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Let me state upfront, I haven't heard all the facts. But, I have a decent
idea of the storyline and some of the island's history.
May I preface by stating this: "THE MISSION OF GOVERNMENT SECTORS IS TO STEER THE BOAT, NOT ROW THE BOAT; THE MISSION OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS TO MAKE A PROFIT; THE MISSION OF THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT SECTOR IS TO ACCOMPLISH WHAT THE OTHER TWO DO NOT."
IF it is the intent of the mayor & council to take over functions provided by the TI Historic Society, our local government has already lost its sense of mission. Government stinks when it tries to play business, just as business stinks when it tries to play government.
IN my opinion, for local government to overtake what decades of devoted, selfless citizens defined as a common goal is simply wrong, especially in this case, where the epitome of good stewardship is at work for the good of the community. Where the dickens was government when the lighthouse and surrounding bunkers looked like we lost all the wars?
The TI Historic Society (TIHS) has proved itself stellar stewards of the public trust. It doesn't beg for money. It's been fiscally conservative.
It has a following and donors from all over. The TIHS has developed a good name for itself and Tybee -- from the federal government, to the state, county and municial ... every tier of government has given to them and listens to them. This earned trait is pricelesss these days.
FOR a government to hijack a good work ever in progress makes me want to heave. That's how governments get big, fat, forgetful and expensive. Under the stewardship of TIHS, my property taxes have never gone up.
Property taxes will go up of the city tries to absorb maintainence, preventive maintenance and properly staff the oversight and care of the lighthouse.
Volunteers are doing it practically free. They have a collective knowledge in years. That's worth a lot of money. Why break what is not broken?
Someone passed on rationale of why the city would be the better keeper: Local governments have soverign immunity and could handle a lawsuit resulting from an injury.
GUESS WHAT REP. TOM BORDEAUX, NEW CHAIRMAN OF JUDICIARY, PASSED THROUGH THE HOUSE A FEW WEEKS AGO?
-- A bill stripping that priviledge from local governments. It's in the Senate. His argument was about fairness. If you hit a city vehicle, you must pay for all of it. If a city vehicle broadsides you, even if the city employee is impaired, they pay nothing (in most cases). BAD RATIONALE.
A standing agreement, as I understand it, is likely broken if changed.
MY BET: I see it all the time in state government. Divided houses fall and it's on to the next one requesting something. BREAK THE STANDING AGREEMENT AND WE ALL LOSE THE LIGHTHOUSE.
Our state delegation has invested a lot of time making such a transfer possible BY LAW.
CHANGING NOW gives TYBEE a severe blackeye in every tier of government. The feds will never forgive it; the state will will never forget.
I'm confounded by the nagging question of "Why?" I owe it to those mentioned to ask why. There may be some supernova legal reason that drives the logic. They owe us reasons and explainations. It's our government, not theirs. But I owe them the opportunity to convince me, as a citizen, on WHY -- and WHY NOW? Where's the clammering for this change coming from? If it's not legal, it smacks of being personal and vengeful to me. I'm sick and tired of government induced neighbor hating doctrines.
Barring a compelling, legal and logical reason, I'll predict this: THIS WILL BE THE NEXT CAMPAIGN ISSUE, especially of the bickering is personal or vindictive.
On the other hand, perhaps there are good reasons. Personally, I do believe the city has a duty to ensure its citizenry's saftey and well being. As a former one year member of the TIHS's board, it's hard for me to fathom the city desires to take over the operations of what pros and/or semi-pros have already mastered. But, what if the board I know changes in 5-10 years to one that simply disappears? As a councilmember twice elected, I'd want to know, say, "Can you pledge or collateralize this structure that, should the TIHS dissolve, fall on the city to handle? " I'd probably have many questions, especially as a new councilmember. We'll see Thursday.
If government wishes to hijack every successful, citizen created expression of volunteerism, they might as well get Apache attack heleicopters, conquer and contain the Legion Hall, and take over the bingo operations. It'd be just as anti-American, in my book.
I truly hope most of what I've heard is distorted. Maybe the city officials and TIHS need to back off a month, sit at a table like reasonable folks, and agree to let reason prevail if some details need hammering out. If this council can't do that, they can be assured voters won't forget just how quickly they can snatch the power LOANED them in the form of a vote. I'd be one of them, barring extraordinary circumstances and compeling reasons.
If it is personal, get over it. Move on. Help build a respectful community by demonstrating respect to those you now work for -- voters. The TIHS might have to be flexible in a new way -- I don't know the details. To me, it's like a real estate negotiation where everyone pauses and reads and agrees to terms. No biggie.
As I type, the Tybee Lighthouse belongs to all Americans. Soon, it can be local. It's been locally run for decades. I'd like to think both parties will use this as an opportunity to create a new covenant between government and the volunteer sector, one that makes us proud to see that Tybee light from afar, and not a beacon of a disaster.
Let's be a neighborhood again. Better yet--good neighbors. We'll see who the public servants are, and who the stereotypical politicans are, Thursday evening. Ciao.
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