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City’s OSHA challenge – a typical J. Pinocchio Riley tactic
Lee Walton

It’s now obvious that Mayor Riley’s cunning little Joseph McCarthy style publicity stunt staged in OSHA’s Columbia office last week fizzled as he desperately sought to divert attention away from that agency’s scathing indictment of the June 18th Charleston Fire Department tragedy that cost the lives of nine brave, albeit poorly led, equipped and trained firefighters. Armed with an expensive brace of new, taxpayer-funded pettifoggers and accompanied by Administration invited media coverage, J. Pinoccho Riley was certain his well planned attack would finally expose that “vast right-wing conspiracy” slinking around the halls of the State House and now using OSHA to give him and his city a world-class “black eye”.

Mayor Pinoccho Riley set his trap cleverly to intimidate OSHA’s senior staff into publicly recanting the severity of their findings. To Riley’s utter amazement, OSHA wasn’t impressed by his new team of Lowcountry legal geniuses or swayed by their twisted legal arguments or intimidating tactics. The State’s top OSHA officials quickly saw Riley’s efforts for what they were and simply choose not to play his game.

Amazingly, the basis for Riley’s counter-attack against OSHA, as reported in Ron Menchaca’s September 27th Palter & Chatter article, was to claim that SC OSHA could not hold the CFD accountable for widely accepted state or federal industry standards for the firefighting profession. In short, if the CFD didn’t meet the industry standards for leadership, command protocols, training, or equipment as of June 18th, Riley now wants to make the legal argument that they were not mandatory. Consequently, the OSHA standards could be ignored while the CFD followed outdated and tragically flawed local standards. The more Pinocchio cajoles and counters with these self-serving, polemic arguments, the further his nose extends. His twisted logic sounds just like Chief Rusty’s “open-mouth, insert-foot” post-fire interviews before Riley stuck a sock down his throat and created a new CFD Public Information Officer position.

Is there any hypocrisy in Riley’s constant bragging that his Fire Department attained the highest ISO 1 National Standard, while he now attempts to dismiss other national and state industry standards because the CFD can’t measure-up? Then again, Pinocchio has always wanted it both ways. Now he chooses to attack current national and state standards under which other fire departments operate, because he would rather support and justify the retention of a political puppet of a chief that uses standards, training and equipment superceded by others decades ago.

The bond now existing between Pinocchio and Chief Rusty is likely based more on a mutual fear of incrimination than friendship or loyalty – if Rusty goes down, Pinocchio goes down too. This time around, the fox finally got stuck elbow-deep into one of his political tar babies. Wonder if Chief Rusty will knock on doors and make phone calls for Pinocchio or other City Council marionettes during the run-up to this fall’s municipal election like he did for Harpy Wilson two years ago? The only character missing this time around is “Jiminy Cricket”, Pinocchio’s favorite stalking horse and lifelong political crony.

Speaking of puppets, Pinocchio Riley’s current campaign chairman and puppet master Geppetto is world-class when it comes to selecting seasoned political dead-wood. Puppet Master Geppetto has masterfully carved a City Council of “Little Woodenheads” and other fairyland characters to follow the selfish and naughty little Pinocchio as he polemically prances to the strings of the deal-estate development complex while contorting facts to suit his own political purposes. Nonetheless, Pinocchio Riley is gearing up for another four years, as the head marionette in his fairyland governed by money, power, greed, and elusion.

Now just where’s that kind Blue Fairy when Charleston needs her?

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