Wednesday, December 24, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today

As this is Christmas Eve, I’m going to limit the politics and weigh in a little more on the gratitude side of the ledger. I did get quite a number of good emails on the last couple of columns regarding committee and subcommittee assignments, and what they might mean for the upcoming session.

I try to give enough of the structure of the legislature and the flow of work so that if you want to follow a particular item that might be of special interest to you or your business, you will know who needs a call or a letter. There is always a concern that I will lose my audience with too much “inside baseball,” but history and context are so vital to understanding how the people’s business is conducted. It is a delicate balance. It is very gratifying when I get positive feedback from you, especially if I’m worried that I may have gone overboard with details.

There is a follow up to an item from last week’s column. I mentioned that my pal, Weston Newton had been asked by Speaker Lucas to sit on the newly created Legislative Oversight Committee. In their organizational meeting last week, Rep. Newton was elected chairman of this important body. Legislative Oversight Committee is tasked with programmatic review of all state agencies, with full investigative and subpoena powers. There are over 200 agencies and the job is expected to take seven years.

On the local front, the Town of Bluffton did an outstanding job of removing and replacing the dying tree in the center of the Tom Herbkersman pocket park in the southeast corner of the Promenade. Bluffton Manager, Marc Orlando has certainly hit the ground running, if this is an example of his administration. They diagnosed the situation early so that falling branches hurt no one. Bids were let and processed for the work without delay. The proper notices were issued, and the whole thing came off without a hitch. Thank you, friends. Excellent job.

A few weeks ago in this space, I suggested that local businesses hire students on break from school to work over the holiday. In fact, I hired my son, Cole and his friend Caleb. They have done good work and collected a couple of paychecks, as well as gotten some valuable experience. I think it is pretty good idea and am happy with the outcome.

However, since the column came out, I have gotten quite a few phone calls and visits, not too many emails, from folks who told me about their holiday and temporary jobs when they were growing up. The stories were mostly from older fellows, a couple from Depression times. Some were inspirational, some were pretty sad, about folks making the best of what they had. The thing is, work is such a powerful thing, whether we realize it at the time or not. Even a small job, or a temporary job, is often so much more than just a paycheck.

Finally, I want to say a few things about supporting and appreciating our community. When you do business with your neighbors instead of multinational big box stores, those dollars stay in your community. There are so many towns that no longer have a downtown, or even much of an identity, because shoppers would rather save a nickel than support their community. Local banks didn’t gamble with your savings and crash the economy. Please think and shop local. We have one of the best places imaginable to call home—in large part because we support one another with our business.

Have a merry Christmas. Be safe, and remember that designated driver. (I’m a dad, can’t help it.)