Another year went by in a flash. It seems like yesterday that the 2008 "Stud’s "n Dud’s" article came out. And here it comes again. Every year, folks look back and reflect on the best and worse things that happen that year. We may not get all of the Stud’s and Dud’s of 2009, if fact, you probably have a long list of your own, but here are mine in no particular order or degree of "UD-ness."
2009 was a paradox. In some ways, everything happened, while on the same token, nothing seemed to be happening at all. Case in point, our new President, President Obama.
Here was a man elected with a huge mandate to reform Washington, running against the "business as usual" mantra that has gridlock our Capital and our nation in the process for decades. He forced through a multi-trillion dollar "stimulus" package, retrieved banks and major corporations out of bankruptcy by federalizing them and he even personally guaranteed the warranty on my GMC truck.
All in one year. So how come we haven’t seen any of it reflected in our pockets? Why do I feel that we are no better off now than we were twelve months ago - because we are not better off. Bottom-line: Where are the jobs? The truth is we are deeper in the hole and digging hard.
DUD: So, I begin my 2009 "Stud’s ‘N Dud’s" with the "Stud" who so far is turning into a Dud - President Obama. The question remains, is one year long enough to turn around such a mess in Washington and to evaluate a presidency? And the obvious answer is, no. But a nasty trend is certainly evident and seems to be unwavering. Barak Obama refuses to move toward a more centrist position in running the country. Bill Clinton, for all of his shortcomings, realized early in his own presidency that in order to survive politically and become a more effective president, he would have to move more toward the center. And no one ever doubted Clinton’s nine-live’s ability to survive. Obama on the other hand, seems to be pinned down by his suffocating leftist ideology and missing this political stratagem to his disadvantage. America is center/right in political conviction, even though we voted for a profoundly liberal President who enjoys the luxury of having a voting mandate in both bodies of Congress. Yet, unemployment keeps rising, back room side-deals keep happening, personal freedoms keep disappearing and the central government in Washington keeps eating up the private sector like Jabba the Hut.
STUD: The formation of The American Tea Party. What do we Americans do when confronted by overwhelming odds, like non-negotiable Washington dictates and edicts from tyrants like King George III? We peacefully protest and then one way or another, we separate ourselves from the oppressor - on our terms. That’s how this country was founded. It was founded on individual rights and guarantees of personal freedoms. It’s a "Hey, get out of my face" mind-set. Remember the original American flag with the hissing snake? It proclaimed, "Don’t tread on me." Whatever money you make from your hard earned efforts - no one should be "entitled" to any of it outside the defense of this country and the protection of individual rights. And most people don’t realize that personal income tax is less than a century old.
DUD: Continuing with "local" politics, the mayoral election in 2009 went down as one of the low-lights of the year, and not because of the two candidates running for that office. In my view both Floyd Hilliard and Harold Fowler were viable candidates and worthy of the post depending on your individual viewpoints. It was the voters (or non-voters) who pull the "Dud" card on this one. As I wrote in a previous article on the subject, the two deserving candidates who ran, both Hilliard and Fowler, deserved a better turnout than the town electorate gave them. Less than 20 percent of 6,000 eligible actually voted. That’s a "dud" turnout if there ever was one.
STUD: Richmond Hill Seafood Festival: The ‘09 headliners, Lou Gramm and John Waite wowed ‘em - great turnout too, unlike the local election. A few years back, I was privileged to be able to bring the Blues Brothers Review to the same stage. We were able to bring more than $100,000 in profits to the Chamber. Having such a venue solidifies a community and gives it worth and validation. Besides - it’s fun.
DUD: Speaking of that stage, it got supplanted by an "amphitheater." I’m sorry that no one asked my free advice on design and "performability" of this albatross. I offered. I’ve produced and televised major performances across America with major artists and would be hard pressed to see any value in the brick and concrete "bunker" that was erected in J. F. Gregory Park. In fact, it may be technically "un-usable" by any "name" act that requires high-end set-up guidelines and performance "riders." Gramm and Waite couldn’t use it and won’t be able to use it should they ever return. All they had to do was ask before they designed it. Was the idea of an amphitheater in the park worthy? Yes. Coulda/shoulda/woulda been a STUD.
STUD: The very first year Richmond Hill National Night Out supporting community crime prevention, drew five times the anticipated attendance, filling J.F. Gregory Park. National Night Out in Richmond Hill was based on the previous success of neighboring township Pembroke.
DUD: Permitting a "three-pharmacy corner" to happen at the corner of 17/144. In honor of Dierks Bentley’s hit song, "What Was I Thinking?" Bottom-line once again - how many aspirin’s do we need at one intersection? Hello? Anybody home? I need an aspirin.
STUD: The new "Urgent Care" opening at Kroger’s Shopping Plaza - but we need more. We called for this and wrote about the need for a trauma center both in 2007 and 2008. The Urgent Care Center located at Kroger’s Shopping Plaza is definitely a step in the right direction. What it does not accomplish however is the very real need for an emergency room/hospital in Richmond Hill itself. For such a large number of people residing in Bryan County (20,000 by 2020) taking a half hour or more to get to the nearest hospital is ridiculously unacceptable. In the meantime, thank you Urgent Care folks.
DUD: Increases on impact fees for new start-up businesses on the Hill. Isn’t helping to employ new workers from the Hill’s own population positive impact enough? Isn’t bringing in new tax revenues from new businesses impact enough? Hey, rhetorical question.
DUD: H1N1 swine flu. What’s with this? Sure, I got my shot, but for what reason? The last part of 2009 had a world pandemic just about guaranteed on our doorstep. Tens of millions would be afflicted. Was the world health order on top of this to such an extent that it forestalled a second coming of the 1918 influenza plague? I don’t think so. So far the only swines seen on the horizon are those on television trying to hawk gold at ridiculously high commissions.
STUD-ette: Eleven year old Jessica MacLeish for her heroism. The Richmond Hill Police Department presented a Medal of Valor and Good Citizen Award to Jessica for her act of heroism for saving the life of three-year-old Katie Sullivan. Little Katie had fallen unnoticed into the Main Street swimming pool and was saved by Jessica’s quick actions.
DUD: Failure to allow any Historic signage in Richmond Hill. Richmond Hill is rich in history besides that of Henry Ford. But even if it were noted for Ford alone, that should be worthy of a sign - regardless. Don’t we stick our kids "A" papers on the fridge? Henry wrote an "A" paper in creating Richmond Hill.
STUD: Larry Barker. For writing and giving Richmond Hill it’s own official theme song. The song, which is titled, "3181 Cruising" was "given" to the town by the songwriter/musician. This is an example of one citizen’s pride and dedication to his town. Barker presented his piece in the form of a recorded CD to the mayor and to city council members along with a plaque during a regular council meeting session. The most telling compliment by Mr. Barker was that he signed over the intellectual property rights ("ownership") of the song to the City.
DUD: Losing the huge oak tree next to Ace Hardware Store. The battered around Tree Ordinance needs to get pulled off the back burner of City Council. It was placed there at least twice and the new mayor won in part because of this "expected" ordinance. Let’s put it in for him. If we do this today, people three hundred years from now will applaud our efforts - just ask ‘em.
STUD: Pembroke resident Dalton Raulerson, 14, miraculously made a near full recovery after taking a direct hit from a lightning bolt during football practice at Pinewood Christian Academy on Aug. 5.
STUD STOPS: Jukebox Tavern, Molly MacPherson’s, 606, Steamer’s, RH Café, Kim’s Kottage Kuts.
STUD or DUD? Your call: Sunday alcohol sales - no better no worse. More national chains have not taken advantage of this 2009 ordinance primarily because of the economy’s negative effect on new start-ups. It probably has helped local taverns, but that may be a wash as soon as more national chains squeeze in next to them - and they will if given the chance to over-saturate the "locals." More aspirin’s?
My suggestion. Start your own Stud ‘n Dud list for 2010. I predict that this year will outweigh the previous five years in all categories combined.
Columnist-At-Large Victor Pisano is a Ford Plantation resident.