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.

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