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Joe Riley – Charleston’s own Homegrown Dictator

Lee Walton

It was surprising to read the February 1st Palter & Chatter editorial titled “Dictator in the making”. Instead of looking as far south as Venezuela and worrying about a left-wing socialist dictator like Hugo Chavez, these wanna-be-experts on foreign affairs need look no further south than Broad Street to find Charleston’s own – Mayor Joe Riley.

One need only take the Palter & Chatter’s editorial, wordsmith a few key changes and make a much more interesting and locally applicable editorial for the folk in this little Banana Republic we call the City of Charleston, complete with its own little tinhorn Dictator – J. Pericles Riley. So, let’s just see how easy it is to edit the Editor – only the words and phrases in italics differ from the Palter & Chatter’s original editorial.

“Since the opposition party boycotted the last mayorial election in 2003, Charleston’s self-styled deal-estate development mayor, Joe Riley, has had no serious opposition. Every single member of the City Council is a “Rileyite Poltroon”, ready and willing to do the bidding of the self-styled leader who has gained notoriety by his vicious attacks on any opponent and fiery denunciation of “American conservatism.”

So it was no surprise at the last council meeting when the rubber-stamp City Council granted him authority to rule by decree for life and hailed him with chants of, “Liberalism, socialism and taxes! We will prevail!”

This is the slogan of Massachusetts Senator Teddy Kennedy, who is Mayor Riley’s idol. In expressing his admiration for Kennedy, Charleston’s Mayor has indicated that he would like to head a similar far left-wing policy. However, Charleston’s local newspaper suggested that Mr. Riley is emulating another dictator by using the headline: “Heil Riley.”

The new powers will be used to socialize Charleston’s lethargic public transit system, CARTA, which is controlled by a covey of other Riley cronies, as well as a few local radio and TV stations and most Lowcountry deal-estate developers. Mr. Riley has also promised to carry out sweeping political, economic and social changes through a series of “revolutionary ordinances” that will impose a special tax on large urban homes, gun collections, personal vehicles, private schools and other “luxury” items.

Also on his agenda is a change in the city code not only so he can run roughshod over private property rights, but so that there would be no limit on the number of taxes he could levy as mayor. Mayor Riley’s plans to turn Charleston into a socialist city are unlikely to run into serious opposition in Charleston while the city is swimming in huge property tax revenues from explosive growth in the suburbs that allow him and his hand-picked council of sycophants and poltroons to lavish money on populist social programs. But, as Charlestonians will never see the Palter & Chatter report, critics are saying that his “21st century socialism…is starting to look like old-fashioned totalitarianism by a leader obsessed with power.”

Councilman Fishburne expressed his concern during an interview with Rocky D. I’m concerned about the Charleston people, and I’m worried about the diminution of conservative institution(s) in the city,” he said.

It may seem that there is no stopping Joe Riley, but it also seems likely that in his pursuit of power he will not be able to stop himself from overreaching. A time will come when he will no longer be able to paint over deep-seated social, economic and political problems by dipping into the city’s tax revenues.”

A special thanks to the wonderfully creative editorial staff of the Palter & Chatter for allowing me this golden opportunity to tweak two noses at once.

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