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Council member's remarks draw criticism

I, along with many other readers of the Herald, am in complete disgust over Gary Lewis’ comments in the Statesboro City Council meeting last week as reported by Al Hackle in Tuesday’s paper (“City to enforce rules for stores”).
 Mr. Lewis has been given the benefit of the doubt on several issues during his tenure on Council.  However, this exceeds simple accusations of pilfered newspapers; this is blatant heavy-handed retaliation, selective enforcement, harassment and intimidation by an elected official of a chartered Georgia city.
 The intent of a council member (and by their silent agreement, the other council members) to use the code enforcement ability of the city to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against those he feels are of lesser value as humans or have different points of view is despicable, racist, and threatens all business owners in the city.  It also speaks volumes about the character of the Mayor, City Council, and City employees if Lewis’ remarks are not publicly condemned and he is allowed to keep his seat.
 Council should move very carefully on enacting or enforcing an ordinance that has so many unanswered questions and scenarios.  There are constitutional questions that can be brought to bear if there is intent to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, religion, social or economic status, gender, political speech, or ethnicity in enforcing questionable codes and ordinances.
And Council certainly should not in any way give the impression that they agree with the bigoted views of one of their own.
 There are many areas in Statesboro that are suffering from what could be described as blight; dilapidated and vacant buildings, little economic activity, and a general sense of malaise.  This issue can’t be remedied by “code enforcement” or other governmental measures.  Business owners must be made to feel that Statesboro is worth investing in from a financial and now, an ethical point of view.
It strikes some of us as funny that the only two areas of Statesboro that seem to be thriving are the east side, which is the shopping area centered along Highway 80 East, and consists of great private sector growth, and the downtown area, including East Main Street, that seems to be mostly government-centered growth.  One area produces jobs and tax revenue, along with needed goods and services for Statesboro and the surrounding counties, while the other “growth” area consumes the taxes generated by the first. 
Meanwhile, the rest of Statesboro languishes, stuck in disinterest and disenfranchisement.
And all people like Gary Lewis can think about is how to retaliate over a toilet.
Thank you,
J. Wayne Collingsworth

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