You know, once you’ve been conned enough times, or long enough, your mind shifts into denial and you reject any evidence that you have in fact been conned. The man was correct when he said ‘You can’t handle the truth’, but worse, we’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The fact that we’ve been taken is too painful to acknowledge, so we move on to more convenient truths.
There is the annoying notion of selling off the water and wastewater plant. There’s an uneasy feeling that maybe you’re not seeing the whole picture, not getting at what is really going on.
So, you re-read artifacts to try and find solid ground, some form of even footing that will let it all fall into place. While rummaging through the Town’s attic, you come across letters to Bay Creek. Letters where Cape Charles is attempting to enforce the Annexation Agreement–getting them to pay for the new wastewater plant. The old agreement from the early 90s seems to have an uncanny ability to emerge from the margins to shine a big flashlight on the current political landscape. The past is never really the past, and it will seep into the crevices of the present day.
And then, there are the questions.
March 27, 2008 – In this letter to Steve Bennett who was tasked to run interference for Bay Creek, the Town makes some concessions to sweeten the deal—they offer to credit Bay Creek for connection fees it has already collected. So, if this money was collected, where is it now? Does the town know? Does Bennett, who is now serving on Town Council know? Where is the money? Is it languishing in an escrow account somewhere? Has it been absconded?
This is a simple question, and maybe not a big deal, but it strikes at the heart and soul of the matter and speaks to other prescient issues.
As we move forward, what do the sins of the past have to say about what is happening now?
Surrounding the sale of the water and wastewater utilities, pillars of smoke and half-lies attempt to tamp down the past. To create the new Cape Charles, agreements and promises were made. Councilman Bennett and others have noted that the Annexation Agreement is too old and too murky to accurately apply 1990s logic to the new reality that is Cape Charles 2022. He has run interference like this before.
But, we know this is false. Just as we have a deep-seated belief that the utility sale will not lower rates, as you have been told.
People in power, including Mr. Bennett and current Capital Projects person Bob Panek know better. They were there. They corresponded via post. When the topic of the annexation agreement appears now, Mr. Panek, who in 2008 seemed so knowledgeable and confident, now blends into the woodwork. He allows Town Manager Hozey to wriggle around the issue, allows him to claim that the agreement is somehow too complex when he knows that it really isn’t.
What happened to the connection fees, and why did the town all of the sudden drop enforcement of the annexation agreement?
What does it say that connection fees collected from citizens are MIA and that there are efforts to marginalize the annexation agreements entered into by the town, county, and Brown&Root?
There is no escaping the past, what was said, and what was done, as the chain of correspondence below illuminates:
As the Town of Cape Charles moves into its next phase, the turmoil below the surface is much like Keats’ gyre of order and growth, chaos and decay. If and when the town relinquishes control of its prized utilities, it will usher in a new order, and growth along the shore will grow exponentially. This is what is really happening, what is really at stake. The Town is giving citizens the opportunity to tie their own rope, and so many are very eager to do so.
What was once the ‘Shore’ will become something else, and that is apparently what some seem to yearn for. This will seem feasible and normal for a while, but eventually, it will yield to people that don’t have what we used to call ‘character’. With its soul vanquished, this place will fall into disorder—the center just will not be able to hold.
These thoughts come to me as I randomly, yet routinely look backward. Like Faulkner’s Benjy, we don’t really see the mists and images of the past, but somehow feel them. They continue to try and speak to us, to tell us the truth.
Attempting to keep the past in its grave is never a good idea. It will turn up unannounced and will at some point demand to know who tried to bury them, who betrayed them, and especially, who is going to make amends for all of this.