The goal for these articles over the last year or so has been to shed some light on the workings of your county government and to try to keep you as informed about the issues as possible. Much has gone on over the last two months and to be honest with you, I'm still a little perplexed as to what to say. More people seemed to have paid attention to these few 'side' issues than almost anything else that has gone on in the last year. Maybe it's because these really weren't 'side' issues to begin with.
Several times in these past months folks have just walked up to me and said "sometimes right is right." The profoundness and simplicity of those words cuts right to the heart of the issue. Those of us who opposed the appointment of a Planning Commissioner who lived outside of Spartanburg County were criticized for somehow being petty, partisan, or ideological. Those of us who were against changing certain board appointments to all "at large" appointments were told that we just didn't understand the process and that the Council knew best. Although both of these issues may seem to be insignificant and should never have gotten controversial, the fact of the matter is that sometimes right is right, and allowing business as usual is not an option.
As you know, the people have the power in our government. It doesn't always look that way and it may not always be as easy as it sounds. If the people choose to use their power, however, it can be very effective. These issues are great examples of what can happen when people get involved and exercise their power.
Just consider the fact that You, The People, had a (1) to (6) minority on Council concerning that Planning Commission appointment. You paid attention, got informed about the issue, wrote letters and emails, and made phone calls. You let your voice be heard and in the end we have a new Planning Commissioner who resides in the county and in the district which they represent.
Just last month You, The People, had a (2) to (5) minority on Council concerning an all "at large" amendment to certain board appointments. You were informed on this issue, wrote letters, and even attended public hearings to share your voice. The amendment was withdrawn before we even got to a second reading.
It's obvious from these past couple of months that the whole "We, The People" thing is not just a catch phrase. It really is about staying informed and involved and realizing that, in the end, you really do have the power and the ability to make significant changes in how your government does business.
Over the next three months we will be having our budget discussions. This is the time when the rubber meets the road and the issues are not so insignificant. Your voice will be needed more than ever and the impact you can make can be substantial. Please plan to be involved in this process any way you can.