Not on our dime

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

So you know how we’re cutting services left and right because the supposed conservatives who will be taking over city council at the end of the month have something that they call a philosophy, right?

Right. The bulk-refuse collection center is on the chopping block. The fire department is still nowhere near where it needs to be in terms of staffing. Our school system is once again being asked to do more with less.

Now, what if I were to tell you that something was in the works here in Waynesboro that would match the Bush administration “Mission Accomplished” fiasco in its hubris, and you were going to be asked fo pay for it?

No, please, put the pitchfork down. It hasn’t happened yet. And it won’t happen, if we can have anything to do with it.

A well-placed source in City Hall has provided some important background regarding the details of a story that I’d heard about earlier this week involving an upcoming visit of a delegation from China that met in April in China with representatives of Reo Distribution. The word on the streets was that there is interest on the part of their hosts to pull out all the stops in greeting the delegation, including police escorts for the guests and some kind of official welcoming event.

Which would be no problem, if the people doing the planning were intending to foot the bill for the escorts and the public event and whatever else they might have planned. But that’s not what I’m hearing from my friend in City Hall is the case with this right now.

They want us to pay for what will essentially be an Isn’t Reo Hatfield Great? Party.

Whether Reo Hatfield is great or not, I’ll leave up to you. As for even a cent of taxpayer money going to this particular cause, well, I can start a Not On Our Dime e-petition, if you want me to, because I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Look, I think it’s great for Reo Distribution that the folks there are saying that they’re hoping to create 200 local jobs from their work with foreign trading partners. I seriously question whether they’ll ever get that number, but it’s their number, and I wish them well in their efforts there.

Even at 50 jobs, which I think they can do with no problem, there’s bound to be some effect on the local economy, I’ll grant them that. I don’t know that it makes or breaks us – my guess is that we’re talking warehouse jobs, maybe some trucking jobs, perhaps a managerial position or two that the Reo folks might be inclined to fill in-house.

Does it make up for the downsizing at General Electric/Genicom and DuPont/Invista? No. The loss of Stanley Furniture, which I bring up because the first Chinese suitor in the Reo free-trade zone is a furniture manufacturer whose 300 jobs would be a great fit in our living-wage-starved Waynesboro economy? No.

No grand Mission has been Accomplished here, folks. We can see that as clear as the view of our River City from Sunset Park on a nice late-spring day.

If some people want to celebrate it as being something more than it is, fine. Pony up the money yourselves. We’ve got a lot more in the way of pressing needs that are not going to be addressed anytime soon because of your supposed philosophy that you conveniently forget exists when it comes to blowing through our money on these kinds of frivolities.

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