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City Council, October 23

A featureless agenda
Complaints by citizens from the Eastside
Marc Knapp

There were few items if interest on the agenda of last nightís Council meeting. Most of the meeting was taken up with public hearings, presentations, and Citizens Participation.

A number of citizens rose to speak in the public hearing on this yearís budget. It is still in preparation but likely to be finalized early December. Representatives of Trident Literacy and the Red Cross spoke, as they do each year, of the work they do, and the need for continued funding. One citizen provocatively suggested that money given by the city to the Pastors Group should be diverted to Trident Literacy. The latter provided more benefit to the community than the small affordable housing provider, he said. i also rose and asked that the City not consider cost of living increases for staff. It was wrong to increase City salaries and wages when so many folk remained unemployed or underemployed. I also spoke about the lack of accountability of some department heads and suggested if one or two were fired, the City could actually get some work done for the citizens rather than rewarding people for just existing. I also suggested, again, that a lot of fat existed on the City payroll, very apparent when observing city workers supposedly engaged on storm water and drainage projects.

In the presentation period, Mrs. Ernestine Whyne Carew was recognized for having reached her hundredth year. She appeared frail but her mind remained very sound as she wished everybody a long life.

Citizens Participation brought out a number of citizens. One represented her aged mother who lived on Nassau Street. She made an agitated plea for help in mitigating the damage that was being sustained by her motherís house from the nearby development on Meeting Street. In the ensuing discussion, it seems that other houses on Nassau Street are being affected. The City is monitoring the situation.

Other citizens rose to speak of the problems relating to the football teams of the East side. Citizens spoke of the disrespect on the City for cancelling games without giving notice to the teams. Others spoke of the difficulty of organizing matches with other teams on the City-owned playgrounds. And as one City Council member said privately, the East side team is largely black. It would seem a racial thing, but it really isnít, he said. But what is it, we ask? The cancellation of the games at the last minute may have been a scheduling error, we donít know. But we think the issue really is getting the Eastside teams to playing fields elsewhere in the City. It seems teams in other parts of the City play teams that practice nearby. Transport is not a major problem. But it is for the Eastside teams and the City does not want to set a precedent in providing it.

I also spoke about the continuing problem with the timing of the traffic lights along Savannah Highway. This is an issue I have raised a number of times. I suggested sarcastically that with all the millions the City has spent on the computer system and for the lights to still not work in a reasonable fashion, someone had to be getting kickbacks or paid off. Since I have suggested this before, I was surprised when the Mayor took offense to my comment; I guess my suspicions were right, that he usually turns off his hearing aid when I speak. Can't imagine why. Still it is sad that the traffic on Savannah Highway can not move any better than it does when, if I remember correctly the City spent well over two million dollars on the system. So much for being environmentally green with thousands of vehicles idling every day!

We know little about the management of a facility such as the Gaillard Auditorium. But the decision of the Committee of Special Facilities, chaired by Council member Wagner surprised us. The Committee, comprised of Council members and the Mayor, recommended that a non-profit be formed to handle the administration and ticket sales of the new Gaillard. The board would consist of 17 members, 7 of which would be appointed by the City, 7 at large, and 3 representing the Convention and Visitors Bureau. We were told that a for-profit group was considered, similar to that which manages the North Charleston Coliseum. But because the Gaillard would be much smaller, a for- profit group would not be viable.

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