Former Lowndes County commissioner Richard Lee once told me “…the learning curve is very steep for first-time commissioners.” Our new county commissioners, Richard Raines and Crawford Powell, are living proof of the veracity of that statement. In case Bill O’Reilly is reading this, here’s a few examples.
Earlier this month a grant application for the purchase of 5,000 weather emergency radios was nixed by a 2 – 1 vote. The radios could’ve been a means for citizens residing in remote areas of the county to
stay abreast of storm conditions in case of widespread power outages. The $100,000+ FEMA money had already been appropriated, and the radios will simply go to another south Georgia county. At this week’s meeting, a citizen politely but firmly chastised the two “naysayers” for their ill-advised decision. Our new commissioners’ discomfort and inability to maintain eye contact with the speaker were obvious.
Granted, neither new commissioner has had much government experience–other than Mr. Powell’s tenure on the Industrial Authority–so the voters, understandably, should cut them some slack. But the new members used up a whole lot of slack at Tuesday’s commission meeting. The 2 – 1 rejection of a Homeland Security Agency grant for an Emergency Operations Center to be located here was, in my opinion, short-sighted. Their recorded opposition to this center, fully reimbursable by federal funds, was rather confusing. Messrs Powell and Raines wanted solid assurances that “surrounding counties could be persuaded to contribute” financially to the maintenance of the Center before committing to the project. (Surely these men know as much about geography as Sarah Palin, but may I remind them our adjoining county neighbors are Echols and Clinch to the east, Lanier to the northeast, Berrien and Cook to the north, and Brooks to the west. As far as I know, those counties’ discretionary funds are VERY limited and will be for the foreseeable future.)
As such I’m hard-pressed to take their concerns seriously. Apparently they have some doubts as to whether Lowndes County really is the regional leader it’s aspired to be for the last 30 years. I’m sorry they feel that way—if they really do.
Here’s my take, for what it’s worth: Either we can dismiss the commissioners’ dubious judgment as rookie mistakes or our new commissioners are being—and I really dislike this word—disingenuous. I’m not sure which. (For all our sakes, I truly hope it’s not disingenuousness!)
This voter’s assessment of Commissioners Raines’ and Powell’s initial months on the job can be summed thusly: Pennywise and pound-foolish.
Ken Klanicki —Valdosta