Guest Editorial: Have we hit bottom yet?

After nearly a year of chaos and utter failure on council, citizens are asking if here is a bottom for Fairfield county council’s ruling majority, which may now have increased to 5 with Councilman Neil Robinson voting with the 4 last week to finalize Council Chairman Moses Bell’s redistricting plan while the citizens and other council members begged for additional time and explanation to make the plan fair and transparent for all.

We thought the 4 finally had hit bottom with their self-humiliating attempt to illegally grab Federal COVID-relief funds for themselves as they tried to pass themselves off as county employees, which they are not. They only backed out of that one after their misdeeds were exposed. 

Still in search for a new bottom, the majority 4 subsequently descended a ring lower by shamefully and incredulously trying to shortchange our First Responders and others during the allocation of COVID-relief funds; until they were exposed.

The chairman and his minions finally hit the ninth circle last week when the Chairman hijacked the entire redistricting process by and for the four. In other words, the chairman micromanaged the entire redistricting process while by-passing some councilmen and citizens alike.

Additionally, a near information-blackout of redistricting information by council leadership could only be partially overcome through the yeoman efforts of Councilmen Doug Pauley and Clarence Gilbert who called for the public’s right to participate in the redistricting process.

To add further insult, the council majority hastily rammed the legislation though nearly two months before the deadline and before it could be properly and publically vetted. Of course, taking two of their three votes before any real redistricting information was disseminated hastened our decent to the ninth ring.

It’s been about eight years since a previous majority council went to such great lengths to bypass legislative scrutiny. We are still suffering from that greatest mistake in Fairfield history – the $45M (est. total cost) Fairfield Facilities Corporation bond passed by the Hinely administration in 2013.

One look at the obviously skewed 2021 redistricted maps tells even the most casual observer that we are doomed to 10 more years of unfair and unequitable election lines. The new map continues to not be even close to following the recommended guidelines of compact districts that are truly contiguous. Further proof of this failure is the chairman’s lame argument that the 2021 map is good because it is slightly better than 2011’s deeply flawed redistricting map. This was a chance to make the map right, and the council majority did not step up.

Thanks to the aforementioned redistricting shenanigans and the extremely limited public input allowed, we are doomed, for the next 10 years, to be voting without the full fairness afforded by a proper redistricting.

That is, communities of interest have been irrationally ripped apart which hampers community representation.  Furthermore, districts are not shaped to accommodate communication, management and representation as required by law. Illogical adjustments have been made which position potential opponents and potential cronies in favor of the majority 4.

The 2021 redistricting is a hot mess much like 2011’s and much like the aforementioned all time Fairfield Facilities Corporation $24M bond in 2013 that is now costing the county about $45M.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]