Backbones & Hen's Teeth
Regarding recent characterizations of the Marsh Protection Bill as being “hijacked” in Atlanta:
Conspicuously absent in the portrayal is the central role of legislative leadership in pulling off a heist that betrayed efforts for a legitimate marsh buffer in favor of special developer interests in the guise of ‘property rights.’
Hundreds of phone-calls and email messages sent by concerned coastal citizens to members of both chambers (first the Senate, then the House) proved to be futile in salvaging the lobbyist-butchered SB101.
Included in public intervention efforts were our attempts to add a seemingly irrefutable prohibition of landscaping chemicals within the 25-foot wide marsh buffer.
The power-structure of the current General Assembly is so doggedly monolithic that its willful compliance with an evidently pre-ordained subversion of the buffer initiative was unalterable. Under such dictatorial top-down rule, there is little hope for 11th-hour redemption of SB101 by a cadre of belatedly conscientious legislators.
For the same reason, the prospects of a round of successful amendments to resurrect SB101 next year are extremely unfavorable.
A call for ‘leadership’ under these circumstances seems woefully naïve, if not facetious. Under the tyrannical standards of the legislative hierarchy, deviations from the party line are met with severe reprisals, and renegade actions on the public’s behalf are way too risky.
Given the persistent refusal of our legislators to correct SB101 despite major efforts from those of us on the coast seeking to restore an effective marsh buffer, backbones in the General Assembly appear as scarce as hen’s teeth.
Executive Director, Center for a Sustainable Coast