Letters, October 16, 2013

  • Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Film ordinance

The Georgetown Times recent editorial imploring people to read the Filming Ordinance being proposed by the County should be read by all. Particularly our Government leaders.

The sad part is our "supposed" leaders have shown little interest in listening to those of us who elect them.

Points to consider. The Government Shutdown. People from both parties are yelling at their preferred officials to meet and work something out. As of the writing of this letter that movement is at a glacial pace.

When Georgetown County was putting the impact fees up for vote and well over a hundred contractors, builders and their employees showed to protest and voice their disapproval of what their elected officials (at this point in government representation the term leader is not applicable) were about to do. Did those elected listen? No.

When there was a reassessment in 2010 by the County and high end properties suffered a scale back in worth and lower priced homes were given an increase and the County proposed their "revenue neutral" millage increase (revenue neutral only for the Government but it plays as a nice soundbite) and the County, with the exception of 2, turned a deaf ear.

When the City of Georgetown proposed using an imported rain forest wood to redo the Harborwalk and many of the people said no, the local and state lumber industry (a considerable income producer for this area) protested, environmental groups from all over sent letters of protest some addressed Council in person and 5 Council members turned a deaf ear and said yes we will go forward with this.

So what does it bring to a taxpayer and citizen to spend the time and energy to research an ordinance and speak out on the ordinance only to know that their voices will not be heard? A bottle of Pepto Bismol or a pack of Tums. Something to ease the heartburn and then a sense of apathy, and more weight is then given to that old cliche — You Can't Fight CIty Hall!

BUT — we can change this. After the Harborwalk issue was a done deal in Georgetown it was time for the City leaders to tackle the reassessment issue and millage increase for the City in October of 2010. 5 of our elected officials listened to us and voted an increase down, leaving only 2 to vote in favor of.

We do need to use our voices. Let them be heard and when they do not hear we need to make a calendar and mark the next election and add sticky notes with your issues on it and then cast a vote based on your personal history lesson and awareness of where attention was paid and where it was not and hold them accountable.

Until we show them we are paying attention they will assume we give them a blanket permission slip to act and act without accountability.

Some people in Murrells Inlet have spoken loudly in praise of this ordinance. I received a phone call from a woman in the film industry I met during the filming of The Bay, which provided a shot in the arm for Georgetown during the economic downturn. She said this ordinance will kill any future projects in this County. So does this mean there will be no more filming of movies such as The Notebook, The Patriot, Paradise and Shag to name just a few?

So people, the choice is yours. Let Council members know that while it is a short term inconvenience, the fiscal impact on you or your business is worth a small disruption in life. Or let the cities of Charleston and Wilmington continue to have a burgeoning film business. Or better yet. Murrells Inlet should incorporate as a Town or City and craft an ordinance that all but deters filming and let the rest of the County have the financial benefits and occasional inconveniences of filming.

Lee Padgett

We endorse Paige

We would like to endorse Paige Sawyer for re-election to Georgetown City Council. He has served Georgetown well for 16 years. He is always available to answer questions and explain actions taken. He is a dedicated and committed public servant.

Carolyn and Bud Black
Georgetown   Veterans disability payments

As the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has reported that VA disability compensation payments may be suspended to our nation’s disabled veterans and their surviving spouses as of November 1, 2013 with the current government shutdown. Veterans have always been considered a protected and honored class of citizens who have fought to protect our cherished freedoms. President Obama and other elected officials, regardless of party, should never play political football with the benefits that our veterans have in many cases paid in blood for.

How could they not justly compensate a former prisoner of war who was tortured or a Medal of Honor recipient, or a wounded veteran who faced a hail of bullets during war?

One of my comrades mentioned the famous bonus march where World War One veterans came from all over America, camped out in Washington, protesting for their long-promised war bonus they never received. Veterans who were gassed by the Germans were forced out of their encampment by U.S. troops using tanks and tear gas.

I remember protesting with my fellow veterans at local Congressional district offices when the VA closed mental hygiene wards at Northport VA Medical Center in Suffolk County, New York. The county commanders of veterans organizations pleaded with veterans not to protest. They said our elected representatives take care of our veterans and we were wrong to protest.

Many veterans call for a million veteran march on Washington. Veterans and concerned citizens can start with a million letter-writing campaign to their elected Federal officials to protest the proposed suspension of veterans compensation benefits.

Now is the time for all good Americans to came to the aid of our veterans. Never during a period of war have our veterans been treated with so much disrespect. Veterans have protected our great democracy. We can protect our hard earned rights by answering at the ballot box and supporting candidates that support our veterans and their families.

I ask my fellow veterans to join a veterans group like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America or the Low Country Veterans here in Georgetown County.

Be an advocate for the veterans benefits that you earned through your war or peacetime service and which many of our comrades have died for. Veterans of the Korean War call their war “The Forgotten War,” and Vietnam War Veterans often say, “All we had were each other.”

It does seem some of our elected officials have forgotten what our veterans have done for our nation and what our troops do everyday.

For God & Country,
Greg Bennett
Andrews American Legion Post 69

OSHA fine

I read with interest your report in the Oct. 11 edition about Hazzard Marina being fined $59,200 by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for various infractions involving its operation on Meeting Street in Georgetown.

This kind of crippling levy against a small business struggling to keep employees working in a devastated boating industry is typical of the ham-handed way in which federal agencies treat entrepreneurs while turning a blind eye to major industries that flaunt environmental and worker safety regulations on a daily basis with what appears to be absolute impunity.

Right here in Georgetown, the ArcelorMittal steel mill spews out oxides all over the city on a daily basis, yet neither OSHA nor the misnamed Environmental Protection Agency comes anywhere near that plant, which happens to be owned by the largest steel producer in the world. Big business gets a pass, while the little guys get skewered.

This same OSHA outfit rode into West, Texas and flexed its muscle by fining the owners of the fertilizer plant that exploded and killed 15 people last spring while virtually wiping out the town itself. The fine? $118,000, or exactly double the fine levied on Hazzard Marina. That comes to $7,867 per dead person for the infractions in West, Texas.

I spend thousands of dollars a year and countless hours refinishing the exterior of my house and cleaning up the infiltrating grime that originates with that steel mill, yet when I filed a complaint with the EPA, here’s the response I got: The EPA is barred by law from informing a complainant of any action — or inaction — the EPA may decide to pursue as the result of a complaint.

In other words, there is absolutely no accountability at EPA, no requirement for transparency in the discharge of its responsibilities, and, clearly, no consequence for inaction.

The state government has no interest in enforcing clean air regulations, and the city government treats ArcelorMittal like it is Boeing Aircraft instead of the visual and environmental blight it is to this city. I have nothing but sympathy and respect for the men and women who have to work in that mill, yet nothing but contempt for the corporation that owns the mill and for the federal, state and local governments that should have a hand in regulating its emissions and its working environment.

It is hardly any wonder that Americans are fed up with the federal government’s utter lack of accountability, accompanied by incessant whining about how hard its employees work and how essential the apparatus called government is to the US economy. Keep in mind that all those poor federal employees currently on “furlough” know they will eventually be paid in full for every day the government was shut down. They won’t be out a nickel. Name any other sector of the economy where that preposterous arrangement would be the case.

Brett Phillips
Georgetown   Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.
The Georgetown Times does not endorse candidates for political office.
Letters to the Editor on the city election are welcome. Deadline to receive them is noon Monday, Oct. 28.
Send to thoward@gtowntimes.com

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