Editorial: Rudeness is embarrassing
Laurens County Council Chairman Joe Wood continues to be an embarrassment. At the very least, he continues to embarrass our county. He should be embarrassed himself, but he probably isn’t.
He has shown he doesn’t care – or at least he doesn’t want to know – what people think about actions County Council is considering or has already taken.
He dismissed representatives of Upstate Forever as they tried to make a presentation about the impact of a proposed natural gas pipeline through Laurens County – virtually cutting them off in mid-sentence.
He told them council didn’t have enough information to decide if they are for or against the pipeline and the discussion was over. The opponents offered to provide more information, but Wood again told them the discussion was over.
Wood told representatives of the Dogwood Alliance they didn’t need to come to council expressing concern about a wood pallet plant. “They haven’t asked us to do anything,” he said of the company, which identified on its website Laurens County as a future plant location.
Much of Wood’s banter happens during public comments time. He know where speakers live because they have to sign up in advance. He tells them not to ask questions, then proceeds to ask them questions.
Last week, Wood set a new low for his boorish behavior. After Laurens County Humane Society Assistant Director Dr. Brooke Spatta finished a presentation to council, Wood’s only response to her was, “Why are you even here? You live in Simpsonville. You live in Greenville County where all the money’s at.”
Spatta did not respond to the slight. A suggested retort would be: “Yes, I live in Greenville County, where our elected officials don’t treat citizens with disdain.”
Spatta does live in Greenville County. As a Presbyterian College professor, she is in Clinton every day. More importantly, she and others have worked tirelessly to protect animals in Laurens County from cruelty and neglect.
She and others got a no-kill animal shelter built near Clinton and has devoted countless hours volunteering to keep the shelter open. She has probably driven from her Greenville County home to the shelter to work. We wonder if Wood has ever visited the new animal shelter.
After an incident several months ago at the county-run animal shelter near the airport, council decided to appoint a citizen advisory committee to develop better procedures. The committee has yet to be named.
Another incident near Clinton, where two dogs were chained and starved to death and a weekend passed when animal control and law enforcement played pass-the-buck brought the animal activists back to county council last week.
Council’s less than promising response was to remove law enforcement responsibilities from the county’s animal control officers. They will now issue tickets and court summons. They will not be armed and cannot make arrests.
The cities of both Clinton and Laurens voted recently to shut down the municipal animal control operations and contract for Laurens County Animal Control to respond to complaints of animal neglect or cruelty.
Clinton has started enforcement of a new city ordinance that places some restrictions of the care and treatment of dogs. That enforcement is being left to the Clinton Department of Public Safety. We doubt Clinton police officers are riding the neighborhoods timing how long dogs have been chained to a tree.
Animal control in Laurens County (and both larger municipalities) is in disarray. Animals are being mistreated and are dying from lack of care. Does anyone care beyond the volunteers who are involved in the Laurens County Humane Society and the dog lovers who came to several consecutive city council meetings?
We think a lot of people care. And we think Joe Wood should be told they don’t all live in Simpsonville.