Meet Your Richland County Recreation Commissioner

I hate to follow up a post about Young Life with this type of post but folks, I’m for transparency and I wanted y’all to know what’s going on in government.

This time locally – with Richland County.

Many would never know that our community, once again, has NO representation on the Richland County Recreation Commission if I didn’t tell you. But I’m telling you and I’m telling you how it happened.

For years before I was elected, we had no representation but I was fortunate after y’all sent me here to work with the delegation (10 Democrats, 5 Republicans) and get an Irmo citizen elected a few years back. I thank my Richland House and Senate members for understanding our area had long been underepresented on the commission and they supported my nomination.

Unforunately, our commisioner’s stint was a short one as he was unceremoniously removed by the ranking Senator on our delegation because our commissioner supposedly “wasn’t voting correctly” (what I was told). You may recall (or may not) how this Recreation Commission is the pet-project for this ranking Senator and how that Senator is very much involved in what goes on.

My philosophy has been that we should empower the individuals we appoint instead of micro-managing them. If you’re SO interested in the day-to-day operations and votes, then you should run for the position yourself but don’t be a puppet-master.

How was our guy removed? Last session, this ranking Senator walked the House floor getting signatures on a letter which simply stated a name of a replacement for our guy. The letter didn’t give any explanation. To be honest, most people never pay too much attention to letters like this so they assumed it was just a formality and that someone’s term may have expired. So, everyone just signed it.

Realize, the Senator didn’t come to me first. He came to me last.

I thought that strange. Why would a man involved in SC politics for 30+ years not come to me first? Isn’t that a common-courtesy? I would give him the same respect. Maybe it’s just how the “old guard” does things?

When the Senator finally came to me (last), I then went back to my colleagues to explain what was going on and why I was told it was happening. Why? Because ONE Senator didn’t like how our guy was voting while serving on his pet project – The Rec Commission).

It was too late though, and our commissioner was removed because everyone had signed the letter and no one wanted to “go back on their signature” to this ranking Senator. What??? So we just let something like this go? We let someone go behind-the-back of a colleague, not share any information about why the signature is needed other than “here’s who we need to get on the commission?” That’s what happened. From more than one colleague I heard “You know how (Senator) feels about this. It’s his baby. He wants it done his way.” Unbelievable, if you ask me.

The good news (so I thought) was that most the delgation told me they would make it up to me (our community) “the next time”.

Well, “next time” surely appeared to be a few weeks back when a Commissioner resigned and had some interesting things to say. I think the resignation comments below might shed a little light about the Commission you may find interesting.

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“I went into this position with great expectations of helping to do great things with recreation for the citizens of Richland County and must say that I have been greatly disappointed.

This is quite a dysfunctional and poorly run board of Commissioners.

There are multimillions of dollars of decisions constantly being made with complete lack of knowledge of the subject matter being taken into account.

Never is a decision being made with a business case being made for that decision.

Decisions about parks and fields are based on who squeaks the loudest and who pulls the most political strings the hardest.

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Folks, that last line above sums it up. It’s even a commentary on many things in state and national government. In politics in general.

Forget using business-sense or common-sense, just make decisions that are political in nature! (Remember this as you read on….)

So NOW there was now a vacancy due to this resignation. Since most had said they would make it up to our community the “next time”, shouldn’t our area get our seat back?

You would think so but it didn’t happen.

I just left a “special meeting” to vote on the new commissioner and learned that our guy wasn’t the one nominated by the Appointments Committee last week.

Interesting to note that I received a letter that the Appointments Committee would meet last week during our budget session. Then during the session, I was told “they aren’t meeting today.It’s been cancelled”. Well, guess what? I was never told when the re-scheduled meeting would be. Interesting huh? They met…and I was not told.

Today, when I asked about the application of the person who was being recommended (to see what qualifications were listed) I learned there was NOTHING listed about service on recreation commissions or ball teams or anything of that nature.

How did this applicant get recommended and others not? (Hint, think Politics not People).

Oh, for full-dislosure, what were the qualifications listed of our guy?

* Coach with Irmo/Chapin Recreations Department for 12 years
* participated in recreations leagues for Richland, Lexington, and Irmo/Chapin
* a past employee of a Recreation Deparment (other state) for 8 years
* works with Department of Juvenille Justice
* Member of SC/National Asociation for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors
* Master’s of Social Work

And the new appointment, RECOMMENDED by the Appointments Committee listed NO recreation activities at all.

Oh…and for those that say I’m just upset that our community’s applicant wasn’t chosen….you want to know about the two other applicants from other parts of Richland County that were not recommend? Here’s what was listed on their applications.

* Taught Physical Education for 30 years
* Works with City and County Parks and Recreation for 10 years
* Volunteer Youth Coach for 16 years
* wrote ” Youth need to be more involved with our local parks to avoid recruitment by gang members”
* Employed at DJJ

You tell me. Who won today? People or Politics?