BALOG COLUMN: Can’t we all just get along?
There’s no love lost between some local municipal leaders and the Coastal Conservation League when it comes to the on-again, off-again, on-again completion of Interstate 526.
But now we’ve got accusations flying and insults being hurled. Dana Beach has cried corruption and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley has called him reckless.
Should we just schedule a cage match and get it over with?
It started with a lovefest among Charleston County and state leaders in July when they declared their support for the completion of I-526 to let the state DOT know that they’re ready to move forward with the project. DOT officials won’t touch the project without broad community support, which may or may not exist.
Coastal Conservation League folks were there, objecting, as usual. And they went on to object again, at a South Carolina Policy Council press conference.
That led Riley, Keith Summey, Elliot Summey, Teddie Pryor and Bill Moody to get the band back together for a repeat performance Thursday.
More people = more roads
Beach said money from the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank mostly goes to projects in counties where bank board members or those who appointed them live. And the CCL provided research that backs this up. And that’s all fine.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the infrastructure bank is a slush fund, as Beach said.
A glance at a map shows that the areas where most of the bank board members and officials who appoint them live are also home to the state’s largest population centers and major roadways. So it’s not really a surprise that more money would be spent there.
And as Riley said Thursday, it costs more to build roads here than in other parts of the state because of all the marshes and whatnot.
When you put those things together, the CCL data suddenly doesn’t seem all that sinister.
A united front
Now, that’s not to say that there’s no substance to what the South Carolina Policy Council said Wednesday.
Policy Council President Ashley Landess said the goal of the press conference was to present a united front opposed to corruption in state government. They also said a handful of politicians control the Legislature, the judicial branch and most state agencies.
They called for across-the-board reform. That’s something that could actually unite these groups.
If they both believe there’s corruption in government, think how powerful they could be if they combined their forces, like the Super Friends. Or what if they threw their support to the Legislature in its bid for ethics reform?
All of that would be another great way to divert discussion from the real issue at hand — whether or not to build the rest of 526.
Reach Digital Editor Melanie Balog at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5565.