In case you weren’t paying attention the past few days, the Beaufort County Council made a statement this week. And the statement it made shouldn’t be misunderstood.
Last week, it became known that Council had the majority votes necessary to fire Beaufort County Administrator Ashley Jacobs and it intended to do so at a special meeting Monday night.
Don’t let any dilemma about whether or not Council SHOULD have fired Jacobs give you any pause. It certainly didn’t give them any.
Citizens’ efforts be damned, Council slithered ahead.
By now, you know the result. Jacobs agreed to resign rather than be fired.
Taking a step back in time roughly 18 months, in reality, it’s a miracle Council hired Jacobs anyway. She openly stands for fiscal responsibility, public accountability, following the rules and transparency. Clearly, she was just what this Council needed. All the more reason to be shocked it hired her.
The fact it DID hire her all but guaranteed it would eventually have to try and get rid of her. This Council is downright allergic to fiscal responsibility, public accountability, rule following and transparency.
Councilman Mike Covert made Council’s intentions known last week, mainly to voice the fact he was not in agreement with their plan. (Covert, Chris Hervochon and York Glover were the only Council members not to vote to accept Jacobs’ resignation on Monday.)
When the public found out Council’s intent, members of the community mobilized, flooding Council with emails and getting hundreds of signatures on a petition urging the body not to fire Jacobs.
But giving a toddler attention doesn’t necessarily stop a tantrum.
And the efforts didn’t sway the six council members who would have voted to dismiss Jacobs – Stu Rodman, Paul Sommerville, chair Joe Passiment, Mark Lawson, Alice Howard and Lawrence McElynn.
This is how County Council sent its message.
Not to Jacobs. No. She’s simply being punished for being the strong, intelligent, principled woman who had the gall to stand up to the good ole boys club.
No, Council sent its message to whomever the next Beaufort County Administrator may be.
It sent its message to businesses who might potentially call Beaufort County home.
It sent its message to landowners and developers wanting to make deals in the county.
It sent its message to tourists who have fallen in love with the Lowcountry and may relocate here.
And it sent its message to the hard-working, taxpaying citizens of Beaufort County …
If you want an honest county government, don’t come to Beaufort County.
If you want accountability in your county government, don’t come to Beaufort County.
If you want transparency in your county government, don’t come to Beaufort County.
If you want fiscal responsibility in your county government, don’t come to Beaufort County.
If you want integrity in your county government, don’t come to Beaufort County.
At this point, you know exactly where Beaufort County Council stands on these issues.
The question is where do their employers, the citizens of Beaufort County stand?
And how long will they stand for a County Council that makes it clear its only interest is being free to do what it wants, when it wants, how it wants, with no repercussions?
Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.