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CARTA's Summer Games ---Hide and Sneak!
Lee Walton

When most folks are in the mountains or at the beach and could care less what happens in the Holy City when it's over 90 degrees, CARTA began its Summer Games at the July 13th County Finance Committee Meeting. It was classic Hide and Sneak starring Leon Stabyourbackus (Yep - you've just earned your nick-name) as Council Chairman, Howard, The Bagman, Chapman playing a silent bit part and J. Pericles Riley as the covert managing editor of the Palter and Chatter. The objective of this political game is to wait until no one is looking, hide a $6 million CARTA loan debt add-on to the upcoming transportation and green space Sales Tax Bond Referendum and sneak it past the voters of Charleston County in November.

CARTA's Board and their usual cast of cronies were at it again! Just this past May County Council voted against CARTA's requested increase in its annual sales tax funding for an additional $6 million to pay off this debt they incurred two years ago "…through no fault of their own" according to the Palter & Chatter. At this past Thursday's County Finance Committee meeting, Chairman Stabyourbackus suggested adding $6 million to the upcoming November $205 million Bond Referendum to help CARTA pay off its loan debt. Council member Scott reminded Chairman Stabyourbackus of the promised 18% cap on CARTA's annual funding from sales tax revenue and that the Chairman would not have to face the wrath of angry voters in November.

Councilman Stabyourbackus is giving up his current District 9 Council seat to run for the District 119 seat on the State Legislature. But, this sneaky little shuffle suggested by Stabyourbackus to hide CARTA's $6 million in the November $205 million Sales Tax Bond Referendum could backfire on both Stabyourbackus, and County Council just like the mysteriously biased wording did in the 2002 Sales Tax Referendum. The State Supreme Court called that little embarrassment "voter fraud" and threw out the results of that referendum.

First, Stabyourbackus needs to look back over the district boundaries and demographics of both County District 9 and State House District 119; they cover almost the same areas, are very conservative and are predominately Republican. He then needs to look at the precinct-by-precinct vote for the 2004 Half-Cent Sales Tax Referendum. It passed in only a very few of these precincts, and a significant majority voted strongly against it. What makes him believe that these same voters will think differently when reminded (and they will be reminded loudly and often) that he championed the cause to "pork" the upcoming $205 million Transportation and Green space Sales Tax Bond Referendum with an additional $6 million snuck in for his bubbas at CARTA.

Second, adding the $6 million to the $205 million bond issue to cover CARTA's debt will surely infuriate a lot of voters County-wide; this sneaky little ploy to help CARTA overcome the promised 18% annual funding cap could very well jeopardize the entire referendum and all of the projects to be funded by it.

Finally, the Palter and Chatter is aiding and abetting this little cover-up to help bailout CARTA again by not reporting anything about Chairman Stabyourbackus' little game of hide and sneak. James Scott, the Palter & Chatter reporter who wrote the Friday, July 13th article on last Thursday's Finance Committee Meeting, mentioned nothing about this sneaky little proposal to increase funding for CARTA, even after all the "brouhaha" over this same issue last May. Strangely, he did manage to mention the Finance Committee's vote to pay $1.2 million for health care services to inmates at the County Detention Center. Well, that little bit of trifling knowledge is obviously much more important to the readers of the Palter & Chatter than County Council members breaking their promise to the voters to limit CARTA's annual funding to 18% of the sales tax revenue received each year. Or, could it be that Pericles had this part of James Scott's article deleted before the presses began to roll. Around Charleston, the way Pericles, runs his Acropolis, the political possibilities are endless.

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