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Promises, Promises - Now a 'NEW' CARTA!

Lee Walton

J. "Pericles" Riley stated in the Palter and Chatter on May 10th that "…CARTA's budget, as proposed, will allow us (Riley, Hallman, Summey, Chapman and the CARTA Board) to keep our promises to the citizens of Charleston County at a time when it is needed most." This polemic doublespeak is very disappointing and "classic Pericles." How can he say that he is keeping his promise to the people when he and the other leaders gave us their word, not just once but twice, that CARTA would get only 18% of the annual 1/2% Sales Tax Revenue. Now Pericles and the other elected officials who championed the Sales Tax Referendum are poised to break their earlier promises and representations to all of the voters and taxpayers of Charleston County.

CARTA, still floundering under the direction of the same "OLD" management, wants a "NEW" transit system that will require "MORE" Sales Tax Revenue to keep the same "OLD" empty buses running while siphoning away critical funding from much needed and promised green space and roadway projects. Unfortunately, the more taxes CARTA gets, the worst it seems to operate. Our County Council would be extremely irresponsible to throw more of the peoples' taxes into a transit system ran by an incompetent Director and Board that, in the infamous words of the Palter & Chatter, "…just don't get it!"

Pericles keeps rationalizing CARTA's mismanagement and empty buses while seeking sympathy and whining for more tax money. But how will more and more tax money make CARTA more efficient and cost-effective? What track records can Pericles and CARTA possibly offer to support their irresponsible demand for more tax money?

It's high time for the "rubber to hit the road." The Transportation Authority Board and County Council must stop wasting our tax money and start proving themselves by making CARTA accountable to the people of Charleston County for its wasteful actions. It will be interesting to witness the value of personal creditability and accountability as each Council Member votes either to keep their promise to the people of Charleston County or break it, fearing the wrath of Pericles and his political retribution. Will they have the individual and collective integrity to keep their word to the people? Remember, promises, promises (twice) to the people of Charleston County. If Council doesn't remember their promises, a lot of voters will surely remember their broken promises in November when entering the voting booth.

There is another statement to question in Pericles' May 10th Palter & Chatter Commentary. "Greenhouse gases are causing global warming, which threatens coastal areas with rising sea levels." Mercy! We have to question his sincerity about global warming, especially when he stated in the same article that the Lowcountry has had "red-hot" development causing "…increasing traffic-clogged highways taking time away from our families and fueling citizen demands for more and more expenditures of taxpayer's money on road improvements." Why weren't Pericles and his "good-old-boy" developer cronies farsighted enough to prevent this Lowcountry debacle caused by run-away development that has occurred on his watch? Why hasn't Pericles, as the great architect of his Acropolis, instituted impact fees to make growth pay for growth, maintained restrictive zoning policies and stopped openly supporting variances for anything short of a hangnail? It's a blatant lack of Pericles' foresight that has gotten the taxpayers of Charleston into this "red-hot" situation. Now Pericles is asking for more tax money up front while promising that CARTA has a plan that, over the 25 year life of the half-cent sales tax, will only require an annual average of 18 percent of these tax revenues each year; they just want the biggest pieces of the pie first and promise to share the leftover crumbs later.

CARTA's incompetent Director even has the gall to ask the people of Charleston County to believe that CARTA's annual sales tax funding requests will actually decrease to almost 3% by year 25! What happens in year 26? Another CARTA sales tax referendum? It's the same old baseless and empty promises. That old 60's hit tune comes to mind again - " What kind' a Fool do ya' think I am … do you think I am now?"

Interestingly, Pericles has also brought up "…green house gases and global warming." It appears that he maybe laying the groundwork, if County Council denies CARTA's additional tax revenue, to obtain a research grant from the Spaulding-Paolozzi Foundation for possible CARTA funding. Conveniently, Pericles and a few of his inner circle are on the Board of Directors of this Foundation; its current net worth is about $14 million. The late Countess Paolozzi, a truly fine and remarkable lady, specifically wanted her foundation to fund research for ecological protection and preservation.

Pericles was recently successful in getting "environmental research" grants for two of his pet projects, the proposed Clemson Architectural Center on George Street in the Ansonborough Neighborhood and, most recently, his Parthenon, the Aquarium. Both have come under public scrutiny as these two large grants stretched the limits of the foundation's qualifying requirements for "ecological protection and preservation research". Maybe the Foundation's Board can now be convinced by Pericles to fund an environmental impact study of the effects of big empty buses driving aimlessly around Charleston burning fossil fuel at $3 per gallon as they contribute to global warming spewing exhausts pollution into congested urban areas with little green space to buffer the poisonous gases. That would be a "red-hot" research topic!

Lastly, and most seriously, public transit is definitely needed in the Charleston area, but it must operate within funding limits that were promised and represented to the voters of Charleston County before the recently successful half-cent sales tax referendum. These people voted for the half-cent sales tax to fund public transit, green space and critically needed major roadway improvements. It's easy to start down that "slippery slope" begging for more tax money while giving a hard luck story to hide CARTA's lack of competent management. The hard job now facing County Council is to keep the promises made to the voters that trusted the word of these same elected politicians. Keep it simple - just keep the Promise!!

Your Comments:

"But fare-box statistics show that the system is now transporting over 225,000 people a month and the number is growing."

"All of us benefit from CARTA whether we ride its buses or not It takes some 100,000 cars off our roads a month."

From the P&C today- Where did they pull that number from? And how many CARTA riders actually own cars anyway?

Posted by: chip at May 12, 2006 04:10 AM

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