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City Council Meeting October 17

CPAD doing well but jobs needed for Eastside youth
City follows in Disneyworld's steps
Marc Knapp

It was not on the agenda. But the Eastside citizen patrols drew more discussion than any other issue at last night's Council meeting. County Council members Darby and Pryor rose to speak during Citizens Participation time. They noted the success of the patrols (CPAD), the support from the residents and from the City. But their main purpose last night was to draw attention to the other phases of the strategy, in particular to find jobs for the youth of the Eastside caught up in drug dealing. Council member Darby referred to his previous call for the creation of 300 jobs and asked the City to make some effort in creating or finding these positions. The final part of the strategy was to move CPAD to other parts of Charleston where drug dealing was a problem. Already he had been asked by Mayor Summey for CPAD to help clean up North Charleston.

Council lauds efforts
It was probably more than half an hour before any other citizen was able to say anything in the Participation Period. Council usurped the time to make its own comments. Council member Mitchell who represents the Eastside led off and endorsed the County Council members' comments. He also noted the cooperation between Christian and Muslims in the effort. He asked the Mayor to send a letter to all the churches, schools and others in the area and seek support. Council members Gilliard and Lewis also applauded the efforts and particularly those of Police Chief Mullen. More police have been assigned to the Eastside and it has clearly made a difference. Mayor Riley also spoke encouragingly and described the result as 'just terrific". He said people had been "put on notice" and the City "was there for the long haul". Council member Fishburne visited the Shepherd Street police facility one night and noted the cooperation between the City police and County police, and their enthusiasm.

Results are encouraging
It was all encouraging! We all hope that the effort does not lose momentum and more members of the East side community join CPAD. The latter seems to be the major concern presently and probably prompted Council member Mitchell's request to the Mayopr for letters to churchs and schools. We also suspect that the City needs to increase the its police complement. Police Chief Mullen has assigned 8 extra officers to the Eastside, a move that has paid a dividend. But these officers were drawn from other areas which are now presumably short of police. How long can these shortages be maintained?

Police Chief Mullen should make most of the sunshine
Judging from the comments of all the Council members last night, Police Chief Mullen has generated tremendous goodwill in the few weeks since he took up his appointment. We think the applause he received is deserved and we hope he capitalizes on it, and seeks to do whatever he thinks necessary to improve or expand the City's police force. The timing for such, from a political perspective may never be better.

Police protection for Bayside Apartments
And on the subject of crime, the owners of the Bayside Apartments have agreed to pay the City $109,400 a year for "police services". There was no discussion on Council and the agreement was approved unanimously. The contract was signed by the Simpson Property Group, the agent for the owner.

Visitors Center to get interactive display
Citizens may have reservations about the need to spend $385,000 on interactive maps and kiosks at the Visitors Center. But the Mayor and Council seemed to have none and the spending was approved unanimously. The funding will come from the Hospitality Tax.

The contract with Talisman Media calls for the installation of an "interactive program to be displayed in the Visitor Center's main entrance hall via a new installation consisting of new projection screens, interactive kiosks and projection equipment. The images projected will be over the existing floor map of the City but by virtue of a transparent sheet (of plastic?), the images from the project will appear over the map. The map itself will not be visible while the images are being projected. Visitors will be able to "link to attractions, destinations, calendars, shopping guides, historic points of interest, hotels, public transportation and direction to all points of interest"

"Cutting edge" and used presently only by Disneyworld
The Mayor described the technology as "cutting edge" and spoke of the benefit to helping visitors to the City. And then came the real clincher, the only other place in the nation where this technology was used was Disneyworld.

An exhibit for City Hall too
And speaking of displays, Council also approved a $90,000 contract to Brockington & Associates for exhibits on the Ground floor of City Hall. The $90,000 had already been budgeted.

"These exhibits will present an overview of the history and architecture of the City Hall building and the property on which it is located The exhibits will be installed in the six arched spaces located along the front east-west corridor and in the circular space at the end of the central corridor".

Cost of athletic uniforms and equipment not as much as it seems
Spending on athletic uniforms and equipment was also discussed. The contracts were $465,000 and $238,000 respectively and were for 5 years. Apparently the winning bid, from the Sportsman Shop on King Street, was the only bid received in the stipulated time frame. Council member Gallant obviously was concerned about the value of the contract and Council member Fishburne could not recall ever seeing such a contract.

Staff assured the Council members that the City was not locked in for 5 years but could call for other bidders after the first year. But the City did not meet the full cost of the clothing and equipment. Many sports teams were sponsored by local firms. The fees from sponsors helped offset the costs, and the City was close to "break even" in providing the clothing and equipment.

New ordinance on postings and markings
A new ordinance relating to postings and markings passed its first reading last night. In effect it says that you need to the permission of the City to post on City property, and of land owners to post on private property. We suspect the new ordinance was very similar to the old and there was no discussion as the need for change. We commented about the large City sign stating "Posting of signs prohibited" on the exit off the James Island Connector to Folly Road. So, no signs allowed except signs saying "no signs allowed!
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