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Glenn McConnell right-of-way funding – more smoke & mirrors
Lee Walton

Last week’s Palter and Chatter article about the City of Charleston’s purchase of right-of-way for extension of the Glenn McConnell Parkway was informative as far as it went, but David Slade either has a very short memory, lacks the in-depth journalistic skills needed to adequately research his subject matter, or, more likely, is just another wooden-headed puppet dangling from the strings of the Riley Palter and Chatter sycophants that sign his pay-check.

Had Mr. Slade exerted both the courage and effort, he could have exposed a glaring inconsistency between the terms of the Long Savannah Development Agreement and the story now being shoveled by the Riley Administration as fodder for the citizens of Charleston. He could also have exposed another favorite sleight-of-hand, albeit very public, IRS Trick Mayor Riley uses to further deepen the pockets of his most favored deal-estate development cronies who sell land to the city.

The existing Development Agreement between the City and Long Savannah Plantation, LLC was presented to City Council for adoption at it’s November 27, 2007 meeting. It’s terms and conditions run-on for over 32 convoluted pages, but they are clear enough to define the obligations of the City with respect to what costs the taxpayer’s of Charleston are expected to pay. Subsection 17, C, 2 leaves little doubt regarding the City’s obligation as it applies to the Glenn McConnell Parkway Extension – “The City or its designee will be responsible for land acquisition of the right of way, as depicted in Exhibit Q, which shall be completed by December 31,2008.”

The agreement contains no obligation for the developer to reimburse the city for the cost of the required right-of-way and contradicts David Slade’s reported, and very misleading, statement that “The developers will reimburse the city for right-of-way acquisition for the extension of the parkway.” What is now all to apparent and true is that the taxpayers of Charleston will incur a $1.7 million general obligation bond debt plus interest to pay for land to benefit a private development. Why try to cover-up the truth? Why all the smoke and mirrors to mislead the taxpayers? The Palter and Chatter and Riley must really think all of our heads are filled with Shinola.

Riley’s little IRS Trick for the financial benefit of his deal-estate cronies is also one for the books! In Slade’s July 18th article, Riley was quoted as saying “…that the city would have to consider condemnation…” if the city’s offer was not accepted. Simply by uttering this phrase, Riley will allow the seller of the right-of-way to claim an “involuntary conversion” and use the federal tax code to indefinitely postpone paying tax on the financial gain realized from the sale. “IRS Publication 544” states that “A threat of condemnation exists if a representative of a government body or public official authorized to acquire property for public use informs you that the government body or official has decided to acquire your property.” What a sweet set-up! The rich do indeed get richer with the Mayor’s help – at taxpayer expense.

Lastly, while researching data for this article, a quote by Councilmember Morinelli in an earlier May 4, 2008 Palter and Chatter article by David Slade seemed too good to pass-up. As she lamented about the critical need for the Glenn McConnell Extension – “We desperately need it…It’s really bad…” she uttered a statement that obviously shot right over Reporter Slade’s head – “They put all these developments up and down Highway 61 years ago, and didn’t think about transportation, and as a result everybody is suffering.” Ms. Morinelli apparently hasn’t got a clue as to whom they are, and it’s all too obvious that David Slade or his Palter and Chatter stable-mates aren’t about to ask – It’s the City Stupid!

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