The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
March 07, 2014
County Council March 6
February 26, 2014
City Council, February 25
Mayor Riley gets his way on bike lane
A resolution on shore power - palliative rather than substantive?Marc Knapp
Mayor Riley is never happy being on the losing side of an issue, and who is? We suspect that he would be particularly unhappy if Council voted against the creation of a bike and pedestrian (b&p) lane across the T. Allen Legare Bridge. He has invested much time in the project and generated considerable excitement within the cycling community and amongst employees of the City hospitals. Rightly or wrongly, directly or indirectly, the City alerted the interested groups of the pending debate and their members showed up en masse last night to speak in favor of the b&p lane.
February 21, 2014
County Council, February 21
Another “unqualified opinion” auditor’s report
FY2014 budget outlook goodWarwick Jones
It was smiles all round at last night’s Finance Committee meeting. The County was heaped with praise by its auditors who gave again an “unqualified” opinion on its accounts and funds; staff gave favorable reports on the 2013 budget and the outlook for the FY 2014 budget. The Committee also agreed unanimously to approve the Greenbelt Bank grant to assist the purchase of land abutting Angel Oak.
February 12, 2014
City Council, February 11
Some Council members wary of closing traffic lane on Legare Bridge
Trolley Barn sale and Cainhoy rezoning approvedMarc Knapp
Despite the nasty weather, a lot of citizens attended last night’s Council meeting to air their views on two agenda items - the sale of the Trolley Barn to the College of Building Arts (CBA), and the rezoning related to the Cainhoy Plantation development. Council approved the sale and the rezoning, the latter only after considerable discussion. There was also some discussion over the Trolley Barn sale, surprising considering the hours already spent discussing the issue in the Real Estate Committee meetings and the previous Council meeting.
February 07, 2014
County Council, February 6
No term limit for County Chair
Site for new recycling facility to be purchased for $2.78 millionWarwick Jones
We thought there might have been some heat generated in the meeting of the Administration Policy/Rules Committee. There wasn’t. Indeed, some Council members may have been unhappy with the status quo but they were not about to change it.
January 31, 2014
City Council, January 29
Council cautious over land deal with College of Building Arts
Late Night Overlay Zones approvedMarc Knapp
Despite the unseasonable cold weather, attendance at last night’s Council meeting was relatively high. Many of the attendees had come to speak at the Public Hearing relating to an overlay zone restricting opening hours for bars and restaurants in the Elliottborough and Cannonborough areas. There were also some students from the College of Building Arts (CBA) interested in the outcome of the College’s bid to acquire a new home. No offense to the Mayor, but there were probably only a few who came because of the State of the City Address. We suspect that although many citizens were interested in the Mayor’s words, most would have preferred the comfort of attending their TV screens rather than face icy roads and drizzle.
January 24, 2014
County Council, January 23
Discussion deferred on limiting term limits for County Chair
Library Board wants $100 million. County approves a referendumWarwick Jones
The cold weather did little to encourage attendance at last night’s meetings. There were fewer than usual of both attendees and Council members. The absence of Council members Darby and Summey prompted deferral of an interesting issue before Administration/Policy Rules Committee (APRC) - allowing the Chair of Council to serve for only two consecutive years. Presently, the Chair is elected at the beginning of each year and assuming re-election each year, can continue to serve indefinitely. Up for discussion was whether a Council member could be elected Chair for a third consecutive year.
January 23, 2014
Supreme Court tosses Cruise ship suit
Plaintiffs’ claims “Lack standing”Warwick Jones
As reported in the Post and Courier today, the State Supreme Court has dismissed the suit brought against Carnival Cruise Lines by neighborhood groups, the Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society. The State Ports Authority and the City of Charleston joined Carnival to fight the suit.
January 15, 2014
City Council, January 14
Good news for Angel Oak preservationists
Council to be briefed on Gathering Place conceptMarc Knapp
It was always a hope of many City residents and others that more of the land surrounding the Angel Oak on Johns Island would be preserved. This hope was realized with the announcement last night by Mayor Riley that the 18.7 acre parcel known as Phase l was to be bought from the developer at a cost of $3.3 million. The purchase follows that of the 17 acre parcel known as Phase ll last year. In combination, the two parcels will largely envelop the City-owned Angel Oak property on all sides except the southern.
January 08, 2014
County Council, January 7
A long and fractious meeting on Solid Waste
Decisions again deferred but probably not for longWarwick Jones
After last night’s marathon session of 4 hours, we have to wonder. Presentations and discussion on solid waste treatment and disposal took up most of the time. Solid waste issues have hovered over Council for some years and have prompted many executive sessions. But at the conclusion of last night’s often-heated session we pondered - Was last night the first time that Council was aware of all the facts? Had it been told before and wasn’t listening? Had members asked the right questions? Had they been given the right answers?
January 03, 2014
County Council, January 2
Council member Pryor reelected to Chair
Land swap deal moves ahead but with less supportWarwick Jones
Predictably, the first item on the agenda for last night’s special Council meeting was election of the Chair. In a straightforward vote, Council member Pryor was returned to the position with 7 votes for, one opposed and one abstention. Council member Summey was reelected to the Vice Chair with 8 votes for and one abstention.
December 20, 2013
County Council, December 19
Issues over land swap and appointmentsWarwick Jones
There was little Christmas cheer at last night’s meetings. The Administration/Policy Rules Committee and Planning Public Works Committee meetings went without incident. But things heated up at the conclusions of the Finance Committee and Council meetings.
December 18, 2013
City Council, December 17
Recognitions of Mayor Berlin Myers and Chief Mullen
And the City’s new and shiny toyWarwick Jones
Last night’s meeting was the last before Christmas. Usually such meetings are short. Last night’s should have been as City business took only about 20 minutes. But it was prolonged an hour by presentations and recognitions. Mayor Riley was back in the chair and showed no visible impact of his recent operation. Indeed, there was as much vigor in his speeches and manner as at any time in the recent past. And as usual, words came easy to him as he dealt with matters before Council.
November 15, 2013
County Council, November 14
Greenbelt grant rejected for easement over Legare family property
Approves $12.5 million for African American MuseumWarwick Jones
We won’t say that the Finance Committee “rubber stamps” the recommendations of the County Greenbelt Bank. But most of the Bank’s recommendations have an easy passage though Council. So the rejection by the Finance Committee of the $900,865 grant to purchase a conservation easement over 314 acres on Johns Island was a surprise. The cost of the easement, at $2,869 an acre, was above the $1,634 an acre average paid by the Bank in 2012. But then again, the land was probably above-average value considering the frontage to the Stono River and the tributaries.
November 08, 2013
County Council, November 7
Council Schweers concerned about compensation over I-526 extension
Proposal to take down election signs within 7 days after an electionWarwick Jones
It wasn’t on the agenda and he didn’t want to discuss it tonight. But Council member Schweers thought that a discussion on I-526 was necessary in view of meetings between some Council members and the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB). He thought discussion should be on a future agenda. The Council member didn’t get what he hoped for. There was hostility to the request from Chairman Pryor and derision from Council member Summey. And there was considerable discussion.
November 06, 2013
City Council, November 6
City refutes Wall Street Journal criticism
To provide parking to assist Cigar Factory developmentMarc Knapp
Because of the election on Tuesday, the first Council meeting of the month was moved to last night. Both the agenda and the attendance were light.
October 23, 2013
City Council, October 22
First step in funding the African American museum
More information on 2014 budgetMarc Knapp
Construction of an African American museum focusing on Charleston’s historic role in slavery has been a hope of the City for over a decade. That hope now seems likely to be realized. Last night, Council approved the issue of $12.5 million in revenue bonds to be financed by Accommodation Tax revenues. The proceeds of the bond issue would be used to help fund the $75 million estimated cost of the museum. Mayor Riley also said that the County had agreed to provide $12.5 million and he expected to obtain the balance of needed funds from state, federal and private sources. Construction was likely to begin in 2015.
October 18, 2013
County Council, October 17
Contract awarded for IOP Connector widening
New bar closing ordinance to be implemented in December timesWarwick Jones
The agendas for last night’s meetings were bare. The award of a contract to widen the Isle of Palms Connector was on that of the Finance Committee. The $2.37 million contract was awarded to Banks Construction. It entails work – earthmoving, paving, storm water drains, and traffic lights - from the intersection with I-17 to Riviera Drive, a distance of about a mile. Councilmember Schweers asked why there was only one bidder and would the improvements be finished before “beach” time next year. Staff responded saying that there were few firms with the skill and equipment to undertake the contract. And yes, the improvements would be finished before “beach” season. Council member Schweers also acknowledged that he thought Banks Construction did excellent work.
October 09, 2013
City Council, October 8
Federal grants of over $1.2 million for City Police
Pilot cycle parking program for Lower King StreetMarc Knapp
The agenda for last night’s City Council meeting was light. There was the usual slew of grants or applications for grants, some presentations and annexations. Also, the City’s texting ban received its second and final reading and passed into law.
October 04, 2013
County Council, October 3
“Temporary” employees made “full time”
Another FILOT program for Daimler VansWarwick Jones
The agenda for last night’s Finance Committee meeting was light and none of the items up for discussion seemed controversial. But some Council members had a different view and a lot of heat was generated over some issues.