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City Council, April 9

Questions raised about policing
A pick up place for Uber and Lyft on King Street?
Marc Knapp

Last night’s meeting was short and devoid of major controversy. There was the recognition of the passing of Senator “Fritz” Hollings and his significant service to the State and the nation. And also recognition of Council member Seekings who took over the lead role in managing this year’s “Bridge Run” following the passing of Julian Smith. The Bridge Run was the largest ever. Suggesting the considerable time and effort expended, the Council member said that it was the last bridge run he would oversee. Next year he planned to run and not manage.

Attendees were graced with a short and good humored address by Ireland’s Ambassador to the US. He noted the Irish ancestry of a number of the City’s past Mayors and the strong Irish presence in the City’s history. Predictably he gave a plug for Ireland noting that there were some 500 Irish companies operating in the US, employing some 100,000 persons. The economy of Ireland was the fastest growing of all the EC members and that with the exit of the UK, it was the only English speaking country in the Community

If there were controversy last night, it was shown in Citizens Participation.

Mr Jason Taylor spoke at the previous City Council meeting about the shortcomings of police patrolling the Westside and Hampton Park area. Last night he acknowledged a meeting with senior police officials to address the perceived problems. As in the previous meeting, Council members Waring and Gregorie rose to defend the police and denied the claimed shortcomings. We understand that Mr. Taylor proposes to challenge Council member Lewis in the upcoming Council election.

I too rose in Citizens Participation. Like Mr Taylor I was critical of the police and was seeking an explanation. Late last week, two young women - under 21 years of age - were in a car that collided with a tree of Riverland Terrace on James Island. The car was totaled and the speedometer at the time of the crash was registering between 45 and 50 mph. The speed limit on the road is 35 mph. The passengers were not wearing seat belts and sustained injuries, but thanks to the air bags, were not life threatening.

And this is where we are wondering. Both women were intoxicated. Yet no ticket, specifically a DUI ticket, was issued by the police. The police were called to the scene and observed the carnage. But why no ticket? What sort of example does this set for other drivers who may chance driving under the influence. For the record, my information source was a relative of one of the girls.

Chief Luther Reynolds approached me at the end of the meeting to discuss the incident. If what I reported were true, he was concerned. He was going to look into the matter and acknowledged that he presently had no information of the incident. As we parted, he acknowledged, as he did in the previous Council meeting, that there was work to be done in the department to improve standards.

There were other complaints in Citizens Participation, one from the President of the association representing the East Side, Ms. Latoya Campbell. She and another were lamenting the hotel and apartment construction in the neighborhood and the pressure put on street parking. She asked the City to help residents and introduce more restrictive parking requirements. She noted that this request had been before Council for many years, and there had been no action.

And then there was the complaint by an Uber driver. King Street, particularly at night, was heavily populated. Many folk, after an evening of eating, drinking and revelry, wanted a ride home. But summoning an Uber or Lyft vehicle was a challenge. There was no spot on King Street or most side streets where a ride share vehicle could park and pick up. The speaker asked that the City provide a large space, somewhat similar in concept to that at the airport where Uber and Lyft vehicles could park in anticipation of a call from a potential patron. The Mayor acknowledged the problem and said the issue was being discussed.