There are several festering issues on the metro front that I have neglected to write about in the last few days, probably because of an old prejudice of mine: I don’t like to write about problems for which I can’t think of a good solution.
But at least I can take a moment to catalog the local snafus, and note the way I think they all add to a general lack of confidence in local government, even a feeling of hopelessness on the part of those who wish for something better in the Midlands.
Let’s start with a few points about the Richland County election commission — which, of course, is not a county board at all, since it derives its authority from state legislators who represent portions of the county (but who have rendered themselves powerless to guide the board), something that no doubt confuses folks from more sensible parts of the country, and still makes us South Carolinians, as used to it as we are, want to bang our heads against something. Some of the recent developments on this mess that keeps on giving:
- The board chose one of its own to be the new interim director — which one wag on Facebook described as “Selph-serving.”
- The firing of the theoretically permanent director, apparently for, among other things, firing employees he deemed incompetent.
- The ex-director’s claim that he was warned not to fire an employee because said employee was the brother-in-law of Sen. Joel Lourie.
- The ex-director’s claim that when he tried to hire a replacement for that employee, the board’s first question about his choice for the job was about the candidate’s race. He also said the board didn’t want to hire a black candidate for the position — which would be a twist on the perception among some in the county that the agency is a sort of black patronage mill.
- The fact that Lillian McBride still has a job with this public body. Unless I missed some startling news.
OK, I’m running short of time. So instead of doing similar lists of developments on the other local problems, I’ll just list the other local problems:
- The ongoing mess that is the Columbia Police Department. There will be no charges filed after the lengthy corruption investigation. There will also, apparently, be no answers as to what really happened among ranking cops to lead to the bizarre allegations to begin with.
- The fact that the process to hire a new chief is sufficiently embroiled in discontent and multidirectional accusations that we hold out little hope of a new broom setting things right any time soon.
- The possible cost to taxpayers resulting from city Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine’s handling of a federally funded loan.
- The continuing fallout from Richland County Council’s mishandling of the awarding of a contract to manage the roadwork to be funded by the new penny tax. The council seems to have gone out of its way to maximize public distrust on an issue where public trust most needed to be courted and reinforced.
- All the hoo-hah over Bull Street and the ball park, which… well, I’ve lost track of where all that is. I just know that something that should be about a big shot in the arm for the community seems to be leaving a bad taste in more and more local mouths.
I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things. But this list will do for starters.
Any thoughts about a way out of this thicket?