File photo Dustin Waters

Charleston-area leaders have little, if anything, to tout as accomplishments in 2021. Traffic still sucks. Around 20 cranes on the peninsula’s skyline tell the continually nauseating story of too much out-of-control megalith development. Streets continue to flood. Roads offer a roller coaster of potholes and speed humps. More affordable housing mostly remains a dream. Too many people don’t get along based on race, politics, education, environment or general cantankerousness. 

So we start 2022 generally at rock bottom, again staring a pandemic-fraught county in the face. Let’s make use of sure-to-come quarantine quiet time by actually doing something to tick boxes on our 2022 Charleston Checklist instead of continuing to ignore the problems in front of our faces:

Be smart about education. Why in the world did the Charleston County School District board destabilize public education by recently running off a perfectly good superintendent of schools? Spend education dollars wisely and invest in public schools, not more public-private options.

Public meetings. Too many public bodies in Charleston County make flagrant use of long executive sessions to do the public’s business in private. Executive sessions should be the exception, not the rule. Promote transparency and work in public, not private. Stop the secrecy.

Downplay skyscrapers. There’s so much development in downtown Charleston that it’s becoming a concrete jungle. Take action to at least derive some benefit from megalith development by smart strategies, such as a fee on cranes.

Quality of life. Make more investments in parks, festivals and infrastructure to be proactive in promoting a broad sense of community and improve quality of life.

Fix traffic. Instead of devoting megamillions to widen roads that have been on the drawing board for decades, invest more in traffic alternatives, such as the Johns Island flyover and bus rapid transit to get them up and running as soon as possible.

Root out corruption and waste. City and county leaders should take a deep dive into finances and decisions made in the past to ensure local governments are acting in the best interests of taxpayers. We don’t need unexplained salary bumps for county employees, bailouts and continued nepotistic behavior. 

Affordable housing. Be innovative and wildly proactive in figuring out new ways to alleviate homelessness and build affordable housing so teachers, first responders and hospital workers can live closer to where they work.

Get greener. Climate change is real. Develop fair plans to mitigate flooding as waters rise throughout the county. Our area is called the “Lowcounty” for a reason. Let’s stop talking about what to do and become a national climate leader in 2022.

Fill jobs. Employers face big challenges in hiring enough people to fill jobs to meet the growing demands of tourism. Public and private sectors need to be innovative to develop homegrown talent and beef up the workforce at a time when unemployment rates are at historic lows.
One option: Pay more.

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