The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
May 24, 2017
City Council, May 23
Council to consider special auditor for police bias
Is it really necessary?Marc Knapp
It really has become a circus. For some months now, members and supporters of the Charleston Area Justice Ministries (CAJM) have been speaking out about alleged racial bias of the City’s police force. They want the actions of the police audited. Last night, and for the first time, Council members and the Mayor addressed the speaker’s requests. But it was an inadequate response because it side stepped the truth.
May 19, 2017
County Council, May 18
Above average pay increase for public safety employees
Assessor’s Office looking for a new homeWarwick Jones
Issue over pay for public safety employees took up much of yesterday’s meeting. It was raised by Council member Darby and followed the presentation at the last Finance Committee meeting relating to general pay increases for County employees. These pay increases would cost $5.7 million a year and become effective halfway through the next fiscal year. They are expected to bring remuneration to levels close to those in other municipalities in the region
May 10, 2017
City Council, May 9
Moratorium to limit construction on James Island
Will it be enough?Marc Knapp
Council last night approved a six month moratorium on the “acceptance and processing of development applications” on James Island pertaining to more than 4 units or 1500 sq.ft. Strangely, the moratorium applied only to “non-residentially zoned districts” and not residential zonings.
May 05, 2017
County Council, May 4
Bond issue for PRC
County employees to get 5% pay increase?
With much of it taken up by presentations, last night’s Finance Committee meeting was low key. Three of the 9 members of the Committee were absent.
April 26, 2017
City Council, April 25
Discrimination or crime prevention?
City gets serious about West Ashley GatewayMarc Knapp
It was quite a turnout. About 30 members or supporters of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) attended last night’s meeting to protest racial discrimination by the City’s police force. A much smaller number were at the meeting of two weeks ago. The tone of their speeches then was arrogant and cynical, and their claims seemed purposely exaggerated. We made no mention of them believing the policy of “stop and search” of which they complained, was a deterrent to crime. We still believe that this policy does reduce crime. It efficacy has been proven in cities like Baltimore and New York. But it was hard to dismiss some of the things they said last night.
April 21, 2017
County Council, April 20
County Outreach program gains tractionWarwick Jones
There was little of substance on the agendas, and yesterday’s meetings were dominated by presentations.
The first presentation entitled County Outreach – efforts in education, related to efforts by the County to educate and train youth with a goal of obtaining quality employment. The Outreach program was started about 6 months ago and has taken interns from the College of Charleston and the Citadel, and participated in career fairs. Possibly more important, it has joined in supporting the Trident Technical College (TTC) in its apprentice program.
TTC has gathered 122 companies to join its efforts and to offer apprenticeship training to high school students. This year there were 150 students in the program. The limit on the number of students was the willingness or ability of employers to offer apprenticeship positions.
The students that join the program are expected to attend training at the specific companies and for a period of two years and to also complete high school. But as the speaker warned, participation will leave no time for students to participate in say sports related school programs - you can’t play in the varsity football team and join the program.
As the speaker noted, successful participants at the end of high school will have skills that will enable them to immediately enter the work force. They will also receive credits towards a degree from the College. He also noted there was a crying need for skilled workers in many industries in the Charleston area.
The other presentation was entitled the Good Samaritan Policy. The speaker was encouraging the County to support legislation in the South Carolina house to give limited immunity to prosecution when calling for emergency help, for those suffering from a drug overdose, or for those helping somebody suffering from such.
The speaker noted the rapid rise in drug related deaths in South Carolina and the need for the state to be more active in prevention. Chairman Rawl asked that Council be sent a copy of the proposed legislation for consideration.
April 08, 2017
County Council, April 6
To move forward with Materials Recycling Facility
At last!Warwick Jones
At its last meeting, the Finance Committee decided to defer a decision on the planned Materials Recycling Facility (MRF). It also instructed staff to obtain more information on the plans of Berkeley County in regards to building its own MRF. Last night, Re Power South, made a presentation before the Environment Management Committee and spoke of its plans and potential agreement with Berkeley County. In the meetings of the Finance Committee and full Council that followed, members agreed to move ahead with the award of contracts for the Charleston facility but to follow the developments in Berkeley County.
March 25, 2017
County Council, March 22
Still deliberating over the Materials Recycling Facility
Could the new technology be better?Warwick Jones
County Council is dithering over a decision to move ahead with it Material Recycling Facility (MRF). Yes, the facility will be costly with a tag of $30 million or thereabouts and the decision has to be the right one. But yikes, it has been deliberating now for some years. Last year it decided to put the project out for bidding and yesterday, the Finance Committee was to vote on the staff recommendations in awarding the contracts.
March 15, 2017
City Council, March 14
Hostile reaction to a possible 150 room hotel in Ansonborough
Carriage horses off street now at 95 degree temperatureMarc Knapp
There were two items of interest on yesterday’s agenda. The first was a public hearing over conveying Hayne Street to the owner of the two properties on either side. The second was a tweaking of the conditions under which carriage horses are allowed to operate. Both issues generated some strong feelings amongst the City’s citizenry.
March 11, 2017
County Council, March 9
Tighter rules for Public Comments
No profanity and threatsWarwick Jones
There was only one item of interest on yesterday’s agendas. It was discussion by the Administration Policy/ Rules Committee on restraining abusive and insulting language by members of the public when addressing Council.
March 01, 2017
City Council, February 28
Grievances about traffic congestion, flooding and development
A shaky first step in amending Accommodation OverlayMarc Knapp
It was not happy meeting. Citizens aired their grievances about traffic congestion, flooding and development. And Council was unhappy about the proposed changes to the Accommodations Overlay, though in a close vote, the amended ordinance was given its first reading.
February 24, 2017
County Council, February 23
Serving the underserved communities
County may study some suggestions by Mr. Kwadjo CampbellWarwick Jones
It was a light agenda for all of the committee meetings yesterday. Appointments took up much of the time of the Finance Committee but it was a presentation to the Economic Development Committee that took up most of the time.
February 15, 2017
City Council, February 14
New zoning ordinance for historic districts passed
Another resolution in support of I-526 completionMarc Knapp
Council approved the ordinance reshaping the zoning of the Historic District at the first reading last night. The reshaping has been in the works for some time and its form was presented to the public last week. There was strong applause from the public and preservation groups though many thought the ordinance needed more though modest work. From the reaction last night, City Council shared the opinion of the public and preservation groups.
February 03, 2017
County Council, February 2
Council agrees to supplement funding for I -526
But where will the funds come from?Warwick Jones
It may be premature to say, but the completion of I-526 now seems possible, though hardly certain. Completion has been in limbo as the County, the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) and the Department of Transportation faced off over funding the completion. It seems that the SIB will be agreeable to providing the funding it originally promised ($425 million) if the County ponied up the balance of $345 million. Last night, the County agreed to provide the extra funding, but to the chagrin of some Council members, gave no indication as the source of the funds. The ordinance before Council committed the County to providing $150 million directly and $195 million from federal sources through CHATS.
January 21, 2017
County Council, January 19
Preparing for spending half-cent sales tax funds
Policy for allocating Community Investment Funding approved
Policy for allocating Community Investment Funding approvedWarwick Jones
Discussions relating to spending the funds raised by the recently approved half-cent sales tax took up the major part of last night’s Finance Committee meeting. No motions were made and no votes counted. But there were some issues.
January 11, 2017
City Council, January 10
Issue over award of Consultant contract
Zoning change proposed to boost affordable housingMarc Knapp
Council member Waring had a point. He made it and Mayor Tecklenberg lost his cool, well almost. The Council member questioned the role that “Josh” Martin, the Mayor's assistant, played in choosing the consultant to the West Ashley Revitalization Commission (WARC). And the Mayor reacted with hostility that anyone should question the integrity or ability of Mr. Martin.
December 21, 2016
City Council, December 20
Asks State to allow inclusionary zoning for affordable housing
Council not happy about proposed consultant hireWarwick Jones
We thought the most interesting item on the agenda for last night’s meeting was the resolution relating to affordable housing. It seemed that Council did not share our view for there was no discussion. We thought there should have been.
December 16, 2016
County Council, December 15
To expand Minority Small Business program
Agrees to make executive sessions last agenda itemWarwick Jones
There was heat and confusion over the plan to expand the County’s minorities’ small business program. Staff made a presentation about a month ago but was instructed to come back with a budget and more details. This they did but there was a lot of discussion before agreement was reached.
December 07, 2016
City Council, December 6
Divisions over Accommodation tax allocations
Council wants more engagementMarc Knapp
Accommodation tax issues dominated last night’s Council meetings. Although the 2017 budgets for both the Accommodation Tax and Hospitality Fee were passed with only one vote against, there was much dissatisfaction- with the nature of the State ordinance, and with the recipients.
December 02, 2016
County Council, December 1
West Ashley TIF district approved
Resolution needed on Community Investment funding
It wasn’t a surprise. Mayor Tecklenberg did what was requested and the Finance Committee approved the West Ashley Tax Increment Financing district in the City of Charleston.