Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Florence City Council vs. Mayor Hickory Head

Florence - A City of Character ..... Or Is it City of Characters ?
There a few things more frustrating than a city that sits there, stalled in neutral, going nowhere - not because they don't have the tools, but because it's leadership seems more inclined to fight amongst themselves endlessly. From all appearances, Florence City Council looks like they're doing that to a T....
The cast of players in this drama is interesting, and comical in some points. There is Mayor Stephen Wukela, whose surprising victory last Summer over former Governor candidate Frank Willis stunned everyone, causing the GOP to recruit former Mayor Rocky Pearce to run a somewhat uninspired campaign as an independent. Then there are Billy D. Williams and Ed Robinson, who's extracurricular activities are only outdone by their ability to somehow not be voted out. On the other side, we have Republicans Buddy Brand and Bill Bradham. The newest members are Octavia Williams-Blake and Steve Powers, who rode in on the Obama Wave last November. It's an odd mix, but they do seem to have some unity there - everyone on council wants to keep Wukela in a box.
Wukela's agenda is modest. Rather than the wholesale changes that Barack Obama has proposed, Wukela has basically propsed three things: downtown development, adding some cops, and building additional fire stations. Despite gobbling up various surrounding communities in the area, the City of Florence has not added any services to keep up with it for decades. It has affected the ISO ratings for ALL city residents , which results in higher insurance rates for homeowners . In addition, it has caused the County to have to raise the Accommodations Tax to make up for the loss. More cops and fixing a stagnant downtown all seem like no brainer's, but the city has been stuck in the mud for years now - and they still seem intent on doing that.
How is the stalling going on? First, by using the long used tactic of tabling legislation, namely the first millage increase in 20 years - an increase that appears is necessary to avoid the much higher insurance rates. Also, there are proceedural issues to cement the Strong Council - Weak Mayor system used. If it sounds familiar, it's very similar to the Strong Legislature - Weak Governor setup in Columbia, with similar results. Nothing gets done....
Of particular interest is a recent No Confidence vote by all of the council members, with the exception of Williams. Now, as much as I might disagree with certain people, there are extremely few, if any cases where I would give a No Confidence vote. They've just turned a proceedural argument into a Battle Royal, and the ones who will suffer are the citizens of Florence. I'm no expert on proceedure - I have peripheral knowledge of Roberts Rule of Order, and I don't give a rat's ass... I focus on results, and I see years of no results coming out of the No Confidence votes, a mere six months after half of them took office.
Florence has experienced growth - not due to it's leadership, but despite it's leadership. It's time Council got some cajones, vote up or down on the millage, give their reasons why, and start focusing on real results....

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