By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – March 6, 2021

It has been a while since Rikuzentakata, Japan was news worthy in the local area, so when it was recently a topic of conversation, the first thing
that came to mind is that Chris Howard and Blake Inscore must be home
sick for a bit of international travel. Likely at taxpayer expense.  It
has been over seven years since a small boat washed up on the sandy
shores of South Beach and became a high school project, the intent was
to return the boat to its owners.  The project was almost immediately
hijacked by our local government officials primarily to allow them at
taxpayer expense to vacation in Japan and hobnob with other future
vacationing officials from Japan.  Along the way, other “special friends” of local officials were allowed to tag along to bask in reflected glory.

One would think when no real value to the exchange, subsequent “sister
city resolution” and formation that this painful exhibit of fawning
rhetoric and exchange would die a merciful death, but no, it must be
reprised, dusted off at regular intervals, and regurgitated in hope that
magically it will bring something of actual value to this circus.   At
least other than a new Ale and cheese.  Sounds like an awkward TV
commercial that will have a mercifully short life span.  The usual
suspect, Chris Howard, has resurrected this monument to futility, likely
to determine if new life can be injected into this lame duck, in the
form of a “panel discussion” of ” the Sister City relationships and the
future” what ever that is meant to convey.

I am sure there will be the continued call for more resources and
“cultural exchanges” to occur, as a visit by Mr. Howard and company was
likely stymied by the Covid Pandemic for the past year.  I am not sure
where the Olympic Games money went, as it may be boycotted or cancelled, but I’m quite sure NBC’s exposure in their video will hardly measure up to any kind of success in value to the local economy or benefit any but the few government vacationers that were blessed with what most residents will never experience.  In fact one might check the County and City’s budget lines to see if a budget line item has been included for future government vacations.

Needless to say, pomp and ceremony will likely go forward as neither
Chris Howard nor Blake Inscore have the slightest notion of how
inappropriate this whole business has become in a County that struggles
from a laundry list of problems that will not be solved by attention to
far off places.  It is this kind of tunnel vision that has plagued local
government for years.  More attention is paid to its trappings than real
issues.

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