Civility. Respect. Solutions. This was the focus of a Municipal Association of South Carolina annual meeting some Council members and staff recently attended. The MASC Board added to their strategic plan an initiative that included restoring civility in government as a top priority. We have entered an era where threatening, mocking, deriding and dismissing are the norm.
Gone are the days when ideas and opinions were at least respected even when they were not heeded. Compromise and collaboration are treated as four-letter words, and insults are more celebrated than thoughtful solutions. The English poet Lady Mary Montagu once wrote that civility “costs nothing and buys everything.” She was right. When you are disagreeing with a colleague or friend, civility makes the difference. It’s the difference between conversation and controversy, between a friendship and a falling out. One of the sessions at this recent meeting was titled “Conflict to Conversation.”
The speaker outlined six steps toward better public dialogue.
1. Own your leadership imperative – focus on leadership that joins residents together in recognizing and solving community problems
2. Champion Community Values – focus on the core values of the community
3. Give ‘em what they want – residents most want to feel respected and heard
4. Convene Courageous Conversations – allow people who are interested to meet, to talk and think together, to explore options and possibilities and to exercise their own leadership
5. Avoid Binary Choices – public dialogue need never be a win/lose proposition
6. Acknowledge Uneasiness – Mr. Rogers said: “If it’s human it’s mentionable. And if it’s mentionable it’s manageable.
The MASC Executive Director led the audience of 350-plus in the following civility pledge –
I pledge to build a stronger and more prosperous community by advocating for civil engagement, respecting others and their viewpoints and finding solutions for the betterment of my city or town.
I’m always amazed at these gatherings of peers around our state. Some mayors, councils and staff are grappling with getting clean water to their residents, some are trying to lure a grocery store closer than the current one 30 miles away, some are dealing with population explosions and/or reductions and all the associated issues with either. As an island paradise, IOP should lead the way in turning things toward more civility in our corner of the world.
What’s the Latest?
Marina – Work continues to transfer the existing leases to the new potential operator. We had great attendance and questions at our recent public meeting – thank you for making the effort to attend and hear from our new potential operator. Also, with the help of Representative Bustos and our lobbyists, we were recently informed there is money in the upcoming state budget for dredging the IOP marina. The amount is $1.5 million, and we should be receiving that later this year. We will soon begin coordinating with stakeholders and the permitting process.
Recreation Center – We are seeking proposals from interested bidders for the construction of improvements to the outdoor basketball courts and a new pickle ball court. Proposals will be requested in August with construction planned for late this fall.
Drainage – Construction on the outfalls at 30th and 36th has begun. This project will significantly help our stormwater runoff management. This work will require road closures in the coming months. We will be posting notices to our residents in these areas and via social media and the Island Eye as we get closer to these dates. These road closures were scheduled intentionally to avoid peak summer crowds. Also, since we are in hurricane season, our contractor is aware of our needs should an evacuation arise, and provisions will be made to cover any open road areas in the event of an evacuation.
Comprehensive Drainage Master Plan – The next phase(s) of our drainage work is still scheduled to be completed by year end. Our vendor is conducting an island wide review to identify and plan for improvements in high priority areas. Staff is working on a grant application to pursue grant funding for the construction of several projects that have been identified as the priorities through this initiative.
Underground Utility Conversion- The City has been working with Dominion Energy to identify areas we can move the overhead utility lines underground during the next few years. The first project will be at 21st and Palm Boulevard and construction is scheduled for later this year. We have other undergrounding projects scheduled for the near future and we will update you as we make progress on those.
Emergency Preparedness – Hurricane season started June 1 and runs until Nov. 30. Please take the time to prepare you and your family ahead of time. Recently, I was able to attend an emergency preparedness and hurricane response planning exercise put together by City staff with assistance from Charleston County Emergency Management. Staff continuously work to improve their operational readiness to ensure our community is protected when we need to prepare for and respond to emergencies and natural disasters.
Aug. 13 – Annual Half Rubber Tournament 8 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. at IOP Recreation Center
Aug. 18 – Farmers Market 4-7 p.m. at IOP Recreation Center
Aug. 26 – Coffee with the Mayor – At 9 a.m. on the last Friday of every month, I am hosting coffee with residents who wish to talk about City projects, issues and concerns. To support local businesses, the locations will rotate around venues on our island – however during our busy season we will host this at City Hall, 2nd floor or the Rec Center. You can find information for upcoming meetings and more detailed updates on our projects on the IOP website Calendar (IOP. net) under Upcoming Events.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve! See you around the island.
Phillip Pounds, Mayor