OUR TURN: SHOULD WE USE CAMERAS TO CATCH RED-LIGHT RUNNERS?
PUT REAL OFFICERS, NOT CAMERAS, AT STOPLIGHTS
FROM: THE GREENVILLE (SC) NEWS [link]
PUBLISHED THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2005
Cameras are great law enforcement assets. They’re indispensable in helping prosecutors prove cases in court but are no substitute for actual officers.
If we want to curb red-light running, I have some alternative ideas.
Appropriately fund law enforcement. Do we really need to fund programs that put those giant smiley faces made of rocks on Interstate exit ramps? Let’s move those funds to provide for an adequate number of professional officers to protect and serve the public.
Reallocate current enforcement resources to make real differences. For years, 55 mph was perfectly acceptable for Laurens Road, from Fairforest Way to Mauldin’s city limits. Now the area’s posted limit is 45 mph and resembles a Dukes of Hazzard speed trap emphasizing revenue over safety. Let’s have officers instead stop people running red lights at either end.
Quit ticketing stupidity and make a difference in the safety and security of motorists and pedestrians. If you and your adult passengers don’t want to wear your seatbelts, fine. Fly through the windshield. You may hurt or kill yourselves, but no one else. However, if you run a red light, you could hit my car with my wife and son in it. Let officers patrol intersections to protect us from vehicular manslaughter, not force them to drive around to see if Gomer is an idiot without a seatbelt.
Those are just a few common-sense solutions to a too-common problem and make a lot more sense than cameras that can’t enforce anything, don’t they?
TAFT MATNEY, 32, LIVES IN GREENVILLE AND IS THE PRESIDENT OF A LOCAL PUBLIC RELATIONS AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS FIRM.
OP-ED COLUMN: SPECIAL-PURPOSE DISTRICTS HOLD SPECIAL PLACE IN COUNTY
NEIGHBORS' EFFORTS TO PROVIDE CERTAIN SERVICES FOR OURSELVES ARE BEING THREATENED BY THE CITY OF GREENVILLE'S AGGRESSIVE ANNEXATION AGENDA.
FROM: THE GREENVILLE (SC) NEWS [link]
PUBLISHED SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 2005
By Lenwood Cochran
As so many are doing in 2005, in April 1964, my family and I moved from within Greenville's city limits to the county's Eastside area.
While we wanted to escape the unfair double taxation that forced us to pay property taxes to both the city and the county, our move came at a price and necessitated changes in our lifestyles. Suddenly, we had no fire protection, reservoir water, street lights or sanitation service.
We adapted, we overcame and we created solutions that saved us money and provided us with the services we needed.
First, we petitioned the community to establish the Boiling Springs Fire District — which Greenville County Council approved in 1970.
Then, in 1982 along with our neighbors, we formed the Rolling Green Water Co., sold stock shares to provide a waterline, and transferred ownership to the Greenville Water System for line maintenance.
Next, we contracted with Duke Power to provide lighting and with local sanitation providers to provide garbage collection.
A recent Greenville News article concerning the formation of the Caesars Head Fire District took me back to our efforts in 1969 when we established a special-purpose district (SPD) to provide those essential services that no municipality would for our area.
The organizers at Caesars Head are a modern-day reminder that neighbors and communities, when working together, can better provide certain services than a municipal juggernaut.
Now that Eastside residents and businesses are provided with ISO Class 1 fire protection and education from three strategically located stations (Pelham Road headquarters, Hudson Road and Batesville Road), everyone with personal and property interests within the Boiling Springs Fire District can sleep well knowing that rapid emergency response is available if an unfortunate circumstance ever arises.
With each station's battery of fire-suppression apparatus and professionally trained personnel to operate them, Boiling Springs enjoys a ranking that only two other departments in South Carolina (and 44 out of 44,000 fire jurisdictions nationwide) can boast. That helps keep down insurance premiums and provides a level of security that few enjoy.
All of this comes at a price that we reduced from a rate of 30 mills in 1980 to 21.2 mills after the most recent county property reassessment. Like the county's other SPDs, we strive to maintain a level of taxation that is manageable, fair and efficient.
Unfortunately, SPDs across the county, including Boiling Springs, are being threatened by the city of Greenville's aggressive annexation agenda. Greenville hired a marketing professional to tout annexation's benefits while omitting the negative impact that such actions could have.
From a commercial standpoint, annexation provides restaurants like those on Beacon Drive the opportunity to buy approval for Sunday alcohol sales. They're not told about the exponential business license fees and additional taxes that go along with their new city status.
Residential areas are supposedly not affected by Greenville's annexation policy, yet the city-controlled Greenville Water System forces anyone requesting a new water tap to sign an annexation agreement if that property lies within a one-mile radius of the city limits. If you don't sign the covenant, you don't get water. Withholding one of life's most basic necessities is nothing more than legal government extortion.
The city doesn't tell its prospective annexees about increased taxation. It doesn't talk about the increased utility rates with built-in "franchise fees." Only when newly annexed property owners receive a tax notice or utility bill will they understand for themselves.
Just because something is legal, there is nothing that inherently makes that action right or fair. By gerrymandering city property lines (targeting only those areas that will substantially increase the municipality's tax base) and holding back the entire truth of annexation's implications, the city is acting legally, but not fairly.
Special-purpose districts exist because way back when, municipalities did not feel it beneficial to provide services to those areas. Now the city of Greenville wants to close its estimated $3 million budget gap at the expense of county businesses and residents.
My family and I moved to the Eastside to escape Greenville's unfair actions. Now others are doing the same.
Other SPDs across the area have similar stories. They provide the most local forms of government we have. They offer community services and are governed by community residents.
I hope that the city of Greenville begins viewing SPDs as they are and that for the safety of our citizens, SPDs can continue providing effective and efficient services for the security of the county.
LENWOOD COCHRAN IS A COMMISSIONER OF THE BOILING SPRINGS FIRE DISTRICT AND IS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS WHO HELPED CHARTER THE DISTRICT IN 1968. HE IS A GRADUATE OF FURMAN UNIVERSITY AND A RETIRED CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE WITH STEEL HEDDLE INTERNATIONAL. WRITE HIM AT LENWOOD@EARTHLINK.NET.
and TM PUBLIC RELATIONS & GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
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