Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My impressions of Anderson County Council meeting

I attended my first Anderson County Council meeting as a resident of Anderson County on Tuesday night. Several things crossed my mind as I soaked it all in.

First, my council representative, Cindy Wilson, seems to be a sincere person who is woefully over her head in some ways. There was a discussion about the county adopting a particular radio system for command and control and communication with other agencies during an emergency. Ms. Wilson first seemed to not grasp that the current system would remain intact and be supplemented by the new system. Then she droned on and on about some standard “boiler plate” language within the contract proposed with the telecommunications company. I wanted to jump up ask her if she had a mobile phone, and if she did, had she read the contract. Ms. Wilson also seemed to have some real personal issues with Joey Preston, the county administrator. New to the scene again up here, I am not used to seeing such open pettiness on display. Ms. Wilson is charming and has a disarming way about her that makes it hard to really get angry with her. I believe she is sincere in her beliefs. I appreciated her voicing that Honea Path should get its fair share of accommodations tax revenue.

I move on to Council Chairman Bob Waldrep. Waldrep is a man with a stellar resume and a life of service to the state and Anderson County. I hesitate to criticize a man like him. However, I will offer this; he seemed to play too much the ham to the crowd in the room and drug things out a bit. It reminded me of a book I have been reading recently about Winston Churchill’s last year in his second stint as Prime Minister chairing cabinet meetings that went on for the sake of just going on. But, like Churchill, Waldrep is one helluva man with a lifetime of achievement, so you just give him a pass and realize that he offers nuggets of real wisdom still. Waldrep’s nugget came at the end of the council meeting, when he refused a membership in the Chiquola Club that was apparently offered to him as a county council member. Like any great old politician, Waldrep saved his best moment of the night for last when he plopped down the card offered to him and stressed he wanted to go on record rejecting the offer. Hooray for Mr. Waldrep on that one.

Then there is Michael Thompson, my friend Bill McAbee and Larry Greer. I have respect for all three men, especially my friend. However, I must, in all fairness, note there were a couple of times when Mr. Greer and Bill got a bet testy. In defense of my friend, I will say that he did have moments when he appeared the smartest man in the room.

The biggest surprise of the night came from Ron Wilson. You remember the big controversy Mr. Wilson and I had with one another in the spring. During the first recess of the meeting, Mr. Wilson came directly over to me and extended his hand. We shook hands and both shared a laugh about how two men who had never met before caused such a firestorm. I am not saying I am fan of Mr. Wilson. But, I do respect his courtesy and feel obligated to note it.

I regret that Council Member Gracie Floyd was unable to attend. My mother is a friend of hers and I would have enjoyed chatting with Ms. Floyd.

I did note some other things. There seems to be some sort of issue brewing between the legally incorporated Anderson County Taxpayers Association and the unofficial, self proclaimed “real” Anderson County Taxpayers Association headed by defeated House candidate Dan Harvell. There seems to be a good bit of bitterness there.

There also seems to be a good bit of bitterness on council. Things got a bit testy between some of the members. At least they did not pull out a knife like a member of the Allendale County school board did some years ago.

Overall, I was struck by the sincerity of the council members and public commentators. While there is some bitterness that seems to go beyond politics present, I believe by and large, the differences are sincere. I saw decent people who honestly disagree on how some things should be done. If only those people who disagree could admit the other side, while wrong in their eyes, were decent and sincere, then perhaps some of the tension could be removed from Anderson County government.

But, I admit I am now the new guy again. All I am going to do up here in local government is just watch and listen.

1 comment:

  1. Was your buddy Ron Wilson wearing a clan outfit?