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Shrimp 'n Grits

Palter & Chatter School Board endorsements politics as usual!
Lee Walton

It's hard to be humble when it's so easy to be validated time and time again by the predictable actions of the Palter & Chatter's editorial staff. Almost three weeks ago Shrimp 'n Grits predicted, you can bet a cannon on the Battery that the Palter & Chatter will offer their endorsed slate of poltroons, hand-picked by Pericles, the weekend before the election. That prediction played out almost as scripted in Sunday's lead editorial, Charleston School Board choices. Saving one sop, Robin Beard, thrown to many in a community demanding both change and accountability on the Charleston County School Board, the Palter & Chatter's choices were three out of the four endorsed by the Charleston Metro Chamber's political action arm, BACPAC, over three weeks ago.

The editorial endorsements also included two key members of the Democratic Party's "Best Team" that were also heavily endorsed by Mayor J. Pericles Riley in an early October county-wide mail-out. The link to Riley is again all too obvious in the Palter & Chatter’s selection of Toya Green, the wife and law partner of Dwayne M. Green, who just happens to be a member of the City of Charleston's legal staff and another often mentioned Riley protege. With Toya Green's election to the School Board, Riley would have a willing accomplice and another easily manipulated puppet to do his bidding and spread his influence upon others on the Board.

Between all the convoluted smoke and mirrors shrouding the relationship between Riley and the Palter & Chatter, it's getting harder each day to tell who's pulling whose chain, but one thing is for certain, they are a bold and resourceful duo bound at the hip through decades of political intrigue, family friendships, old "Broad Street Gang" loyalties and covert backroom mischief for the benefit of themselves and their loyal lackeys. Like nature abhorring a vacuum, their mutual lust for power, profit and control knows no bounds. As with so many other local boards and commissions beyond their direct control, indirect influence over the School Board is vital to their grand strategy for themselves, their poltroons, and their polemic ideas of what the Low Country should become.

Of the four School Board candidates endorsed Sunday by the Palter & Chatter, three are self-styled liberal progressives and professed supporters of the current school superintendent and her much hyped, but as yet underachieving Charleston Plan for Excellence. If all were to be elected as endorsed, Beard would be barely tolerated, quickly marginalized and relegated to the role of just another angry, frustrated, conservative male surrounded by a wilderness of liberalism and political mischief radiating from Riley's stable of loyal cronies, sycophants and poltroons.

One also need not guess at the motivation of the Charleston Metro Chamber and its recent activities to further politicize the School Board. The same deal-estate development and tourism industry forces that are aligned with Riley and the Palter & Chatter also manipulate and control the Chamber as well. To all three, it's a cunning symbiotic relationship yielding power, influence and profit to each far beyond the abilities of any one member, if isolated and dependant upon only their own resources.

So why would any political group or organization continue to support a county school system that is consistently one of the most pitifully performing and underachieving in the nation? Why would they not be up in arms, marching in the streets and screaming for change? Instead, these same forces continue to fight tooth-and-nail to maintain and defend a failed system. That's the generally accepted definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. The problems with the current school board and its structure are symptomatic of failure, nothing more, nothing less.

On Saturday, April 25,1998, the Palter & Chatter published a prophetic editorial, School debate just begun, during an earlier, albeit even then all-too-frequent, time of crises facing a previous Charleston School Board. The last paragraph of that editorial demonstrates just how pitifully little things have changed after almost a decade of floundering over the same lack of improvement. The following statement could just as well have been asked in this past Sunday's editorial:

The question is whether schools stand a better chance of being improved within the existing system or whether structural changes are required? That can't be answered without a long look at all the alternatives.

Just how long do the taxpayers of Charleston County have to wait for improvement? Will Riley and the Palter & Chatter ever learn that politics as usual is not an acceptable alternative? Mercy!

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