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Shrimp 'n Grits

James Island's third incorporation --- a referendum on credibility!
Lee Walton

For the third time, and in the most resounding defeat to date for J. Pericles Riley, his sycophants, cronies and "lap-dog" Palter & Chatter editors, the residents of unincorporated James Island voted in overwhelming numbers to form a new independent town. How and why did this happen and why in such a lop-sided exhibit of defiance in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds? The short answer has its roots in the profound lack of credibility and trust that James Islanders now have for Pericles, his council of emasculated, handpicked poltroons and the local print media. The long answer has its roots in three decades of condescending platitudes, ill treatment, public service neglect, misrepresentations, and deal-estate developments that have raped the serenity and natural beauty of an irreplaceable sea island treasure of the Lowcountry - James Island.

In a turnout twice as large as the General Election last November, the registered voters of the James Island Public Service District dealt Pericles and his band of cronies the most politically embarrassing and personally stinging defeat he has suffered since Lt. Governor Nick Theodore "cleaned his clock" in a Democratic Party Primary for Governor over a decade ago. Why? It's simple; the voters of James Island no longer believe what he, his cronies or the Palter & Chatter have to say. Their collective memories have been seared with visions of injustice, misrepresentations, half-truths or worse.

Last November's District-12 City Council race clearly demonstrated the cunning, vicious campaign tactics for which Pericles, his loyal cronies and conspiring Palter & Chatter editors are now best remembered. Their collective win-at-any-cost tactics were clearly evident to the unincorporated voters who stood quietly by and watched a hard-working defender of James Island defeated by a well groomed, hand-picked lackey, Council Member Harpie Wilson, who has since made a public fool of herself as a willing accomplice of Pericles. This time James Islanders remembered this newest sin of Pericles; to many who voted to incorporate, the Pyrric Victory of last November was justly avenged.

Not too surprisingly, several other loyal cronies and lackeys also failed to deliver for Pericles. His thinly veiled hand and little pointing fingers show clearly through the smoke and mirrors brandished by the" No New Town Taskforce" which spent arguably over $65 per vote to glean their meager 25% of those cast. Their lies, misrepresentations and baseless scare tactics fell on the deaf ears of Islanders who had had enough of the same slick "Madison Avenue" mail-outs, pleading phone calls, incredulous letters, blatantly biased news articles and condescending editorials.

Most strikingly, it is now evident that even his most willing water-carrier, the Palter & Chatter, can no longer deliver for Pericles; its stranglehold on the voters of James Island was finally broken. The Islanders simply don't believe what they read anymore.

Helen Thomas, the grand dame of the Washington D.C. press corps for over 60 years, recently expressed a great personal disappointment in current journalistic ethics and called for a return to fair, honest reporting that delivers the facts without spin:

The consolidation of media ownership, the quest for profit, and the scandals and ethical lapses of reporters and the failure of reporters to ask tough questions in the face of unprecedented governmental efforts to manage information … has done a tremendous disservice to the public.

As to the long answer of why the voters of James Island so soundly rejected the "Siren Song" of Pericles, one need look no further than the infamous breaking of the Dill Sisters' will by his insatiable greed for taxes; Pericles transformed an intended wildlife preserve into unsightly, high-density residential projects. His other many "gifts" to the Island include the "re-adaptive use" and development of the historic McLeod Plantation as a college, the unpardonable destruction of the historic Harbor View Road "Summer House", along with relentless tax-base-driven Urban Sprawl, annexation in exchange for benefit of high-density zoning, unmanaged traffic congestion and neighborhood flooding, all of which have become the hall-marks of the City of Charleston's Land Planning efforts on James Island.

Three decades of deceit, political intrigue and an unquenchable lust for the unique riches of James Island have finally yielded Pericles his own "Banquet of Consequences".

Bon appetit!