on the first Sunday with a Friends of Bluffton Artists Showcase, a new feature that was hugely successful last year. The festival culminates the last Saturday and Sunday with a juried, fine art show on Calhoun Street with 100 artists from 10 states set up in the street. In between, there are kayak tours, a run, a tour of the Waddell Mariculture Center, a blessing of the fleet, and a host of cool happening. I personally guarantee a great week.

Finally, don’t forget the “Taste of Waddell” from 3-7 p.m. on Sunday, November 10th. There will be amazing food on the high bluff over the Colleton River, tours of the facility, and a better understand of the contribution this scientific installation plays in the preservation of the health of our waters and the vitality of our fishing and recreation industries.