The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
September 20, 2013
County Council, September 19
Reassurances over Consolidated Dispatch
CARTA budget approvedWarwick Jones
Until yesterday, the Public Safety Committee had not met since 2005. Yesterday’s meeting was prompted by the failure of a dispatcher to pass on calls when received at the newly constructed Consolidated Dispatch Center. The failure was well covered in the local media and the individual responsible is now facing criminal charges.
September 11, 2013
City Council, September 10
Compromise on proposed downzoning ordinance
An overlay to replace proposed new Neighborhood Business zoningMarc Knapp
We expected quite a battle over the proposed ordinance to award compensation to those whose properties lose value because of a downzoning. The opposing sides shot off their salvos during last night’s long session. But at the end, compromises were reached.
June 06, 2012
County Council, June 5
Small gains for tax payers in 2013 budget
No forgiveness of CARTA loanWarwick Jones
The 2013 budget received its first reading at last night’s Council meeting. There were some changes to both the General Fund and the Transportation Sales Tax budgets presented to the Finance Committee Thursday last and not all Council members were in agreement.
November 28, 2010
Shrimp 'n Grits
Free DASH – Not Original and Not Free
It has taken over a decade and a half for an idea that had its genesis in Portland, Oregon to become reality in downtown Charleston, but the current recession has made even the Riley Administrations reconsider all possible ways to sustain downtown tourism and commercial revitalization efforts. When first proposed by former Council Member Shirley several years ago after a council fact-finding trip to the West Coast, Mayor Riley, the majority of his handpicked city council and his budget department gurus scoffed at Portland’s novel pro-business concept to offer free inter-city transit service to regional shoppers and tourists visiting Portland’s central business district. That fine bastion of west coast progressive ideology had discovered that, if it collaborated and offered discounted parking and free central shopping district transit service to all comers, its revitalized center city business district and city would both benefit.
October 01, 2010
County Council, September 30
Another tough year ahead for the State and probably for the County
Tough for CARTA too
Those looking for a report on the Finance Committee meeting earlier this month would have been disappointed. There was none. It was a featureless meeting with only “bread and butter” items on the agenda. We thought that yesterday’s meeting would be similar. Most of it was but the presentation by a representative of the SC Association of Counties got our attention, and that of most others.
August 18, 2010
City Council, August 17
How to improve the conduct of Council members?
An ordinance, intervention of the Mayor, or self discipline?Marc Knapp
Council member Mallard had center stage at yesterday’s Council meeting. You would never know from observing the Council member or listening to the speeches of other Council members. He remained impassive during their speeches and his name was never mentioned. Bit it was he that inspired Council member Alexander to draft an ordinance that attempted to define rules of decorum and penalties for breaches by Council members at City meetings.
July 09, 2010
County Council, July 8
More applications for Grants
CARTA Budget, and Accommodation Tax allocationsWarwick Jones
It was a reasonably long agenda before the Finance and other Committees yesterday afternoon. The Finance Committee and the full Council meet only once a month over the summer and it was four weeks since the last Finance Committee meeting.
June 17, 2009
City Council, June 16
New restriction on parking near property entrances
Issues on zoning, and contract for Arthur Christopher Center
Council is now on its summer schedule of one meeting a month for the next 3 months. Normally there are two meetings a month and business is usually dispensed within a few hours. But the summer meetings are invariably longer with an agenda that is accumulated over a month rather than about 2 weeks.
February 26, 2009
County Council, February 26, 2009
A very tough year coming up
But not for CARTA!
The County Administrator told the Finance Committee tonight that the state was planning to cut its contribution to the County next fiscal year by 42%. This follows on a significant cut this year. The reduction in State funds and other revenue forced the County over the last 2 months to cut $7.5 million from the original Fiscal 2009 budget. The reduction in State funds for Fiscal 2010 amounts to $7.8 million. Apart from sucking wind, there was no reaction from Council members. But we are sure that Council members will be doing some heavy pondering in the coming weeks.
February 13, 2009
County Council, February 12
Mayor Riley seeks to accelerate project in anticipation of “stimulus funds”
CARTA “shocks” CouncilWarwick Jones
Wih some of the Council members decked in formal wear and clearly a function to attend, last night’s Finance Committee meeting promised to be short. It was, though there were some interesting items.
July 25, 2008
County Council, July 24
Salad days for Clerk of Council
Issues on Procurement Policy and Accommodation Fee fundsWarwick Jones
There would probably be little disagreement with the opinion that the highlight of yesterday’s Council Meetings was the short video at the beginning. Chairman Scott gave no inkling of the video contents. But the reaction, predictably, was surprise. The video was a commercial for Duke Mayonnaise which featured no less than Ms. Beverly Craven, Clerk of Council. Ms. Craven has served Council for many years, sitting figuratively and literally at the right hand side of the Council Chairmen. Amiable and permanently in good humor, she is a sort of den mother for Council members. She would have been our first choice for "mom” in an “American apple pie” commercial. Seems Duke Mayonnaise sort of agrees. Ms. Craven received a strong ovation and gave us the broadest of smiles.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:59 PM
May 16, 2007
County Council, May 15
General Fund Budget put to bed, CARTA’s request rejected
Issues with oversight of PRC and temporary housing of jail inmatesWarwick Jones
It was a long evening. It began about four o'clock with a special meeting of the Finance Committee. It then moved to a public hearing on Contributions to Outside Agencies, and finally to a Council Meeting at 8 pm. The General Fund budget for fiscal 2008 was put to bed, though not tightly tucked in, and CARTA’s request for extra funds rejected. Spending on temporary facilities to house those unable to be placed in the crowded jail got approval, though not without debate. And Council moved to resolve as to who really was in charge of the Parks and Recreation Commission. But the issue of improving Hutt and Abram roads was left to fester.
May 11, 2007
County Council, May 10
No closure on some major items
CARTA returns to the troughWarwick Jones
There was no closure on the important items before the Finance Committee yesterday evening. In most cases, the Committee decided to defer final decisions until the Council meeting on Tuesday. Two of the important items were related to the proposed 2008 budget. Others related to the Parks and Recreation Commission, and to a road project.
December 15, 2006
County Council, December 14
Approves contract for health care of jail inmates
CARTA's 5 year plan, question of funding bus replacement after 2011Warwick Jones
It was a lean meeting of the Finance Committee with little at issue, which is probably just as well as only 5 council members were present. But it was still a quorum and sufficient to deal with the few items on the agenda.
December 11, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Light Commuter-rail - a heavy taxpayer burdenLee Walton
Whenever the Palter & Chatter hits attentive locals with an across-the-fold, full color, A-1 info-mercial like David Slade's Training Ground on Sunday morning, most readers instinctively groan, grab their wallets and think, Here we go again! Such articles are usually the precursor for another assault on taxpayer sensibilities and ever-dwindling take-home pay. If the Palter & Chatter's facts are correct, Nashville's newly christened $41 million commuter-rail was no bargain to build and became a heavily subsidized taxpayer burden the day it opened. With CARTA struggling to do all but put paper cut-outs in its hundreds of empty seats daily, a poorly planned and under-funded commuter-rail is the last thing the Lowcountry needs now. CARTA can't even crawl on its hands and knees, let alone walk, and now the Palter & Chatter wants to put it in the railroad commuting business.
October 09, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Bribe to "Ride CARTA Week" - A Taxpayer Charade!
Mercy! Now there's a new low - even for CARTA and its glitzy Madison Avenueish advertising consultants - bribing people to ride the bus by giving away "… breakfast, as well as gift certificates from local businesses." Breakfast and Gift Certificates - why not just hand out Dollar Bills to anybody standing next to a bus stop as a bribe to hop on and ride? What's worse is that the CARTA Board, Howard The Bag Man Chapman, Mayor J. Pericles Riley and the Palter and Chatter now have the unmitigated gall to brag about it in their newspaper. The nerve of these conspiring polemics using ½ cent sales tax revenue from our pockets to spuriously pad CARTA's ridership numbers in order to justify a request for increased state and federal transit funding next year. Who's kidding whom? The Bag Man is just cooking-the-books as usual to get more tax revenue and then blow it out the tail pipes of CARTA's big empty buses.
July 24, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
OBITUARY NOTICE Charleston County Council IntegrityLee Walton
Council's Integrity entered into eternal rest on the evening of July 18, 2006, in Charleston County Council Chambers after a valiant, albeit fatal, battle against broken promises and a complete collapse of personal courage. Integrity's untimely demise resulted from a truculent assault by Council Chairman Leon Stabyourbackus and his accomplice, The Machine's Colleen Condon, as they intimidated and cajoled the other seven Council members to approve an additional annual payment of $1.1 million to CARTA for the next six years.
July 19, 2006
City Council July 18
City attempts to "tidy up" zoning and height restrictions
Mayor seeks to toughen penalties for violent crimeMarc Knapp
With 57 public hearings scheduled, the agenda for last night's City Council looked formidable. It was formidable, but not as much as it appeared. Many of the hearings related to annexations and the proposed ordinances were adopted without discussion. However, those relating to changes in the Neck area and West of the Ashley were important and generated much discussion.
County Council Meeting July 18
Agrees to take over CARTA debt obligation
18% sales- tax cap to apply only over long termWarwick Jones
As we expected, the County will take on the burden of CARTA's debt. However, it will not need to tack on $6 million to the planned bond issue for transportation and greenbelts. To fund the next payment that is due to CARTA's bankers of $1.1 million, it will draw on funds that already have been budgeted for transportation from the sales tax but which have not been used. Although Council committed to making the remaining payments on CARTA's debt, there was no decision as from where they will be drawn, except that they will be derived from the half-cent sales tax.
July 17, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA's Summer Games ---Hide and Sneak!Lee Walton
When most folks are in the mountains or at the beach and could care less what happens in the Holy City when it's over 90 degrees, CARTA began its Summer Games at the July 13th County Finance Committee Meeting. It was classic Hide and Sneak starring Leon Stabyourbackus (Yep - you've just earned your nick-name) as Council Chairman, Howard, The Bagman, Chapman playing a silent bit part and J. Pericles Riley as the covert managing editor of the Palter and Chatter. The objective of this political game is to wait until no one is looking, hide a $6 million CARTA loan debt add-on to the upcoming transportation and green space Sales Tax Bond Referendum and sneak it past the voters of Charleston County in November.
July 14, 2006
County Council Meeting July 13
To take over CARTA's debt burden?
Bond issue for Transportation to be raised by $6 millionWarwick Jones
It's not signed and sealed yet. But most likely on Tuesday night, County Council will take an important step to pull out CARTA from under its debt burden. And it will do this by tacking on $6 million to the transportation bond issue that voters will be asked to approve in a referendum at the end of this year.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:28 PM
May 22, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Editing the EditorLee Walton
In a recent commentary in Saturday's, May 20th edition, a Palter & Chatter editor took the SC Department of Transport (DOT) to the "wood shed" for proposing to hire a P.R. firm to lobby the State Legislature for more state gas tax funding.
May 17, 2006
County Council May 16
Will continue to provide funds for charities
No extra funding for CARTAWarwick Jones
There were two major issues before Council last night - Outside Agency contributions and the Sales tax budget, or more particular, the funding of CARTA. The special meeting of the Finance Committee that was called to consider Outside Agencies, ground along for more than hour as Council members rearranged figures, to find funds not only for Outside Agencies, but also for other items. The discussion over the Sales Tax budget was short with total acceptance of the Finance Committees recommendation, that CARTA receive no extra funding but its financial needs be reviewed within a few months.
May 12, 2006
County Council May 11
Sympathy, but no extra cash for CARTA
Non-profits may go empty handedWarwick Jones
There were three important issues before the Finance Committee yesterday evening - CARTA's request for extra financing from sales tax funds, Outside Agency distributions, and proposed major changes to zoning regulations. The Committee may have had teary eyes in dealing with CARTA' woes but it was hard nosed in its decision - no extra funding. And the same applied to Outside Agencies - there may be no funding for any of the non-profits but if there is, qualifications may be tightened. And as for the new planning regulations, they were adopted with the exception of those that were contentious. Consideration of these was deferred.
May 11, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Extra! Extra! - Read all about it
Promises, Promises - Now a 'NEW' CARTA!
J. "Pericles" Riley stated in the Palter and Chatter on May 10th that "…CARTA's budget, as proposed, will allow us (Riley, Hallman, Summey, Chapman and the CARTA Board) to keep our promises to the citizens of Charleston County at a time when it is needed most." This polemic doublespeak is very disappointing and "classic Pericles." How can he say that he is keeping his promise to the people when he and the other leaders gave us their word, not just once but twice, that CARTA would get only 18% of the annual 1/2% Sales Tax Revenue. Now Pericles and the other elected officials who championed the Sales Tax Referendum are poised to break their earlier promises and representations to all of the voters and taxpayers of Charleston County.
April 23, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA - So whose fault is it?Lee Walton
When I read, "…the system needs extra help for the next few years to pay off a debt incurred through no fault of its own" in the Palter & Chatter's April 17th editorial, my first thoughts were of an old rock and roll tune, "What kind 'a fool do ya think I am - do ya think I am now." The condescending editor who authored this offending chatter is no better than a profiteering bartender serving another drink to a staggering alcoholic. The Palter & Chatter's editorial staff is blatantly facilitating incompetent behavior by CARTA's Director and Board and would have us believe that CARTA's continuous mismanagement, shameless waste of tax revenues, empty buses, routes-to-nowhere and out-and-out bungling of everything they seem to touch is not CARTA's fault, but someone else's.
April 20, 2006
Transportation Advisory Board. April 19
To recommend that CARTA gets special funding
Deliberates on other funding prioritiesWarwick Jones
Yesterday's meeting of the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) was devoted largely to defining policy, specifically to funding allocations. One of the recommendations is certain to create controversy.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:54 PM
April 02, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA - Fueled by Printer's Ink!Lee Walton
Mercy! If CARTA could run on printer's ink and editorial platitudes from the Palter & Chatter, it wouldn't need any of the Half Cent Sales Tax revenue to operate. Talk about those who "… just don't get it"! These self- righteous hypocrites and would be "transit experts" want their readers to believe that the only solution to CARTA's chronic operational and management problems is to continue blindly throwing more and more tax money into the hands of its incompetent management. How can they continue to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to the mounting waste and incompetence that most now see as a bottomless pit for hard-earned taxes? Instead, the Palter & Chatter's March 29th Editorial chooses to ridicule and chide well founded public skepticism and "… attitude problems by some in the community who simply fail to see the personal benefits of a public transit system."
March 20, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA's "Fox" in TAB's "Hen House"Lee Walton
"Will he or won't he?" That's the $64,000 (more like $6 million) question soon to be discussed during CARTA funding deliberations likely to come before the County's Transportation Advisory Board (TAB).
February 24, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
May 18, 2005
County Council Meeting May 17
What a difference a few days make
CARTA to receive an extra $1 million. Conservation Bank to go back to Finance Committee for considerationWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
As is usual, much of the agenda on last night's meeting received rubber stamp approval. After all, most of it had been considered and approved by the Finance Committee. What was surprising was the decision to raise the allocation of sales tax proceeds for Fiscal 2006 to CARTA. The Finance Committee at its meeting last week stated that it would keep the allocation to 18% of the sales tax proceeds, a ratio that it fixed in the 2002 referendum paper. Committee members last week expressed fear that many voters would be incensed if CARTA were to receive more than this allocation particularly as the inclusion of CARTA as a recipient of sales tax funds was contentious.
May 13, 2005
Charleston County May 12
Sales Tax budget approved for 2006
Spending on roads to accelerate, CARTA's request for larger allocation rejectedWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The Finance Committee yesterday considered the proposed Fiscal 2006 budget for the half-cent sales tax. Collection of the tax did not begin until the beginning of this month but it will not be until the fiscal year beginning July 1 that the county actually receives the tax. The County expects to generate $35.16 million in revenue from the tax in the fiscal year and has allocated $22.5 million or 65% of the total for Transportation. A breakdown of the allocation can be seen by pressing here
February 02, 2005
County Council Meeting, Februrary 1
County ponders move to control CARTAWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
We thought it might just have been the enthusiasm of new Council members. We also thought that their desire to more forcefully re-shape CARTA would succumb to the pressures of more seasoned members. Well, the Council did yield to the views of some of the longer standing members, but only to allow the Council Staff to more fully study the ramifications of what the Finance Committee proposed at its last meeting - that the County acquire full ownership and take over the running of CARTA.
October 04, 2004
Sales Tax Referendum - Why you should vote NO!
Warwick Jones, Editor
The sales tax referendum is only 4 weeks away. The City and County are now heating up their campaigns to yet again convince voters of a need for an increase in the sales tax. This will be the third attempt to raise the tax. The earlier attempts failed. In the case of the first, the tax increase was rejected at the polls, and in the second, because the vote was overturned by the Supreme Court who found fault with the wording of the ballot paper. Hopefully, this is the last time a vote is sought. But we cannot be certain. The Attorney General has questioned the legality of the wording and a legal challenge is very possible if the referendum is successful. And given the tenacity of the Councils, it is possible that a No vote may not deter them for seeking another referendum in 2008.
July 29, 2004
CARTA - How many are truly hurting from the cutbacks?
Warwick Jones, Editor
Well the Sales Tax referendum is only 4 months away. We can expect the City and the Post & Courier to crank up shortly to begin a blitz with reasons why we need to vote for it.
CARTA, although only the recipient of probably less than 20% of the funds, will be the horse flogged the hardest. The City and the newspaper concentrated their efforts on CARTA in their earlier efforts to garner support for the tax. We expect they will attempt to do it again.
July 21, 2004
City Council Meeting June 20 -
McLeod Plantation development and Neck Area project approved
A questionable rezoning, CARTA budget approved without commentMarc Knapp who covers City Council
McLeod Plantation to be developed
Well, maybe the Mc Leod Plantation will not be developed in the strict sense of the word, but many in the community feel that the acquisition by the American School of Building Arts will represent the equivalent. After a very long and emotional session, the Council approved the inclusion of the 31.5 acres that represents the major part of the Plantation in the School Overlay Zone classification. This clears the way for the School to purchase the Plantation from the Historic Foundation, and for the School to add those buildings that will be necessary to provide facilities for the 144 students that are expected to be enrolled.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:34 PM
June 18, 2004
County Finance Committee Jun 17.
No surprises with Sales Tax and CARTA Budget approved. Reassessment cap decision deferred
We speak with Howard Chapman of CARTAWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty
With the CARTA 2005 budget, the Sales Tax referendum and the Reassessment cap on the Committee's agenda, we were prepared for an interesting meeting. Considering the TV crews present, others were obviously expecting some excitement. Well, it all was a bit of a yawn. The CARTA budget was accepted without discussion, so was the Sales Tax referendum. And a decision on the Reassessment cap was deferred.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:45 PM
June 17, 2004
More on CARTA - Summary of a discussion with Howard Chapman, executive director of CARTA
Warwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on
Sales tax is vital to CARTA operations
Mr. Chapman acknowledges the importance of the Sales tax to the budget next year but adds the very continuation of CARTA depends on the sales tax being approved by voters in the referendum. And assuming it gets passed, there are some initiatives that are planned to improve service, though they will not be implemented before May next year
June 03, 2004
Submitted by Joseph G. Lolli, 7867 Russell Creek Drive, Edisto Island
The Post & Courier on June 2, 2004 reported that the cost of the Iraq war "Cuts into social programs". The AP provided a whole myriad of social spending programs that "war spending" COULD have funded. For the cost of the Iraqi war, the Fed could have paid for [X] of a million people to go to Harvard or 2.8 million to attend a typical public university for four years, or provide rental subsidies for hundreds of thousands of low income people. But then, the only constitutional function of federal government of the items listed above is to protect the nation from foreign attack. So, what's the point?
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:34 PM
May 19, 2004
Has Carta started working on Plan B?
The sales tax referendum is about 6 months away. We wonder whether CARTA has started working on Plan B yet? The bus company states that it is relying on the passage of the sales tax increase to obtain funding for services. As in the last referendum, only about 20% of the revenue from the sales tax will go to CARTA. The balance will go into that bottomless box with the pretty label called Roads, Parks and Greenspace. I doubt that voters will buy the spiel again but the Post & Courier lachrymose machine is starting to pump out the hardship stories again. Voters may be moved but they also will recognise the increased sales tax as a largely unnecessary drain on taxpayers resources. CARTA should start to consider real reform.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:08 PM