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Al Parish, The Economist – “…an open and full discussion so important”

Lee Walton

For seventeen of the first twenty-two days this month, the Palter & Chatter has bombarded its readers with an unprecedented and seemingly endless barrage of articles about Al Parish, The Investment Advisor. Throughout a series of at least twenty-seven separate articles, the Palter & Chatter’s news staff has reported on everything from Parish’s Christian ethics to his bizarre collection of cars, artwork and jewelry. Stories about neighbors loosing their children’s college funds, greedy university board members and other poor, helpless “pool” victims, who were all to willing “to give a hundred dollars to be a millionaire” made front page, above-the-fold headlines as bold as any tabloid at a supermarket checkout. Nonetheless, the silence from the Palter & Chatter’s elite third-floor editorial staff remains deafening about Al Parish, The Economist. Why?

Not one commentary on the now very questionable credibility of Al Parish (Big Al), as The Economist, who appeared weekly in the Palter & Chatter’s Business Section, albeit, as they were quick to say, as an unpaid columnist. As recent as April 4th, Parish, The Economist, admonished his uncultured followers about the regional economic benefits of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and why he, as a member of the Orchestra’s Board of Directors, urged local corporations to make annual gifts to the CSO.

Not one editorial comment about Mayor Riley serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation that selected Al Parish as the Fund Manager for the Boards Corridor Fund (the P & C did report that Big Al apparently snookered the CDC Board for approximately $35,000). Not one mention that the Evening Post Publishing Company, owners of the Palter & Chatter, was one of two local companies and investors selected in 2005 by Mayor Riley for a five-year contract to manage the City’s fledgling CDC. Not one buried B-Section article questioning the validity of Parish’s annual regional economic forecast sponsored by the Charleston Chamber of Commerce. Why?

Apparently, the list of local movers-and-shakers snookered by Big Al is seemingly endless. Less we forget Big Al was retained by none other than the State Ports Authority to prepare its recent economic forecasts, which have, arguably, been used to justify the proposed North Charleston Terminal at the south end of the former Navy Base. Could Big Al have been wrong with his favorable statistical projections, or worse yet “cooked the statistical books” in the SPA’s favor? If the Palter & Chatter won’t ask these hard questions, will the US Army Corps of Engineers have its own economist do an independent analysis before it rules on the SPA’s pending permit to construct this new terminal?

What about the local Chamber of Commerce? Big Al was nothing short of its favorite rainmaker; its members annually lined up to drink his economic Kool-Aid. Then again, he was obviously great at judging human nature by telling them exactly what they wanted to hear. He was their rotund Robert Preston as he pranced with his baton of statistics in front of their band arrayed in his gaudy sports jacket– he was their Music Man! Considering that the local Chamber is the epicenter of the deal-estate development complex in the Lowcountry, Big Al was simply preaching to the choir.

Where’s that “…open and full discussion…”about Big Al, The Economist, that the Palter & Chatter boastfully demanded in this past Sunday’s lead editorial concerning a new school superintendent search? If Big Al, The Investment Advisor, snookered hundreds of greedy and all-to-willing “get rich quick” investors, couldn’t Big Al, The Economist, have also snookered thousands of local business professionals and elected officials with his siren song of economic bliss?

Is the Palter & Chatter’s editorial staff too worried that LOTs of The Economist’s dirty laundry trail might lead to City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, or worse yet, to the thin air of the third floor at the Palter & Chatter? After all, the owners of Charleston’s only daily newspaper made him The Economist and created his regional credibility as an expert economic forecaster. Time may tell, but it’s a good bet that the local print media never will.

The credibility of Big Al, The Economist, and his creator and mentor, the Palter & Chatter, are joined at the hip. So goes one, so goes the other.

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