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Can this really be happening?

Posted: June 14, 2012 10:03 a.m.
Updated: June 15, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Seldom have I witnessed such a gross malfunctioning of local governments as that which has developed in Camden and Kershaw County over the future of recreation programs to serve the citizenry.

The city of Camden played the first card, a bizarre one, by announcing that the city would attempt to construct a “sports complex,” with no participation by the countywide recreation agency that currently operates programs for all the residents of the county, including those who reside inside the city limits.

The consolidation of city and county recreation programs decades ago is one of the most significant accomplishments in local government that has ever occurred; the city’s project threatens to undermine the countywide program and duplicate programs and facilities at enormous cost to the taxpayers.

To worsen that factor, the city seeks to bring in a private club from outside the county to administer its proposed recreation programs, with no financial return to the city for its investment in capital facilities.  Further, the city administration has no credible programmatic objectives, no financial cash flow projections, and no analysis, based on surveys, of recreational needs that the new facilities might address.

Voters have erected a temporary barrier to this ill-conceived enterprise by signing petitions for a referendum on the subject in November, pursuant to state law.  (The city even sought to sabotage that effort with repeated demands on petitioners as to form and substance, eventually substituting its own petition wording for that submitted by petitioners.)

If that situation is not ridiculous enough, now comes the Kershaw County government with a proposed expansion of recreation programs and facilities totally unrelated to the project which the city administration has advocated.  And it duplicates many of the features of the city plan.

It is as if the two local governments occupy different planets, rather than existing in a small geographical slice of South Carolina known as Kershaw County, which includes the city of Camden.

I have discussed this absurdity with key officeholders in both the city and the county, and finger-pointing dominates the discussion.  All profess that the other party refuses to communicate, much less cooperate, in a common endeavor that could benefit both the city and the county, while improving and expanding recreational opportunities.

It is the most juvenile display of conduct between two local governmental bodies which I have ever witnessed.   They should set aside the personal egos being prominently displayed and realize that the taxpayers are those about to be abused.

I am reminded of situations when I was Commissioner of Higher Education for South Carolina, when colleges and universities wanted to duplicate facilities and programs at taxpayers’ expense simply for selfish institutional purposes.

I summarize that attitude toward taxpayers as follows:

LOAD DOWN THE WAGONS; TO HELL WITH THE MULES.

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