Wednesday, September 24, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today

I was expecting a few extra calls this week after the recent Jasper county events. As it turned out, my expectations were entirely too modest. There were a ton of calls and emails, as well as lots of visitors to the office and well-wishers around town. A good many people, especially those who saw the various videos of the event, thought it was funny, and I guess it was, in a kind of farcical way. The fact is that it trained a spotlight on what we had been hearing from many parents and other residents concerning a lack of basic transparency in the Jasper School Board.


I think it also emphasized the fact that public meetings are for the benefit of the public, and not for the folks on the dais. The fact of using law enforcement resources to bodily remove members of the public from public meetings is kind of scary, not to mention embarrassing for those sheriff’s deputies. They knew their job was catching bad guys, not suppressing dissent at public meetings. In truth, they were very kind, almost apologetic, during the whole thing.


You know, sometimes it takes a catalyzing event such as this to prompt the changes to our system that everyone knows need to happen. That said, when the fellows with the firearms at their sides start ejecting citizens who clap for ideas unappreciated by the chairperson of any public meeting, we are almost inviting unintended and usually untoward events.


Last week, I received the largest and most delicious fruit basket ever. It was from the young woman whom Representative Newton and I rose to support at the abovementioned meeting. She was obviously shaken by the incident, but her gift to this representative was as tasty as it was unexpected. I will certainly report it on my ethics forms, as it was a huge and elaborate presentation. As much as I appreciate the sentiment, we were there to do the jobs we were elected to do. Doing the right thing doesn’t require compensation, but to my mind, it was an act of grateful sweetness, and I was touched.


The bulk of your delegation rode to Columbia together for a meeting last week. We discussed our strategy for the mediation, which will be to encourage as much public participation as possible. We will make a few proposals, but hope that the preponderance of ideas will come from the public. I have faith that the Jasper county citizenry, aware of the importance of education as the way for their children to advance in the world, will demand an end to the current regime. If I am disappointed, I will still hold whoever is elected to current standards of electoral propriety.


In statehouse matters, I have been appointed to the certificate of need task force. My mail is already heavy with hospital and clinic correspondence. I have urged the new speaker, my friend Jay Lucas, to also appoint Representative Weston Newton to both the ethics and Department of Transportation (DOT) task forces. Weston has experience and skills that make him essential to these committees.


Don’t forget the Friends of the Bluffton Dog Park event, Saturday, October 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Promenade in Old Town Bluffton. For more information call Cheryl Rauch at either 815-2333 or 540- 9988.


Also, the 7th Annual Friends of Waddell fundraising event will be Sunday, 9 November, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Waddell headquarters on the high bluff at the end of Sawmill Creek Road in Greater Bluffton. This is a very popular event, largely owing to the fact that Chef Mike Sigler will be doing many of his signature dishes of fresh, local seafood. For more information and to make reservations, call my buddy Dave Harter at 785-4106 or email daveh@hargray.com.