Council must always show others respect

info@islandpacket.comJuly 8, 2013 

I had an opportunity to attend the July 2 Hilton Head Island Town Council meeting and I left concerned about some theatrics of one council member.

As a leader of our town, it is important to value the efforts and opinions of others. Often, disagreement is needed to achieve the best outcome.

However, it was not Town Council's finest moment when George Williams called a proposed ordinance "probably the worst I've seen in my 12 years on Town Council" and ripped up a copy before even hearing a word from the people who put hours of thought and preparation into the ordinance.

The ordinance would ban open burning of yard debris. Williams was not objecting to the core of the ordinance but was focused on specific enforcement issues. The point was not necessarily flawed, but his approach was disrespectful.

Fire Chief Lavarn Lucas and his staff had solid reasoning for the ordinance as written. The council decided that the ban was something that is needed but enforcement fine points should be modified.

Chief Lucas and his department are on the front line trying to ensure our safety and preserve our environment and they bring a perspective that no one else can. As he presented his enforcement logic, it seemed rational, and he certainly did not deserve disrespect.

Next month, Town Council will begin televising its meetings. As we move into "real-time" government I hope the council will encourage debate and substance while showing respect for differing opinions.

Greg Clements

Hilton Head Island

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