When someone holds public office the rest of us have the right to expect high moral standards to rule.
I didn’t know former Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett, but his reputation preceded him and as such his ignominious death coupled by his remarkable fall from grace has touched me deeply.
In the county from which Hewett came, he is either held in high regard or vilified. Despite his criminal convictions, for many he is still hailed a hero, while others view him as just another cop gone bad.
I puzzle over where in his career and personal life Hewett must have stepped from the high road, or if he was even on it.
Compounding this is the case of a former law enforcement officer who once anchored the Wrightsville police department. Lt. Hovie Pope was a police officer’s police officer. Pope made a name for himself by being thorough and tough on criminals. With him, everything was black and white. I did believe I knew him.
So during the same week that Hewett died so miserably in the county lock up, for Pope to be indicted by a New Hanover County grand jury for converting funds to his own use from the internal affairs association that he once led and was treasurer for was a double whammy blow.
Maybe this is all a case of power corrupts, absolutely.
Granted, we are all innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but I admit, my faith in those who protect and serve has been rattled.
However, over this same period of time, the esteem for which I hold one of our elected officials has risen. Serving in the state legislature is no picnic. First with the Dems and now with the GOP, I have observed the stress and fatigue in the faces of the representatives I know as they return home to lick wounds and recuperate before heading back to the bastion of state power for more.
This legislative session, an out-of-favor Dem, Rep. Susi Hamilton, continued to champion a cause that put her face to face with a political enemy. Still, she has held the line, refusing to back down on her stance supporting incentives for the film industry in the state and home county. She gets points for that.
But Republican Ted Davis Jr. as a freshman took up the cause as well and has battled impressively to save jobs for Wilmington.
In favor of or against incentives, one must admire the tenacity of Davis’ foray into this film incentives battle that his superiors, except perhaps for our governor, do not want to continue. Incentives are bribes, yes. But, they work, and as long as neighboring states offer them, once begun, North Carolina would be foolish to just kill film incentives because men meeting in a smoky room somewhere deep in the heart of things don’t value them. It is hard to discern who is behind the curtain pulling the strings on this one; some say Art Pope (who just resigned) and the Koch brothers, but regardless, this much is clear: whoever it is, is powerful and appears they’d rather give those incentives to their friends in industry.
Clean jobs are clean jobs. The movie industry in this state not only provides film jobs that don’t harm the environment or citizens, but puts dollars in the pocketbooks of those who sling the hash and pump the gas, sell trinkets, as well as rent out beds for heads. These auxiliary revenues spent in the state should not be overlooked as one tallies the jobs against outlay in incentives.
Facetious or not, I liken it to the caveat of putting out a hummingbird feeder: don’t lure these beautiful creatures with red-colored nectar unless you plan to continue putting out nectar year after year. Stop filling the hummingbird feeder and the birds now trained to the handout can die.
It is a sure bet: cut incentives and the film industry in Wilmington is dead.
But back to Ted.
While others yack on about attracting new jobs, Davis has set about saving jobs we already have. Doggedly so.
Unlike another former member of the local delegation who laid false claim this week to being the jobs guy, Ted did not just beat the drum of lip service, he has put forth a valiant effort for film and historic incentives, and shallow inlet dredging. Without the Carolina Beach inlet remaining, navigable jobs will disappear.
Just this week $68 million was attributed to auxiliary spending in the county economy as a result of the inlet in its current condition. Dredge it further amd we can add another $8 million to that figure. Not overlooked, Davis also put out a big effort in the legislative long session to forestall legislation that would have killed jobs in the newspaper industry.
Win or lose, he has distinguished himself in these endeavors.
Bravo, Mr. Davis!