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Riley’s Spinning – Out of control
Lee Walton

A tipping point in the threshold of political credibility and trust was crossed last week when the unspoken covenant between the mayor of Charleston and the citizenry he is elected to serve was boldly and blatantly smashed in a public display of audacity unseen for over three decades in the Lowcountry. Politicians often are accused of misrepresenting the facts, cherry-picking facts to suit their purpose, or using facts out of context as they spew forth political hyperbole to support their positions. However, until last Thursday, even in the Riley Administration, there has been the public perception of some truth or factual basis for the rhetorical spin always emanating from City Hall. Deep down in the core of the Mayor’s previous diatribes, he could at least find some shred of fact, albeit misrepresented, distorted, or twisted, to support his contention. Last Thursday he boldly crossed the line – Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. lied to the press and the citizens of Charleston in a display of intellectual deviousness that would make a suffering schizophrenic proud.

In the Thursday, May 15th Palter and Chatter above-the-fold headline article, “Rusty steps down”, Riley was quoted as saying there was no connection between his fire chief’s surprise resignation and the imminent release of the Phase II Routley Report later that afternoon. “He expressed no concern about the report,” Riley said of Thomas. “It shouldn’t be seen as that at all - unequivocally no.” Riley would have us believe that he was shocked and saddened by the sudden resignation of his fire chief. We now know that was a blatant, bald-faced lie!

In the following Saturday’s Palter and Chatter, Riley offered a more plausible reason for his fire chief’s surprise resignation. On the previous day, as the Phase II Routley Report was being dissected by talk radio, the local TV stations, and the printed press, Riley changed his story and admitted that the release of the report did play a part in the timing of his chief’s resignation. “Riley said he suggested that Thomas announce his plans before the report’s release. That way, Thomas would get credit for deciding to retire rather than have people think he was stepping down in response to the report’s findings…” What a deviant little mind! Can you just imagine the atmosphere when they met in Riley’s office as he told his sidekick and political hack Trusty Rusty to take a dive under a CARTA bus? He may have even used parts of the same little speech he gave to another of his cronies-gone-bad, Danny Maloney.

How can the citizens of Charleston, the press, and even Riley’s own handpicked council of sycophants ever trust another word he utters? This from the same twisted little political mind that proclaimed for decades that the CFD was the best in the nation and his good-old-boy fire chief was “world-class” and second to none. Riley now professes to have spent more than $8.6 million on the fire department since last summer, not including the $1.85 million he wants to pay for the Sofa Super Store (SSS) site, while raising property taxes in the process. How many other lies has he told us over the past three decades? How much did the SC Aquarium, the ballpark, the Majestic Square deal, and the Charleston Place swindle really cost the taxpayers of Charleston? How many other deal-estate projects has he tossed millions of tax dollars into?

How has Riley gotten away with such deviant political behavior for over thirty years? The answer is no further away than the Palter and Chatter in your hands over breakfast each morning. Riley and the owners and editors of the Palter and Chatter have orchestrated a “world class” cover-up for decades. They protect him and facilitate his imperial grip on political power in the Lowcountry. Every tinhorn banana republic dictator understands this basic element of political control. If Riley can control what the citizens of Charleston read, he can control what the citizens of Charleston think.

Faced with his own long-over-due “banquet of consequences” and with the tragic, preventable deaths of nine men on his hands, Riley now exhibits a profound abrogation of responsibility, characteristic of an ambulatory schizophrenic. Likewise, his recent scapegoating behavior (SSS owner Goldstein), profound intolerance of criticism (from his own City Council), fixation with his public image and self-image of respectability (the shameless P&C Sunday damage control editorial and commentary attempting to rebuild Riley’s badly tarnished image), and overt deviousness (the big Rusty resignation lie) are classical signs of a schizophrenic mind.

Riley’s now become a danger to himself and all those remaining within his covert political inner circle. Who will be the next crony, lackey, or department head he tosses under a bus? Code enforcement, building codes, permitting, and the engineering department staff better polish up their resumes. They’re trapped in the same thirty-year time warp as Riley’s fire department and bear a nearly equal responsibility in the SSS