24 October 2018

[MB McCart] - The Square Situation, 2nd Report: The Blame Game & Jumping the Shark

"There are two sides to every story & the truth lies somewhere in the middle"



A Commentary by MB McCart

On Monday this publication wrote about the events that transpired on the Covington Square this past Saturday, the 20th.

My write-up then looked to find the "Real Story," or, the rub, if you will. So...let's give it a shot.



*Disclaimer: rhetorical hyperbole, satire & sarcasm quite possibly heavily utilized... 

By Monday, the C-town hubris & dissonance level had hit DEFCON II - "Fast Pace"

I figured it would wane after that. Boy, was I wrong.

We actually made it, for the first time in a very long time, to DEFCON I - "Cocked Pistol"

The recent events represent a true encapsulation of the essence of "C-Town Representin'", "jumping the shark" & turning it up to 11. Somebody's always got to get the blame, and there seems to be, unfortunately, an inherent desire with some of us to see bad things happen to other people; or, at a minimum, a desiring to stir the pot (and the irony of me writing about stirring the pot is not lost on this writer, by the way). Well, bad things happen. And Saturday, as I mentioned in the original piece, just seemed like a Murphy's Law day where everything that could possibly go wrong, unfortunately, did. As I also said then, it seemed as if there was plenty of blame to go all around, and that seems to have only been confirmed.

I was actually tempted to just leave it at that. But, against possible better judgement, I just can't do that.

So...we want to play the blame game? I'm your Huckleberry.

Here's my ranked list for the Blame Awards of the Great Square Incident of 2018:

  1. Ralph Staffins, Chamber President. Without a doubt. He was the one, based on all accounts, that actually facilitated, personally, the ill-conceived plan to inform vendors that they were out of compliance & could no longer purvey their wares. It was a bone-headed move. He should have let the event conclude & then started working on a plan of attack with the Square merchants, city officials & others to remedy this situation. Hindsight is, as they say, always 20/20, and I'm sure that Ralph, who seems like a nice fella & a hard worker, wished that he would have done just that.
  2. The Event Organizer for Witches Night Out. Lost in the shuffle of the fallout of Saturday's drama is that there IS a provision in the event application (and this has been verified) that states that certain vendors selling certain products are prohibited from setting up at a permitted Square event. Now, we aren't talking about whether or not this is right or proper at this time. Was it part of the permit application? Yes. Whose responsibility was it to check compliance? The Event Organizer, who, according to her posts on Facebook, is one, Rebekah Larson.
  3. In terms of this thing becoming the [expletive deleted]- show that it became, you can pin some of the blame on some of the vendors, and their friends, who decided to go into full-on Crusade/Spartacus mode. Now, I can get them being upset. No doubt. I would have been livid if I'd paid a vendor fee & had to shut down early. But after a while it seemed to morph into something else. And, remember, the event was never shut down. In the heat of the moment & as a self-described show of solidarity, several vendors made a decision to leave. And by the way, I wonder if any of these vendors, presuming that they didn't know, asked the Event Organizer why she didn't inform them about it. Finally, at least a couple of these people may have crossed a line & possibly engaged in speech & activity that could be viewed as slanderous. I know of at least a couple of people who say they have spoken with legal counsel. Also, there is someone (or a few someones), that is a member(s) of a certain Facebook group that fanned the flames of this thing big time. It would have never reached the level it did without their help. Hope they feel good about themselves...
  4.  If not notified of some of vendors being out of compliance, Ralph Staffins would not have even been at the Covington Square on Saturday. He was contacted by Jack Phillips. I've spoken with Jack, and have spoken with several others who have confirmed his version of the events. Jack never asked for vendors to be removed or for anything to be done on Saturday. He was doing what the Chamber & Main Street had previously asked the merchants to do, which was to notify them of any event that was outside the parameters of the permit issued. And as many Square merchants will tell you, Jack is sort of the de facto spokesperson for the group when it comes to dealing with the city, the Chamber & Main Street. As an aside, Jack's a good guy; I think a lot of him.

So now that we've spread some blame around, let's get back to the Real Story.

People's lives & livelihoods have been affected by this. A young lady working at The Soap Box was verbally assaulted by a angry vendor with others coming in to get their licks in as well. As the evidence seems to suggest, neither the Soap Box, or any other retail stores on the Square, had anything to do with how things played out. Yet now we see multiple people promising to boycott the Covington Square. I've set up a file marking everybody's names I've come across on the book of faces who have publicly stated this. I may very well do an article in the future talking about how certain folks in our community apparently hate local business & would love nothing more to see multiple people hopefully lose their jobs in the near future. Sounds awful & crazy, right? Stay Classy, Covington!

And speaking of the Square, as I mentioned in the original article, they've really been dealing with some major issues & problems. The fact is that many of them simply do not benefit from most events on the Square. They just don't. And you block off the Square, which has happened four times in the last 5 weeks, and it can just wipe them out.

And there are further implications as well. A lot of folks just don't go to the Square anymore. As one person I recently spoke to said, "either it might be closed off, or they're filming, or you you can't get to it because traffic is always terrible." Traffic! An important consideration (*see below).

As I also discussed, many Square merchants feel that the Chamber & Main Street Covington have failed them. So, something needs to get figured out there. I think everyone involved has to find a solution. Perhaps the city needs to take it back over.

I know one thing the city could do to solve this. Reduce the ridiculous fees for Legion Field. Do the same permit pricing as the Square, and we may never have this problem again. 


And one more thing! Adjust the lights at Floyd & Elm + Pace & Usher by just about 5 seconds each, and I think we might be surprised at how much traffic improves on the Square. It's all about flow...

And maybe we should pull in the reigns just a bit on the filming...


That's the way I see it, folks. Let me know what you think in the comments. Hope all is lovely out there. Until next time.

- MB McCart, Editor 


Your Source for the REAL Story

COVERING THE GLORIOUS GEORGIA PIEDMONT

| Covington, GA | Newton Co. |




3 comments:

  1. Great summary and full circle review of the issue on Saturday. We can all agree that the situation was not handled in the best way, but to see people on a full-on witch hunt of downtown merchants was over the top! My business did nothing wrong and has always supported small business and hobbyists. Is this the same place that just came together in solidarity a month ago for our local hero, Officer Cooper?
    Completely agree with festivals moving to Legion Field (get that rental rate down, Ronnie), that way, there are zero restrictions on the types of vendors and food trucks can be brought in as well.

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  2. Bring back the glory days where the High school homecoming parade was the only thing shutting down the square. Well that and Burt Reynolds landing his plane and those Duke boys jumping the railroad tracks.

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  3. Main Street and the Chamber have some responsibility to the businesses that own or rent buildings on the square. These businesses are there year round paying rent, taxes, etc. The vendors that come in for $50 are fast money makers that yes can hurt a full time business. These vendors don’t have the overhead of rent, employees, taxes (we all know they should pay but they don’t). I’m not saying I’m against the vendors, I set up a booth for events myself sometime but I try really hard to not be direct competition with full time businesses. The square has outgrown its small town feel this causing traffic problems, crime, dissatisfaction from employees, owners and shoppers alike. Smart growth was disregarded at every step and soon we will have businesses leaving the square and it will return to the slow paced shopping area that it once was. We the citizens will lose great opportunities to shop at some good stores because the growth was so fast and not handled properly. Main Street and the Chamber need to get themselves under control, take care of the businesses that you are there to work for and maybe pull out your mission statements and be sure you are following.

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