Like a lot of folks, I’ve spent much of the day watching the ongoing debate about health care in Washington. I’m not sure why I’ve been watching. Certainly there’s not much drama in what passes for discussion in the nation’s capital, and today’s conversation, such as it was, has gone as everyone predicted it would.

Far more unpredictable, I thought, was a discussion at the St. Marys, Georgia, city council meeting the other night.

I read about it in the Georgia edition of the Jacksonville newspaper, the Florida Times-Union.

The topic? A recommendation by a consulting company that the city spell out “Saint” in its Historic St. Marys marketing campaign. This is not the first time this controversy has flared. The council debated it in July, then courageously decided to table the matter after some residents expressed opposition.

According to the Times-Union’s report, the issue came up again when a councilwoman said she liked the new look the consultants were proposing for the city’s Web site. A councilman said he liked most of the consultants’ recommendations but not spelling out “Saint.”

“I’m not in favor of changing [the spelling] at all,” another councilman said.

Then another said people should be able to spell out Saint when they wanted to or just use St. when they preferred. Trying to be helpful, the city manager pointed out that mail already gets delivered whether people use Saint or St.

Ultimately, the council chose not to spell out Saint but to send the rest of the consultants’ recommendations to the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau for further review.

You have to feel deep empathy for elected officials who are put on the spot when thorny issues come up. You wonder why anyone even bothers to run for office when faced with such challenges.

And, to think, the council could have confronted an even larger dilemma. What if someone had proposed putting an apostrophe in Marys, so that the city’s name became St. Mary’s or even Saint Mary’s? The dilemmas multiply.

At least that’s the view from the safe vantage point of St. Simons Island, where I write.

Keith Graham

Keith Graham

Keith Graham was among the recipients of the prestigious Stella Artois prize at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival. Named for a blind piano player, he is also well known for always giving money to street accordion players. A quotation that he considers meaningful comes from the Irish writer Roddy Doyle: "The family trees of the poor don't grow to any height." In addition to contributing to Like the Dew, Keith frequently posts quotations and links and occasionally longer articles at