Liz Farrell

Could a man in a chicken mask have stopped Beaufort Co. river from turning fluorescent green? | Opinion

Why does it take a regular man in a chicken mask to effect change?

Maybe you haven’t wondered this before.

Maybe — definitely — I need to stop thinking about it so much.

But maybe — definitely — I don’t want to.

It irritates me.

It’s not that I wasn’t thoroughly entertained by the image of a chicken wearing a regular man’s suit to advocate for speed bumps at Hilton Head Island’s Town Council public safety committee meeting Monday.

I happen to love anthropomorphism. And a chicken that wants to be taken seriously is pretty much top shelf in that regard.

But a resident’s quest for the attention of local government should not necessitate such extremes.

Obviously costumes are optional at Town Council meetings.

Obviously there are many examples of regularly attired humans successfully and quietly winning quotidian action from elected leaders and bureaucrats.

And quite possibly Logan Cambron’s approach will be dismissed as antics by anyone who hasn’t been following the Chicken Man chronicles.

But there is a universal truth here: Not many people can ignore a man wearing a chicken mask to a town meeting, especially not when he’s in a proper necktie.

In a real way, Cambron, who has already realized success in his chicken-garbed campaign for slower driving on Point Comfort Road, gained an automatic seat at a table that is usually reserved for bigger league players — the wolves and the sharks in human costume — the lawyers and professional lobbyists, the good old boys club members, the backdoor key-holders, the ear whisperers, the campaign donors and the favor liquidators.

Cambron’s everyman clucking has resulted in forward action.

I find this curious and very unsettling, but also hopeful.

Perhaps the constituent-in-a-costume tactic needs to be explored on a broader level.

For instance, would the Okatie River be less fluorescent green right now if a shrimp wearing a sweater vest had regularly signed up for public comment at Jasper County Council meetings?

Would there be less local environmental heartbreak right now if a baton-twirling oyster had high-kicked it up to Columbia to shame leaders at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control?

Wait. One of our rivers is fluorescent green? Don’t you mean one of the rivers wherever other people live is fluorescent green?

I apologize if you missed this update from our ongoing coverage of the trash mountain fire at Able Contracting off S.C. 170, near Okatie.

But yes, yet another beautiful thing in the Lowcountry has had acid thrown in its face.

This time the color of the destruction actually matches the reason it’s being destroyed — though money wishes it were that green, am I right?

IMG_8491.JPG
A screenshot of a Google Earth photograph from March 2018 shows the Able Contracting property and the surrounding drainage ditch and retention pond. A fluorescent green layer of bacteria and nutrients is visible in the water.

I’m no owl in a dickie, but even entry-level wisdom would dictate that highly preventable disasters should be prevented.

And all I’m saying is, the best way to mitigate potential problems might just be to make things unavoidably silly and embarrassing for the people in charge.

It is apparently time to turn public meetings into actual Muppet shows.

Statler and Waldorf have been attending these things for years, and Muppet-like behavior is already not uncommon, so why not go full Gonzo, full Miss Piggy, full Sam the Eagle? Dibs on Kermit, by the way ... he was the reporter.

Oh. And look! I already have an issue to take up with a local government.

In April, Beaufort County launched its redesigned website — with a hot new URL.

The site is lovely — visually anyway.

But in terms of functionality, it’s been a straight-up purgatorial nightmare, like an episode of “Russian Doll” or a reboot of “Groundhog Day.”

When you are searching for something county government-related and don’t know where this particular information resides on the county’s site, you will likely turn to Google for help because that is what people normally do.

You will put in your search terms and there it will be, the thing you were looking for, right there in the search results because that is what normally happens.

Google comes through for you.

But not when it comes to the county’s site. Nope. When it comes to county’s site, Google robs you of time and tears by dropping you off in a desert of despair with no map and no water and no tissues.

Because clicking on the thing you were looking for will take you to the county’s homepage. Every single time.

Which means you are required to hunt for the information if you want that information. You are required to spend time perusing drop-down menus and racking your brain for what department handles which issue.

It means you are lost.

On Thursday afternoon I spoke with Josh Riley, the county’s web design and content manager, to find out what was happening.

He explained the problem. It’s not interesting so I’ll spare you the details.

He explained how’s it’s being fixed. Again, I’m saving you from some eye glazing here.

And he said if it’s not working the way it should be soon, he’ll be on the phone with Google.

So ... I guess I’m not going to get to show him my Kermit costume.

Not this time anyway.

Columnist and senior editor Liz Farrell graduated from Gettysburg College with a degree in political science and writes about a wide range of topics, including Bravo’s “Southern Charm.” She has lived in the Lowcountry for 15 years, but still feels like a fraud when she accidentally says “y’all.”
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