Would-be commissioners need to get facts straight

Published 3:58 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In his answers to Tryon Daily Bulletin questions, Michael Gage talked about teamwork, working together for the public good.  But seriously misstating the voting record of the current majority of the county commissioners, as he did, demonstrates the opposite: a head start on divisiveness.

Michael stated the current majority, “have shown little or no support to the sheriff’s situation, while the two Republican commissioners have tried to work with the sheriff, but have been out-voted.”

That is absolutely false.

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What are the facts?  Minutes from the commissioners meetings since 2008 show the Democratic majority has supported the sheriff in every matter that has come before the board. The votes were unanimous.  The Republican commissioners were never out-voted on sheriff’s department requests.

Michael suggested that the current board has not supplied enough cars to the sheriff’s department. Over the past four years, the commissioners have approved 17 cars for the sheriff.  The sheriff has 35 cars in his fleet.

Michael boasted that he persuaded the Town of Columbus to live within its means.  Really?  State law requires that towns and counties balance their budgets every year.  State law requires that Columbus must live within its means.  Michael can’t take credit for that.

And Tom Pack; Mr. Pack says Polk County has not done enough for economic development.  Well, Tom has been on the board of commissioners for the last two years.  Why didn’t he do something then?  When the majority of the board of commissioners proposed its plan to revitalize Polk County’s economic development department, Tom and Ted Owens ridiculed them and criticized their suggestions.

The majority’s plan worked.  In the first year of the revitalized department, with the help of a newly hired, professional economic development director (something Tom’s prior Republican board had not attended to), Polk County brought in new textile manufacturing jobs and documented 180 additional businesses opening in Polk County.

Tom admits that this is his second term as a commissioner. If he has had the recipe for economic development success all along, why didn’t he cook up that good pot of stew in his first term, or disclose it in his second term? Tom has offered no specifics, other than repealing Polk County’s ordinances, including those that protect Polk County’s beauty and rural atmosphere.

Those things kill economic development; they don’t encourage it.  It wasn’t necessary to repeal ordinances to bring in those new textile jobs or the 180 new businesses.

Tom neglected to say that those other counties he names as examples long ago hired professional economic development officers, just what Tom and Ted ridiculed when Polk’s majority proposed it.

He failed to disclose that other counties have spent millions of dollars to attract businesses, for incentives and for buying and preparing building sites for new businesses.

That’s something Polk County can do, but it has to be balanced against the likelihood of raising taxes to enable it.

– Mary Parker, Tryon