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If you aren't against it, you must be for it

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POSTED: May 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

I’m going to start off by noting I don’t know who sent this email Thursday to reporter Jessica Holthaus. She doesn’t know who it is either.

I’m also going to add a disclaimer: I have no idea whether what you’re about to read is politically motivated or the author has some other ulterior motive. I tend to think it's genuine, but like I said, I really don't know.

And before I go farther, here are some excerpts from the email:

"I find it amusing that the young lady who recently won the "If I were mayor" contest seems to be more insightful than most of our community leaders.

It goes on:

"People choose to live in a town because they like the way it is at that point in time, not the way it was or the way it will or might be. If the town doesn’t provide what they consider to be necessities or amenities, they find another place to live. Most people I know came to live in Richmond Hill for its quiet, natural settings, security, small town community, all of which are being slowly being eroded. For anyone familiar with Mount Pleasant, SC and the way it’s gone in the past 15 years, you can see the handwriting on the wall for Richmond Hill - and it’s not pretty.

There's more:

"Growth and progress are fine, however, as many residents have tried to point out, it’s all in how it’s done and here in Richmond Hill, there seems to be a serious lack of planning and general disregard for most of the population.

The widening of 144, if and when it ever finally comes, will be a nightmare. Obviously the mayor and other council members don’t travel very often on 144. And why is there a need to spread commercial and administrative services further east? This is a town of 10,000, with a lot of flux. Growth projections are exactly that - projections, and based on optimal circumstances. Subdivisions and commercial properties continue to be approved even though many already have high non-occupancy rates. If these projections are correct, why are there so many properties and homes for sale?

There’s more, but you get the drift.

Jessica suggested the author send it as a signed letter to the editor or go on record with quotes.

Instead, the email’s author said he/she was concerned about repercussions.

"(T)his is still a small town and quite honestly, and as much as I hate to admit it, I have long had concerns about voicing opinions, through a letter to the editor or attending council meetings or wherever, because of the possible repercussions. You still have to be able to call a plumber or an electrician, you might want to get a building permit, any number of scenarios where those at the top - or friends thereof - can create havoc in your life."

Where have I come across that sentiment before?

If you’ll recall, last year we did a survey for a growth series - which took a lot longer to get started than I thought it would. Only a few (20-something people) returned the survey, and only a few of those did included their names and a contact number. Most were anonymous and at least one mentioned fear of retribution as a reason not to go public.

Which, of course, begs a question - several really, though none are more obvious than this: Retribution from whom?

I don’t know the answer, just like I don’t know a lot of things.

For example, I don’t know if there’s sizeable opposition to a conference center in J.F. Gregory Park. I do know there are some who are vehemently opposed and have publicly said so.

You can probably count them on one hand.

And then there are those who call or email us here at the Bryan County News and say they are opposed to the conference center. They promise to write a letter to the editor or find someone to go on record, but don’t.

I can count those folks on one hand, too. But If I added them to the list of those who have stood up and said something about the conference center then that takes two hands to count.

And maybe, if there’s really strength in numbers, more might then be tempted to join the cause - or any cause, really. Or they might not, because like I said, I don’t know.

I do know I believe most government officials are in it for the right reasons. I think their intentions are good and I’ve heard time and again from leaders who want more participation from the public.

Yet when only a handful bother to speak out, that in effect is tacit endorsement of government's actions.

And unless there’s something about to go down in someone’s back yard and they’re against it, then it’s generally the same handful around here doing the speaking out. That makes it easy for government to assume those who do stand up are simply malcontents or anti-this or anti-that and don't represent the constituency-at-large.

In other words, it seems if you don’t bother to speak out loudly against something, then you must be for it. T
hat's why those who are against something or disenchanted with the way things are going are shooting themselves in the foot when they don't stand up and say so.

When you don't, you might as well be for it.

 

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