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Does anybody in Edgefield County government have a brain they can spare?

Editor's note: After publication, Finance Director Lynn Strom corrected information provided for this column. The EDC does not receive taxpayer funding. The Economic Development Partnership, not the EDC, is funded by the $46,000. The two were confused by her when the request was made.The portion of the comments contained in this opinion remain but have been noted with strikethrough text.

A Column by the Editor
web posted December 4, 2008
COLUMN – The Chairman of the Edgefield Economic Development Committee (EDC), Bettis Rainsford, was displeased by the article published Wednesday on his $5,000 request from the Edgefield County Council Tuesday night, calling it “negative”, “slanted”, and “poorly written”.  I have three words to describe the same article, factual, concise, and unbiased. However, this is not a news article, this is my opinion, and it is specifically directed at Mr. Rainsford, the EDC, and our county council members. And for the record, it is going to be very biased.

I asked many readers throughout my rounds on Wednesday if they thought the article was biased or “slanted”, including some who attended the meeting, and not one said yes.

So what was it that drew the ire of Mr. Rainsford? I am not sure, but I have a pretty good idea. Perhaps it was this sentence, “It was never questioned why the Economic Development Committee could not fund the lobbying effort from taxpayer funds they already receive to help generate additional revenues.”

I suppose he did not like the term, “spread the wealth around”, in explaining that he was suggesting that one county share the wealth from tax revenues derived from a power generating facility locating in their county with the rest of the counties. I’m not sure what else you would call taking one’s wealth and giving it away “equally” to others. There is a word Mr. Rainsford used, what was it? Oh yes, now I remember… “fair”.

Good grief, we have our very own Barack Obama right here is Edgefield. Just like Obama, Rainsford sees a pile of money another county has and just can’t stand it so he thinks it’s “only fair” that the mean old selfish Fairfield County should be forced to “spread the wealth around”. And to accomplish this feat of “fairness” he wants the state legislators to pass a law to punish Fairfax County for getting the company to locate there in the first place.

Sour grapes if you ask me. It looks like some counties “economic development committees” actually do what they are supposed to do, bring in industry, and that makes Mr. Rainsford’s committee look inept. And according the Mr. Rainsford’s own words the EDC has been “disappointing” for the past decade or more.

Now there is an understatement of the decade if I have ever heard one.

According to County Finance Director Lynn Strom, the EDC receives $46,000 a year. They have been “disappointing” in their effectiveness for ten years, or more as Mr. Rainsford said, and that’s a lot of taxpayer money wasted if you ask me.

Moreover, it also speaks volumes of Mr. Rainsford’s effectiveness as the EDC Chairman. Maybe we need some new blood and new ideas on the EDC because I am tired of throwing almost a half million dollars a decade behind leadership that is so “disappointing”.

And why, if the EDC receives $46,000 a year, would they need an additional $5,000 to call Sen. Shane Massey and Rep. Bill Clyburn and ask them to sponsor such a bill. Heck, I can do that for free. Maybe I should print out the same petition and take it the county council next month and tell them I need only $1,000 to do the same thing. Surely they would hand a check right over.

It’s asinine.

We have representatives for a reason. And in case our county leaders and Mr. Rainsford do not understand how elected public servants work I will be happy to explain it to them.

We elect and pay our county council and state legislative delegation to do our bidding. If this is something Edgefield County wants, and believes other counties would support a similar measure, our county council members pass a resolution supporting it. Then they have a meeting with our legislative delegation and present them with the resolution and ask that they speak to other representatives to see if their local districts are willing to sign on. Then if enough support is there the matter might be brought up in the state House of Representatives.

If not, it dies.

Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

The whole thing will go nowhere and Mr. Rainsford knows it. If counties can join together to take money from
Fairfield County, they can do it to take from Edgefield County. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Revenues from Urban Outfitters must be shared. Revenues from The National Wild Turkey Federation, Trantec, and every other industry we have in the county would then also have to be shared. I am sure the Town of Edgefield would be more than willing to fork over the money they get from the Federal Prison that allows them not to have to pay town property taxes.

The only thing dumber than Mr. Rainsford’s idea is giving him $5,000 to promote it. And that has the Edgefield County Council’s name all over it.

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