I read your article “Mount Pleasant is an idyllic place” in the Moultrie News on June 24. Mount Pleasant has been my home for 26 years. I am sorry to say I feel it is no longer an idyllic place. We are in the middle of a terrible pandemic and from my observation the people here do not take it seriously. If you put every man, woman and child living here in one spot; you would be lucky if 5% were wearing masks. I live in a retirement community and we are required to mask it inside and out. Not so with the people who pass us by every day. We have a housing community and apartment complex beside us. They pass through everyday with no mask. If you would like to check this out we have a large store nearby. Visit it and see who is wearing a mask. Only the employees and no one pays any attention to the guides placed in the aisles.
I could go on and on but I will close. An idyllic place no more.
I’m writing in regards to the action taken at the Emergency Special Council Meeting on June 29.
As I was watching the meeting I can tell you I was saddened by the fact that it seemed a few of you had to seemingly be dragged kicking and screaming to pass an Emergency Ordinance (20037) in regard to the wearing of masks to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Then in a blaze of glory you passed a toothless resolution encouraging individuals to wear face coverings in the Town of Mount Pleasant. (R.20061). Throughout this crisis it seems to me that some on council have forgotten a basic part of the task that we elected you to do. Your seats on town council are non-partisan. You are not left, right, Republican, nor Democrat. We did not elect you to reflect a partisan agenda or uphold some partisan principle. We elected you to do what’s best for the people you serve and clearly as reflected by the municipalities around us, we need to do more. What you’ve done is not enough.
I don’t see the need or the value in calling out names. Frankly you know who you are. All the residents have to do is watch the meeting to figure it out.
The Isle of Palms council, hiding behind the fear of COVID-19, have accomplished their sought after goal of securing their precious island paradise for their residents. By creating their own sanctuary city of sorts, by promulgating their edits, first, increasing parking rates and doubly fines, and now slashing parking for non-islanders. Congratulations!
Dennis J Donahue Jr.
Isle of Palms
A life lesson
About two years ago, the Isle of Palms changed a few parking rules limiting parking areas for non-residents. Since then, a second set of parking restrictions was imposed further limiting available spaces for non-residents. These first two waves of parking restrictions were initially annoying and made parking at the beach more difficult, but they did not significantly change my beach life or my ability to go surfing. Cue the global pandemic. For a brief time, public beach accesses were closed allowing only those with private beach access on the beach. Given the worldwide health concerns, I understood the theory behind the restrictions. Being a rule follower, I stayed home.
The beaches eventually reopened, but, in the past week, IOP implemented new sweeping ‘temporary’ parking restrictions. The provided reason was public safety in midst of the worsening pandemic. Once again, I saw the logic in the restrictions. Social distancing is important, and crowded beaches could be a vector for ongoing spread of the virus. However, something did not sit well with me. When my wife first informed me of these new ‘month-long’ parking restrictions, my immediate reaction was “IOP is trying to make the beach private for its residents.”
I was irate. IOP town council was directly impacting my life by making it harder for me to surf and enjoy the beach. I also feared that the new parking restrictions would divert so many beachgoers to Sullivan’s Island or Folly Beach that those municipalities would eventually become inundated and enact similar parking restrictions. Then where would I surf?
I am ashamed to admit it, but I had initial impulses to take my truck and do donuts on the front lawns of every house on Palm Boulevard. Being a rule-follower, I did not. I took a deep breath and thought, “Can I see the restrictions from the point-of-view of IOP residents?” If I lived on IOP, it would be upsetting to have the easement near the street of my multi-million dollar home left bare by the parked vehicles of beachgoers. The summertime traffic would also be a real nuisance. Perhaps the overwhelming crowds increase traffic accidents or slow the response times of emergency services. Shouldn’t IOP residents be allowed to enjoy the rewards of their hard work in peace without people tearing up the front ten feet of their yards?
Looking at the parking restrictions from the perspective of an IOP resident initially lessened my anger. But I quickly felt aggrieved again. I could not get beyond the belief that the main reasons IOP city council passed these parking restrictions were to lessen crowds, protect lawns, and increase property values. Is the health and well-being of a lawn more important than my ability to enjoy the beach?
Anger, again. Breathe. Breathe.
That is when I had my light bulb moment. I am a middle-aged, white male from a fairly affluent zip code in Mount Pleasant. I am introverted, unobtrusive, and socially invisible blending in perfectly with my Mount Pleasant surroundings. I don’t experience discrimination. The only other time in my life that I recall a city ordinance being enacted that placed a barrier between me and my pursuit of happiness was when I was a teenager. At that time, my hometown of Virginia Beach banished all of us who surf to a 4 block area leaving the other 90+ blocks of oceanfront available only to swimmers.
That same helpless feeling of anger and injustice I felt as a teen bubbled back into my middle-aged consciousness with these new parking restrictions. My thoughts and impulses quickly turned aggressive and retaliatory. And I was not alone. My wife showed me posts on social media by other residents of Mount Pleasant which mirrored the rage that I was feeling. Lawsuits were being threatened. Accusatory insults were being hurled at IOP residents. Protests were being planned. It felt like all of Mount Pleasant was angry and bitter.
With a few days of emotional distance from the original announcement of the parking restrictions, I can evaluate my current situation with better perspective. Although extremely trivial in comparison to important matters of racial, gender, and social class inequality, the parking situation at IOP shed a necessary light for us, the residents of Mount Pleasant, on just how political power can be used to limit opportunities for specific groups of people. We also learned that a power move like this can be accomplished under the guise of other reasonable concerns. It is incredibly frustrating for many of us in Mount Pleasant to be cast in the role of ‘have-not’ when, to be frank, most of us are accustomed to being ‘haves.’ Since the shoe is now on the other foot, I hope we can all better sympathize with and advocate for those currently fighting for really important issues like racial, gender and social equality. Maybe we are now in a better position to understand that people fighting for justice are not doing so because it gives their lives meaning or provides an excuse for why it is more difficult for them to achieve the American dream. In these unprecedented times, I plan to keep this life lesson at the forefront of my mind as I watch the world change.