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Blatant contradiction between Talking and Walking like a visionary

Lee Walton

Does it strike anyone else duplicitous that Charleston’s Mayor is so recently dedicated to saving us all from urban sprawl and global warming while remaining hopelessly addicted to deal-estate development schemes like Long Savannah, Magnolia and countless others in the hinterlands of West Ashley, Johns Island and up the Cainhoy Peninsula? Continued development at the current pace set by Joe Riley over the past three decades will add tens of thousands of new homes, transplants from off and their commuting automobiles to the already over-stressed natural environment and strained infrastructure of the Lowcountry.

If Mayor Joe was really a born-again tree hugger, he would look around in his own backyard and convert the City’s extensive fossil fuel burning police, fire, public service and administrative department’s vehicles to cleaner burning natural gas or, better still, transition as many as possible to hybrid or plug-in electrical technology. Granted, transitioning some emergency vehicles like fire trucks and police pursuit cars to current alternative fuels may not be yet practical, but many other cities like New York are taking the lead by requiring a phased transition to hybrid-electric taxies and encouraging the use of smaller plug-in electrical powered urban automobiles for private and public use.

Then there’s the quintessential daytime and nighttime no-activity illumination of the ballpark lighting at The Joe. Get real with energy conservation! Is this just for Charleston’s bragging rights or simply advertisement that Mayor Joe is playing king-of-the-hill?

Then there’s CARTA. Where does one even start? Notwithstanding the fuel guzzling, noxious fume spewing, empty behemoths that lumber Charleston’s streets like forlornly bellowing cows seeking their lost calves, one must wonder what the brighter bulbs at the US Department of Transportation would do if they followed a few of Howard >i>The Bag Man’s cavernous lumbering buses around the city for a few days. Would they conclude that our local, state, and federal tax subsidies of CARTA were being spent cost-effectively and in an environmentally prudent manner?

So, Mayor Joe, now that you’ve signed the “Cities for Climate Protection Agreement” to reduce greenhouse emissions in Charleston to 7% below 1990 levels, walk-the-walk! Give us some verifiable facts so we can monitor and grade your performance; a few of us might actually remember and hold you accountable. As a starter, you can reduce the level of bombastic hot air and political hyperbole that emanates from City Hall.

As is to be expected from something in the water we drink in Charleston, there is always more than enough political hypocrisy to go around than even Mayor Joe can claim. Recent Palter& Chatter commentaries from two of the Lowcountry’s self-proclaimed environmentalists are each a case in point.

In a June 8th Palter & Chatter commentary, the Coastal Conservation League’s own Dana Beach chided one of Santee Cooper’s recently retired senior design engineers for daring to question the dependability and relative contribution of alternative energy sources as a solution to our nation’s growing dependency upon fossil fuels, particularly coal fired power plants. Like Mayor Joe, Dana Beach is strong on cherry-picking factual data and scare tactics to support the self-serving contention that global warming is man-made and, because of our squandering fuel addictions, the sky is falling in upon us.

Also like Little Joe, Mr. Beach is woefully short on meaningful alternatives and support for other realistic energy sources, like nuclear, that promise a real alternative to fossil fuel over the next century. Less we forget, as a testament to Mr. Beach’s intellect and selection of alternatives, he nearly drowned himself and his wife several years ago while trying to commute across the Ashley River one morning in a canoe. With commuting alternatives like that, Big Al’s financial advice might not be so bad after all.

Then there’s retired SCDNR Ben Moise’s little hypocritical ditty in this past Sunday’s Palter & Chatter commentary section in which he boldly states, “I have been witness to the remarkable encroachments of housing subdivisions into what were formerly regarded as some of the remotest reaches of the hinterlands.” Mr. Moise should know, because he personally built a private retreat on a tiny marsh island no bigger than a tennis court at the junction of Prices Creek and the ICW north of Mt. Pleasant. Mr. Moise, how can you utter such words when your own Moise Island is the poster child of the environmental rape of such a fragile little speck of the Lowcountry’s most vulnerable natural resources?

Isn’t it great to have such hypocritical visionaries like Mayor Joe and his cronies that have such lofty ideals for the unwashed masses, but their own private rules to live by?

Your Comments:

In your June 5th article, "Contradictions," you characterized Moise Island as being an example of "Rape of the Land." You, quite obviously, have never been there, and there are many hundreds who have enjoyed the opportunity of spending time there who disagree with your sentiment. Just because it isn't yours, doesn't mean it is a bad thing. Ben Moise

Posted by: Ben Moise at July 15, 2007 10:37 AM