Are Council Meetings Interesting?
A lot happens at City Council meetings that make them far from boring, as Council receives and acts on the recommendations of city staff. Some may consider actions at these public meetings to be the ordinary and daily operations of our city. Take our August 1st meeting for an example. Discussion focused on dissolving our longstanding Museum Commission, if the city would like to have an anti-tethering ordinance and what type, and whether the city should spend $287,000 dollars over the next three years to join the Main Street Program. Each of these recommendations were prepared by city staff and presented to Council by our city manager. All citizens are welcome to participate in Council meetings by speaking during the public comment time, particularly if they have a concern. In August, two citizens informed Council of missing items within the Clinton Museum inventory and requested the matter be investigated. As a result of this request, Council tabled the city manager’s request for a second and final reading of an ordinance to dissolve the Museum Commission; asking for an investigation of the matter, and that findings be presented to Council at the September 12 meeting. If you have interest in our museum, I encourage you to attend this meeting. Council was also asked to consider first reading of a new dog anti-tethering ordinance. Council was presented with five versions from staff to consider. After lengthy discussion, Council referred this matter back to staff asking them to consult with veterinarians for more guidance on a clear, concise and humane ordinance. This issue will be addressed again at the September meeting. Lastly, Council discussed and voted to join the Main Street program by a 5-2 vote. Two citizens spoke during public comments, one in favor and one against the program. Several have asked why I voted against the program at this time. One councilmember even suggested that a vote against the program is a vote against small business. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I have owned several small businesses over the last three decades. I fully understand the daily challenges of small business owners. Just for fun, I looked at my 1974 Presbyterian College yearbook and the advertising sponsors. There were 33 local businesses that placed an ad that year, and now only two are currently in operation, Whiteford’s Drive-in and Chronicle Publishing Company. Gone are MS Bailey & Son, Bailey Agency, D.E. Tribble Co., Roberts Drive-in, Earls EZ Mart, Clinton Office Supply, Anchor Supply, Young’s Gulf Station, Clinton Mills, Center Service Station, Hamrick’s Grill, Buddy’s, Shealy’s Florist, Johnson Brothers Market, Baldwin Motor, H.D. Payne, McGees Drug, Sunshine Cleaners, First National Bank, Yarborough’s Studio, Young’s Pharmacy, Bantam Chef, Musgrove Inn, Gala Motel, Citizens Federal, Industrial Supply, Belks, Roses, Rexall Drugs and more. These businesses were supported by the payroll produced at Clinton Mills, Anderson Hosiery, Whitten Center, Torrington Bearing Co. and other plants. My vote on the Main Street program was based on my belief that in order to ensure that our small businesses are successful, we must first restore our local manufacturing payroll so that small businesses have the best opportunity for success. The city has taken some bold steps this year to rebuild our manufacturing base. The completion of a 100,000 square foot site-ready-pad and a 75,000 square foot spec building show the will and resolve to move our city forward. It seems important to note that of the 270 cities and towns in SC, only 15 are members of the Main Street program that began in 1984 and reorganized in 2014. A Main Street staff position in Clinton to oversee the program will focus only on downtown. Even in light of these facts, I am still part of the team of seven City Council members, and the team should pull together, even when we may not agree. Council has decided to move forward with the Main Street program. While I voted against it, I will support Council’s wishes to move forward with this program. Once again, I invite all citizens to voice opinions on these or any other concerns. If you wish to speak at Council meetings, please show up early and sign up to speak. Meetings begin at 6 p.m., and you must sign up before the meeting begins. Good discussion makes for better government, and I believe we have had some thoughtful discussion. My promise to our citizens is to vote for what I feel is in the best interest of all. (Bob McLean is mayor of Clinton.)