Lancaster doesn’t deserve ‘thug’ title

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By The Staff

Scrooge came to town early this year. He made it here even before Thanksgiving. He appeared at the Nov. 17 County Council meeting.

He appeared in the face of outgoing County Councilman Wayne Kersey, who made some of the most nasty comments we’ve ever heard about Lancaster County from an elected official.

During discussion on a proposal to repeal the state’s blue laws in the county until Jan. 4, a measure that would have allowed retailers to open early during the Christmas-selling season, Kersey seemed particularly grumpy.

He said Lancaster already seems like the “thug” capital of America and it was deemed “one of the worst places in America to live” by a recent Forbes.com article. “I don’t know where we’re headed in this county, but it’s certainly not up,” he said.

Kersey didn’t punctuate his remarks with a, “Bah, humbug,” but he might as well have, as he brought the spirit of cranky Scrooge to life in everything else he said about Lancaster County.

Now Kersey is far from the first elected official to make an outrageous comment in public, but we can’t recall when we heard one of our elected leaders trash the place where he lives so harshly. That’s why we were shocked – and offended – when we learned of his commentary about Lancaster County.

If Kersey’s comments were supported by fact, it might be a different story. But Kersey’s comments are simply WRONG.

First, Lancaster was never deemed “the worst place in America to live.”

Forbes.com deemed the county “the most vulnerable town in America” by crunching a number of different statistics, including unemployment numbers and U.S. Census data. And that dubious honor is questionable at best, because it appears the Internet magazine used some old and no longer accurate Census data about the county when it did its math. But we’re not going to complain about that anymore. We already did that in an editorial.

As far as Kersey’s “thug capital” commentary, we’re at a loss. We have no idea where it came from.

Lancaster, the city and the county, -do have problems.

We have crime and our share of thugs, but is it really far out of whack from any other community of our size in South Carolina or any other state? We don’t think so.

We’ve also been burdened with high unemployment – often one of the highest in the state – since Springs Global closed all of its manufacturing plants here. And like the rest of the nation, we’re also reeling from economic crisis on Wall Street and the bust in the housing market.

Many people here are struggling, and most of us are probably worried about the economy right now. There’s no disputing that.

But in tough times like these, we look to elected officials to help lead us to better times. We want them to be honest – to not present a view tinted by rose-colored glasses.

We expect them to offer us hope – by pointing to our strengths, by assuring us that better days are ahead and by telling us that we’re going to take the necessary actions to get us there.

What we don’t need is an elected official exaggerating the negatives and offering a depressing outlook as Kersey did. It doesn’t show leadership.

We have just two words to say about the ugly things Kersey said about the county.

Bah, humbug!