Here we go again. Somebody makes a statement in a personal opinion column that a reader doesn’t like, so the anonymous bloggers singe the publication’s website with caustic comments and accusations that the writer’s mother wears Army boots.
At least we writers publish our names with our opinions. Some of you hide behind such original monikers as “Anonymous” and “URAJRK” and so on. Print your name and maybe someone will take you seriously.
A personal opinion column is exactly that: someone’s opinion; not those of the editorial staff and they aren’t a news story. This is Helen’s opinion, but I believe it reflects those of many folks I know and I believe it needs to be stated:
Chip Thompson got a bum rap in another space last week. There’s more to service than doing stuff people see and it is to that end that this column space is devoted this week.
Chip entered the Winder Mayor’s office at the beginning of a major financial crunch. The City of Winder had dispensed with property taxes during the boom years while Buddy Ouzts was the chief executive. Buddy has served as a community leader in many capacities for many years. His leadership style and relationships partnered with a flush financial picture that fueled population growth in a county that, frankly, had done nothing more for nearly 20 years than build offices and subdivisions, but that provided a false sense of prosperity that was short lived.
If you asked him, Buddy would probably tell you that managing a city is never easy, but it’s a lot easier to get things done when you have the dollars to back you up.
When the state and federal governments have plenty of support personnel and potential funders approach you with, “’How much do you need?” the facilitation of services, equipment and initiatives are much simpler to accomplish.
This is not to take away at all from anything Buddy accomplished with the City during his terms as Mayor.
Had Buddy not been the driving force behind the push to research and apply for the support Winder received, a lot of the positives we experienced would not have happened and my hat is off to him for the leadership he provided.
It matters not, however, the personality and leadership of one’s predecessor when the dollars disappear. Having the funds to implement programs and services tends to camouflage things that might not be working as they should. When the funds exist to hire new personnel, provide services to the community in the form of building rehabilitations and equipment purchases, those are the facets of the management that make the papers. The snafus tend to take a back seat – until someone opens Fibber McGee’s closet and the junk starts tumbling out into plan sight.
Since Chip’s inauguration, the global financial complexion has changed dramatically. Available funding sources dried up. Winder’s dependence upon the sale of utilities was greatly impacted by two years of withering drought that prompted the City to discourage use of water for anything but the bare essentials. As a result, we became more accustomed to using less water and that has impacted the City coffers.
The reduction in dollars also meant that businesses of varying size re-evaluated their position in the marketplace. Some scaled back their operation to a barebones approach while others closed their doors altogether. This affects our city sales tax receipts, as well as our seemingly endless supply of store front and office space inventory throughout the city. Without City property taxes, the local revenue sources had nothing to pick up the slack or provide an additional funding source.
As Mayor, Chip Thompson is doing everything he can to rebuild Downtown Winder as he has led the charge to rehabilitate the Granite Hotel into what will be a productive anchor for the community.
The LCI Study will be a guide to future initiatives here. He has had to make some difficult and unpopular decisions that folks haven’t liked. He and the City are working to provide customer service in ways that won’t cost dollars.
Mayor Chip’s measured approach will fuel the incremental initiatives that will drive Winder’s future in a positive direction. A change in operating procedure and direction to fit the climate in which we find ourselves requires a different approach to leadership. Being a good leader involves being able to say, “No” when we cannot afford “How much do you need?”
What are you doing to help? Get involved with an organization working to instill community pride again. After all, this is your home, too.
Helen Person is a columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Me nombre es anónimo
03/21/10 at 09:55 AM
Although we probably disagree on a lot of things, you express your opinions in a calm, productive manner. You set a good example for your colleagues and readers, and Barrow is fortunate to have you. :)