I would like to weigh in regarding the prayer issue. Can somebody explain why it is the current and acceptable practice of the government to invoke the name of God but it is allegedly illegal to do so in other public places and events?
Please let me explain why I am confused. I have watched the televised memorial services of military and government victims.
Most recently I watched the entire homecoming of the four American diplomats who were killed in
Benghazi on September 11, 2012. It was a beautiful, moving occasion with pomp and ceremony and appropriate honor for these public
servants. (It would be wonderful if all military troops and public servants could be honored in a similar way when killed in the line of duty.) The president and secretary of state invoked the name of God on behalf of these men, their families, and their country. The chaplain prayed to God. The band played sacred music, namely Nearer My God to Thee and America the Beautiful.
After September 11, 2001 we heard on TV many prayers and sacred music, namely Amazing Grace. There was a revival of faith and patriotism everywhere. It was comforting to attend church services for prayer and encouragement then. Hope for America was inspired by this declaration of our faith in Almighty God for comfort and protection.
What I don't understand is why it is all right, even expected, to pray and play sacred music for occasions like I mentioned, yet it is
politically incorrect at least and allegedly illegal to do so in our public schools and at other public events.
The ACLU has enjoyed a lot of success in its campaign to silence Christians and prohibit the mentioning of the names of God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit (The Apostles' Creed).
But how and why can the ACLU be successful when our country's highest officers at government/public functions pray for God's blessings on victims of war or terror or on the USA and be televised all over the world?
It does not make any sense to me.
Prayer and pluralism
While the “Don’t Box the Neck” neck folk seem to get most of the media attention these days, the Georgetown County School Board must be getting a few letters as well. What is all of the ruckus about?
According to my information in Engel v. Vitale, 82 S. Ct. 1261 (1962) Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even non-denominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion. I find it especially interesting that that many of the clergy in this county have signed on to opposing the ban.
My sympathies are with the school board. My own denomination went on record many years ago to support the Supreme Court decision as well as the Constitution of the United States which prohibit government from endorsing one religion over others. After all we live in a pluralistic society.
Since our Bible-toting fundamentalist are again beating their breast, I would refer them to Jesus’ comment about public prayer in Matthew 6.5, which also includes what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Jesus tells those around him not to pray publicly as do “the hypocrites and Gentiles;” in other words, don’t do it.
St. Paul tells us to obey the governing authorities cf. Romans 13.1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities …”
If you continue to follow St. Paul’s rhetoric, there is some good advice on taxes as well. I for one would leave the subject of prayer to be addressed within the context of my own faith community.
Hartmut Fege, D.Min
No economic analysis
The current request made by Sunbelt Ventures, LLC (the developer) for an amendment to the overlay zone (the current standing requirement) is a very, very important and controversial issue. It is likely the highest profile zoning issue that Georgetown County has faced in some years. In fact it is so important/controversial that I understand Mr. Boyd Johnson, the Director of Planning and Code Enforcement, secured the Waccamaw High School auditorium to handle what he believed would be a huge crowd of citizens opposing the request.
On that evening, September 20, 2012, approximately 1,400 people attended, 90 signed up to speak, approximately 70 actually spoke, and 98-99% of those who did speak, spoke in opposition to the requested zoning amendment that would allow a “big box” retailer to locate in the plaza.
Given the clear awareness of the great importance and magnitude of this issue, I was surprised when Mr. Boyd Johnson stated verbally in the September 20 public meeting what he had written in the official report to the Planning Commission (Case # AMPD 8-12-8227: Pawleys Plaza PD Amendment), that “the County does not perform an economic analysis regarding projects such as this.”
To state, in oral comments and in the official written report, that, for whatever reason, neither he nor Planning staff did an economic analysis in such an important matter and then to state an opinion about any economic impact — “staff “believes the nature of the area which includes specialty shops will lead to minimal impact” — in the absence of ANY analysis or any research into the economic issue is quite stunning to me.
Mr. Johnson also stated in the report, “In Georgetown, some existing businesses were impacted when the large retailer opened but it did not appear to eliminate the number of jobs created. Some existing businesses did adapt, such as those downtown.”
I have no evidence that will allow me to support or refute Mr. Johnson's claim that the entry of the “large retailer” (Walmart) in Georgetown did or did not eliminate the number of jobs created or that existing businesses did or did not adapt. Since he stated that the retailer did not appear to eliminate jobs, I have to assume he has no data to substantiate that statement.
In the absence of data and in his written text in an official report on an important zoning matter is “did not appear to eliminate the number of jobs created” good enough? Not in my view. Does he have any evidence to support “Some existing businesses did adapt, such as those downtown” or is this another unsubstantiated opinion? Since he refers to no data, research, or objective evidence, I have to assume it is merely his or his staff's view or belief or opinion. That is not good enough for an official report in this extremely important and controversial matter.
Neither the Department of Planning and Code Enforcement nor the Department of Zoning performed any economic analysis in this very important case yet rendered their “belief” about minimal economic impacts of a “big box” retailer and then recommended to the Planning Commission, partly based upon their unsubstantiated “belief” about minimal impacts, that the Commission should approve the overlay zone amendment.
The opposition to the “big box” retailer is not chiefly based on the appearance of the buildings, the storm water runoff, the islands in the parking lot, etc. Sunbelt has proposed a plan that addresses those issues.
The main point of the opposition, in addition to the traffic issue, is the negative economic impact on local small businesses and jobs that “big box” retailers have been shown, in study after study, to inflict on local small communities.
I ask that County Council members not make the mistake of the Department of Planning and Code Enforcement and/or the Department of Zoning by not getting the objective data or by forming and stating an official opinion without consulting it. If you are not required to perform certain analyses, please do not state official opinions about the matter those analyses would have informed as did the Department of Planning and Code Enforcement and/or Zoning in their staff report to you.
Michael M. Grant, PhD
Georgetown County wants your money
Georgetown County wants you to give them $2,000. How, you ask? They want you to volunteer to give them $250 a year for eight years. This is a joke, right? No, the joke will be on you in the form of a 1% sales tax. Why would anyone even think of voting for this? Aren't we suffering through the worst economy since The Great Depression? Isn't unemployment in Georgetown County over 9% with real unemployment over 18%? Couldn't this new tax reduce consumer spending, investment and jobs? Isn't it unfair, regressive and hits those on fixed incomes the hardest? The answers would be yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Why would the county propose such a thing? Because they want to spend more of your money. On what? Dredging, more parks, bigger libraries — you get the idea. Aren't they already spending hundreds of millions of dollars on all that stuff? Yes they are (except dredging), but they want more. Another $40 million dollars more out of your pocket.
Why would they even consider this? Because their credit card is maxed out. They've done every kind of creative financing you can think of to fund their spending sprees. Did you know the land under the new courthouse is not owned by the county? That's just one of the tricks cooked up by their bond lawyers and finance people on Wall Street.
Now they want the hard working people of Georgetown County to sign up for their firing squad. But the people of Georgetown County are a lot smarter than that and they'll send a strong message to County leaders on November 6th. I believe they'll vote no on the 1% sales tax and defeat it. The message will be clear— Stop raising taxes and stop wasting our money.
David L. Hood
(former Georgetown County Councilman for District 6)
I just received a flyer paid for by a group calling themselves “Pennies For Progress”. These folks are promoting the newly proposed county sales tax. I am afraid that I find it somewhat misleading.
First, the information reduces the amount of tax to be paid from $44 million to just a few pennies in order to mislead readers about the impact that this will have on the less fortunate in our county. Calling this a “fair tax” is correct only if you think that it is fair for the elderly, the indigent, the working poor and the many in our county who are below the poverty line to pay an additional tax in these trying times, or at any time for that matter.
For starters, those who can’t afford a car shouldn’t pay to pave 31 roads, but everyone who spends money in Georgetown County will pay. We already have a $30 county vehicle fee that is supposed pay for this.
Another good question to ask is, what is the average income level of those using all of the libraries that are intended to be built or expanded? From the looks of the vehicles in the parking lot I would guess that most are above the poverty line. Yes I know that there are after school programs, and all of that, but I think that you get my point. Libraries are great, but not if you have to choose between food and a free book.
The flyer points out that if you shop at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart or anywhere else in Horry County you are already paying additional tax that does not benefit Georgetown County. This is true, but so what?
If Georgetown County passes an additional sales tax we will still be shopping at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart in Horry County, paying additional tax and it still won’t benefit Georgetown County. The difference would be that when we get home we will still be paying that additional tax.
I don’t know about you, but I am not in a hurry to be more like Horry County, especially if it requires a new tax. That is a poor argument on any level, at any time.
The list of priorities for the spending of the new tax money is headed by “Port Dredging”. This has been a much publicized issue and is probably the only sound case for spending money at this time. BUT… it only accounts for a little over $5 million of the $44 million. We (the county) have over $60 million in savings right now. Write the check for the $5 Million and let’s get on with it.
Also addressed in the flyer, although not clearly, is the question of bonds. It states, “State law allows the sales tax proceeds to be used to service debt associated with the projects.” Another, more clear way of saying the same thing is “State law allows the county to borrow $44 million and pay for all of the projects at one time and then pay it back with the sales tax, instead of a pay as you go scenario.”
The county is already poised to borrow $26 million. We will be facing at a $70 Million debt. Can anyone tell me in what financial condition this country, or country, will be in 2 years? How about 8 years? How about your own financial security? How are you feeling about that today?
If the tax has to be voted on, why not wait until the midterm 2014 election cycle when we have a better idea of what our future holds? This election year is much too uncertain to be considering an additional tax. Don’t hold us hostage with the port dredging. Pay for it now and let’s help get the local economy going.
Vote no on sales tax
The sales tax referendum that we are going to be voting on in November is being presented as if it is only a penny. The one cent is going to cost the citizens of this county 40,000,000 million dollars. The county plans to borrow against the projected income. We already owe $71,000,000+/- for capital improvements and the additional $40,000,000 will put our debt at $112,000,000. The county has increased our operating and maintenance cost by $1,900,000. The county has 694 employees to include recently hired tennis pro and public relations person. We are ranked 4 in the state for the number of employees per capita.
For a county our size and in our current economic condition, the numbers do not make sense. We only have 60,158 people (projected to decline) with 19% over 65 years old and 24% under 19 years of age, 9.5 % unemployed and 32% living in poverty.
The county administrator is using the dredging projects as bait in the hope that you will vote for the sales tax. If the county council was sincere about doing what is right, they would have appropriated the funds for the dredging in the original Capital Improvements Plan, instead of choosing to spend most of the money on Parks and Recreation. Remember all good things come not only with a price tag, but with operating and maintenance costs that will continue. The only jobs created will be taxpayer funded jobs.
My father used to have a saying "Liars can figure, but numbers don't lie." It is time to stop the madness. Vote no to the sales tax referendum.
Eileen S. Johnson
2782 Pennyroyal Road
Georgetown, SC 29440
Please include all my contact information in the paper.
Road user fee
A dozen or so years ago, Georgetown County Council approved a road user fee of $15 for each privately owned vehicle. The fee was to be used to pave roads throughout our county. Several years later, council voted to double the fee to $30 per vehicle. Council found a way to save money by paving “non-engineered” roads. With the money they were now saving, they could pave even more roads with the road user fee.
Georgetown County Council is now asking residents to approve a $40,000,000 local sales tax for the next eight years. Guess where $5.2 million of that $40,000,000 is designated? Thirty-one road paving projects throughout the county.
Grocery and gasoline prices are up, unemployment hasn’t been below 8% for the past 43 months and our council is asking for $40,000,000 in additional taxes on top of what you’re already paying.
Now is the time for tax-paying citizens to say “No” and for Georgetown County Council to use the presently collected taxes and fees to get the job done.
Paige B. Sawyer, III
Thanks to 1,400 citizens
Don’t Box The Neck would like to thank all 1,400 of the Waccamaw Neck citizens that came to the Planning Commission meeting on the 20th to voice their rejection of the Sunbelt Ventures Big Box project. The auditorium was closed to new entrants at 5:15, after filling up 625 seats; the overflow area, the cafeteria, was packed to the rafters. We know that the accommodations were not the most comfortable, and that the screen and sound were not adequate; the tenacity of our citizens at staying through the five-hour meeting was amazing.
We know that some left early due to the uncomfortable conditions, but some also left due to the long presentation by the planning department at the beginning. Considering that the planning staff document was 119 pages long, they actually breezed through it pretty fast. We know that everyone wanted their chance to have a say, and 90 people signed up to speak, but by the time some names were called, many had left, and only 54 spoke in total, but it was powerful. If you did speak that night, please send a copy of your comments to the Planning Commission so that they can be included in the minutes of the meeting (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you didn’t get a chance to speak, you still can; your letters are still needed, and your support to reject this scheme also. Please write County Council and ask them to uphold the recommendation of the Planning Commission when they vote on this re-zoning request by Sunbelt. The date is tentatively October 23rd at 5:30 p.m. for County Council’s first vote of two, and will be a public hearing. If County Council votes this project down on the first vote, it will be final. An attendance turnout for this vote is equally if not more crucial than the 20th; be there, be heard. The location will be announced closer to the meeting date, but please put it on your calendar; we’ll keep you updated.
Don’t Box The Neck
Rocks the Equinox Festival
Georgetown hosted a Tara Hall for Boys fundraiser on Sept. 22 and it was delightful. Mother Nature was splendid, the music was wonderful, the organization skills of the committee and their volunteers were professional, the police services were visible and helpful.
We had a very enjoyable day on Front Street. Commendations for the organizers and all the individuals involved. I hope you will do it again.
Thank you for an event that was incredible.
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