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Latest State of the City Address – Quintessential Riley Rhetoric

Lee Walton

In his 30th address to the citizens of Charleston, Mayor Riley, The King of Deal-estate Development, again spewed forth the same tired old political rhetoric and polemic hyperbole we’ve all heard so many times before. As such, it didn’t impress the been eh’s (that is, the few that still call the Peninsula home) at all. His entire message was filled with “candy platitudes” tailored for his loyal band of administrative sycophants and handpicked council of emasculated poltroons. Also not surprisingly, he continues to sprinkle his annual performances with claims of his past achievements and promises of new citizens’ committee appointments to win over a growing band of those from off who dream to touch the robe of Mayor J. Pericles Riley.

Pity those who have to sit through his tireless drivel year after year, enduring the same meaningless promises and claims of greatness that only he could accomplish. His shrill little prancing about the podium would be almost comical, but for the realization that Pericles has listened to his own truthyness for so many years that he actually believes it himself – that’s a scary thought! Each year, The King of Deal-estate Development sputters on about new crime prevention initiatives, regional growth management, economic development, and green space preservation. All talk but not much walk, except when the local TV cameras and Palter & Chatter reporters are following him to Columbia.

As many in Charleston have grown to expect, Pericles’ address encapsulated all of this year’s latest buzz words and trendy phrases. According to the Palter and Chatter’s Robert Behre who authored the January 24th article, the Mayor said “the city experienced an unacceptable rise in violent crime last year.” Mr. Behre would better serve his readers by asking why has Charleston recently experienced one of its highest annual murder and drug related crime rates in the last 30 years? One would hope that Pericles, The King of Deal-estate Development, as Chief Executive Officer of his Athens of the South, would be on top of the most important task that he is charged with - the safety of every citizen! So now he’s going to appoint another citizens’ committee.

Mercy, could it be that Pericles is co-opting County Councilman Darby’s idea about crime prevention using citizens’ groups and neighborhood foot patrols? One must ask – because the Palter & Chatter won’t – “Why is Pericles copying the excellent public-safety initiative of a first-term county councilman when he has, in 31 years, yet to institute “up close and personal” neighborhood foot patrols on the Eastside and other crime-ridden areas of West Ashley. Could it be that Rubin wasn’t exactly the greatest police chief in the United States?

Another concern in Mayor J. Pericles Riley’s address is finding new ways to be environmentally sensitive. It’s good election year rhetoric (much like the election year asphalt on New and Savage Streets and all the new sidewalks South of Broad), but why is he tooting that tinhorn now after conspiring with his deal-estate cronies to develop every square inch of scarce urban green space within the Peninsula and on James Island?

In another classic example of Pericles’ blatant hypocrisy, The Palter and Chatter stated, “Riley called for better regional planning to preserve the Character of the Lowcountry.” Where has this King of Deal-estate Development been for the last 31 years? Could he have been in some smoky back room in City Hall counting all his new tax revenues with his faithful deal-estate developer cronies and administrative lackeys? A true visionary would have been concerned way before now--too late for reversal. Maybe Pericles kept a blind eye turned toward his deal-estate developer cronies until they saturated Charleston with development deals upon more development deals. Interestingly, these same deal-estate developers are now looking into other cities and towns. For example, some of the bigger, better known ones are finding other places in Columbia to redevelop. Let’s not forget the Palter and Chatter either; they’ve bought most of Georgetown’s Water Front. Watch out Columbia and Georgetown!! The Charleston deal-estate development machine is headed your way - full speed ahead.

It was a cruel joke when reading how Pericles is now for diverse economic development. He’s all for the rich folks getting richer and buying bigger homes in Charleston for increased taxes, but the poor and struggling low-income service sector will still be making beds for all the hotels planned around Marion Square - a small postage stamp of green space. Where are all the new high-tech businesses that can put these impoverished people to work? To most people’s surprise, Charleston has a large population in low income areas just like the ones most of us saw on National TV during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Charleston has its share of poor and impoverished that Pericles has either well hidden from the high-end tourist economy or gentrified to North Charleston. Sure he says that the digital corridor is bringing jobs into the community, but these initiatives, if successful, also bring more people from off who increasingly impact upon Charleston’s over-burdened infrastructure and over-stressed natural environment. Where are the higher quality, better paying jobs for the local, low-income Charleston workers that really need them? What economic benefit will trickle down to those holding onto the lower rungs of Charleston’s economic ladder?

On another note, Pericles now wants to erect a statue of Martin Luther King. Why hasn’t he erected a statue of Martin Luther King or another African American leader in our City over the last 31 years? Also, where is the African American Museum promised to the citizens for the last eight years? Most Charlestonians know by now, if Riley wanted that museum bad enough, he’d have had it by now “by hook or by crook,” just like the $92 million Fish Tank at the end of Calhoun Street. Could the statue and museum be “impressive political hyperbole” during an election year? How shallow-minded can some people be to believe this false rhetoric year after year?

It’s also predictable that Mayor J. Pericles Riley will appoint several new citizens’ committees to study different ways to control crime and to work for a cleaner, greener environment. It’s a known fact to the locals that he shamelessly stacks these toothless committees with his hand-picked cronies in order to covertly control the unsuspecting lap-dog come eh’s who lust for local name recognition and the honor of being touched by Pericles’ sword. As usual, Pericles’ covert motive is that the new come eh appointees will contribute to his campaign war chest and support him in Charleston’s upcoming November mayoral election.

Speaking of the November Mayor’s race, let’s hope there will be a bright new, albeit untainted, challenger to end this eight-term Groundhog Day nightmare at City Hall. Thirty-two years of the J. Pericles Riley liberal machine and his lust for absolute political power throughout the Lowcountry is long enough – it’s time for a change!

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