This morning, I got this e-mail from the anonymous folks over at The Pulse of Columbia:
To: Our Friends in the City of
From: THE PULSE OF
With “Charles in Charge”… it begs
the question “What About Bob”?
says we need the “Strong Mayor” system, but could Mayor Bob really run the City
You tell us what you think at The Pulse of
Your Friends at THE PULSE
… to which I responded:
Who says Bob would be
the mayor? And would we even consider a change that would take effect before the
next mayoral election?
Here’s the reply I got:
Completely agree with
you on that one, Brad. We’re pushing right along with
We’d really like to
see Council take the lead and give the voters a chance to decide what form of
government is best for
. If we can educate the voting populous
out there about the importance of a good government structure, it would
dramatically improve the way the City does business and give Columbia the
fighting chance it needs to really be a fantastic
The rally for change
is exciting. We need to continue moving the balls forward. Eventually they will
begin to roll on their own.
As long as you keep
pushing the message, we’ll continue posting it!!
In case you’re wondering who our "friends" at the Pulse might be, we’re in the same boat. Back when I first started hearing from them, I asked, and here’s the answer I got:
We’re are a group of
Columbia-area residents and business owners who’d like to see the City’s
leadership step up to the plate, like we have to do every day with our families
and businesses, and help our Capital City reach its potential. There’s so much
out there that we’d like to City to address, and we just hope to be a voice that
Kind of a long name, huh?
So, who are they, what do they want, and what’s their agenda?
We are a group of people looking for accountability in Columbia City Government. We believe that the 7 members of Council and the City Manager need to operate and function according to their charter as outlined in the state constitution… that or they need to recommend a change to the system. We want City government to function in service the City of Columbia and its people… not itself.
Stop! Halt! Wait a minute!
It is incorrect to believe that the city’s problems are because of its structure. It is the City Manager’s job, under any form of government, to ensure basic tenants of good governance. There is NO excuse for what has happened inside city hall. Austin should go. There can be no question about this…and the State should be ringing the bells for his immediate departure. If it does not, the State cannot cover government waste, fraud or abuse with credibility.
Last Friday the City was told to pay the county approximately 5.3 million dollars that it improperly withheld from the county. This is yet another instance of malfeasance by Austin and Company.
The council should not be called to task but instead the call should be to SLED to investigate the money matters inside the City of Columbia.
FYI Actually the State Statute that determines how to change the form of City government, requires that the referendum be held within 90 days of certification of the petition (Section 5-5-20) and that the existing Council which would include the Mayor would continue to serve after the change if the referendum were succesful (Section 5-5-60). I think that is one of the flaws in State law that should be changed. If the citizens want to change the form of government they may also want to change the Mayor. Unfortunately they would have to wait until the next election.
Thanks, Mayor. And now that you mention that, it sounds like something I might have been told once, but forgot just now.
But would that prevent change advocates from timing the certification of the petition so that it occurs just before an election? That could be awkward, of course — holding an election with something that big not written into stone until the last minute.
But it seems to me that if we were to change, we should try to the extent we can under the law to divorce the issue of the best form of government from how people feel (for better or worse) about current officeholders. If nothing else, it’s important to defuse the accusation that it’s about the current officeholder seeking more power. I’m sure the mayor is very sensitive to that one.
It’s hard to take anonymous snipes seriously.
Sorta leaves the door open for anyone to speculate that the only pulse they’re in touch with is their own. … Especially when the accused is obviously willing to engage in person, in public, in a constructive tone.
The best way is for the effective date for the change in the form of government to be a date in the future (assuming the referendum passes) and then have the election for Mayor to coincide with that future date. That would require a change in State law but would improve the chances for success.
Why should anyone think ANY form government would work when the present office holders refuse to exercise the duties of their present offices? Would not the same behavior extend to the next form?
The problem is that honorable men and women do not do what is required of them. Not one business or governmental entity in the state would knowingly allow what goes on inside Columbia city hall. But here we are, in the center of the state, in the Capital City no less…and no one will step up.
Our political system has progressed where talk is the only thing that is important. Accountability and transparency are just buzzwords used to fool the public into thinking that elected officials care.
People don’t vote because they feel their vote does not matter. Politicians can do as they choose, as the BRIGHT light of the 4th estate rarely shines as brightly as it should. We need that light, but frankly…it burns dimly in Columbia.
“The Pulse of Columbia” seems very willing to express their opinion on what needs to be done to improve Columbia, however, they’re afraid, for some reason, to announce to Columbia who they are.
What’s the secret? It couldn’t possibly be because it would affect future/pending business before City Council, would it? The accusations made on the website are fairly strong; they have zero credibility with no ownership. Moreover, they offer no solutions to how “problems” within the city should be fixed.
I want to be clear. I’m not saying the City of Columbia and the current form of government are the most effective. But, for all of its deficiencies, I would say the city has done a pretty good job progressing. Brad, you mention traveling to PA, rather often. I’m originally from PA, and I see cities across the state struggling under the weight of suburban flight. Downtowns are wastelands. I’m sure you’ve seen it too in your travels to the Keystone State.
My point is this, Columbia has a lot of good things going for it. The University and the diversity of people it brings. The Vista and Five Points area are places I often bring guests with pride. The river and how accessible it is. The zoo! Oh my goodness. It’s the best for a city this size in the world! The potential that is being fulfilled, seemingly, on a daily basis, with Innovista. As Mr. Chernoff famously said, “It’s Happening Now!”
Never in my life have I been more proud to live in Columbia than now. It’s so easy for us to focus on all the negativity that occurs in and around our Capitol City. There are times when coverage of such news is worthwhile. This constant drumbeat of negative press, however, only fulfills the inferiority complex Columbia dwellers show every day. Columbia will never be a Charleston (we don’t have the ocean). Columbia will never be a Greenville (thankfully, we don’t have a Bob Jones). But, Columbia does have a lot to be proud of, and we should continue to do our very best to showcase it and be proud.
Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee!
Ok, I can’t resist. What is the status of the Railroad relocation project on a Assembly Street? This should be a much higher priority than it is. I’ll vote for anyone who promises to get rid of the darn things (even if he or she is a Republican).
The Assembly Street project has received a federal planning grant. We are going back to Washington in the Spring to seek funding. It is a very expensive project. Thanks
And Charles Austin floats on through…
Question: Is there anything he could do to be fired? Is there any standard so low that he can not pass it?