Friday, May 16, 2014

A Novel about Hardeeville? Not Happenin' - but...

When I left Hardeeville, Sal Arzillo wanted me to write about my experiences on Council and in City Government. I declined. I was planning on being too busy - and I still am. I reinvented myself and my life (not the first time, BTW); I have a whole new life now.

But this past week's election has driven people to call, email, and even PM me on Facebook. What are my thoughts on all of this? Well, my first thought was - Geez, leave me the fuck alone. What makes you think that I still give a shit? I scraped that dung off of my shoes six years ago, for Crissake. As my dear EMS partner always said "Happiness is Hardeeville in the rear-view mirror." Like the resurgence of shingles years after you've had chicken pox, the infection is still in my soul, though. I still love my friends that remain there, and want to protect and save them from what is about to be inflicted on them. But, of course I can't. It's why I finally gave up  - you cannot save people from themselves.

So here it is - in summation. Eight years ago, my BFF Rodney The Mayor and I pushed HARD for a redistricting of Hardeeville, to ensure that the locals would always have seats on the City Council. Sal Arzillo was one of the ones (Bronco Bostick and Bill Horton were among the others, and they convinced poor elderly and easily-led Brooks) who spoke out vociferously against it. They all insisted that the idea was stupid, that there was no way that the gated communities we annexed would ever get that big, they ascribed a hidden agenda to our attempts to make it fair. Basically they insisted that they wouldn't ever even entertain the thought that a Sun City or other gated community would ever have or want any representation on Council. Rodney and I simply shrugged. We saw the writing on the wall even then... that the foolish arrogant ignorance that was and is endemic to  Hardeeville was on the rise once again, and that nothing would stop it.  LOL. That's all you can really say. LOL, and shake your head.

They self-righteously used SLED to go after my 'brother', Jimmy Hubbard, who is one of the most decent, kind, and honest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with - as well as a good and sincere Christian, Shane Haynes. If Shane ever had a fault, it was trusting and believing that people were basically good and would always do the right thing. But - just as when, all those years ago, my beloved Jimmy was accused of child sexual abuse, and I made him get an attorney and fight it (including fighting his own backstabbing boss) and Jimmy was exonerated because of a lack of evidence - the damage was done, just as it was intended to be, and purely for personal gain on the backs of the innocent. The most recent newspaper stories about this trumped-up, self-serving witch hunt only illustrate the reality. 

Now the Council is made up of four representatives from those gated communities, and if you think that Bronco Bostick will survive the next mayoral election, you are sadly mistaken. Sun City and all of those gated communities - who pay the most taxes, who volunteer in the schools, who have made themselves aware of just how the city is run and where their money goes (and they proved it by 'outing' the most recently ousted Council members over their nonpayment of taxes), who not only can actually read and write and cipher, but who know how the game is played -  will put him out, just as they put the others out. Suddenly now Sal is screaming for redistricting. Go ahead and scream, Sal - you're outvoted and outmaneuvered.  

One of my callers wants to run for Council to represent the Old Town. I advised her against it. The fallout from what has been happening in Hardeeville is about to hit the fan - and she doesn't want or need to be anywhere near all of that. David Tedder, one of the most decent and smartest lawyers whom I've ever had the pleasure to work with (and that is saying a lot), refused to do something illegal for the Council, and was 'invited to leave'. Ted Felder and a host of others who threw their knowledge and expertise, as well as their hearts and souls, into the City, were 'invited to leave' as well (non-disclosure statements all around). Chief Nagy - a consummate professional, who not only led the police department with a firm and trustworthy hand, but who once helped me personally by resolving a very sticky law enforcement problem - was let go for doing his job as a professional who was not supposed to be swayed by belligerent elected officials. I am quite fond of Sam Woodward, but he has a long row to hoe and he wouldn't (at least under the most recent administration) be given the implements he needs to chop away at the roots of the problem. Expecting Sam to play dumb cop and good ol' boy, who winks at the infractions of those in power while over-enforcing against others, would have eventually been a sure invitation to ultimate disappointment.  I have nothing against Rose Dobson-Elliott; I consider her a good friend. I actually felt sorry for her when they hired her to become the sixth administrator (interim) in as many years. Things are going to be really nasty in Hardeeville for at least the next two years, with recriminations, accusations, and legitimate demands and outraged refusals. The residents are going to be looking for a scapegoat - and no one wants to be that.

I have to admit that I am chuckling over the 'latest idea' by Clementa Pinckney, proposing a redistricting of the school districts in Jasper County. So many people are up in arms, insisting that it is ridiculous, unnecessary, and that they will fight it tooth and nail. BWAHAHAHAHA! Knock yourselves out. Clementa is nothing if not observant. He too has seen the writing on the wall - first in Bluffton, now in Hardeeville, and soon to be in all of Jasper County. If you think that it feels as though, politically, you are slipping down into the increasing black gumbo beneath your feet - you're probably right. But it is a gumbo of your own determined and self-inflicted ignorance, and you deserve it. Ignore Clementa, ignore history, ignore everything that has been placed so plainly before you for the last six years - at your own peril. Wallow in your ignorance; enjoy it, scarf it down like manna - it's what you have earned, what you have demanded, after all.

The next two years will make for great newspaper copy, if nothing else. If you thought Sam Gregory's viral Facebook post (I even found it in Pennsylvania, of all places!) humiliated the citizens of Jasper County - you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Now, 'scuse me - I'm planting peas today, I have to put the queen excluder on the beehive to prep for the honey harvest in July, and I'm planning my trip to the John Wayne Birthday Celebration next weekend. A rodeo, shooting competitions, a real western-style barbeque, pie-eating contests, and free John Wayne movies all day. What's not to love? I am a real rancher now, a real Westerner - like so many before me, who scraped off the hysteria and mendacity of the East for the freedom and decency, the hard work and outright honesty, of the West.Yes, there is a real difference - sadly, most of my friends back there will never know it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ah, Mother's Day- You Reap What You Sow

Today, my nephew Joshua, who moved out here a year and a half ago, is taking me to dinner with his kids.

My own children are scattered all over the country, each doing what I raised them to do - follow their dreams. My nephew, on the other hand, came out here to get away from his ex-wife, his mother, his uncle, and all of the people who - in his words - were 'using him like an ATM machine'.

When he was 14, his mother - a completely unstable drama queen, liar, thief, and 'hurray-for-me-fuck-you' type of person, decided to leave her longtime girlfriend. She insisted that Joshua help her pack her pickup with, not only her own possessions, but hundreds of dollars' worth of valuable goods belonging to her soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend. They were caught and arrested - and Joshua's mom made him take the full rap for the thievery, because, as she said, "You'll get less jail time as a juvenile'. So she went free on bail (paid for by the ex-girlfriend) and her son went to jail for 6 weeks. Immediately afterward, she dumped Josh on us, because she 'couldn't handle him'. In other words, she had used him to the best of her selfish abilities, and now that she was flaunting herself and her obnoxiously gay lifestyle, she had no use for him any more. (I have nothing against gays - just drama queens of ANY orientation.)

This sweet kid was confused, frightened, lonely and angry. He took his anger and pain out on us - which we totally understood. We loved him anyway, and taught him right from wrong - mostly against everything he had been taught up to that point. When he left, to go live with his grandparents, he was still angry and resentful. He dropped out of school, and was dissolute, directionless, living for the moment, not understanding what or why.

But, suddenly, he had a personal epiphany. In his own words - "There I was, working as a busboy, washing dishes, and I remembered what you told me in the car when you had picked me up from cutting school (again). You said, "Do you WANT to be nothing and nobody, and wash dishes the rest of your life?" And I suddenly realized that you had been right, all along!" The kid went back to school, got a job working for the Ports Authority, cleaned up his act, got married, had two kids, and was supervising 50 employees when he was run over and crushed by a truck. After his wife (another drama queen like his Mom, also a drug addict and alcoholic) had stolen all of Josh's money, with his own mother's help, Josh's wife left him high and dry for another man, even dumping their kids on Josh, who was crippled and in need of help that no one would provide. His mother then told him that he and the kids could come live with her and her new girlfriend - and she took every last dime she could get from him, to support herself and her girlfriend. She even took out a second mortgage on her home, claiming Josh's income as her own.  Sleeping on couches, with no privacy and constant drama, poor Josh was in pain, confused, worried about his kids ever having a future. So I told him to get his ass out here and bring the kids. Packing what little they had in a battered old pickup truck, he drove out here with his children.

Now he has a brand new pickup truck, that he bought with his own money. He is renting with option to buy a house for himself and his kids. He is independent, tough, and making it on his own. His kids attend the local school - and they are fitting in to the local lifestyle of hard work, honesty, independence, and integrity.  They have a strong and stable family and home life. All we did was tell him in both word and deed that he was a good and strong, decent human being, who had a right to his own life, and to raise his children how he saw fit - without drama, without hysteria, without agony and cruelty, thievery and lies. We gave him with his children the foundation and home base from which to grow, and prove himself, and be happy.

Josh credits us with raising him and teaching him. He doesn't speak to or contact his mother nor his ex-wife in any way. They still try to wrap their tentacles around him, but he will have none of it. He is a free, independent, proud and happy father of two children who love and depend on him. Neither his Drama-queen, grasping, thieving, lying mother nor his manipulative, drug-addicted, drunken ex-wife have any hold on him any more - 1700 miles and a completely different world has put him back on his feet and made him a whole and complete man once again. We are very proud of him and all that he has done and become. We knew he had it in him - all he needed was a chance.

Yet his mother still whines "Do they ever think of me?" No, actually, they don't. "Do his kids know that I am their Granny?" No, actually, they don't. YOU did that to him, YOU made him that way. 
YOU did your damnedest to control, manipulate, steal from, use, criticize, and destroy him. YOU sit in your drama-infested world and wonder what happened, how people could hate you so much, why no one loves you or gives you the accolades that you feel that you deserve, simply by the act of giving birth.

I, on the other hand, get to have dinner, laughter, love, and an honest, decent relationship with a part of my family whom I cherish, and who cherishes me.

You reap what you sow.
Sucks, doesn't it?