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Thursday, May 1, 2014 articles (index)
Editorial: Not in praise of Billy Keyserling

Editorial

Not in praise of Billy Keyserling

As polite in an easy Southern way as it might be to praise Billy Keyserling, the current mayor of Beaufort, for his about-face on the waterfront parking lot issue, the community must remember:

    • Billy is the man who set in motion the process that resulted in the city’s hiring the Lawrence planning group to overturn the decades of comprehensive planning that had been supported by Beaufort’s citizens to preserve the open space and views of the downtown waterfront area.
    • Billy is the man who led city council to authorize $1,964,728 in public funds that have already been paid to Lawrence Group to hold a series of charettes designed to listen to the community, then to draft a plan that totally ignored the community’s natural environment, history, culture and desires. That plan resulted in a Redevelopment Commission, an Office of Civic Investment, a Civic Master Plan and, we fear, a Form-Based Code whose names are as deceptive, and whose aims and activities are as destructive, as anything George Orwell ever imagined.
    • Billy is the man who has tolerated a budgeting and spending process in the city government that obscures the facts and gives almost free rein to the city manager, Scott Dadson, to spend money as he wants and to withhold public information behind the city attorney, Bill Harvey. Dadson has approved the payments of $1,964,728 to his buddies at Lawrence Group that cannot be traced by any easy method, as proven at the most recent budget planning session this past Tuesday and by Harvey’s opaque response to a request made to Dadson for detailed spending information.
    • Billy is the man who has led our city into a budget deficit that Dadson is now recommending to be covered by increasing property taxes, a deficit created by more than $1.9 million in payments to the discredited Lawrence Group and another $1.8 million spent recently to purchase an industrial park that has not succeeded in 65 years to attract industry to Beaufort.
    • Billy is the man who now says in his quiet voice that “I am convinced that the renderings in the Civic Plan run contrary to what the public wants” and that “My only regret is that we failed to engage people‚Äôs concerns over the past two years.”

Is that really Billy’s only regret? That should not be. He should regret his lack of judgment, his lack of foresight, his lack of toughness to resist the ego call to leave our community a monument to his mayoral tenure so base as destruction of our waterfront parkland.

Billy Keyserling needs to sit down in all humility and work with the citizens to dig us out of this planning, budgeting, spending, information withholding and management mess.

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