People take their road names pretty seriously around here.
In fact, some politicians take those road names more seriously than their own campaign promises.
We’ve had a proliferation of vanity names for street-stubs. Grovetown High School, for example, fronts William Few Parkway, which everyone knows. But its address comes from its service entrance, “Warrior Way,” which no one knows.
The newly combined Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, Development Authority and Convention and Visitors Bureau office is on what the commissioners recently agreed to rename “Business Boulevard” so the half-block side-street will sound niftier on letterhead.
I’d hate to be the receptionist who has to constantly give directions by telling otherwise puzzled people, “We’re behind Zaxby’s. Next to the Board of Elections.”
And just down the street, the new TaxSlayer (semi) high-rise in Marshall Square is on a street with the honorary name of “TaxSlayer Drive,” even though the street already has a name: Allen Drive.
It was the latter that prompted discussion Tuesday night among Columbia County commissioners before they agreed to grant the honorary name for the tax-prep company. The concern came primarily from County Commissioner Charles Allen; the relatively new street is named for his father, and he didn’t want to dim that honorific.
The compromise is that the street is still Allen Drive, but TaxSlayer gets to address envelopes with its name, too, with confidence that the post office will sort it all out.
Funny, though. Charles Allen fretted about the effect on a street name for someone who is no longer with us. But he didn’t express any concern, not even a tiny bit, over the commission’s unanimous vote that same night to add to the number of living people who will have to pay the county’s stormwater utility fee.
Why is that a big deal? Well, it’s like this: When Allen was running for reelection in the July 31 Republican primary, he topped his signs and ads with the slogan, in bold, capital letters, “Repeal the Storm Water Tax.”
Everyone at the time – including, we now know, Allen himself – knew the slogan was phony baloney. During his first term in office (though he’s served before, long ago, as a Democrat), Allen never raised a peep about the nearly decade-old stormwater utility fee. So why the sudden crusade for the repeal of something he never even brought up?
His opponent, Butch Holley, wondered the same thing, and in a campaign video scolded Allen for making a cynical ploy for votes.
Whether it was Holley’s lack of funding or experience, or Allen’s ample connections, or the resonance of that cheap marketing slogan, Allen won reelection resoundingly with 70 percent of the vote. Political science 101 says a 10-point spread is considered a mandate, so certainly Allen could claim a 40-point victory as a ringing endorsement for implementing his No. 1 campaign promise: “Repeal the Storm Water Tax.”
So why, then, was Allen one of four votes (with one commissioner absent) to expand the stormwater utility fee without debate – even though the expansion means more of Allen’s District 3 constituents now will have to pay the fee that Allen promised to repeal?
Evidently Allen takes that honorary name of a street with no residents more seriously than his own campaign promise affecting hundreds of his neighbors.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow on twitter.com/