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Shrimp 'n Grits

The Riley Conspiracy - A public deception and unpardonable disgrace

Lee Walton

Who will speak out for the citizens of Charleston and the survivors of the nine CFD firefighters so tragically and needlessly lost on the evening of June 18, 2007? Who will demand accountability of Charleston’s elected officials? Will the editorial staff and owners of the Palter and Chatter continue to stand idly by and shamelessly look the other way as the Riley Administration continues to rationalize the irrational and defend the indefensible? Will Charleston City Council finally find the fortitude to reach deep within its viscera and find the collective courage to say, “Enough is enough”? Will the taxpayers of Charleston ever know the real cost of Riley’s incompetent leadership that precipitated the ongoing CFD cover-up? Are there any other local elected officials on County Council or in the state legislature with courage and character enough to openly challenge Riley’s cover-up and conspiracy being perpetrated in City Hall and demand a full accounting of the events now being spun with overlapping webs of deception and tangles of blatant lies? Is it too much to ask that the governor of this state commence an immediate criminal investigation of the Watergate Style Conspiracy continuing to develop within Riley’s personal fortress of deceit, formerly Charleston’s City Hall?

The following are but a few of the public comments made over the past eleven months by the chief conspirator and other key players in this tragedy worthy of an opening-night standing ovation at the upcoming Spoleto Arts Festival:

“We didn’t wait on the studies or the investigations,” Riley said. “We moved with dispatch.” P&C, August 18, 2007

“He is the fire chief, the excellent fire chief, and I support him unequivocally,” Riley said. P&C, August 22, 2007

“It is imperative that an atmosphere of trust and credibility permeate OSHA’s relationship with employees,” the mayor stated…”The inconsistencies of your agency are deeply troubling as they are irreconcilable.” P&C, September 6, 2007

“Chief Thomas is first-rate, and he’s a great fire chief and a great leader,” Riley said. “He has my full support and I am very proud of him.” P&C, September 7, 2007

“He will continue to serve our city for as long as I am mayor and as long as he continues to do the outstanding job he has been doing,” Riley said. P&C, September 20, 2007

“We want to get to the truth…but it is important that the record be correct and that the truth is known…We are not going to allow this fire to be used or misconstrued.” Riley P&C, September 21, 2007

“They are independent and they say what they feel. These are top professionals with integrity and reputations.” Riley’s comments on findings of Phase 1 Routley Report, P&C, October 18, 2007

“The city is saying we don’t like how this looks in terms of our litigation position and so they are pushing it under the attorney-client privilege after the fact.” Jay Bender, SC Press Association attorney.” P&C, November 15, 2007

“We don’t know who is most responsible for this tragic loss.” Kevin Dean, Motley Rice attorney representing the estates of the late CFD firefighters Hutchinson and Champaign, P&C, February 2, 2008

“I urge our state lawmakers to pass comprehensive sprinkler legislation so that no community in South Carolina, and no family like those of our fallen nine, will ever again lose precious lives in preventable fires’” Riley said. P&C February 15, 2008

“What date can I expect to see the Routley report?” - Randy Hutchinson, brother of the late Captain Billy Hutchinson. “I know they are working on it,” Riley said. “I would imagine (the report will be finished) some time after the middle of April.” P&C, March 26, 2008

“Routley said Friday that the panel is finalizing its report…and there are no plans at this point to provide the city with advanced drafts to study and comment on.” Routley said. P&C, March 29, 2008

“The city and its attorneys will have an opportunity to see the pending report before its release, but any suggested changes will be dealt with on a case-by-basis,” Routley said. “City officials said Thursday that they expect the report no later than May 15 and had no additional comment.” P&C, April 25, 2008

“Last week, Riley issued a memo to City Council explaining that the report would be delivered within the first two weeks of May.” “We were prepared to come out with a comprehensive report,” he (Routley) said. “But the city is the client. They are paying the bill.” P&C, May 3, 2008.

The July 8, 2007 Shrimp ‘n Grits commentary, “Class-One Damage Control or World-Class Cover-up”, provided a chilling forecast of the conspiracy and cover-up that would follow in the aftermath of the June 18, 2007 Super Sofa Store tragedy. The closing paragraph of that article is worthy of repeating, given Riley’s recent decision to indefinitely withhold the city’s release of the final Routley Report.

In the final analysis, Mayor Riley and his cronies should remember that it wasn’t the bungled Watergate break-in that brought Nixon down – it was the botched cover-up conspiracy.

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