The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
November 14, 2014
County Council, November 14
Concern about Development Master Plan for 995 Morrison Drive
CRDA seeks to heal divisionWarwick Jones
Last night’s Committee meetings were a marathon session of over three hours. Whether because of fatigue or other commitments, two Council members sneaked out (OK, left) before the end. And what is irritating, it turns out that much of the time spent was unnecessary.
November 13, 2014
City Council, November 12
A natatorium for the City?
A belated attempt to restrain helicopter tours of the CityMarc Knapp
When the College of Charleston decided recently to close down the Stern Center, it probably had little idea of the reaction. The Center houses an indoor swimming pool and without which, the College’s swim and dive team dies. Last night, the members of the team, perhaps thirty or so, turned up to the City Council meeting. Speakers noted the benefits derived by the community of the College’s swim and diving programs. They sought the City’s help in some way to preserve the programs. The City responded enthusiastically and probably went beyond the expectations of the students.
October 31, 2014
County Council, October 31
Council deliberates over renewal of Administrator’s contract
We think the process has been belittlingWarwick Jones
As has been common of late, an executive session took up most of the meeting of the Finance Committee. There were few items on the agenda and most were dispensed in minutes.
October 29, 2014
City Council, October 28
Residents seek more changes to Upper Wando development
A Farmer’s Market for West Ashley?Marc Knapp
Zoning issues were the focus of Council discussion and Citizens Participation last night. The most important was that relating to the development of 70.4 acres on the Upper Wando. A number of citizens spoke of the need for changes to the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) but Council unanimously agreed to give the ordinance a first reading. Council members noted that differences remained between the developer and near-by residents but hoped that most of these could be eliminated by the time the ordinance came back for second and final readings. The ordinance is yet to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and it too may make changes.
October 17, 2014
County Council, October 16
Counties joining to request restoration of state funding levels
It was a long time in coming. Back during the March 20 Finance Committee meeting, the drop in state funding over recent years for the County’s General Fund was discussed. State funding is an important source of revenue and the cuts have strained budgets. Staff was asked to approach the South Carolina Association of Counties (SCAC) to seek support for the restoration of Local Government Funding to previously agreed statutory levels. Before the Committee last night was a resolution prepared by SCA and which was sent for signing to all counties in the State.
October 15, 2014
City Council, October 14
Bike Rack and Bar Moratorium amendments finalized
Confusion over proposed Urban Growth Boundary change
Confusion over proposed Urban Growth Boundary changeMarc Knapp
The agenda for last night’s Council meeting was lean. And with no presentations and recognitions, the meeting was relatively short. There were only a few things of note.
October 02, 2014
Council member attempts to make political capital
Issue with RMC is hardly majorWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee agenda promised little of interest for last night’s meeting. The promise was realized. But it was still a long meeting. The Committee retired for an executive session to consider the acquisition of the Grand Bees property (adjacent to the Bees Ferry Landfill) and the sale of a portion of 995 Morrison Drive. However, no action was taken on either of these items, Chairman Pryor noted. However the Committee voted to accept the staff’s recommendation on the acquisition of a right of way on Palmetto Park Way 3. No details of the staff’ recommendation were given.
September 10, 2014
City Council, September 9
More funding for the Gibbes and Aquarium
Turkys Towing has problem relocatingMarc Knapp
Council last night approved a $5 million bond issue to support renovations and improvements to the Gibbes Museum and the Aquarium. Interest and amortization of the Revenue Bonds will be met by revenue derived from the City’s Accommodation Tax. However, in a memorandum to Council members, the Mayor stated that the Aquarium and the Carolina Art Association (joint owner of the Gibbes) will repay about 95% of the borrowings “over time”.
September 05, 2014
County Council, September 4
Council to vote on comparative remuneration study
Spring Grove Development awaiting County ApprovalWarwick Jones
Most of last night’s Finance Committee meeting was taken up by discussion over the update and amendments to Policy and Procedures for compensation. It followed on the decision by Council a month back to adopt the recommendations of the Committee for Auditing Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). These recommendations related to a complete revision of job classifications, the pay system, and the introduction of merit awards for County employees. (We summarized the proposed revisions in our report on July 24). Before Council last night were the detailed changes and amendments that were necessary for Personnel/Policy to reflect the recommendations of CAPES.
August 22, 2014
County Council, August 21
Pay issue taken off agenda
Discussion on CRDA set for next TuesdayWarwick Jones
Attendees at last night’s Finance and Economic Development Committee’ meetings were not only disappointed but also punished. There was no discussion or decision on raising the remuneration of Council members, or contributions to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA), both very controversial issues. But attendees also had to wait through two executive sessions, which took up about half of the 3 hour meetings.
August 20, 2014
City Council, August 19
Council divided on discussing moratorium on new bars and restaurants
Discussion will follow decision by Planning CommissionMarc Knapp
It had not been a long meeting, but it was long enough. The seats were hard in the Gibbes Museum where last night’s meeting was held and most of us thought it was time to finish up. But then Council Member Waring rose with a complaint and a motion. Council had never discussed the issue of a moratorium over opening new bars and restaurants in the entertainment areas. Yet the issue was going to the Planning Commission tomorrow. This was wrong. Let’s have the discussion now, he suggested.
July 25, 2014
County Council, July 24
County moves to streamline job classifications and pay plans
Decision deferred on Council member pay increasesWarwick Jones
It was an anticlimax. The Finance Committee decided to defer discussion and a vote on boosting Council members’ pay by nearly 50%. Council member Rawl noted that Council member Darby was overseas and considering the importance of the issue, a vote should wait until his return, he said. The Committee agreed. However, there was no hesitation or reluctance to approve the other recommendations of the Committee for Auditing Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). These recommendations related to a complete revision of job classifications, the pay system, and the introduction of merit awards for County employees.
July 16, 2014
City Council, July 15
New site for African American Museum
Building height limit to be raised in High Tech overlayMarc Knapp
As expected, the Council approved the agreement to acquire the properties between The Maritime Center and Dockside Condominiums to host the proposed African American Museum. The agreement was first approved by the Real Estate Committee on Monday.
June 18, 2014
City Council, June 17
Neck and Horizon TIF Districts extended 10 years
Opposition to ordinance limiting bar and restaurant openingsMarc Knapp
Summer is here and City Council meetings are now only once a month for the next 3 months. Yesterday’s meeting was held at the Grace on the Ashley Baptist Church, on Bees Ferry Road. So little of note occurred at the meeting, it was hardly worth facing the traffic getting there.
June 13, 2014
County Council, June 12
Referendum on bond issue to finance library expansion
Move to add 70 acres to Bees Ferry landfill operationWarwick Jones
The Board of Trustees for the County Library (CCBOT) made its pitch before the Finance Committee last night to allow a referendum on a bond issue. The issue would raise up to $108.5 million and the funds, in the main, used to build 2 new branches, replace 3 existing branches, and renovate the remaining 13. The Committee approved the referendum, to be held in November, with only Council member Qualey opposed.
May 28, 2014
City Council, May 27
Restricted opening times for new bars and restaurants on King and Market Streets
Proposed ordinance unlikely to be finalWarwick Jones
We appreciated the intention of Mayor Riley and Police Chief Mullen. The night scene on Upper King Street and Market Street has reached a “tipping point”. And this view was reinforced by the recent homicide during a drunken brawl, they said. But was the Entertainment District Overlay Zone which they proposed for much of King and Market Streets the answer? The Overlay Zone would allow existing bars and restaurants to remain open until 2 a.m. But any new bar or restaurant would need to close at midnight.
May 21, 2014
County Council, May 20
No tax increase for major funds in FY2015 budget
Amendments made to proposed Folly Road overlayWarwick Jones
There was little contention in last night’s discussion over the FY 2015 budget. Staff gave a presentation, and although a lengthy discussion followed, there was no heat. Of course there may be in the next Council session. Council member Darby suggested that the 1.8% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) be modified – that staff earning over $100,000 a year receive 1% and those earning less, 2%. He subsequently suggested a further modification which we think was a 1.5% rate for those between $100,000 and $50,000. Discussion on the proposal will wait until the staff estimates the cost to the County.
May 16, 2014
County Council, May 15
Country to lease Naval Hospital for social services hub
Courtenay Drive property to be sold to MUSC for Children’s Hospital
Courtenay Drive property to be sold to MUSC for Children’s HospitalWarwick Jones
The sale of the County’s property on Courtenay Drive and abutting MUSC had been considered for some years. A number of agencies occupy the buildings. To construct another building to house the agencies and others to which they were allied, would have cost an estimated $34 million. This was more than the County could afford. But the sale, and the solution to better locating the agencies, became possible when the County was offered a lease over space in the old Naval Hospital.
May 14, 2014
City Council, May 13
Presentations, Recognitions and long invocations
Consent for Port Access roadMarc Knapp
But for presentations and recognitions, and the lengthy invocation by Council member Riegel, last night’s meeting would have been short. There was little of substance on the agendas of the Council or Ways and Means.