The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
Charleston City Council
March 15, 2017
City Council, March 14
Hostile reaction to a possible 150 room hotel in Ansonborough
Carriage horses off street now at 95 degree temperatureMarc Knapp
There were two items of interest on yesterday’s agenda. The first was a public hearing over conveying Hayne Street to the owner of the two properties on either side. The second was a tweaking of the conditions under which carriage horses are allowed to operate. Both issues generated some strong feelings amongst the City’s citizenry.
March 01, 2017
City Council, February 28
Grievances about traffic congestion, flooding and development
A shaky first step in amending Accommodation OverlayMarc Knapp
It was not happy meeting. Citizens aired their grievances about traffic congestion, flooding and development. And Council was unhappy about the proposed changes to the Accommodations Overlay, though in a close vote, the amended ordinance was given its first reading.
February 15, 2017
City Council, February 14
New zoning ordinance for historic districts passed
Another resolution in support of I-526 completionMarc Knapp
Council approved the ordinance reshaping the zoning of the Historic District at the first reading last night. The reshaping has been in the works for some time and its form was presented to the public last week. There was strong applause from the public and preservation groups though many thought the ordinance needed more though modest work. From the reaction last night, City Council shared the opinion of the public and preservation groups.
January 11, 2017
City Council, January 10
Issue over award of Consultant contract
Zoning change proposed to boost affordable housingMarc Knapp
Council member Waring had a point. He made it and Mayor Tecklenberg lost his cool, well almost. The Council member questioned the role that “Josh” Martin, the Mayor's assistant, played in choosing the consultant to the West Ashley Revitalization Commission (WARC). And the Mayor reacted with hostility that anyone should question the integrity or ability of Mr. Martin.
December 21, 2016
City Council, December 20
Asks State to allow inclusionary zoning for affordable housing
Council not happy about proposed consultant hireWarwick Jones
We thought the most interesting item on the agenda for last night’s meeting was the resolution relating to affordable housing. It seemed that Council did not share our view for there was no discussion. We thought there should have been.
December 07, 2016
City Council, December 6
Divisions over Accommodation tax allocations
Council wants more engagementMarc Knapp
Accommodation tax issues dominated last night’s Council meetings. Although the 2017 budgets for both the Accommodation Tax and Hospitality Fee were passed with only one vote against, there was much dissatisfaction- with the nature of the State ordinance, and with the recipients.
November 11, 2016
City Council, November 10
Shaping the process to appoint Board and Commission members
Bike hire contract signedMarc Knapp
In deference to Council members and others doing their own thing on Election Day, the normal Tuesday Council meeting was held last night instead. Maybe it was the shock of the election result, or simply the emptiness of the agenda, the meeting lacked energy though not of enthusiasm. Council members unanimously supported the reappointment of Leonard Krawcheck to the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Bike Share Contract.
October 26, 2016
City Council, October 25
City continues in good fiscal shape
Vote still stands at 75% to reverse PC decisionsMarc Knapp
We didn’t expect any surprises arising from the Budget Workshop held prior to yesterday’s Ways and Means meeting. However the news was good. Although two months remain in the year, staff expects the City will come close or indeed exceed it budget targets. And it expects another good year in 2017 with no tax increase anticipated.
September 28, 2016
City Council, September 27
Developer surprises City and opponents
Voting by phone more strictly proscribed
Some residents of James Island were looking for a fight. They were very unhappy about the development on Maybank Highway that began life under a Gathering Place (GP) Zoning but now a Planned Unit Development. They thought that proposed was still too dense and large, and that too many trees were being sacrificed. They wanted the project to go before the Design Review Board, even though it seemed there was no legal liability for it to do so.
August 17, 2016
City Council, August 17
Proposed new hotel restrictions too harsh
Planning Commission asked to look again at a lower majority voteMarc Knapp
There were a number of issues before Council at its meeting last night. Despite the
lengthy deliberations – about 5 hours –not all issues were resolved.
July 20, 2016
Council to West of Ashley commuters – Drop dead!
Ordinance changes no set back to Sergeant Jasper projectMarc Knapp
It was bizarre. County Council last night agreed on a sales tax to raise funds for roads and reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, City Council was deliberating and ultimately agreed to a lane closure on the Legare Bridge which will certainly exacerbate congestion on Highway 17 and Folly Roads, two of the main conduits into the City. And the voting districts of three of the seven Council members who voted for the closure are outside the broad West Ashley, James Island Johns Island areas. These areas are the most affected by the lane closure.
June 22, 2016
City Council, June 21
A Hobson’s Choice over Sergeant Jasper Development
Understandably, the latest compromise was acceptedMarc Knapp
Last night’s meeting had the promise of being long. It was long and indeed unnecessarily so, though not entirely the fault of the City. We can only guess at the attendance but it was probably over a hundred. And the majority of the attendees were there because of the proposed bike lane over the Legare Bridge.
May 11, 2016
City Council, May 10
Issues with a Planning Commission member
Long deliberation on nature of West Ashley Revitalization CommissionMarc Knapp
It was a long evening. The Council meeting did not conclude until well after 7 pm. I was the only member of the public in the gallery that endured the whole meeting, and I wonder why. There were two issues that took up most of the two hour meeting. I won’t say that they were trivial, but they were not deserving of the time spent, to say the least.
April 27, 2016
City Council. April 26
Resolution to complete I-526 passes
City parking regulations up for reviewMarc Knapp
A resolution supporting the completion of I-526 was on last night’s agenda. The reaction was predictable. The die-hards were there to speak against it in Citizens Participation, though not in the numbers of the past, Coastal Conservation League supporters bombarded Council members with identical e-mails in protest, and the resolution was approved by Council with only Council members Seekings and Gregorie opposed.
April 13, 2016
City Council, April 12
Citizens to Council – Do something about traffic congestion!
A touching recognition of Isabella RybakMarc Knapp
It started with a public hearing relating to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) on Johns Island. The developer wanted to add acreage and units to the original PUD. No, said some nearby residents, it is going to add to traffic congestion that is already overwhelming us. And it then grew to a chorus as other citizens and then Council members spoke with alarm of the traffic problems of the island and Charleston generally.
March 23, 2016
City Council, March 22
Opposition to gas station development in Old Charles Towne
Apprehension over lane closure over Legare BridgeMarc Knapp
Just as the City is moving closer to dousing the fire over Sergeant Jasper, another outbreak has occurred in West Ashley. A developer wants to put a gas station at a City “gateway”- the junction of Old Towne Road and Sam Rittenburg Highway – and the area residents don’t want it. Many attended and spoke at the City Council meeting held last night in Founder’s Hall in West Ashley. Amongst those speaking against the project were two past members of Council, Tinkler and Alexander.
March 09, 2016
City Council, March 8
Gathering Place moratorium extended for more study
Another effort to improve traffic flows
Another effort to improve traffic flowsMarc Knapp
At a City Council meeting earlier this year, Mayor Tecklenberg noted that he had not met anybody that liked the Gathering Place (GP) zoning. A new and much modified GP zoning was before Council last night. It still had few friends. The zoning, now called Mixed Use 3 – Centers (MU-3/C) is to be studied further and the moratorium of new construction in GPs has been extended to 60 days.
February 24, 2016
City Council, February 23
No moratorium on new hotel development
But City plans a study with a report within 90 daysWarwick Jones
The most important item on last night’s agenda was a proposed moratorium on new hotels for the Peninsula. It was the Mayor’s idea and apparently in the minds of Council members, a bad idea. We were told by a Council member before the meeting began that the item would be pulled from the agenda. It was effectively, but Council agreed to a study of the issue of new hotels, and a report in 90 days.
February 10, 2016
City Council, February 9
Council agrees to a super majority vote of 60%, but will it hold?
Procedure in appointing members of boards and commissions to changeMarc Knapp
City Council passed the amendment to reduce the supermajority to 60% for a vote to override a Planning Commission (PC) decision. But we doubt that the reduction from 75% will hold. But more on this later.
January 27, 2016
City Council, January 26
Mayor signals a harsher policy on Citizen’s comments
Gathering Place moratorium extendedMarc Knapp
It was Mayor Tecklenberg’s second Council meeting. He conducted it well. He was assured and polished. He summed up some issues before the Council nicely. And he laid out very firmly the conduct that he expected at future Council meetings. Talking more to citizens than Council members, speakers needed to confine themselves to City business and issues. Prejudice of any description would not be tolerated. He recognized it was a fine line between free and offensive speech but notwithstanding, he expected speakers to show restraint.
January 13, 2016
City Council, January 12
Mayor’s first Council meeting goes well
Issues over Gathering Place and Short Term rental ordinancesWarwick Jones
It was Mayor Tecklenburg’s first Council meeting. He handled it confidently, competently and with humor. Mind, there were no complex issues before Council, at least of great import, nor an ordinance that needed his support. It was a relatively straight forward meeting where the Mayor needed to play only the role of chair.
December 16, 2015
City Council, December 14
Fond farewells for the Mayor
Some rezoning issuesWarwick Jones
It was Mayor Riley day at the City Council meeting yesterday. It was his final day as Mayor after a tenure of some 40 years. As expected, many citizens attended the meeting to give their best wishes and praise his achievements. There might have been more speaking last night if not for the fact that many citizens had already expressed their feelings at earlier Council meetings.
December 02, 2015
City Council, December 1
City gets serious about flooding issues
2016 budgets for City, Accommodation Tax and Hospitality Fee passedMarc Knapp
The Mayor’s request stirred much debate. But in the end, Council went along with his proposal to increase millage rates and extend the sunset clause for Franchise Fees. The ensuing funds would be used primarily for addressing drainage issues which were expected to become critical in future. Part of the Franchise Fee would also go to providing affordable housing.
November 11, 2015
City Council, November 10
Optimistic fiscal outlook for 2016
Moratorium on new projects in Gathering PlacesMarc Knapp
Last night’s meeting began with a Budget Workshop and a presentation by the Mayor. In summary, the current year has shaped up well, the City’s finances are in excellent condition and 2016 should also be a good year. CFO Bedard said that 2015 would end up between “a good year and a very good year”. We noted in a previous comment the strong fiscal performance of the City. But at that time, the impact of the storms and flooding of early October had not been felt. Without the added costs of dealing with the emergency, we suspect 2015 would be a better year than “very good”. The Mayor told Council that revenues are “at or slightly above budget” and expenditures “tracking on budget”.
October 14, 2015
City Council, October 13
A “great budget year” up to end of August
But costs associated with recent flooding will take a tollMarc Knapp
It was a lean agenda for the City Council meeting. As is usual at this time of year, it was held on Daniel Island in the Providence Baptist Church. For many of us, it was a long way to travel for little of substance.
September 23, 2015
City Council, September 22
City to acquire park at Longborough
Major new zoning district establishedMarc Knapp
Real estate and zoning issues took up most of last night’s Council meeting. And the first to be discussed was the plan to acquire a park at Longborough. The ownership of the park has been disputed in recent years but the court decided the rightful owner was the Longborough Owners Association. Despite the fact that the public had access to the park, the Mayor claimed that the City should own the property to ensure future public access. Last night, Council agreed with him.
September 09, 2015
City Council, September 8
CARTA 2016 budget approved
Highest bond ratings for the City, again!
It was the first meeting after the summer break. In retrospect, it was a meeting we could have missed with non-business items taking up most of the time.
August 19, 2015
City Council. August 18
Hampton Park Plan adopted
Amendments made to original planMarc Knapp
Despite the heavy rain and local flooding, some 20 or so citizens found their way to Bishop Gadsden last night to speak at the Council meeting and plans for Hampton Park. They could have saved themselves the effort. Since the public hearing a month ago, the City made much effort to collect more community views. In consequence, it amended its original plans, and the amended ordinance passed last night with only Council member Gregorie dissenting. The Parks Conservancy will now lease land and improvements from the City that will serve, after redevelopment, a café and a community center. The surplus from operations will be used to help fund the Conservancy’s efforts to maintain city parks.
July 22, 2015
City Council, July 21
Mother Emmanuel victims honored
Late Night Activity Review Committee makes its reportMarc Knapp
It was the first meeting of Council since the Mother Emmanuel shootings. Council member Moody gave the invocation prior to the Ways and Means meeting, and Council member Riegel, that for the City Council. Both invocations drew heavily on the killings. The City Council meeting opened with a resolution to honor the members of the church who were slain. It also was to establish the “Mother Emanuel AME Church Days in the City of Charleston” beginning June 17, 2016. On each of these days next year, a live oak tree will be planted at nine locations within the City in remembrance. The City Council will appoint a committee to determine the location of the plantings
June 17, 2015
City Council, June 16
Error in collection of environment impact fees on Daniel Island?
Citizens’ abuse of Citizens Participation and Public HearingsMarc Knapp
With outside temperatures near the century mark (and it is still June) it was a slow moving day. The Ways and Means session was scheduled to begin at 4.30pm but when the Mayor looked in a few minutes before, there were only two people in the chamber. Undoubtedly, the extreme weather affected attendance. Four members of Council were also absent for most of last evening’s session though as the Mayor explained, this had nothing to do with the weather.
May 27, 2015
City Council, May 26
May 13, 2015
City Council, May 12
Tourist Management Plan adopted
But without the Planning Commission’s recommendationsWarwick Jones
It was a long meeting. We expected it would be because of the public hearing on the Tourist Management Plan. But a proposed change in the City’s procurement policy also generated substantial discussion and citizen comment.
April 29, 2015
City Council, April 28
Hours for night time taxi rates amended
Decision on hammocks in parks deferredMarc Knapp
Against a background of a burning Baltimore, the seizure of a US registered ship by Iran, and chaos in the Middle East, part of last night’s City Council meeting had a surreal feeling. I refer to the discussion and debate about stringing hammocks in City parks. Isn’t this taking minor issues to an absurd level? City Council thought twice about its proposed ban and deferred the issue while staff attempted to find a compromise solution.
March 25, 2015
City Council, March 24
Resolution opposing offshore drilling approved but with much dissent
Management of Galliard construction questionedMarc Knapp
The resolution to oppose drilling and seismic testing off the coast of South Carolina was subject to much debate at last night’s Council meeting. All but one Council member spoke to the issue and Council ultimately approved the resolution. But with a 7 to 5 vote, the support was not overwhelming. Council members White, Alexander, Riegel, Moody, and Wagner voted against the resolution. The Mayor supported the resolution and said that a vote was necessary at the meeting to enable the resolution to be submitted to Ocean Energy Management before the end of this month when the opportunity for public comments closed.
March 11, 2015
City Council, March 10
Council edges closer to comprehensive transportation ordinance
Major contract awarded for Spring/Fishburne drainageMarc Knapp
A new ordinance to replace those relating to taxis and limousines, and to cover Network Transportation Companies (NTCs), is shortly to come before Council. The Transportation Committee has been working on the ordinance for some weeks and the Committee Chair, Council member Moody last night indicated it’s near completion. He also gave to Council an “executive summary”. It is summarized below. The most controversial part of the new ordinance is probably the new taxi cab rates.
February 25, 2015
City Council, February 24
Council honors a feisty Auschwitz survivor
Hopes for greenspace on Upper King StreetMarc Knapp
It was a bleak night and probably most of us would have preferred to have been somewhere else. And maybe staff wanted an early night too as the thermostat in the Council chamber was turned to an uncomfortable low level. Notwithstanding, the session lasted longer than most Council members hoped, I suspect. And it was mainly discussion on what we thought was an undeserving item that prolonged the meeting.
February 11, 2015
City Council, February 10
Still working on Transportation Network Companies ordinance
Revisions likely of taxi and limousine regulations as wellMarc Knapp
Last evening’s Council meetings were short. There was little of note relating to business items on the agenda. In common with some recent meetings, presentations and recognitions took up a significant amount of the time.
January 28, 2015
City Council, January 27
Still working on Transport Network Companies ordinance
Long Savannah showing life
There was little of substance on the agenda for last night’s Council meeting. In consequence, the meeting was relatively short, and ended a little less than an hour before the Mayor was scheduled to deliver his State of the City address.
January 14, 2015
City Council, January 13
City begins work on Transport Network ordinanceWarwick Jones
It was a short City Council meeting with little of substance on the agenda. Citizen’s Participation was able to draw only one speaker. The action of the day was at the earlier meeting of the Transportation Committee. It was well attended, we were told as citizens expressed their views on a new ordinance covering the likes of Uber and Lyft.
December 17, 2014
City Council, December 16
City to take a look at building standards in Historic District
Magnolia project moves ahead – at lastMarck Knapp
It was the first item of the Ways and Means Agenda. The City was to retain Miami architect Duany Plater–Zybek & Co for a fee of $79,000. Historic Charleston Foundation was to reimburse the City for $40,000 of this amount. We had no idea what all this was for but the Mayor moved to enlighten us.
November 13, 2014
City Council, November 12
A natatorium for the City?
A belated attempt to restrain helicopter tours of the CityMarc Knapp
When the College of Charleston decided recently to close down the Stern Center, it probably had little idea of the reaction. The Center houses an indoor swimming pool and without which, the College’s swim and dive team dies. Last night, the members of the team, perhaps thirty or so, turned up to the City Council meeting. Speakers noted the benefits derived by the community of the College’s swim and diving programs. They sought the City’s help in some way to preserve the programs. The City responded enthusiastically and probably went beyond the expectations of the students.
October 29, 2014
City Council, October 28
Residents seek more changes to Upper Wando development
A Farmer’s Market for West Ashley?Marc Knapp
Zoning issues were the focus of Council discussion and Citizens Participation last night. The most important was that relating to the development of 70.4 acres on the Upper Wando. A number of citizens spoke of the need for changes to the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) but Council unanimously agreed to give the ordinance a first reading. Council members noted that differences remained between the developer and near-by residents but hoped that most of these could be eliminated by the time the ordinance came back for second and final readings. The ordinance is yet to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and it too may make changes.
October 15, 2014
City Council, October 14
Bike Rack and Bar Moratorium amendments finalized
Confusion over proposed Urban Growth Boundary change
Confusion over proposed Urban Growth Boundary changeMarc Knapp
The agenda for last night’s Council meeting was lean. And with no presentations and recognitions, the meeting was relatively short. There were only a few things of note.
September 10, 2014
City Council, September 9
More funding for the Gibbes and Aquarium
Turkys Towing has problem relocatingMarc Knapp
Council last night approved a $5 million bond issue to support renovations and improvements to the Gibbes Museum and the Aquarium. Interest and amortization of the Revenue Bonds will be met by revenue derived from the City’s Accommodation Tax. However, in a memorandum to Council members, the Mayor stated that the Aquarium and the Carolina Art Association (joint owner of the Gibbes) will repay about 95% of the borrowings “over time”.
August 20, 2014
City Council, August 19
Council divided on discussing moratorium on new bars and restaurants
Discussion will follow decision by Planning CommissionMarc Knapp
It had not been a long meeting, but it was long enough. The seats were hard in the Gibbes Museum where last night’s meeting was held and most of us thought it was time to finish up. But then Council Member Waring rose with a complaint and a motion. Council had never discussed the issue of a moratorium over opening new bars and restaurants in the entertainment areas. Yet the issue was going to the Planning Commission tomorrow. This was wrong. Let’s have the discussion now, he suggested.
July 16, 2014
City Council, July 15
New site for African American Museum
Building height limit to be raised in High Tech overlayMarc Knapp
As expected, the Council approved the agreement to acquire the properties between The Maritime Center and Dockside Condominiums to host the proposed African American Museum. The agreement was first approved by the Real Estate Committee on Monday.
June 18, 2014
City Council, June 17
Neck and Horizon TIF Districts extended 10 years
Opposition to ordinance limiting bar and restaurant openingsMarc Knapp
Summer is here and City Council meetings are now only once a month for the next 3 months. Yesterday’s meeting was held at the Grace on the Ashley Baptist Church, on Bees Ferry Road. So little of note occurred at the meeting, it was hardly worth facing the traffic getting there.
May 28, 2014
City Council, May 27
Restricted opening times for new bars and restaurants on King and Market Streets
Proposed ordinance unlikely to be finalWarwick Jones
We appreciated the intention of Mayor Riley and Police Chief Mullen. The night scene on Upper King Street and Market Street has reached a “tipping point”. And this view was reinforced by the recent homicide during a drunken brawl, they said. But was the Entertainment District Overlay Zone which they proposed for much of King and Market Streets the answer? The Overlay Zone would allow existing bars and restaurants to remain open until 2 a.m. But any new bar or restaurant would need to close at midnight.
May 14, 2014
City Council, May 13
Presentations, Recognitions and long invocations
Consent for Port Access roadMarc Knapp
But for presentations and recognitions, and the lengthy invocation by Council member Riegel, last night’s meeting would have been short. There was little of substance on the agendas of the Council or Ways and Means.
April 23, 2014
City Council, April 22
Dorchester County says “thanks”
Slow moving unregulated vehicles banned on the PeninsulaMarc Knapp
It was another meeting with a light agenda. The Ways and Means, and City Council meetings combined took little more than an hour. And probably about half this time was devoted to presentations and recognitions.
April 09, 2014
City Council, April 8
Owner seeks City funds for apartment redevelopment
City to support McClellanville's efforts to fund dredging of ICWMarc Knapp
The most interesting item on last night’s agenda was not discussed. It was there for “informational purposes only”. Presumably it will come up for a vote at a future meeting and we expect, and hope. there will be a lot of questions.
March 26, 2014
City Council, March 25
Skateboard restrictions on St Philip Street?Marc Knapp
There was little of interest before City Council last night. There were a number of presentations and proclamations, and the Holocaust remembrance. These were followed by public hearings, largely related to rezonings, and nothing much else.
March 19, 2014
City Council, March 18
City adopts Skateboard ordinance
Updates ordinances for peddling etc., and Late Night Entertainment EstablishmentsMarc Knapp
As is usual around this time of year, Council met yesterday at the Providence Baptist Church on Daniel Island. The meeting was short, and thankfully considerably shorter than that at the close of last month. There were no public hearings, no speakers in Citizens Participation, and no controversial proposed ordinances. However, there were matters of substance on the agenda –amendments to the Skateboard Ordinance, to that governing peddling, panhandlers etc., and to the Late Night Entertainment Establishments Ordinance. All were passed unanimously with little discussion.
February 26, 2014
City Council, February 25
Mayor Riley gets his way on bike lane
A resolution on shore power - palliative rather than substantive?Marc Knapp
Mayor Riley is never happy being on the losing side of an issue, and who is? We suspect that he would be particularly unhappy if Council voted against the creation of a bike and pedestrian (b&p) lane across the T. Allen Legare Bridge. He has invested much time in the project and generated considerable excitement within the cycling community and amongst employees of the City hospitals. Rightly or wrongly, directly or indirectly, the City alerted the interested groups of the pending debate and their members showed up en masse last night to speak in favor of the b&p lane.
February 12, 2014
City Council, February 11
Some Council members wary of closing traffic lane on Legare Bridge
Trolley Barn sale and Cainhoy rezoning approvedMarc Knapp
Despite the nasty weather, a lot of citizens attended last night’s Council meeting to air their views on two agenda items - the sale of the Trolley Barn to the College of Building Arts (CBA), and the rezoning related to the Cainhoy Plantation development. Council approved the sale and the rezoning, the latter only after considerable discussion. There was also some discussion over the Trolley Barn sale, surprising considering the hours already spent discussing the issue in the Real Estate Committee meetings and the previous Council meeting.
January 31, 2014
City Council, January 29
Council cautious over land deal with College of Building Arts
Late Night Overlay Zones approvedMarc Knapp
Despite the unseasonable cold weather, attendance at last night’s Council meeting was relatively high. Many of the attendees had come to speak at the Public Hearing relating to an overlay zone restricting opening hours for bars and restaurants in the Elliottborough and Cannonborough areas. There were also some students from the College of Building Arts (CBA) interested in the outcome of the College’s bid to acquire a new home. No offense to the Mayor, but there were probably only a few who came because of the State of the City Address. We suspect that although many citizens were interested in the Mayor’s words, most would have preferred the comfort of attending their TV screens rather than face icy roads and drizzle.
January 15, 2014
City Council, January 14
Good news for Angel Oak preservationists
Council to be briefed on Gathering Place conceptMarc Knapp
It was always a hope of many City residents and others that more of the land surrounding the Angel Oak on Johns Island would be preserved. This hope was realized with the announcement last night by Mayor Riley that the 18.7 acre parcel known as Phase l was to be bought from the developer at a cost of $3.3 million. The purchase follows that of the 17 acre parcel known as Phase ll last year. In combination, the two parcels will largely envelop the City-owned Angel Oak property on all sides except the southern.
December 18, 2013
City Council, December 17
Recognitions of Mayor Berlin Myers and Chief Mullen
And the City’s new and shiny toyWarwick Jones
Last night’s meeting was the last before Christmas. Usually such meetings are short. Last night’s should have been as City business took only about 20 minutes. But it was prolonged an hour by presentations and recognitions. Mayor Riley was back in the chair and showed no visible impact of his recent operation. Indeed, there was as much vigor in his speeches and manner as at any time in the recent past. And as usual, words came easy to him as he dealt with matters before Council.
November 06, 2013
City Council, November 6
City refutes Wall Street Journal criticism
To provide parking to assist Cigar Factory developmentMarc Knapp
Because of the election on Tuesday, the first Council meeting of the month was moved to last night. Both the agenda and the attendance were light.
October 23, 2013
City Council, October 22
First step in funding the African American museum
More information on 2014 budgetMarc Knapp
Construction of an African American museum focusing on Charleston’s historic role in slavery has been a hope of the City for over a decade. That hope now seems likely to be realized. Last night, Council approved the issue of $12.5 million in revenue bonds to be financed by Accommodation Tax revenues. The proceeds of the bond issue would be used to help fund the $75 million estimated cost of the museum. Mayor Riley also said that the County had agreed to provide $12.5 million and he expected to obtain the balance of needed funds from state, federal and private sources. Construction was likely to begin in 2015.
October 09, 2013
City Council, October 8
Federal grants of over $1.2 million for City Police
Pilot cycle parking program for Lower King StreetMarc Knapp
The agenda for last night’s City Council meeting was light. There was the usual slew of grants or applications for grants, some presentations and annexations. Also, the City’s texting ban received its second and final reading and passed into law.
September 25, 2013
City Council, September 24
City seeks review of Federal Flood Insurance program
Some major changes to Accommodation OverlayMarc Knapp
There were a number on items of interest on last night’s agenda. But perhaps of most interest was one that was not. It came up at the end of the meeting and related to the massive increase in flood insurance premiums should the Federal Biggert–Waters Act of 2012 go into effect as planned at the beginning of next month.
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.
July 17, 2013
City Council, July 17
Taxis stands for the Market area
“Roaming” banned in the early hours of the weekendsMarc Knapp
We thought the City’s plan for taxi stands in the Market Area was a good idea. So did Council which unanimously approved the program last night. But some taxi and limousine drivers had concerns.
June 19, 2013
City Council, June 18
A stir over a proposed new zoning district
Major expansion of Digital Corridor plannedMarc Knapp
The meeting was held at the Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School and the Mayor asked that it not be long. He planned to attend the memorial service for the fallen Charleston Nine firefighters. The service began at 7 p.m. which left the better part of two hours to wind up the Council meeting. But the Mayor’s hope proved forlorn. Council members seemed indifferent, and the final issue, relating to a rezoning, dragged on for a long time, and in our view too long. And for the attendees who were sitting on the hard and narrow benches at the school, the meeting grew increasingly uncomfortable.
May 29, 2013
City Council, May 28
Late Night Entertainment Ordinance gets final reading
Requirements softened compared to original proposalMarc Knapp
Everybody agreed that something needed to be done. As Police Chief Mullen said, there was a lot to lose if a major incident were to occur on King Street in the crowded late night hours. The reputation of the City as a tourist destination could be badly hurt and recovery could take a long time. The Mayor, Council, and most speakers rising in Citizen’s Participation applauded the proposed Late Night Entertainment Establishment Ordinance before Council last night. Although the ordinance had been refined from that passed at the first reading two week ago, there were still some questions.
May 15, 2013
City Council, May 14
Council embraces “Late Night Entertainment Establishment Ordinance”
But not so keen on new rule to hide trash containersMarc Knapp
The revitalization of upper King Street has been a remarkable success. Now sporting trendy restaurants, bars and retailers, the street stands in strong contrast to the shabby and neglected appearance some years ago. But the success has brought its own problems – the creep of bars and restaurants onto the fringes of adjacent residential areas and the large crowds of patrons in the late hours of the weekend. The City is attempting to address these problems and Council last night approved the Late Night Entertainment Establishment Ordinance. The ordinance must go through another two readings in its passage and most likely there will be amendments. But from the enthusiasm expressed last night, its passage seems inevitable.
April 24, 2013
City Council, April 23
Major development approved on Johns Island
Planning Commission vote ignoredMarc Knapp
The approval of the 462 acre Planned Unit Development (PUD) on Johns Island was not a surprise. But that it was approved so rapidly with no dissention was. The Planning Commission had voted unanimously to reject the proposed PUD. And in an effort to appease possible opposition on Council, the owners of the property voluntary offered to reduce the scale of the retail and commercial components. They didn’t need to make the effort. Council approved the PUD in its original form with only one member opposed.
April 10, 2013
City Council, April 9
City seeks change in State law in wake of shooting
Why are state legislators so tardy?Marc Knapp
Predictably, the shooting of Police Officer Cory Goldstein was the subject to much discussion at last night’s Council meeting. Viewers will recall that the officer was shot while attempting to make an arrest. The shooter had a criminal record and was free on bond. Fortunately, an armored vest stopped an otherwise certain fatal bullet and the officer is now recovering. But the question remains and loudly asked by the Mayor, the Police Chief, the press and citizens, how can such a miscreant be allowed to remain free when he has such a record. Why does the law allow it?
March 27, 2013
City Council, March 26
Roper gets approval to plan a hotel
Best Friend Train replica to return to CharlestonThere was little on the agenda for last night’s City Council meeting. Consequently it was a relatively short meeting though it would have been shorter but for a number of proclamations and presentations.
March 13, 2013
City Council, March 12
James Island residents criticize development projects
Rezoning likely prelude to major development near Ashley River bridgeMarc Knapp
Last evening’s meeting was held at the Bishop Gadsden retirement village on James Island. Perhaps more than a coincidence, there were a number of the Island’s residents who rose in Citizens Participation. Some were members of the Town of James Island’s Planning Commission (PC), and all the speakers were critical of the City of Charleston’s zoning and planning.
February 13, 2013
City Council, February 12
Mayor gets a tax hike, but less than that sought
Funding for extra police on King and Market still an issueMarc Knapp
There was a lot said at last night’s meeting. The issue was over a plan to raise the City’s millage rate to pay for improving public safety. Specifically, the Mayor wanted to hire more police and firefighters, and to build and equip two new fire stations. The burden for this year was projected at $3.66 million but presumably will rise after this year. Most of the discussion focused over the plan to increase police protection of the City’s schools. And in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, such a focus was understandable and appropriate. But in the light of future spending, the concentration should have been on the Fire department.
January 23, 2013
City Council, January 22
City to consider new skateboarding regulations
Commercial/residential development on Folly Road approvedWarwick Jones
Proposed regulations governing skateboarders will come before Council within a month or so. Last night, the Committee formed to shape the regulations presented its proposals. However, there was no discussion. This will wait until the Traffic and Transport Committee considers the proposals, and public hearings.
January 09, 2013
City Council, January 8
Non-smoking area around hospitals approved
Only comment of cruise ships was oursWarwick Jones
The major item on last night’s agenda was the creation of a non-smoking area around Roper and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) hospitals. Council gave first reading to the proposed ordinance at its last meeting in December. However, some Council members supported it only on the understanding that it would be further studied and amendments considered at the second reading. At the second reading last night, the ordinance was passed again with some minor modifications - but not before considerable debate.
December 19, 2012
City Council, December 18
A smoke- free zone around Roper and MUSC
Some Council members think it infringes on civil rightsMarc Knapp
The agenda for last night’s meeting was light. It would also have been a very short meeting but for one item – the creation of a no-smoking area around the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Roper Hospital. Both hospitals sought the creation of the no- smoking zone and were supported by First Federal, which has a branch in the proposed area, Ashley Hall, and a neighborhood association. A majority of Council members supported the request of the hospitals, but nearly all members had some reservations or qualifications for their support.
December 06, 2012
City Council, December 5
Council approves 2013 budgets
But Council member Wilson wonders about Accommodation Tax distributionsWarwick Jones
The main items on the agenda of last night’s meeting were the 2013 budgets – for the General and Enterprise Funds, the Hospitality Fee, and the Accommodation Tax. All passed without amendments and a comment only from Council member Wilson.
November 28, 2012
City Council, November 27
Re-zonings dominate meeting
Apple Charter School to relocateMarc Knapp
It was another lean agenda. Still, the meeting was lengthy, with two proposed re-zonings drawing citizens to speak at the public hearings. Although there was some opposition to the re-zonings, both were solidly backed by Council
November 27, 2012
Spending up 4.6% but no tax increase
Marc Knapp and Warwick Jones
The City has released a draft of the 2013 budget. It is now being reviewed by Council members but we expect there will few and only modest changes at the First Reading on Wednesday, December 5.
November 14, 2012
City Council, November13
Mayor Riley to Dana Beach – Drop dead!
I-526 must be completed and we’ll fight any court challengeMarc Knapp
Unmoved by the some 30 or so citizens who spoke against the completion of I-526 at last night’s Council meeting, Mayor Riley resolutely held his ground. The project must be completed, he said. The need is obvious, the majority of citizens are calling for completion, and the funds are in place. But his call went further than any before. He blamed the Coastal Conservation League (CCL) and its leader, Dana Beach for orchestrating the opposition to the project. Similar to the cruise ship issue, the opposition was based on misleading information. The Mayor said that if the City were to take over the I-526 project, he expected CCL would continue to oppose it and would attempt to bring legal action. He was prepared for this and would fight it.
October 24, 2012
City Council, October 23
A featureless agenda
Complaints by citizens from the EastsideMarc Knapp
There were few items if interest on the agenda of last night’s Council meeting. Most of the meeting was taken up with public hearings, presentations, and Citizens Participation.
October 10, 2012
City Council, October 9
Bees Ferry residents speak up
Affordable Housing development to proceed on Ansonborough FieldMarc Knapp
City Council occasionally holds its meetings in locations other than City Hall. Yesterday’s was at the Bees Ferry Recreation Complex in the Grand Oaks subdivision, West Ashley. It was not well attended but it drew a number of the residents of the general area. Most of them rose in Citizens Participation and predictably, the common complaint was traffic – there was too much and there was insufficient control, particularly with other developments planned.
September 26, 2012
City Council, September 25
No tax increase planned for 2013 budget
Changes in City Code relating to demolition on the PeninsulaMarc Knapp
The first of the 2013 budget workshops was held last night. And not surprisingly, it seems that 2013 will be another tough year, though taking the Mayor at his word, not tough enough to precipitate a tax increase.
September 12, 2012
City Council, September 11
Council member Wilson’s impressive feat
Unhappiness with Police DepartmentMarc Knapp
Last night’s Council meeting opened with the news that Council member Wilson had completed an Hawaiian Channel swim. She now had an impressive, if not unique record of swimming achievements. She already holds what is called in swimming circles the Triple Crown by swimming the English Channel, the Catalina Channel in California, and the Manhattan Island Marathon. Her Hawaiian Channel swim took 20 hours, by any standard, an incredible endurance. Mayor Riley said there were difficulties and adventure, particularly at the end. But he would not attempt to describe them. This would be left to the Council member on her return.
August 22, 2012
City Council, August 21
Accommodation Overlay extension a dangerous precedent
An incident at Burke High SchoolMarc Knapp
Last night’s meeting was long on presentations and recognitions, and short on items of substance. One of the recognitions was of Ms. Karen Brack, the new Fire Chief. With the lauding by Council members, she was sworn into office. And although there were few other items of importance in our view, one in particular got our attention.
July 18, 2012
City Council, July 18
Construction of new Gaillard Center to begin shortly
Another chance for congregation to buy church on Wentworth StreetMarc Knapp
The Gaillard Center crossed its last hurdle last night on its path to creation. Council last night approved a construction contract with the Skansa Trident Construction (Joint Venture) for $111.6 million. This is a fixed price contract and the contractor bears the burden of any cost overrun.
June 20, 2012
City Council, June 19
A dubious decision on a construction contract
Hampton Park project approvedMarc Knapp
Council’s decision to defer awarding a $5.9 million contract for the construction of a new fire station stunned us. And we were not alone. Council Member Seekings described the decision as “outrageous” when we asked him for an opinion. The issue was not over the price for it was the lowest bid. It was the 5.9% participation by minority groups in the construction. Council members Gregorie and Waring thought it should be much more.
May 23, 2012
City Council, May 22
Council split on bike and pedestrian paths around Hampton Park
Support for new Fire Department chief not unanimousMarc Knapp
We were surprised. The City’s plan for bike and pedestrian ways around Hampton Park seemed to have popular support. The City was keen on the development and last night, staff from a number of departments waxed on its virtues. So did about 20 or so members of the neighborhoods surrounding the park. But it was not enough. The plan almost certainly would have been voted down if not for the intervention of the Mayor. Probably sensing defeat, he suggested a compromise to give City staff time to work on a better plan.
May 09, 2012
City Council, May 8
Council approves two-way traffic on Coming and St. Philip streets
City to raise $50 million in Revenue Bond issue for stormwater projectsMarc Knapp
The main items of interest before Council last night were proposed changes in traffic flow on Coming and St. Philip Streets, and the closure of a lane to cars on the road around Hampton Park and creating a bike and pedestrian way.
April 25, 2012
City Council, April 24
Council looking to ban skateboarding in a wider area
Public hearing likely on lane closure on road around Hampton ParkWarwick Jones
Considering a major amendment to the ordinance governing skateboarding in the City was on the agenda, we expected skateboarders to turn out en masse to express their feelings at last night’s Council meeting. But it didn’t happen. Even the usual crowd of commentators was diminished with Marc Knapp doing his citizen duty at Camp Lejeune.
April 24, 2012
The Miley Report
A not-so-clear perspective
The Miley report does not impress us.
Commissioned by the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) and entitled The Cruise Industry in Charleston; A Clear Perspective, its purpose as defined in the introduction was “to provide an assessment of the positive and negative, short-term and long-term impacts that the cruise industry has, or may have, on Charleston’s economy and quality of life as they relate to the historical, architectural and cultural character of the City”.
April 13, 2012
Preservation Society plan - bold but improbable
There are many issues, and funding is one of themWarwick Jones
The Preservation Society fired off another round last week in its battle with the City over cruise ships and the Gaillard auditorium. The proposed plan is bold, but improbable in our view. It is bold in the scale of the recommendations and the assumptions. The cost of the projects recommended could leave little change out of half a billion dollars (our guess). And it is improbable for a number of reasons, but particularly because all of the stars would need to be favorably aligned - the City, the SPA, the State, private donors and almost certainly, the Federal government – to fund the plan.
April 11, 2012
City Council, April 10
A novel and moving experience
Viewers will have to excuse the brevity of the report on last night’s Council meeting. The brevity reflects the fact that nothing of note occurred. There were a couple of grant applications, more annexations on James Island but no bills up for first reading.
March 28, 2012
City Council, March 27
Police, CBDG and HOME grants
A need for better management of City trucksMarc Knapp
It was pretty day. And it was particularly pretty on Daniel Island where yesterday’s Council meeting was held. The Island’s lawns seemed greener, its streets cleaner, and its buildings crisper. The Island’s appeal was noted by the Mayor and others. And when the Mayor adjourned the meeting, he whimsically asked as to whether the Council should have more meetings on the island. But it was not the ambience of the island that prompted the question but the length of the meeting – it was very short.
March 20, 2012
City Council, March 19
Cigar bar move rejected
CWS to save $1.5 to $2 million on bond refinancingsMarc Knapp
Actual City-related business probably took up about 5 minutes of yesterday’s Council meeting. The meeting began promptly at 5pm but it took about 45 minutes to wade through the presentations and recognitions. And then there was another 20 minutes or so for Citizens’ Participation and another 20 minutes of a dreary staff presentation on the Horizon Development. And when we got down to real business, it was all over in a flash.
February 29, 2012
City Council, February 28
Confusion over Club Havana move
Issue deferred for more considerationMarc Knapp
Most of last night’s meeting was taken up by discussion of the cigar bar Club Havana and the City’s non- smoking ordinance. And despite the lengthy debate, the issue was deferred again. And probably just as well.
February 15, 2012
City Council, February 14
January 25, 2012
City Council, January 24
Short term rental ordinance passed with amendments
To be reviewed in 6 monthsMarc Knapp
Council gave the final reading to the ordinance creating a Short- term Rental Overlay District in the City. The ordinance was passed unanimously – significant, as the Planning Commission rejected it in its original form. Because of this rejection, a 75% or more majority of Council members was needed to pass the ordinance.
January 11, 2012
City Council, January 9
Planning Commission Chairman speaks against short-term rental ordinance
Council moves to make it area specific
Yesterday’s meeting was the first of the New Year and the first for new Council members Moody, Waring and Wagner. The agenda was long though contained little of issue. Indeed, the only issue was the ordinance that would allow short-term rentals in commercially zoned areas.
December 21, 2011
City Council, December 20
City’s investment in mid town paying off
Short-term accommodation rentals allowed in Commercial districtsMarc Knapp
An item related to a new parking garage on King Street prompted the short speech by the Mayor. A garage was to be built in response to the large number of development projects that were planned in the area. These were about to transform the mid-town parts of King and Meetings Streets, the Mayor said. He also noted that the City made a considerable investment in the midtown area, particularly in relation to infrastructure. He instanced the blue stone paving, the parking garage at Marion Square and the Visitors Center. Clearly these investments had paid dividends.
December 07, 2011
City Council, December 6
Budget for 2012 passed
Some Council members look to aid businessesMarc Knapp
Yesterday’s meeting was short with an uncontentious agenda.
The 2012 budget was passed without comment on Council. As the draft had been available for some weeks with plenty of time for review, the lack of discussion was understandable. Viewers should note that we prepared and posted a detailed review of the budget some days.
November 30, 2011
City Council, December 5
2012 Budget review
Warwick Jones and Marc Knapp
Council will vote on the City’s 2012 budget at its next meeting. A draft on the proposed budget can be seen on the City’s web site. The Mayor has already commented that revenues are expected to rise modestly, and the gains will be used to fund higher spending on Police and Fire services. A 3% increase in salaries and wages is also planned. Importantly, no tax increase is proposed.
November 23, 2011
City Council, November 22
More clarity but not resolution of Angel Oak issues
Gun range amendment back to Planning Commission for re consideration
We’re not sure that Council member Wilson was satisfied by the response. And certainly some supporters of the Coastal Conservation League (CCL) were not. But at least there is more clarity surrounding the issues relating to the Angel Oak development.
November 10, 2011
Mayor Riley to “Citizens for a Better Charleston” – Thanks
“Overwhelming” support for Mayor from “South of Broad" and Ansonborough
The election results for the City of Charleston were a surprise. That Joe Riley won was not, but that he won so handsomely was. Many of us, perhaps even most of us, expected a run off. The polls we saw before the election had Riley ahead of his main opponent, Council member Dudley Gregorie by only a few percentage points. The other contenders were well behind but with percentages that would have denied either Riley or Gregorie an outright majority. As we all now know, Mayor Riley romped in with 67% of the total, well ahead of Gregorie’s 27% and Farrow’s 3%.
October 29, 2011
Of ships and sails and sealing wax, …and (men who would be) kings
Who they are we do not know. But their hands are busily turning the spindles and creating a web - exceedingly tangled to better achieve their immediate purpose of catching and deposing Mayor Riley. Their purpose beyond his deposition is murky.
October 26, 2011
City Council, October 25
An uneventful meeting
Council member Gregorie – a closet Republican?
There was little to report on last night’s City Council meeting. We would comment on only three things - the recognition of Fire Chief Carr by the American Red Cross, the number of annexations on James Island, and the subdued manner of Council member Gregorie.
September 28, 2011
City Council, September 27
A warning for those aspiring to resurrect the Town of James Island
A statue of MLK at Liberty Square
The City fired a warning shot across the bow of those who might be thinking of resurrecting the Town of James Island. City Council agreed to send a resolution to the County asking that if a new town were formed, it provide and pay for a police force that is appropriate for a town of its size. The final paragraph does not quite say that but the many “whereas” paragraphs certainly do.
August 17, 2011
City Council, August 16
Financing plan for Septima Clark project looks risky
Assault on new Code article by cruise ship critics repelledMarc Knapp
Desperate times, desperate acts. OK, it may be exaggeration to call the City’s plan to complete the Septima Clark project as desperate. But the plan is not without risks. Arguably, the road and drainage project is the most important and urgent of City projects. Its completion is necessary to stop the flooding during heavy rains and high tides in a large section of the City. The cost is an estimated $154 million, an amount I wouild dispute as highly inflated. Most of the funding is not in place.
July 20, 2011
City Council, July 19
City to tighten regulations covering carriage horses
Mayor comments on necessity to join Carnival in law suitMarc Knapp
The proposed amendments to the City’s ordinance covering the care of carriage horses took over a year to shape. But as Council member White told Council last night, they were subject to considerable and lengthy debate by the Tourism Commission. An estimated 20 to 30 members of the horse carriage industry were present last night to show their opposition, though only a few spoke.
May 25, 2011
City Council, May 24
Council finally adopts a redistricting plan
One district on the Peninsula eliminatedMarc Knapp
If there were any ill feeling carried over from the acrimonious last Council meeting, it was not obvious last night. There were no harsh words, and business was conducted as normal. It was a strong contrast to the meeting of two weeks ago when some Council members volubly protested the Mayor’s action to vote again on a redistricting plan, and were slowly brought to order.
May 11, 2011
City Council, May 10
Heat flies over redistricting plans
Stubbornness of come Council members makes us wonder
Some weeks ago, we praised Council for its responsiveness and responsibility. After last night’s meeting, we think our praise may have been mistaken. Council last night was deadlocked for some time on proceeding with redistricting plans. And if the deadlock were not broken, it would have been impossible to delineate the boundaries of voting districts before the election in November. Boundaries needed to be redrawn in the light of the 2010 census.
April 27, 2011
City Council, April 26
Clock ticking as Council seeks agreement for new district boundaries
Commercial Corridor Design Review, Tow trucks, and Time SharesMarc Knapp
It was a marathon meeting yesterday. It started around 3pm with a workshop on the up-coming redistricting. The Ways and Means which followed was quickly dispatched, but not so the number of presentations and proclamations at the start of the Council meeting. Then there was the public hearing on the proposed changes for Commercial Corridor Design Review District regulations, followed by Citizens Participation where speakers vented on regulations proposed by the Committee on Public Safety. Council members, and others, were feeling the hardness of their seats when these regulations came up for discussion and by 8 pm, the remaining business of Council had been hurriedly but understandably dispatched.
April 13, 2011
City Council, April 12
Redistricting likely to reduce African American representation
New District likely for outer West Ashley and Johns IslandMarc Knapp
Most of us expected it. And it was confirmed at yesterday’s Council workshop dealing with redistricting - following on the 2010 census, there likely will be major changes to some Council voting districts. Over the 10 years since the last census, there has been strong population growth in the City’s suburbs, in particular West Ashley and Johns Island. At the same time, the African American proportion of the population in the districts on the Peninsula has declined.
March 23, 2011
City Council, March 22
Budget for 2011 in line – so far
Paper bags mandated for garden refuse collection
If the first quarter is any indication, the City should be within its budget projections for this fiscal year, CFO Bedard told Council last night. However he did warn that these were still early days and the recent figures were not conclusive.
March 09, 2011
City Council, March 8
Applause for Council from a harsh critic
City preparing for redistrictingMarc Knapp
Mohammed Idrees is one in the small group of citizens that regularly attend Council meetings. He rises frequently and most times has harsh words for Council. We are on opposite sides of the political spectrum and predictably, I disagree with him frequently. But last night, was not one of those occasions.
February 23, 2011
City Council, February 22
Some large redistricting changes likely
Mayor optimistic on funding Crosstown flooding solutionMarc Knapp
It was probably not a surprise to Council members. The boundaries of their districts need to be redrawn before the next election, and there could be some big changes.
February 09, 2011
City Council, February 8
Update of Century V Plan
New taxi tariff for Peninsula: Counsel’s opinion on proceduresMarc Knapp
Council breezed through the Way and Means Agenda in minutes. The City Council agenda took a little longer but would have been very short but for the presentations and recognitions.
January 26, 2011
City Council, January 25
Council ignores plea for peace by Town of James Island
New Bed and Breakfast area createdMarc Knapp
It was a great speech. Not the State of the City address which as usual, was scripted, long on substance and short on fire, No, it was the Mayor’s speech closing the debate on the merits of opposing the incorporation of the Town of James Island (T of JI). It was unscripted, and long on substance, fire and passion. To give up now, the Mayor said would be “beyond ridiculous“.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:13 PM
January 12, 2011
City Council, January 11
Council member seeks to reinforce Robert's Rules on debate
Issue over travel expensesMarc Knapp
Council member Gregorie raised an issue last night that has been long simmering. It was the habit of the Mayor to speak at will during debate and before all Council members had a chance to weigh in. The Council member opined that it was contrary to Robert's Rules of Order, adopted by Council, and asked legal staff could look at the rules and give an opinion.
December 17, 2010
County Council, December 16
Farewell to two Council members
Property owners suffering over indecision on I 526 extension
It was the final meeting of Council for the year. Council members Inabinett and Thurmond were thanked for their service, and kind words were said about their contribution to the working and achievements of Council. Neither Council member sought reelection – Council member Thurmond because of his work in the community and the frequent need to recuse himself from voting, and Council member Inabinett, because he had spent so much time in public service, it was, well, time to step down. The two new members of Council, Mr. Joe Qualey and Ms. Anna Johnson will be sworn in at the first meeting in the New Year. The political balance of Council will not change with their election as party affiliations are the same as those of the members they replace. Interestingly, though probably not significant, both the new members have served on the Council of James Island, but in different incarnations.
December 08, 2010
City Council, December 7
Budget for 2011 passes first reading
Council gives nod to franchising valet parking on public right of ways
The 2011 City budget was put to bed last night. It was not firmly tucked in. Council member Gregorie wanted to rip off the sheets and remake the bed. But we suspect that soothing words from CFO Bedard and Mayor Riley will allow the budget to peacefully repose without disturbance through subsequent readings.
December 03, 2010
City 2011 budget – an analyis
Marc Knapp and Warwick Jones
The preliminary 2011 budget was presented to City Council at its last meeting. It will vote on the budget at it meeting on December 7. As promised in our report on the last meeting, we are providing a summary of the budget document. There were no surprises in the document and all of the major moves were described by the Mayor or staff at Council meetings,
Clearly, it was a difficult and painful budget. We’d like to think that 2012 will be easier.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:45 AM
November 24, 2010
City Council, November 23
Budget for 2011 balanced close to last year’s level
Are some districts being short changed?
A draft of the 2011 budget was given to Council members yesterday. They will vote on it at the next Council meeting. There were no surprises as Council had been briefed on the broad terms at the last Council meeting. A detailed report is now available on the City web site. As we did in previous years, we will provide a fuller analysis of the budget and post it for viewers to scrutinize.
November 22, 2010
Some still call for a controlling City Ordinance
Don’t think so!
The resolution that City Council approved two months ago should have put the cruise ship issue to bed. Council, unanimously, gave the nod to the Union Pier Plan of the SC Ports Authority (SPA), and cruise ship visits to Charleston. Letters from the SPA were attached to the resolution acknowledging its commitment. If the SPA wanted to increase the number of visits, the size of the ships or the number of passengers, it would first seek approval from the City. It agreed to allow only one ship to berth at a time, an average of no more than 2 visits a week, and a maximum passenger complement of 3500 a vessel.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:00 AM
November 11, 2010
City Council, November 10
CWS gets approval for $155 million bond issue
Replacement of West Ashley Sewer Tunnel is urgent
Last night’s meeting was slow to start. Four members were absent and the Ways and Means Chairman did not begin proceedings until a quorum was present. There was nothing contentious on the agendas of either the Ways and Means, or Council. But the planned bond issue of the Charleston Water Systems (CWS) was certainly a matter of substance.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:10 PM
October 13, 2010
City Council, October 12,
The “Nuisance” ordinance stalls again
Bridgeview Village residents angry. We can’t see why
Will the amended “nuisance” ordinance ever be put to bed? It has been before three Council meetings so far and now is scheduled for the next. Council members did have a copy of a proposed amendment last night. But it seemed that the amendment still was not satisfactory to Council member Seekings who led in shaping the original amendment. Another amendment was proposed and circulated by the Council member and this was followed by yet another that was circulated during the meeting.
September 29, 2010
City Council, September 28
Council has second thoughts on “nuisance” ordinance
Passes resolution to end homelessness in the City
In our report on the last City Council meeting, we noted surprise at the absence of discussion on the proposed “nuisance” Ordinance. The Ordinance passed the first reading without dissent, a reflection presumably on the weariness of Council members after a long meeting, dominated by discussion of the Union Pier Plan.
September 15, 2010
City Council, September 14
Easy passage of amended Union Pier Plan
Landlords and property managers on notice
Discussion and citizen comments over a resolution relating to the Union Pier Plan took up much of last night’s Council meeting. Some of the comments by citizens were heated, but the discussion on Council was not. Although some Council members professed concern about some aspects, all voted for the resolution which had been amended slightly from that contained in the agenda package.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:59 PM
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 21, 2010
City Council, July 20
Too much posturing by some Council members
Bicycle ordinance approved though parking paragraphs to be amendedMarc Knapp
Is it the fact that meetings are now televised? Are some Council members planning bigger things like running for Mayor and seeking greater visibility? Or is it something else? Whatever, we have noticed conspicuous posturing by some Council members in recent meetings.
June 16, 2010
City Council, June 15
Gaillard Center project gets unanimous approval
An energy efficiency program and an ordinance regulating “events”Marc Knapp
We were looking to some action over the proposed $142 million Gaillard Center project. Certainly, there were many citizens who spoke at the public hearing. Most were in favor but some were concerned about the cost and the need for spending in other areas. But when it came for discussion on Council, there was little. Considering the magnitude of the project, and the proposed funding, we expected spirited debate. There was none and the project and the proposed funding were endorsed unanimously by Council with some minor amendments. At least that is how it seemed.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:48 PM
May 26, 2010
City Council May 25
Council defies Mayor
Positive report on City Market progressMarc Knapp
There were few items of substance on yesterday’s Council meeting agenda. But there was no lack of drama. Council continues to assert itself, readily taking issue with the Mayor over matters of principle.
May 12, 2010
City Council. May 11
Mayor again gets his way
No new Fair Housing ordinanceMarc Knapp
The Mayor did it again. At the meeting two weeks ago, he failed to stop Council voting in favor of adopting a Fair Housing ordinance similar to that of HUD. But at last night’s meeting and the second reading of the proposed ordinance, he got his way, just! Council members Seekings and .Alexander reversed their earlier stance and voted against the measure. The final 7-5 vote was along racial lines with all the African American members voting for the ordinance, and joined by Council member Mallard.
April 28, 2010
City Council, April 27
City to compensate carriage companies despite neighborhood objections
Council overrides Mayor on Fair Housing OrdinanceMarc Knapp
Some weeks ago, we suggested that the relationship between the Mayor and Council members had reached an inflection point. Council was no longer a rubber stamp of the Mayor's policies but had found its own and independent voice. Subsequent meetings and certainly last night’s reinforced this observation.
April 14, 2010
City Council, April 13
Mayor steadfast against carriage tours during Blue Angel flights
Council agrees to televise meetingsMarc Knapp
We would not attempt to fault the Mayor on his dogged opposition to allowing horse carriages on the road during the Blue Angels’ performance this coming weekend. He clearly thought that public safety was a far more important consideration than the lost revenues of the carriage companies. The Mayor proposed a means of letting the operators recoup lost revenues but this was not sufficient for some Council members who continued, though unsuccessfully, to support the recommendations of the Traffic and Transportation Committee. The Committee had proposed a compromise solution which allowed carriages, without passengers, on the street on Thursday when the first flights would occur. If the horses remained controllable, carriages would be allowed to operate as usual over the weekend during the Blue Angel exhibitions.
March 24, 2010
City Council, March 23
Members in a feisty mood – again
City looking to improve Code enforcementMarc Knapp
Members again were in a feisty mood at yesterday’s Council meeting. Some complained loudly about the tardiness of staff in presenting them with data on issues on which they were expect to vote. And then a majority defied the Mayor and voted to defer an application for a grant to finance a controversial Green Plan initiative. Accompanying this was a question about the creation of “ad hoc” committees by the Mayor. Why weren’t issues addressed by existing committees? Creating new committees may breach City Code, Council member Gregorie suggested.
March 10, 2010
City Council, March 9
Mayor’s relation with Council souring
Will the Mayor or Council set policy?Marc Knapp
The agenda for yesterday’s City Council meeting was light, so light that one wondered whether it was worthwhile attending. But it was. The inflection points of change can often only be determined with the passage of time. Yesterday’s meeting may have been one of those points in the history of the Mayor Riley, and in particular his control of Council.
February 24, 2010
City Council, February 23
Mayor gets his way over role of proposed Green Plan Committee
No statue of Philip Simmons in Cannon Park
It was a long meeting. Two items took up most of the time - the Green Plan and a petition for a memorial statue of Philip Simmons. The Mayor was resolute in his defense of the Green Plan but turned cartwheels to avoid offending any the petitioners. Pity, their cause was lost and the length of time spent on discussion was a waste.
February 10, 2010
City Council, February 9
Mayor yields on budget process, but not on televising Council meetings
Tenants for J.S. Tennant House at last, questions on bond issueMarc Knapp
We have often expressed concern about the budget process of the City - the lack of information and the very limited time that Council members have to consider the budget document before voting on it. But after the prodding of some Council members and particularly from Council member Gregorie, things have changed. In a letter to Council members tabled last night, the Mayor has made a number of recommendations that will open up the budget process and allow more scrutiny. Council embraced the recommendations. The Mayor suggested:
January 27, 2010
City Council. January 26
Cal/Cooper Plan approved with no debate
No zoning change to be placed before Council until Task Force can reviewMarc Knapp
There was limited satisfaction for those seeking a deferral on the hearing on the Calhoun Street/ Cooper River Waterfront (Cal/Coop) Plan. In one sense, it was very clear cut loss- the Council voted unanimously for the Plan despite the request for a deferral by the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Preservation Society and others. They argued that the plan should not be implemented until the Task Force, agreed to by the Mayor, was in place and an outline of other plans for the Eastern edge of the peninsula had been defined.
January 13, 2010
City Council, January 12
New Council Members sworn in
City can rebate franchise fee to the needy, but unlikely to do soMarc Knapp
It was the first meeting of the year and as for reportable items, it was lean. The newly elected Council members were sworn in, and thereafter followed a host of resolutions and presentations. When it came to Council business, it was nearly all over.
December 16, 2009
City Council, December 15, 2009
Council not a rubber stamp!
Deferrals on the Green Plan and Cal/Cooper PlanMarc Knapp
There was a lot of time for reflection last night. City Council did not wind up its meeting until well after midnight. Issues relating to the extension of the agreement for the development of Ansonborough Field, public hearings on the City’s Green Plan and the Cal/Cooper Plan, and more discussion on next year’s budget took up the hours. If the Mayor had his way, the session would have ended much earlier. But he didn’t. Council refused to rubber stamp his proposals; it debated the merits and in some cases rejected the Mayor’s requests. And that was the reflection; Council has come a long way in the last few years.
December 09, 2009
City Council, December 8
Council approves franchise fee hike to balance budget
But some Council members would prefer to cut costs furtherMarc Knapp
The Mayor said that it was a tough budget. It followed a tough year and had been exacerbated by the depth of the present recession. The City had cut just about everything that it could without paring back on essential services. But even so, it needed to find about $3.8 million in additional revenue to balance its 2010 budget. And as already reported, the City plans to do this by tacking an extra 2% on the utility franchise fee that users pay in the City. This represents a 67% increase in the fee.
October 28, 2009
City Council, October 27
The peril of long meetings
Bikes, budget, and feral catsMarc Knapp
The amendment to the Ordinance regulating the use of bicycles on sidewalks received its second reading last night. There was considerable discussion and in effect, by not simultaneously approving the third reading, a final decision was deferred.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:11 PM
October 14, 2009
City Council, October 13
Dr McGinley erases fears over Fraser Elementary
Initial plans for the Market area, and a FHAP over a FHIP!
It was another long one. Most of the time was taken up by a progress report by Dr McGinley, Superintendent of Schools, a presentation on initial plans for the Market area, and an incredibly long discussion on the City’s Fair Housing ordinance.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:39 AM
September 23, 2009
City Council September 22
Mr. Malony pleads for forgiveness and leniency
New rules for PODs and Sidewalk DiningMarc Knapp
The highlight of yesterday’s City Council meeting was the emotional appeal by Mr. Danny Malony for forgiveness and leniency. Mr. Malony was convicted for embezzling funds from the City and served time in jail. He was also ordered to make restitution to the City for the stolen funds. In the course of the latter, he and his family sold much of their assets.
September 09, 2009
City Council, September 9
City to seek $146.3 Federal Grant for Spring/Fishburne drainage project
Receives State grant for abandoned boat removal, and more Federal grantsMarc Knapp
The recession may be taking its toll on revenues, but indirectly. the CIty may gain more from the recession than it loses. The City already has received a number of grants from the Federal Government under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and has many applications for further grants which are waiting for consideration. But the application that the City plans to make to finance the Spring /Fishburne Drainage Improvements will top them all.
August 19, 2009
City Council, August 18
Chief Mullen’s day in Council - police presence to be boosted
Council meetings to be televised?Marc Knapp
It was another long summer meeting. However, there were a number of issues that deserved discussion though probably less than that given. Two of the more important issues were reported fully in today’s Post and Courier. They were the decision to install security cameras at critical points in Charleston to deter crime, and term limits for Council members.
July 22, 2009
City Council, July 21
Sanitation workers pursue a lost cause
Zoning, Carriage Horse ordinance, and more grant applications
It was the largest display of a lost cause we have seen on City Council. About 20 members of the public, mostly City workers employed in the sanitation department, spoke during Citizens Participation in support of organizing a union for the workers. They aired their grievances and concerns, and compared their efforts to those of the City hospital workers who struck about 40 years ago.
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.
May 27, 2009
City Council, May 26
Rare musical treat for Council goers
Preliminary plans for fire victims’ memorialMarc Knapp
I never thought that covering City Council meetings would give me an opportunity to be a music critic. Last night’s meeting featured Council member Wilson and two other members of the Charleston Symphony, playing the second movement of Debussy’s Sonata for Harp, Viola and Flute. The performance was in celebration of this year’s Spoleto Festival.
May 13, 2009
City Council, May 12
Citizens criticize lack of facilities at parks, pedestrian safety, and firefighter pensions
And more grant applicationsMarc Knapp
It ought to have been a short meeting. There were no public hearings and no “first readings” on the Council agenda. And the agenda for the Ways and Means Committee was largely Grant applications. But a lengthy and plodding presentation by Staff on “Bicycle Friendly Community” and an active Citizen Participation period extended the meeting to about 3 hours.
April 29, 2009
City Council, April 28
Charleston – the most mannerly City, again!
Resolutions, bond rollover, grantsMarc Knapp It would have been a short meeting if were not for the presentations and recognitions. There were quite a few items on the Ways and Means agenda but all were approved without any or little discussion. And in our view some discussion was merited. As for the Council agenda, there was little of import and little discussion.
April 15, 2009
City Council, April 14
Concern for misunderstanding, or something else?
And still more grant applicationsMarc Knapp
The Mayor said it was to ensure that there was no misunderstanding over the City’s position. Others including Council member Mallard thought it was something more. Some thought it was retribution for frequently crossing the Mayor.
March 25, 2009
City Council, March 24
Budget for 2009 - “OK, but tight, tight, tight”
“Lunching” on Grants, but will they really be free?
Steve Bedard, the City’s Chief Financial Officer makes only short speeches, and to the point. Last night’s was no exception. He spoke after copies of the 2009 Budget were distributed. Viewers may recall that the City, after deliberations toward the close of 2008, anticipated a balanced budget. Lower revenues were projected in a number of categories but the overall decline was expected to be made up by an increase in parking fees, a hiring freeze, a restraint in Cost of Living adjustments, and a draw on some fund balances.
February 25, 2009
City Council, February 24
Anger over Sofa Store fire accountability flares
New Council member, Boat abandonment, new bond issueMarc Knapp
The embers over the accountability for the Sofa Super Store fire were fanned by some citizens last night. Members of the family of one of the lost firemen spoke harshly about the issue. Their appearance before Council was precipitated by the release of the report on the fire by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). One of the speakers asked why the report was not on the agenda of the Council meeting. It ought to be, he said.
February 20, 2009
Projects looking for "stimulus" funds
Mayor Riley's long list!
A viewer sent us the web address of Stimulus watch, a site that is attempting to keep tabs on projects that have been submitted to the Federal Administration for funding from the "stimulus" package. We can't comment on the veracity of the information but from comments made and attributed to Mayor Riley about the funding he sought, the large number of projects centered on Charleston is not a surprise. Interestingly, considering the list of projects in South Carolina, it would seem there are only 3 cities in the state - Charleston, Columbia and Sumter.
February 11, 2009
City Council, February 10
A troubling commitment to the Meeting Street Academy
CWS to benefit from lower interest rates and better City bond ratingMarc Knapp
The pleas by the parents of some of children attending the Meeting Street Academy were hard to ignore. They spoke so eloquently, and clearly from the heart, and one parent, through tears. The school was providing an excellent education, a stimulating environment, and had made parental involvement mandatory. The principal of the school told City Council last night that its pupils were a year ahead of those in public schools. It was a school that was working very well. Unfortunately, its enrolment is only kindergarten and preschool. This amounts to 45 pupils at the present location on King St. But the school hopes to expand and add a grade each year to ultimately offer classes up to the 8th grade. And this depended on City Council.
January 28, 2009
City Council, January 27
Dull and shortMarc Knapp
Last night’s City Council meeting was a dull and short affair. It opened with a lengthy invocation by Council member Waring who seemed to be making a political prayer to a God that was a member of Democratic Party. The meeting ended with the passage, and without any discussion, of a slew of bills up for their second reading. There was little in between.
January 14, 2009
City Council, January 13
Leash law adopted. Dog runs to be provided in some parks
City gets highest bond rating but can it take all the credit?Marc Knapp
At last night's meeting, Council member White amusingly noted that he had no calls from constituents over the $140 million budget of the City, but innumerable calls over the proposed changes to the animal ordinances. Citizens obviously know where their hearts are! Council members White and Alexander have led the efforts for changes in the ordinances and have provoked controversy. Most of their proposals were approved by Council last night though with some modest amendments.
December 17, 2008
City Council, December 16
Mayor Riley joins other mayors seeking fiscal stimulus
Council rejects ordinance to restrain animals in open trucksMarc Knapp
There was a Council meeting last week. And Christmas is only 9 days away. So we expected the agenda for last night’s meeting to be light. It was. But perhaps the most interesting item was not on the agenda. It was the response by the Mayor to a question posed by Council member Mallard at the end of the meeting. He noted that the Mayor has been in Washington last week and asked as to what it was about.
December 10, 2008
City Council, December 9
Budgets passed without much commentMarc Knapp
Dogs chasing their tails could describe much of last night’s City Council meeting. At one stage, a confused Council member Shirley asked where Council was on the discussion. We are not sure he got satisfaction, but thereafter the chase began again to the merriment of Council and the Mayor. One frequent critic of the City said she had never enjoyed herself so much at a Council meeting. She only wished that Council devote as much time to her issues as they do to dogs and cats.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:21 PM
December 04, 2008
A closer look at the 2009 Budget
Assistance Programs down 18%, No comment still from the Post and CourierWarwick Jones
We have provided more details of the City’s draft budget for fiscal 2009. From our observation, there are no surprises. The main features were disclosed at the last Council meeting - namely a draw down of a net $1.7 million in fund balances, an increase in parking fines, restraint of cost of living increases, and a restraint in hiring.
November 26, 2008
CIty Council, November 25
Despite anticipated fall in revenues, no tax increase in 2009 Budget
City to draw modestly on General Fund balance
Mayor Riley presented the proposed 2009 budget at last night’s Council meeting. And for tax payers it was pleasing. Despite conditions described by the Mayor as the “toughest budget ever put together”, the City was able to balance its budget without a tax increase or curtailing major services. The Mayor stated that it would be wrong to raise taxes considering that so many people are affected by the economic downturn.
October 08, 2008
City Council, October 7
Shorter prayers and presentations, please!
City raises taxi rates, and escapes chill from financial markets – for nowMarc Knapp
There was little to report on last night’s City Council meeting, so viewers will forgive me if I first express some irritations. One is the invocation, or prayer at the beginning of the Ways and Means and the Council meetings. Some folk object to any prayer before such public meetings, claiming that it is unconstitutional. But this is not my issue. I don’t object to them and indeed I see no harm in them. My issue is the nature of the prayers.
September 24, 2008
City Council, September 23
A bond issue by the School District?
Agreement on City Market Area and Maybank Highway wideningMarc Knapp
It was another of those meetings – lots of talk but not much substance. There were the usual recognitions, this time, for many of the baseball and softball teams in West Ashley. But unlike most other recognitions, there was no standing ovation from Council members. Council members, and the rest of us, wished for a quick ending. The other items that took up most of the 3 hour meeting included a presentation from the Superintendent of the County School District, a contract for management of the City Market area, and discussions relating to resolutions, in particular that for the widening of Maybank Highway.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:37 PM
September 10, 2008
City Council, September 9
Costly settlement on annexation issue
HCF takes City off the hook for School loan. Was its action appropriate?Marc Knapp
Two issues dominated last night's meeting of City Council. The first was the settlement with the St. Andrews Public Service District in relation to the reimbursement of property taxes. The second was the loan of $734,000 to the College of Building Arts. Members of the public had a lot to say in regard to the latter, both for and against. But Council again voted for the loan at its second reading with three Council members, Mitchell, Lewis and Mallard dissenting.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:04 PM
August 20, 2008
City Council, August 19
Sympathy but little hope for “baggy pants” ban
City accepts optimistic projections and provides loan for building schoolMarc Knapp
Council member Gilliard joins the state legislature at the beginning of next year. Many of us who were attending last night's meeting, and probably a number of the Council members wished it were sooner. The Council member and Council member Lewis were sponsoring an ordinance to stop what the considered indecent exposure by the youth of Charleston. It did not go down well with some Council members, one calling it silly and ridiculous. Council member Gilliard responded a number of times, each response becoming more shrill, heated and hostile. He derided the newly elected Council members, two of which spoke against the proposed ordinance. And if anybody were snickering, and that was his accusation, it was at the man, the hyperbole, and the exhaustion of all as the meeting pushed towards 5 hours.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:41 PM
July 16, 2008
City Council, July 15
Sympathy, but no support for Council member’s request to hire independent counsel
A worthwhile confrontation in our opinionMarc Knapp
City Council meets only once a month over the summer period. It normally meets twice a month and in the past, the reduction of the frequency has been offset by the length of meetings. We can remember in past years where some meetings in summer have extended to about 10 pm. This is long haul for a meeting beginning with Ways Means at 4.30 pm. Whether its the weaker economy and a diminution in commercial and housing projects needing approval, or just an aberration, yesterdays meeting was no longer than normal. There were no speakers during Public Participation which promoted the Mayor to joke that the public was mindful of the desire to get home to view a major sport event. Indeed, excluding those who turned up to participate in the award ceremonies, the public attendance was probably less than 10.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:24 PM
June 18, 2008
City Council, June 17
Chief Thomas says farewell
Preservation Plan, Long Savannah and CARTA budgetMarc Knapp
Chief Rusty Thomas received a standing ovation last night. He and four other long standing members of the City administration, who were retiring, were honored at the City Council meeting. The Mayor spoke eloquently and passionately about the service rendered by the staff members. But predictably, his comments relating to the Fire Chief were the most passionate.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:47 PM
June 02, 2008
Shrimp 'n Grits
City Council Lackeys Revolt – another Riley charade!Lee Walton
Last Tuesday evening’s May 27th meeting of Charleston City Council was more entertaining than most Spoleto events. From all accounts, it was better scripted and rehearsed than many competing festival performances and provided “world-class” entertainment for all in attendance. It coincidently provided orchestrated fodder for the lapdog Palter and Chatter that Charlestonians suffer as a local daily newspaper. As in other recent local tragedies, Mayor J. Pericles Riley stole the show with his superb acting skills. In recognition of such well-honed talent, Pericles is hereby awarded the first ever “Rusty (Ruthless, Unscrupulous, Subversive, Tyrannical Yeasayer) Award” for his outstanding performance as a world-class, self-righteous demagogue.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:17 AM
May 28, 2008
City Council, May 27
Council wants to be involved in selection of the new Fire Chief
A strong rebuff to the MayorMarc Knapp
It was not the Mayor’s night! Reflecting pressure from constituents, Council members successfully persuaded the City to drop some proposed amendments to its parking regulations. But the big upset came at the end of the meeting when Council defied the Mayor and voted its inclusion in the process of choosing the City’s new Fire Department Chief.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:51 AM
May 16, 2008
Sofa Super Store Fire
Viewers can download Routley Report
The most definitive report on the tragic Sofa Super Store fire was released yesterday. All the news media have reported extensively on it. The authors are very damning of both the City Fire Department and the owners of the Sofa Super Store.
We thought viewers may like to see the Routley Report in its entirety. It is 2.5MB so it may a minute to download. The report is well written, detailed and well researched. It has many illustrations which help to explain the factors behind the deadly blaze.
May 07, 2008
City Council, May 6
Withholding the Routley report “was not the best”
An emotionally charged meetingMarc Knapp
Everybody knows that Mayor Riley changed his mind about the release of the Routley report. Last Friday, the Mayor announced that the release of the report would be delayed indefinitely. By yesterday, he had changed his mind and announced that it would be released on May 15. For us, the surprise was not that he changed his mind. The surprise was the first decision, to delay issuing the report. Commissioned by the City, the report was expected to be the most definitive on last year’s tragic fire at the Sofa Super store. The Mayor surely was aware of the indignation a delay would stir among the citizenry, and particularly firefighters and the families of the fallen. The stream of citizens appearing before Council over the last few months seeking the release of the report can hardly have escaped his notice.
April 23, 2008
City Council, April 22
Council wobbles a bit over sofa store site purchase
Some proposed parking changes generate ire?Marc Knapp
At one stage in last night's meeting, we thought it was unlikely the Council would approve the purchase of the Super Sofa Store site on Savannah Highway. The Mayor was “taken aback” by the criticism or lack of enthusiasm for the purchase and made an impassioned speech in its support. He reminded Council that it had unanimously approved the purchase at a meeting last year. He also declared that the City's reputation was at stake if it failed to move ahead with the purchase. The City needed the memorial for the fallen firefighters, and it would be a travesty if a car dealership or hamburger vendor were allowed to occupy the site.
April 09, 2008
City Council, April 8
Debate over penalties for infringement of "smoking in work-place" ordinance
Village Green joins Long Savannah. What about traffic a citizen asks?Marc Knapp
There were only two items of note on last night’s agenda – an amendment to the City’s smoke- free work place ordinance, and an amendment that effectively makes the Village Green Development part of the Long Savannah Project. Both amendments were passed by Council though the first had some dissenters.
March 26, 2008
City Council, March 25
Citizens losing patience over release of Sofa Store fire report
HUD grants for 2008/9 - Elpis slated to receive $150,000Marc Knapp
The tragic sofa store fire was not on yesterday's Council meeting agenda. But it got attention. Two members of the public, one of whom lost a brother in the fire asked when the Routley Commission report would be available. The Commission is charged to provide a full report on the fire and the response by the City Fire department.
March 05, 2008
City Council, March 4
Elpis - where has all the money gone?
Parking contract awarded but with conditionsMarc Knapp
One wonders about our City Council. Elpis Inc, a non profit group, has received about $1 million from the City to support social programs and help restore the Josiah C. Tennent House on East Bay Street. The group has also received over $3 million in private donations and from bank loans. It has now defaulted on a bank loan and the City has agreed to buy the building for $1.415 million, the amount owed to Wachovia. The City will borrow the funds from Charleston LDC in a 20 year term loan, bearing interest not more than 4.5%.
February 27, 2008
City Council, February 26
Management of Magnolia Project criticizedMarc Knapp
For a time, it seemed that the representation of the public at last night’s Council meeting would be only 3 persons. And from looking at the agenda, there seemed little of interest that would draw out citizens on a cold and rainy evening. A few more citizens straggled in as the meeting progressed. But if the low attendance numbers reflected anticipation of a dull evening, the public got it right.
February 13, 2008
City Council, February 12
A kiss for Councilmember Shirley
Where’s the report on the Sofa Store fire?Marc Knapp
Yesterday’s Council meeting was short and lackluster. Indeed the highlight was the kiss planted on Council member Shirley’s forehead by a citizen when the Mayor announced that it was the Council member’s birthday. This expression of “bonhomie” did not persist into Citizen Participation when she accused the City of not caring in the treatment its citizens. She is the owner of Tellis Pharmacy on King Street. It has been robbed a number of times and the police seem unable to ever apprehend the thieves.
January 23, 2008
City Council, January 22
Grimball Farms development approved
A pier to link Brittlebank Park to Bristol MarinaMarc Knapp
The agenda suggested it would be a short meeting. We were wrong. We forgot that the Mayor’s State of the City Address was scheduled, and failed to anticipate the discussion over the Grimball Farm development project. So our anticipated short meeting lasted for 4 hours.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:46 AM
December 19, 2007
City Council, December 18
Ordinance relating to election campaigning pulled
Gadsden Green residents plead for a reprieveMarc Knapp We're not sure who had second thoughts. Ostensibly it was Council member Bleeker. But considering the Mayor was canvassing support for the ordinance, it could have been him. The ordinance was of course that relating to City elections. It attempted to define what candidates could and could not say. The most offensive parts were the fines and the nature of the committee to pass judgment on alleged transgressors. The Mayor was to sit on the committee and choose the members. Viewers can see the proposed ordinance by referring to the posting of December 16.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:46 AM
December 16, 2007
Charleston to have its own “thought police”
Committee to be appointed by the Mayor (Viewers, this is not a joke!)
We couldn’t believe it when we first saw the notice in the City Council meeting agenda. But then we got a copy of the proposed ordinance. Yep, it seems the Mayor wants the City to have it own “thought police”. Orwell’s vision is about to materialize in Charleston.
December 07, 2007
City Council, December 6
City wraps up 2008 budget. What was the cost of the Super Store fire?
Citizen takes issue with Council member GallantMarc Knapp
So what was the cost of the Super Sofa Store? Council member Fishburne both posed and tried to answer this question during budget discussions at City Council last night. His estimate, made after discussion with CFO Bedard of the City was about $5.9 million. This included accumulated spending by the City to date of $2.8 million, and another $2.4 million budgeted in 2008, and other items such as air pack purchases. The Council member also argued that much of the spending represent under-funding of the Fire Department in previous years. The City was now just attempting to catch up.
December 03, 2007
A summary of the 2008 City Budget
Warwick Jones and Marc Knapp
Viewers can see a summary of the City’s 2008 budget prepared by Charlstonwatch. The summary is broken down into 4 components:
General Fund Revenue Download file
General Fund Expenses Download file
The Enterprise Fund – Revenue and Expenses Download file
Charitable Contributions a.k.a as Assistance Program Download file
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:14 PM
November 28, 2007
City Council, November 27
Long Savannah annexation approved with minimal discussion
City formulates policy on its Urban Growth BoundaryMarc Knapp
It was described as a big annexation, second only to that of Daniel Island. But it got less discussion on City Council last night than a zoning issue over a property worth some $2 million or so. Only 2 Council members made substantial comments over the City’s proposed annexation of the properties that comprise the Long Savannah development. These members, along with one other, were those opposed to the development. It will now go to the Planning Commission for approval and then back to Council.
November 21, 2007
City Council, November 20
Millage and Parking Fees to rise in 2008
Fire Department costs a heavier burdenWarwick Jones (Marc Knapp is on vacation)
It was hardly a surprise. The Mayor when questioned during the election campaign said he could not rule out a tax increase for fiscal 2008. During a campaign, what politician is going to “fess” up to a tax increase? The absence of a denial was really an admission. So we now have the prospect in the City of a 4.3% increase in property taxes. In very broad terms – with City now accounting for roughly half of residents’ property taxes - overall taxes for most property owners will rise around 2-3% - hardly a disaster.
November 15, 2007
Updated figures of spending on Mayoral race
What of the future?Warwick Jones
More than a week has passed since the City elections. The news media have made their analysis, with little depth. But the there was probably nothing much to find by digging deeper. Joseph P Riley Jr retained his mayoral position, as expected, with 63.9% of the vote. And with one notable exception, the incumbent Council members retained their positions, as expected. The surprise was the unseating of Council member Bleeker by Timothy Mallard who won convincingly despite some large public relation bloopers. The milder surprise was the convincing win by Gary White who overwhelmed his Peninsula domiciled opponent in the District 1 fight with solid support from Daniel Island where he resides.
October 29, 2007
Why I won’t vote for Joe Riley!,
Corrosion by powerWarwick Jones
There are number of reasons why I will not vote for Joe Riley in the City election next week. But perhaps the major reason is his already long tenure as City Mayor. Another term will take the tenure to 36 years. It is not the actual time that he has spent in office that is an issue. It is the concomitant corrosion of the political and administrative processes, and the too often subordination of the will of citizens to the interests of developers. Over his 32 years in office, Mayor Riley has built a network, largely in the business, development and professional fields that allow him to harvest hundreds of thousands of dollar for his political campaigns. We don’t know what the final figure will be for this year’s campaign but that 4 years ago, was approaching $1 million. This is a multiple of what any opponent can raise.
October 25, 2007
City Council Elections
Disappointing League Forum
“No shows” by candidates Waring and MallardWarwick Jones
Arguably, those held by the League of Women Voters are the most important of all forums relating to City Council elections. Considering their prominence, last night’s forum, for contenders in the District 7 and District 11 races, was particularly disappointing. Council member Waring (District 7) and contender Tim Mallard (District 11) were absent. Their absence begs the question as to whether the forum was a waste of time. We hope the poor weather and not disinterest on the part of citizens, was the cause of the small audience, which numbered about 10.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:53 AM
October 24, 2007
City Council, October 23
Traffic issues for Harleston Village, and for Broad and Meeting Streets
City gets an unusual $1m gift from Spaulding-Paolozzi FoundationMarc Knapp
There were two controversial items on yesterday’s City Council agenda. The first was to change traffic on Rutledge and Ashley Avenues between Broad and Calhoun Streets from one to two-way. The second was to allow carriage tours along Broad and Meeting Streets between the hours of 4 pm and 6 pm. Presently, tours are prohibited in this peak traffic time. Council approved the first ordinance but rejected the second proposal.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:17 PM
October 23, 2007
Forum for Mayoral Candidates
Lots of heat for his administration but no response by MayorWarwick Jones
The League of Women Voters was probably taken aback by the ferocity of last night’s election forum. The four candidates for mayor of the City faced off against each other at a forum arranged by the League at the County Library on Calhoun Street. If past debates were an indication, the verbal assaults of contenders would have been strokes with the soft end of a feather duster. But not last night!.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:40 PM
October 19, 2007
League of Women Voters Forum
Candidates for City Council define the issuesWarwick Jones Given both the limited time and the nature of the forum, candidates up for election for three of the City Council seats could only comment generally on issues. Candidates were limited to 90 seconds for opening comments and 60 seconds for closing comments. In between, they were asked to address questions from both the League of Women Voters, which hosted the Forum, and written questions from the audience. As they had to be answered by each candidate regardless of District, the questions could not be district specific. The only exception was the question from the League asking candidates to name the 3 most vital issues affecting their communities.
October 12, 2007
County Council, October 12
County to consolidate emergency dispatch services
Concern that City of Charleston will not sign onWarwick Jones
Meeting as the Finance Committee, Council last night agreed to move forward to consolidate dispatch services in the County. The feasibility study of the plan, to integrate the dispatch of EMS, fire and police response to emergency calls was completed earlier this year. Council last night agreed to fund the consolidation and pay total running costs after 2014.
October 10, 2007
City Council, October 9, 2007
Annual Police Department Report- too many words dilute the substance!
Council member Morinelli gets feistyMarc Knapp
Judging from the TV cameras, the presentation by Police Chief Mullen was to be the highlight of the evening. He was to give the first of the planned Annual Police Department reports. Despite the standing ovation from many of the attendees, we were disappointed. The chief spoke well. But there were too many words, and they diluted the substance. He spoke of broad plans and objectives but mostly in conceptual form rather than in facts. There was the expected hype and praise. The words “world class” crept also into the presentation suggesting the Mayor or his speech writer had a hand in the preparation. .
Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:24 PM
October 08, 2007
Mayor Riley’s money machine
See list of contributors
It is the nature of modern politics. A political family gains allies – retainers, supporters, hangers-on, admirers, associates, in-house Machiavellis. The bigger the government, the more ways allies can be awarded, which binds them more closely. Your destiny is theirs. Members of the Court recruit others. Money lines spread person to person, company to company, board to board, mover to mover.
The most important part is the money lines. Peggy Noonan WSJ October 8 2007
September 26, 2007
City Council, September 26
Unusual gift to the City
Mayor out of contact with constituents over fate of Chief?Marc Knapp
Not surprisingly, matters relating to the Sofa Store fire consistently come up at Council meetings. Last night, Council applauded City businessman Gene Reed for his $228,000 contribution to buy new uniforms for the City Fire Department (CFD). Mr. Reed expressed sympathy for the victims of the fire and great praise for the CFD, Chief "Rusty" Thomas and Mayor Riley. He said the members of the CFD should be “more rewarded than they are”.
September 19, 2007
Mayor’s Press conference on Sofa Store fire
Nothing new except the spinMarc Knapp
At last night’s much-heralded press conference, Mayor Riley tried to put a new spin on the same old information. It was not very convincing and the same questions are being asked. The Fire Department had a major melt down on the eventful evening of June 18. Nothing that the Mayor said last night exonerates the City from blame, or excuses the fire-site poor management. To say that this tragedy came about through mishandling by a bunch of “keystone cops” would be an understatement, in my opinion.
September 12, 2007
City Council, September 11
Fire Department to change practices. More changes likely
BlueCross/Blue Shield to administer health services. Decision on BZA ruling deferredMarc Knapp
The Mayor announced some major changes relating to the City Fire Department on Tuesday night. The list of changes distributed to Council members ran to 7 pages and dealt with personnel, training, command, safety, communications and water supply. The Mayor stated that the changes had been implemented in the wake of the enquiries still underway. In response to a question from a Council member he noted that more changes were likely as the final reports of the investigations were completed.
September 02, 2007
Why the hypocrisy?
P&C criticizes County but not the City on distributions to charities out of tax payer fundsWarwick Jones
What is it about the Post & Courier? It seems there is nothing that will provoke its Editorial staff to criticize the City, even if it amounts to hypocrisy. Take the editorial in last Friday’s edition. It dealt with the hand-outs given by Charleston County to charities from tax payer funds.
August 22, 2007
City Council, August 21
Council defers discussion on Fire Department deficiencies
Approves rezoning for hotel and Dock Street Theatre contract amendmentMarc Knapp
The rezoning of a proposed hotel site on King Street and the management of City’s Fire Department were the two most important issues discussed on Tuesday night. Some Council members were also unhappy about the cost of renovating the Dock Street Theatre and the low participation of minorities in the sub contracting.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:13 PM
July 29, 2007
The Market area needs to change
But how to do it?Warwick Jones
The market area needs to change, but how to do it? The City-organized charrette held on Friday evening allowed citizens and vendors to comment on what they would like to see at the City market area along Market Street.
July 18, 2007
City Council July 17, 2007
The Sofa Store site, Ansonborough Field and down-zoning on Johns Island
Too much for one evening!Marc Knapp
Summer meetings are a test of endurance. Last night's was no exception. It lasted 5 hours. In summer, there's only one meeting per month instead of the normal two. Not surprisingly, the seats get uncomfortably hard and concentration impossible. It is not helped by some Council members raising trivial issues at the end of the meeting, seemingly designed to garner attention than to address real issues.
June 20, 2007
City Council, June 19
Questions over need for a re-zoning to aid hotel project on King Street
DockStreet theatre renovation well over budget. Where is the minority participation?Marc Knapp
The grievous loss of nine City firemen cast a shadow over yesterday’s Council meeting. The Mayor and Council members extended sympathy to the victims’ families and acknowledged the supreme sacrifice made by these men in the service of the community. Mayor Riley said that the tragedy had caused him to consider canceling the Council meeting. Much has already been said and written about the loss and we will add no more except our sympathy to the families and note our sorrow.
May 30, 2007
City Council, May 29
Amendments to Cell Tower and Tree Clearing Ordinances
More details relating to Magnolia developmentMarc Knapp
Yesterday’s meeting was to be the first in the newly renovated City Hall. But work still remains to be done and the first meeting has been rescheduled for mid June. Whether it was the confusion over the meeting place, Spoleto or simply spring lethargy, there were few attending yesterday’s meeting, held again at the Greenberg Municipal Building on Lockwood Drive. Ignoring City employees, only a few citizens were present and not a soul spoke in Citizens Participation. And indeed, there was little meat on matters before the Council.
May 02, 2007
City Council, May 1
Persistence pays off
Greenberg to get a plaque. Some efficiency measures to be implemented
Over the last few months, Mr. Ed Jones has asked Council at just about every meeting what it was doing for the youth of the East Side community. Like many others who have spoken during Citizens Participation in recent months, he pointed to the lack of sporting facilities and opportunities for the youth of the community.
April 25, 2007
City Council, April 24
Holocaust speech provokes reaction
City to form a “Green Committee” Is it really necessary?Marc Knapp
Every year, members of the City’s Jewish community speak before Council as part of the Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust commemoration. Candles are lit and short speeches made about the horror of the Holocaust and the need to guard against a repetition. The ceremony usually passes without incident. But this year, one speech raised the ire of at least one citizen, and understandably so.
April 11, 2007
City Council, April 10
Animal welfare ordinance faces no hurdles
Strange explanation of Foundation's investment with Al ParishMarc Knapp
It's been more years than we can count in the making. And the Committee that was responsible for the Carriage Horse Welfare ordinance before Council yesterday was not the first to make an effort. Council was not inclined to dispute, or even discuss any issues relating to the ordinance. It was passed with only three Council members opposing because, in their view, the ordinance was not necessary.
April 02, 2007
Shrimp 'n Grits
The Urban Growth Boundary – a line in the sand or political smoke and mirrors?
Since late 2005, Long Savannah Plantation, the largest in a recent gaggle of proposed planned unit developments (PUD’s) in the area bounded by the Ashley and Stono Rivers, has promised to be the first serious challenge to the integrity of Charleston County’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). This 3,050-acre, 4,800 home Mega-PUD, when first unveiled, was to be one of the largest ever proposed in the Lowcountry, second only to Kiawah Island in Charleston County and approximately the same size as Berkeley County’s Daniel Island. However, a vexing problem confronting its developers is that only 230 acres, or less than 8% of its total area, is located within the County’s higher density urban side of the UGB; most of the remainder has rural agricultural zoning which limits development densities to as low as only one dwelling for every ten acres.
March 28, 2007
City Council, March 27
Seeks funds for Greenbelts
Hopes to move the UGB and to annex Long Savannah Plantation developmentWarwick Jones, standing in for Marc Knapp who has a "buggy" stomach
There were a lot of items on yesterday’s City Council Agenda which we thought were worthy of some discussion. And as happens too frequently, there was little or no discussion. In particular there was the $1.96 million distribution of CDBG and Home grants from HUD, an ordinance relating to the Neck Development and the applications to the County for Greenbelt Funds.
March 07, 2007
City Council, March 6
Hardly worth the long wait
Main items were Bike Path contract and new City GymMarc Knapp
Regular attendees of Council meetings were probably confused. Council meetings usually are held every 2 weeks and begin with a meeting of the Way and Means Committee at 4.30 pm. Yesterday’s meeting follows only a week after the last, and began at 5.30 pm. The meeting was brought forward a week to allow Council members to travel to Washington for conferences with House and Senate members. This pilgrimage occurs every year and this year’s is scheduled for next week. The delay in beginning yesterday’s meeting reflected the overlap with the Mayor’s “night in”, when he meets with citizens to hear their requests or complaints.
February 28, 2007
City Council, January 27
Council member seeks wider discussion over BAR
Fort Pemberton rezoning approvedMarc Knapp
Two items consumed nearly all of the discussion at last night’s City Council meeting, The items were creation of “alternate” membership for the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) and the approval of a rezoning of the 7.4 acres that surround Fort Pemberton on James Island. Both were approved, but the discussion on BAR members stretched beyond the specific agenda item.
February 19, 2007
Shrimp 'n Grits
George Washington’s Rules of Civility –
Timeless wisdom for Charleston’s elected officialsLee Walton
As we celebrate the birthday of our Republic’s First President, it is appropriate to ponder which of the 110 precepts that guided Washington in war and peace would be applicable today to Charleston’s Mayor and members of City Council. These seemingly simple notions like courtesy, honesty, humility and respect contributed far more to the legislative process 220 years ago than those practiced today. Those who now occupy positions of public trust in Charleston’s City Council Chambers rely upon cleverness, guile, stubbornness, coercion, and raw, often ruthless political power to govern the citizens of Charleston. With a little imagination and knowledge of their idiosyncrasies, it’s really quite easy to select an appropriate Rule or two for each:
February 14, 2007
City Council, February 13, 2007
New procurement Policy – should we be concerned?
“Palm rose peddler” ordinance amended and passed
The City attorney told us we had no reason for concern. The “checks and balances” which we felt necessary were there. She was referring to our concerns expressed in Citizens Participation over the changes in the proposed amendments to the City Procurement Policy. The changes were approved unanimously by the Ways and Means Committee, and what is now becoming common, without any discussion.
January 24, 2007
City Council, January 23
State of the City, the Smoking Ban, and Palm Rose peddlers
Our viewsMarc Knapp
There were three stories arising out of yesterday’s City Council meeting. The Post & Courier reported on them and we won’t attempt to duplicate its effort. But, not surprisingly we hope, we have our own views.
January 10, 2007
City Council January 9, 2006
Charleston to become a "smoke free" City
An ordinance to stop citizens from using the "n" word
Marc KnappThe City has at last got its No Smoking ordinance. The issue has been lingering for some years like... a stale tobacco smell. As one citizen cynically noted last night, the City formed a group to study the issue some 6 years ago though its recommendations had passed into obscurity. But as Mayor Riley commented of the proposed ordinance, its time has come".
December 19, 2006
City Council, December 19
No second thoughts on salary increases
Council members to receive equivalent of "about $30,000 a year"Marc Knapp
There didn't seem to be any second thoughts. Council members Fishburne and Wilson said the increases were too much. But Council went ahead and voted a sizable increase in membersâ€™ remuneration beginning January 2008. As we noted in our report on the Council meeting a week ago, Council agreed to raise salaries of members from $11,100 to $15,000 a year. The salary of the Mayor is to rise from $125,200 to $149,000 a year beginning January, 2008 and rise thereafter at 3% a year.
December 13, 2006
City Council, December 12
Mayor and Council get pay boost
More funds for Aquarium; the Budget; and Longborough.Marc Knapp
It may not have been the most important item on last night's agenda, but it was probably of the most interest. Council voted a large increase in the salary of the Mayor, and an even larger percentage increase for themselves. Beginning January 1, 2008, the Mayor's salary will be $149,000 a year, up 19% from its present level of $125,200. The increase for Council members will be much larger in percentage terms, up 36% to $15,000 from $11,000 presently.
December 07, 2006
A closer look at the City Budget
Tax burden shifting from property owners to businesses and consumers
Generous handouts to "charities"Marc Knapp and Warwick Jones
A draft of the 2007 City budget was presented to Council at its last meeting. It was a long document and short of explanation though the Mayor noted the highlights in an accompanying speech. Most of the City's spending and costs are contained within the General Fund, and Enterprise Fund. Summaries of both are shown at the end of the report. Council plans to discuss the budget at its meeting on Tuesday, December 12.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:56 PM
November 29, 2006
City Council November 28
No millage increase for 2007
Drainage, affordable housing, and lack of sporting facilitiesMarc Knapp
Council members got their first glimpse of the 20007 budget last night. Glimpse is the right word. Members had before them only a Power Point print-out. The full document was given out only after the Mayor had completed his speech. And despite the fact that the Mayor asked that questions be delayed until the next Council meeting, questions were asked. So much for the half hour allocated for the budget's introduction
November 15, 2006
City Council Meeting, November 14.
City Gym sold and new one planned
No discussion on hiring consultant for Preservation planWarwick Jones, covering for Marc Knapp who is ill
If it were not for the item relating to the sale of the City Gym to The Citadel Trust Inc, discussion of matters on the Ways and Means agenda would have been minimal. As it was, there was no discussion of the contract with Page and Turnbull, a consultant hired to make recommendations for changes to the City Preservation plan.
October 25, 2006
City Council meeting, October 24
Unjustified racial allegations again
Memminger Auditorium to be renovated, Major re-zonings around Bridge exitsMarc Knapp
The quality of debate at City Council has never been very high in our opinion. And it was not at an elevated level last night, at least not in the discussion of a development in West Ashley. The development was approved but with the opposition of Council member Wilson. But what galled us was the accusation leveled by Council member Gilliard that opposition to the development had "racial overtones". It also seemed to us that support for the development reflected consideration of the standing in the community of the applicants rather than the merits of the project. The owners were descendents of a prominent civil rights activist, and held the property for many years.
October 18, 2006
City Council Meeting October 17
CPAD doing well but jobs needed for Eastside youth
City follows in Disneyworld's stepsMarc Knapp
It was not on the agenda. But the Eastside citizen patrols drew more discussion than any other issue at last night's Council meeting. County Council members Darby and Pryor rose to speak during Citizens Participation time. They noted the success of the patrols (CPAD), the support from the residents and from the City. But their main purpose last night was to draw attention to the other phases of the strategy, in particular to find jobs for the youth of the Eastside caught up in drug dealing. Council member Darby referred to his previous call for the creation of 300 jobs and asked the City to make some effort in creating or finding these positions. The final part of the strategy was to move CPAD to other parts of Charleston where drug dealing was a problem. Already he had been asked by Mayor Summey for CPAD to help clean up North Charleston.
September 27, 2006
City Council Meeting September 26
More on Crime
Compromise of sorts on height limit for commercial buildingsMarc Knapp
The days may now be getting shorter but City Council meetings are not. Including that of the Ways and Means, last night's meeting took the best part of 4 ½ hours. Certainly there were matters of importance to discuss but the time was swollen by the Mayor's televised speech on crime, a 15 minute break to allow him to attend to other business, and then the innumerable presentations and awards that accompany every Council meeting, many of which seem trivial or unnecessary. The real business of Council took probably only half the session.
September 13, 2006
City Council Meeting September 12
A need for perspective
Fight against crime gathers momentumWarwick Jones, covering for Marc Knapp
Unbelievable! That is one word we would use to describe last night's meeting of City Council. Your usual correspondent, Marc Knapp would've used a word much harsher! Probably some 2 hours were spent addressing a very minor parking issue on Tradd Street. After the first hour, some Council members wondered out loud why they were spending so much time on the issue. The Mayor said the same thing and then spent another 10 or so minutes discussing it. Council member Shirley, trying unsuccessfully to wrap up the discussion, referred to the well-known philosopher Marc Knapp and loosely quoted him as saying that you don't need to be a "brain surgeon" to deal with this issue. (Actually Marc's words were "rocket scientist" but the correct sentiment was conveyed).
August 16, 2006
City Council Meeting. August 15
Major step to curb drug dealing
Some questions of principle in relation to re-zoningsMarc Knapp
As Councilmember Fishburne sensed as he perused the long agenda early in the evening, it was going to be a long one. It was! Yours truly and another were the only members of the public that stuck it to the end - at 9 pm.. The meeting would have ended earlier but for the persistence of Council member Bleecker. She tried to make a point about procedure. Her argument had merit but with the lateness of the hour and the accompanying weariness, Council was in no mood for detailed discussion. She yielded before the daggers in the eyes of other Council members ceased being metaphoric.
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.
July 11, 2006
Needless eye sores!
The City can and should insist on the removal of old utility polesWarwick Jones
We have written many times about the rampant development in the City, the generous allowance of variances and exceptions by the Board of Zoning Appeals, the low level of standards applied by the Board of Architectural Review. We'll concede that there are two sides to most and if not all issues, even though the merits for some have been underwhelming in our view. But we wonder what the City administration's and its supporters' reason can possible be for not removing old utility poles. Apart for the cost, which we believe is modest and will be borne by the utilities, we can't think of any.
June 21, 2006
City Council June 20
Council tries a new way to combat violent crime
We question City's banker role. Discussion on smoking banWarwick Jones, standing in for Marc Knapp
The need to deal with violent crime was the most important issue before Council last night. But the need for a smoke-free environment evoked the longer discussion, even though the issue was not on the agenda. Most items on the agenda were approved by Council with little or no discussion. But one of those items, a loan to Elpis Inc, should have drawn some questions, in our view. It also caused us to reflect on the hypocrisy, perhaps unwitting, of some of the discussion on crime.
June 04, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
The Malony Embezzlement - a real pocket book breakerLee Walton
Mercy! It was hypocritical to hear J. Pericles Riley calling the formation of the Town of James Island a "cruel hoax" which would result in "pocketbook-breaking taxes." He should be saying the same thing about the actions of his close confidant and friend Danny Molony who, under the very noses of the highest officials of the City, was running an in-house scheme to embezzle almost a million dollars from the taxpayers of the City of Charleston? The final tab of this fiasco is yet to be disclosed.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:22 AM
May 28, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Rubin's RaidersLee Walton
A friend of mine, an old ex-Marine Lifer, is president of his homeowner's association in one of Charleston's new subdivisions out past Bees Ferry Road near the new Mega Wal-Mart. His neighborhood was having a terrible time with litter tossed out by construction workers who were building dozens of new homes in their subdivision. The growing piles of curbside litter were coming from the larger homebuilders' crews who were just dumping their lunch trash anywhere they wanted along the neighborhood streets (fast food bags, trash, plastic cups, bottles, drink cans, etc). Several of the neighbors had pleaded with the homebuilders and their subcontractors to clean up behind their workers but only got a shrug or the one finger salute for their efforts.
May 24, 2006
City Council, May 23
Traffic signals to be coordinated - hurrah!
Other purchases, re-zonings, Miss Charleston, and crimeMarc Knapp
Some of us have been griping for years about the seemingly uncoordinated traffic signals of the City. Our gripes last night were acknowledged when the Council approved a $571,000 contract to implement the Traffic Signal Retiming Project. The contract was awarded to Day Wilburn Associates. The scope of the project will be the development and implementation of new traffic signal timing plans for the City, including about 95 signalized intersections.
May 03, 2006
City Council May 2 2006
Cost of renovating City Hall rises again
Federal funding for more conspicuous street signageMarc Knapp
Covering City Council meetings has become more challenging recently. Nothing much has happened, and there is little to write about. We expect it will not remain this way. But the problem remains of generating copy on last night's meeting.
April 26, 2006
City Council April 23
Could City recover more from Danny Malony's assets?
To join battle with travel agencies in tax disputeMarc Knapp
Two items dominated last night's meeting of City Council. The first related to the recovery of funds from the assets of Mr. Daniel Malony. The second was a possible suit against internet travel agencies for the recovery of taxes that the City claims it is owed. Both items were added to the agenda at the last minute, and there were no documents available for perusal by the public.
April 12, 2006
City Council April 11
Differences on annexations
Smoking ban back on agendaMarc Knapp
It was a lean meeting for news. It seems the Post & Courier shared our view. Its commentary on last night's City Council meeting was confined to a report on annexations. Annexations have been a common feature of just about every meeting for the last 12 months also. What happened last night would normally pass with little or no comment.
March 29, 2006
City Council, March 28
Stormwater fees, affordable housing and crimeMarc Knapp
There was much on last night's agenda. However, most of the discussion was on two items, affordable housing and crime, neither of which were on the agenda. Discussion on the former was precipitated by a major development proposed in West Ashley and that on the latter by citizens' comments.
March 09, 2006
City Council March 7
Where is the scrutiny?
Questions on Ansonborough FieldMarc Knapp
Our thoughts turned to Mr. Bob George last night. Mr. George of course was the Council member that was defeated by Ms. Kathleen Wilson in the series of elections that began in November last. The ex-council member was a thorn in the side of the Mayor who went to a great and ultimately successful length to support her election bid. The new Council may be better liking to the Mayor. But it comes up short in other ways.
March 01, 2006
City Council February 28
$290 million bond issues by CPW approved
Water and sewage fees to rise annually 4% and 7% respectivelyMarc Knapp
There was not a great deal of discussion about the $290 million revenue bond issues. And indeed, the capital raising is not as big as it seems to be. Of the total $290 million, $110 million is for refinancing outstanding bonds. The redemption of the outstanding bonds and the replacement with the new will save $4 million, Charleston Public Works (CPW) estimates.
February 15, 2006
City Council Meeting February 14
The Mayor lobbies in Columbia
City Hall renovation cost increases againMarc Knapp
With little discussion of items, no speakers in Citizens Participation, it should have been a short meeting. It wasn't because the Mayor chose to tell Council about his trip to Columbia, from which he just returned, to lobby for a change in the property tax process. What the Mayor said was little different to that in his inaugural speech - municipalities should retain the ability to levy property taxes. However, the millage rate should be rolled back to that extent to make the reassessment neutral in terms of property taxes. The only increase allowed in millage would be that to compensate for inflation. He also said that a 1% sales tax should be instigated to allow for school funding. Attempts to modify the property tax legislation had failed in the past and the Mayor feared that it would fail again. He recognized that his proposal was modest compared with that considered in the legislature, but he felt that a modest change was better than none at all. He also said that a 15% cap on reassessments would not work and would be distorting.
January 30, 2006
Kwadjo Campbell defends Robert George
He is not a racist
Kwadjo Campbell, who represented District 4 on City Council prior to the elections late last year has written to the media stating that Robert George is not a racist. Herbert Fielding, the retired senator, made the accusation a short time before the run-off election in December. Mr George lost the election to Ms. Kathleen Wilson by a small margin and it is possible that the racist accusation was at least partly responsible for his loss.
Below is an extract from the letter>
January 25, 2006
City Council Meeting January 24
State of the City Address - few surprises
Harold Koon award and some zoning issuesMarc Knapp
Last night the Mayor gave his annual State of the City address. As usual it was long and contained few surprises. The Post & Courier covered it in today's edition and the full text is available on Charleston.net. As could be expected, the Mayor reviewed some of the events of last year and spoke of the problems that confronted the community. He spoke of growth, the need for regional planning, and preservation of the environment. Nothing much has changed over the years, for example, the address in 2000 highlighted the same things. This year there was mention of the benefit that would flow from the half-cent sales tax.
January 12, 2006
City Council Meeting January 10
Citizens' comments hold most interest
Who should nominate the Mayor pro tem?Marc Knapp
It was a brief meeting. We could be flip and say it was because of the absence of Bob George and his questions over matters before the Council. But in reality, there was little of issue on the agenda that was worthy of questioning. The first meeting of the year opened with the welcoming of new Council members, followed by awards and the usual rezoning matters. And just in case you have not been following, there are two new Council members, Robert Mitchell and Kathleen Wilson. Councilmember Mitchell replaced Kwadjo Campbell who did not run for re-election. Council member Wilson replaced Robert George who she narrowly defeated in the election.
January 08, 2006
Preservation Society sounds the alarm
Is Charleston facing an erosion of preservation standards?
The Preservation Society joins the Historic Charleston Foundation in questioning the City's commitment to preservation. In its current edition of Preservation Progress, it asks, " Are we facing an erosion of our preservation standards"? The lead article notes some of the projects that have been approved by the City and some that are in the process of approval. Clearly the Society is concerned about these projects and the impact they will have on the historical integrity of the City. It now joins the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF), which also has expressed concerns, and plans to hold a public forum early this year to discuss the issue.
December 14, 2005
City Council December 13
Wraps up 2006 Budget, debates an increase in business license fees
Hospitality tax revenue distributionMarc Knapp
City Council wrapped up its discussion on the 2006 budget and there were no surprises. The highlights of the budget have already been reported in the Post and Courier and last night's discussion broke little new ground. Suffice to say that Expenditure for the year to December 31, 2006 is projected at $126.3 million, an increase of 8.9% over that projected for 2005. A number of factors contributed to the increase and included Cost of Living increases for wage and salary earners. These amounted to 5.5% for those on low levels and fell to 3.5% for those at higher levels. There were also significant increases in health care costs, and retirement benefits following State mandated changes.
November 23, 2005
City Council Meeting November 22
City's inaction on Harborview House demolition questionedMarc Knapp
We are hard pressed to find much of interest arising from the agenda of last night's Council meeting. So we won't try. But we will dwell on a comment made by Council member George. He lamented the destruction of one of the few old houses on James Island and questioned how such a thing could occur. I also spoke of the demolition and the questions that it raised about the "process".
November 09, 2005
City Council Meeting November 8
Cab fares, and "affordable housing" at LongboroughWarwick Jones, standing in for Marc Knapp who is ill
There wasn't much controversy at last night's Council meeting. Council approved an increase in taxi fares and amended the ordinance relating to "affordable housing" at the Longborough development of the Beach Company. As usual there was the usual slew of re-zoning approvals. But it seemed that all the re-zonings issues were only of local interest.
October 28, 2005
City Council Election Debates - District 2
Contenders slog it out, well sort ofWarwick Jones, Editor
It was not a lively debate. And similar to the others in this election, it was marked by civility and politeness. There were differences of opinion, thankfully, but a lot of commonality. In terms of personality, the candidates were similar - both were soft spoken, retiring in nature, and not prone to hyperbole. They were also inclined to brevity and sometimes, understatement. We would favor Darrold Heyward soley because he promises to vote independently of the Mayor. The present incumbent, Debbie Morinelli indicated that she forms her opinions independently but her voting history would suggest other wise. In overall performance, there was little to separate the two contenders. But voters preference may differ because of the contenders' views on some issues, notably the completion of I 526.
October 25, 2005
City Council Election Debate - District 8
Experience of Council member Evans shows through
But some answers were hardly credibleWarwick Jones, Editor
In terms of performance, City Council member Yvonne Evans probably was the winner. She was never at a loss for an answer and gave a polished delivery particularly in answering some arcane questions which we suspect she anticipated and for which she was fully prepared. But in our view, some of her answers lacked credibility. Challenger David Ingle exuded charm and serious intent. He spoke well about the issues of the district but barely trod water on some other issues. Too often did he agree with the policies of his opponent and in his concluding statement said he looked forward to working with the Mayor who has "done a good job". As one observer remarked, if this is his view, why do we wish to replace Councilmember Evans? Considering his political platform, critical of both Councilmember Evans and the Mayor, we can only conclude that Mr. Ingle was bending over backwards last night to be gracious and polite.
October 21, 2005
City Council Election Debate - District 4
Crime and "affordable housing" are major issuesWarwick Jones, Editor
We won't try and determine the winner of last night's Candidates Forum. There were five speakers at the meeting organized by the League of Women Voters. Each candidate spoke well and credibly about the problems of the District and their plans should they be elected. In total, there are seven candidates for the seat that is presently held by Kwadjo Campbell but who has chosen not to run again. Two of the candidates were not present last night because of personal reasons.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 06:48 PM
October 19, 2005
City Council Meeting October 18
City steps in to preserve Angel Oak
Citizens demand action on crime on PeninsulaMarc Knapp
It is rare that I am in full agreement with the Mayor. Last night's City Council meeting was one of those occasions. The City is to initiate steps to acquire the land around the Angel Oak on Johns Island and ensure the preservation of a wonderful landmark. But the process is not simple. The discussion and the public hearing occupied most of the Council meeting,
October 18, 2005
City Council Election Debates
Contenders for District 12 square off
How independent would Kathleen Wilson be?Warwick Jones, Editor
In our view Council member George was the winner. His opponent, Kathleen Wilson spoke confidently and handled well the questions put before her. But Council member George's experience and knowledge of detail shone through. His voting record on Council also lent substance to his thoughts, a quality that was lacking in some of those expressed by Ms Wilson. We will come back to this later.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:41 PM
October 05, 2005
City Council Meeting October 4
Daniel Island Residents seek Court actionWarwick Jones standing in for Marc Knapp
There was no mistaking the ire of Daniel Island residents at the Council meeting early in September. The rezoning and City action to change an ordinance, designed to allow an "affordable housing" development in the center of Daniel Island was wrong they said. The issue was now back before Council, having received the approval of the Planning Commission. The residents last night again voiced their opposition to the Zoning and Ordinance change. But there was more, they declared their intent to take their grievance to the Circuit Court. This is the usual course of action after the Board of Zoning Appeals rejects an appeal against an earlier decision.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:36 PM
September 14, 2005
City Council Meeting September 13
City cranks up its "affordable housing" program
What about Ansonborough Field?Marc Knapp
Affordable Housing was the main topic in last night's council meeting. Fortunately, the discussion was more civilized than that of the previous Council meeting. Nor was there anything contentious.
August 17, 2005
City Council Meeting August 16
A new low in Council rhetoric
Move to change Ordinance to thwart Daniel Island residentsMarc Knapp
It was not an inspiring evening. It hit a low when the African American council members, Council member Lewis excepted, turned the grievance of Daniel Island residents in to a race issue. They were not to be persuaded by anything the residents said, or for that matter, by the African American minister who supported the residents. The minister spoke of the grievances she and other West Ashley residents had over a similar issue had with the City in relation to an "affordable housing" project.
July 20, 2005
City Council Meeting July 19
Mayor's conduct of meetings questionedWarwick Jones, temporarily standing in for Marc Knapp
We really had not noticed until Council member George made an issue of it. But it rose in the Ways and Means Committee meeting over the increase in building permit fees and the grant of $250,000 to the Charleston Housing Trust. The Committee is chaired by Council member Waring with the Mayor a member of the Committee. But the Mayor spoke many times on the issue and in the opinion of Council member George, out of order. The Council member pointed out that the Mayor did not have the right to speak as he did and that according to the rules, a member could not speak more than twice when a motion is on the floor.
June 22, 2005
City Council Meeting June 21
Annexations on James Island questioned. More information sought on CARTA budgetMarc Knapp
It promised to be a long meeting with an agenda accumulated over the 4 weeks since the last meeting of City Council. It was a long meeting. But it could have been longer if some the items had been discussed at the length they deserved. Annexations on James Island were the most prominent of issues. As reported in the daily press, the City is planning on annexing 55 properties on James Island. It has been active in canvassing residents to join the City and clearly has enjoyed a measure of success. There were 55 aspirants for annexation this session of Council, and 20 whose applications were up for the second reading in this session. Not surprisingly considering the Mayor's desire to expand the boundaries of the City and to thwart the creation of a new town on James Island, Council approved the annexations. But there were some dissidents among Council members.
May 18, 2005
City Council Meeting May 17
City tightens zoning before tattoo parlors are authorizedMarc Knapp
We confess that writing about last night's meeting is a challenge. Nothing much happened. There was the usual host of rezoning and annexation requests and most of these were passed as usual, without much discussion. One of the re-zonings before the Council last night was preparatory to an ordinance allowing the establishment of tattoo parlors in the City. The Council sought to change the zoning of much of the Industrial- zoned areas on the Peninsula to either Commercial or Residential categories. As it proposes to limit tattoo parlors to only industrial areas, this rezoning would keep the tattoo parlors away from residential areas, it is argued. The matter has already been discussed and approved by the Planning Commission.
May 12, 2005
City Council Meeting May 10
City and SC DOT sign deal
Good for the CityMarc Knapp who covers City Council
The Cooper River Bridge Partnership Agreement between the City of Charleston and the SC Department of Transport (DOT) was ratified by Council last night. The only no votes were from Council members Lewis and Campbell. Council member Campbell attempted to provide a substitute motion by reading a "laundry list" of what he considered reasons for deferring any action for a month. These reasons included environmental concerns such as pollution, structural damage to existing buildings, and the loss of "affordable housing". He also stated that more work was needed on the agreement. He commented that the City could do better and at the end of his speech, hinted at threats of a civil rights lawsuit based on Title 6 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:11 AM
April 27, 2005
City Council Meeting April 26
"Affordable Housing" under spotlight
Costs questionedMarc Knapp who covers City Council
"Affordable housing" was under the spotlight at last night's Council Meeting. It started of with a presentation by the City's Housing and Community Development Department. This was later followed by comments from Don Cameron of the City of Charleston's Housing Authority and questions and comments from Council members George, Fishburne and Shirley relating to the high cost of the City's initiative using the proceeds of a proposed $10 million bond issue.
April 13, 2005
City Council Meeting April 12
Citizens protest cut back at Day Camp
Proposed allocation of HUD fundsMarc Knapp who covers City Council
It was a long night even though there was little up for discussion. The Ways and Means and Council Meetings were delayed for nearly an hour while Council had a photo session. And then there was about an hour of presentations and recognitions.
March 23, 2005
City Council March 22
Some affordable housing issuesMarc Knapp who covers City Council
Usual issues on zoning…..
It was essentially a "meat and potatoes' night. There were no major issues, though of course this was not the case for some of the individuals disputing re-zonings. Council was sympathetic to the neighborhood who was opposing a re-zoning from Residential to Residential Office. The property was located at 16 Oakdale Place but one of its sides lay along Saint Andrews Boulevard. This was not enough to allow for the re-zoning as far as Council was concerned. And there was the change in conditions for a previously approved Planned Unit Development (PUD) that fell under the Bees Landing Master Plan and located between Bees Ferry Road and Ashley Gardens Boulevard. The applicant was reducing the density of residential units but adding business units. This was approved though there was some concern about the increase in traffic that would ensue. The mayor promised a traffic light at the intersection of the main road and the entrance to the development
March 09, 2005
City Council Meeting March 8
Kwadjo Campbell takes center stageMarc Knapp who covers City Council
His name was never mentioned. But Council member Campbell was the focus of last night's meeting. The Council member has been charged with marijuana possession and in the last few weeks, has been subjected to a lot of media attention. The Mayor has also sought his expulsion from Council.
March 08, 2005
City Real Estate Committee Meeting - March 7
How much "affordable housing" on Ansonborogh Field? Problem with the "affordable housing" bond issueWarwick Jones, Editor
The City spoke again of its broad plans for the development of Ansonborough Field at the Real Estate Committee meeting last night. Essentially the City plans on constructing about 250 condominium units, 2 small hotels, a possible building for a culinary school and some commercial space. It plans to move to a Request for Proposal (RFP) sometime in the next year or so. But last night's meeting was about pre-qualifying potential bidders for the project. The Mayor said that he hoped (expected) that there would be at least $5 million available from the RFP consideration that could be used to establish Concord Park and to pay the State Port Authority for a small parcel of land that abuts the Field. Concord Park will be the 5 acre space between the developments at either end of the Field.
February 28, 2005
An African American Museum that costs $60 million? A Contentious Issue.
Remember the AquariumWarwick Jones, Editor
Remember 10 years ago when Aquariums were the rage of the nation. Many cities aspired to build one and some actually did - to their ultimate sorrow. All are financially against the ropes and Charleston's is no exception. Ours cost over $80 million and is losing nearly $2 million a year.
February 23, 2005
City Council Meeting - February 22
First step taken towards an African American Museum
But financing hurdle is highMarc Knapp who covers City Council
As usually happens, the Mayor got his way. At issue was $250,000 of funding to make a preliminary study for a new African American Museum. But in fact, the issue was the museum itself. To approve the funding, the final objective had to be endorsed. After a spirited debate, the funding was approved, but not unanimously. Council members Shirley, Fishburne and George voted against the proposal. All black members of council voted for the funding.
February 15, 2005
City reveals plans for Ansonborough Field
Project includes an hotel and "affordable housing".Warwick Jones, Editor
The City's plans for Ansonborough Field got their first airing last week before the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association (HANA). Few liked what they saw or heard. But there was no point in taking it out on the messengers.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:13 AM
February 09, 2005
City Council Meeting - February 8
Not much heat in tattoo parlor discussion. More information sought.Marc Knapp who covers City Council
As promised in a meeting late last year, Council, last night, got to discuss the possible location of tattoo "parlors" in the City. Presently they are banned, but with Columbia moving to license them, the City is getting its house in order.
January 26, 2005
City Council Meeting - January 25
No more unilateral decisions on sending police to other citiesMarc Knapp who covers City Council
Council finally got to discuss this issue of sending police to patrol I-95 in Santee and receiving a share in confiscations. As it turned out, it was a wider issue for similar arrangements had been reached with other cities and municipalities.
January 12, 2005
Long-term or short-term parking leases- An issue for the BZA?
Warwick Jones, Editor
It seems to us that the issue is unresolved as to whether the lease between the City and the developer of 418 Meeting Street for parking in the Visitors Center Garage is long-term or short-term. We sought clarification at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night but it was not forthcoming. In some respects, the issue by itself may seem unimportant. But the City ordinance requires that a new development like that at 418 Meeting Street provide parking. If all of it cannot be on site, then the balance must be within 400 feet of the development and under a lease agreement for 10 years or more. If the developer cannot meet the requirement of the ordinance, then exceptions must be obtained from the Board of Zoning Appeals. It is of interest that Councilmember Fishburne is the principal of the development company.
City Council Meeting - Jan 11
City to receive $1.6 million windfallMarc Knapp who covers City Council
There was not too much on the Agenda of last night's Council meeting. Of most interest was the proposed sale of land in North Charleston that was part of the old Navy base. The City of Charleston sold the land to the Federal Government in 1941 with the stipulation that it reverted back to the City if it were not used for naval purposes for two consecutive years. The City has exercised its right to reacquire the property. The City of North Charleston, that previously thought it was acquiring the land from the Federal Government has negotiated a deal with the City whereby the Noisette Company will pay $1.557 million cash for the 42.9 acre parcel with settlement within 30 to 60 days.
December 26, 2004
Mayor's attack on Councilmember Campbell could back fire
Warwick Jones, Editor
There is something troubling about the matter of the Mayor's accusations about Councilman Campbell. It is not what Councilman Campbell allegedly has done, but rather how the matter has been handled. The surprise attack at the last Council meeting and the revelation in the Post and Courier (P&C) today that the Mayor is taking the issue to the Ethics Commission smells more of politics that righting any alleged wrong. The P&C reported on the Mayor's charges in the Thursday edition but the timing on the decision to take the issue to the Ethics Commission made it in time for the Sunday edition when circulation is the highest. Funny, if the Mayor felt so strongly, why didn't he announce his intention when he spoke to Council on Tuesday? Is he seeking political capital?
December 22, 2004
City Council Meeting December 21
Tattoo parlors - First skirmish in a possibly intense battleMarc Knapp who covers City Council
Last night's Council meeting witnessed a skirmish between those for and against tattoo parlors. In some respects it was a pointless battle because the lines of the issue are not yet defined. The residents of Byrnes Downs had a victory but the fight over tattoo parlors has yet to begin.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:51 PM
December 16, 2004
Will Jimmy Gallant remain on Council?
Warwick Jones, Editor
City Council member Jimmy Gallant is now recovering from triple by pass surgery. We understand that he is doing well but not well enough to return to normal duties any time soon. In fact his doctor has ordered him to rest for a prolonged period and he is taking at least a 7 month "sabbatical" according to a letter circulated to City council members. The question now becomes will he return to City Council, or indeed, being so severely incapacitated, should he not resign? Should there be an election to replace him on Council? After all, 7 months or more is a long time for an area not to have representation.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:56 PM
December 08, 2004
City Council Meeting - Dec 7
Council OK's 6.3% budget increaseMarc Knapp who covers City Council
Council approved the $116.1million budget for fiscal 2005 with relatively little debate about the projected expenditures. The budgeted amount represents a 6.3% increase over the previous year and a real increase of about 4% after allowing for inflation of about 2%. Much of the discussion about the budget took place in the meeting of the Ways and Mean Committee. Mr. Steve Bedard, the City's CFO, was questioned frequently about items in the budget, particularly by Council members George and Fishburne. But there was nothing revealed that we would describe as contentious. However, the discussion in Council did give rise to some other issues, and some which took on very heated tones.
December 05, 2004
Golf Tunnel Loan - A Reality Check
G. Robert George, P.L.S., P.E.
Councilmember, District 12
The City of Charleston
The Post and Courier editorial of Friday, November 26, 2004 discounting the rumored use of the half-percent sales tax revenue to repay the city's $ 1.2 million General Fund Loan to the Municipal Golf Course leaves the impression that this loan will be repaid by the Municipal Golf course within approximately ten years. A review of several recent city audits leaves a very different impression.
November 24, 2004
City Council Meeting November 23
Another step in the development of the Neck areaMarc Knapp who covers City Council
Council moved further last night towards development of the Neck Area. First reading was given to an ordinance to establish the Charleston Neck Redevelopment Project area and a plan for spending and financing. A public hearing was also set for December 22.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:49 AM
November 10, 2004
City Council Meeting - November 9
Marion Square to have Ice RinkWarwick Jones who is covering for Marc Knapp. Marc was attending his bid for the Republican Party nomination for a seat on County Council
Council voted to let Creative Marketing Strategies install an ice rink at Marion Square for the Christmas - New Year holiday period. The mayor wanted an agreement that allowed the operator to set up for each of the three years beginning November this year. Some other council members were not so keen and suggested that a one year trial period would be better. They did not prevail with the Mayor arguing that it would take a year for the provider to recoup its investment.
October 27, 2004
City Council Meeting October 26
Public hearing on the 2005 budget
City supports sweet basket weavers in tax issueMarc Knapp who covers City Council
The first item of last night's agenda was the public hearing on the proposed 2005 city budget. No figures were submitted, the City was just seeking views of the public. The response was hardly overwhelming. Only two persons rose to speak. One was seeking a grant of $6250 to help improve literacy in the community. In my view, the poor levels of literacy she described at length questioned education standards in our schools more than anything else. What difference is $6250 going to make to such a problem? The other speaker sought better retirement conditions for firemen.
October 13, 2004
City Council Meeting October 12
City gets $2m in settlement with Federal GovernmentMarc Knapp who covers City Council
Held at the Trident Technical College, the council meeting last night was uneventful. There was the usual array of zoning changes and housekeeping matters. But it was nice to know that the City settled a suit with the US government and will be receiving a net $2 million. The suit began in 1994 and was over claims of pollution at the site of naval yard on which now stands the aquarium and surrounding buildings. The site, used as a naval base during World War II and afterwards other industry, was polluted. It was subsequently leased by SCE&G who in turn turned it over to the City for the aquarium and other buildings. A previous deal between the City and SCE&G in which the City received $26 million absolved SCE&G from any further liability. This latest settlement will now absolve the US government of any further liability.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:07 PM
September 29, 2004
City Council Meeting - September 28
Sidewalk dining to be tried againMarc Knapp who covers City Council
In a near unanimous vote, City Council at the public hearing last night, agreed to give sidewalk dining another chance. However this time, the rules and regulations will be better defined and better policed. Councilmember Fishburne cast the only vote against the new proposal. He felt that the ordinance gave an unfair advantage to cafe and restaurant owners who have the fortune to be sited next to sidewalks that met the minimum width requirements. Those that operated along narrow sidewalks were obviously unable to take advantage of the new ordinance.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:02 PM
September 27, 2004
The Aquarium - a potential problem for the City?
Warwick Jones, Editor
Last year the South Carolina Aquarium (SCA) incurred a loss of $2.4 million. This year, most likely another loss will be incurred though hopefully much less than in 2003. But cash flow could fall further and create a need to draw further on borrowings. The question is how much further can it draw and what could be the ramifications for the City of Charleston?
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:58 PM
September 22, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals - September 21
Board has it both ways on McLeod PlantationPatricia Jones who covers Zoning
A tied vote of 3-3 brought to defeat the requested special exception sought by the School of Building Arts(SOBA). But with board member Smith unhappy with the outcome, a motion was made to approve the requested exception but with some restrictions. The motion passed in a 5 to 1 vote.
September 17, 2004
McLeod Plantation - Disappointment with City Council
1212 Taliaferro Ave.
What a disappointment our City Council leaders are. They do follow the leader well though. They don't have a clue about James Island or the importance of the McLeod property. Maybe we are just the little redheaded stepchild who gets handed down whatever scraps may be left. Most don't know we have already three large empty shopping center buildings, our traffic is horrendous and that there are people who care about their heritage. If they do, they seem to be either too tired to comprehend the issue so follow the leader, or they don't care as they have their own agenda. Thank God for Bob George, Kwadjo Campbell, and James Lewis who stood up for us and their own beliefs, opposing the rezoning on this valuable historic site. Admitted, it must be difficult for councilmembers to take some of the verbal abuse that comes their way. There surely are better ways to get one's point across besides calling people stupid! Fortunately there were only one or two of those folks and they made points about another issue and not this rezoning.
September 15, 2004
City Council Meeting - September 15, 2004
McLeod rezoning passes second readingMarc Knapp who covers City Council
City Council was on stage last night - literally. With City Hall closed for restoration, the council met at the Dockside Theater. Under spotlights, the Council gave a rather unemotional performance with a predictable ending, at least to the major issues before it.
September 13, 2004
McLeod Plantation - An open letter to the Mayor, City Council, and the Board of the Historic Charleston Foundation
Carol S. Jacobsen
607 Wampler Drive
"Located across Charleston Harbor just southwest of the city, McLeod Plantation encompasses acres of fields and woods. McLeod offers the Foundation an opportunity to interpret the contributions and influences of the rural and agrarian South." The Historic Charleston Foundation website.
I note with concern that we seem to be entering a war of words regarding the opposition by the Friends of McLeod, Inc. to the sale of McLeod Plantation to the School of the Building Arts. The Friends of McLeod, Inc. are dedicated to preserving and protecting all aspects of McLeod Plantation including its house, slave cabins, outbuildings, cemetery, oak allees, woods, and character-defining fields. We want to inform and educate the public on the plantation's historical importance, its military history, its importance in the Civil War, and particularly its importance in African-American history, from slavery to the Civil War to freedom.
September 08, 2004
Zoning Board Meeting September 7
Variance applications for McLeod deferredPatricia Jones who covers Zoning
The Board last night declined to hear the application for a variance in relation to the Mc Leod plantation. It thought that it was premature for the City to be asking for variances before the actual School overlay plan had been approved by council. One of the Board members thought it might be worthwhile to discuss the issue to provide some guidance to the City but this was rejected by the other members.
September 05, 2004
McLeod Plantation- "Fight is not over"
Carol S. Jacobsen
607 Wampler Drive
Partial interest in the McLeod Plantation was left to the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) in 1990. It, in turn, purchased full title to the property in 1993, "thus saving the plantation, the complex of antebellum outbuildings and archeological resources from future development." The preceding sentence is a direct quote from the HCF website, which goes on to wax poetic about the history and the house, the unique kitchen and dairy structures, the barn and the rarity of the still existing slave cabins. By accepting the Willie McLeod gift, the Historic Charleston Foundation accepted responsibility and stewardship of this magical historic site as "an opportunity to interpret the contributions and influences of the rural and agrarian South."
August 31, 2004
City too busy to consider "affordable housing' applications
Warwick Jones, Editor
For those of us who own our homes and which are in good condition, housing is not an issue. But for those who don't or who have homes desperately needing repair, it is. And there are a lot of people in Charleston who would like to own a home but can't afford it, or own homes that need urgent repair. Most of these people are hard working but are victim of the generally low wages and salaries in South Carolina, and the rising trend of real estate values in Charleston. To buy a home or to renovate, these folk need help. They can seek special loans from lending institutions, or assistance from non-profit organizations. Or they can apply through the City's "affordable housing" program. Or can they?
August 21, 2004
Post & Courier acknowledges an issue with the Aquarium - at last
Warwick Jones, Editor
The Post & Courier's story today about the tardiness of the Aquarium in providing its annual report for 2003 should have been headline news over a week ago. Councilmember Robert George wrote a letter to the Mayor and other councilmembers on August 12, 2004 complaining about the issue and pointing out that the Aquarium had breached the terms of its sub-lease arrangement. The Post & Courier was informed at that time and has waited a week to air the issue.
August 18, 2004
City Council Meeting, August 17
New Building Height Restrictions pass first reading
McLeod Plantation second hearing deferredMarc Knapp who covers City Council
It was not a surprise. City Council passed the new building height restrictions for the Historic district. The restrictions were not contentious except for the Ansonborough Field area. Here the City wanted to increase the effective height to 70 ft as opposed to 55 ft, which broadly was the height restriction in other areas. The vote on Council was nearly identical to that taken over two years ago when the City first proposed the development of Ansonborough Field. Robert George and Kwadjo Campbell voted "against", and every body else "for". The exception was Wendell Gilliard who was absent last night.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:40 PM
August 17, 2004
The Aquarium - What is the Mayor hiding?
Warwick Jones, Editor
What is the mayor hiding? The audited accounts of the Aquarium for its last fiscal year should have been available some months ago. Councilman Mr Robert George has asked Mayor Riley for a copy several times in recent weeks but his request has been denied. He followed up this request with a formal letter to the Mayor and Council which was given to us yesterday.
August 09, 2004
Senator Ford Speaks Out - If the Neck is developed, the residents must be protected
Warwick Jones, Editor
The potential development of the Neck Area has received a lot of press in recent months. As presently conceived, the development will be very large and re-vitalize a depressed and neglected part of Charleston. The city, which is encouraging the private developers, feels it will be an excellent project. It gave the nod to the development at the last meeting of Council. In discussing the Neck, the majority of speakers including the mayor, exuded good feelings about the development. Only one council member, Wendell Gilliard, expressed reservations. His was the only dissenting vote on approving the broad terms of the development.
August 06, 2004
Green space - Can we take Mayor Riley seriously?
Warwick Jones, Editor
"In the blink of an eye, we could destroy an irreplaceable natural area or allow a use which irresponsibly changes a special place. Therefore we must be more prepared than ever. We must have a community vision and sound proactive initiatives in place. All developments and physical changes in our community must pass two fundamental tests. First, is what is planned excellent? Is it the best it can be? If the answer is no, it shouldn't be done. Second, will what is being proposed be useful and celebrated from 50 to 100 years from now? if the answer is no, it must not be allowed. We don't have to make compromises in quality now, if ever we did." Mayor Riley. 2000 Inaugural Address
Mayor Riley has made a lot of noise in the past about Charleston's need for green space. Actually we have press clippings that go back to 1975 where he is quoted about the need. There also was a charette the City organized on parks and green space a month or so after the charette on Ansonborough Field. I suppose that this was some sort of palliative for us who resented the loss of Ansonborough Field, or a large part of it, to the developer's hoe.
July 29, 2004
The vultures gather
Alfred F. Croucher III
469 Riverland Dr
The town of James Island has $3 million in the bank. I see the vultures landing to rip out their share. While our officials figure out how to approach the State Supreme court on reversing its decision, they gather. On the edge of the Town limits the bulldozers and constrution workers line up for the whistle to blow so their machinery can begin, again, the destruction of our rural peace. The line at the bank is growing longer as the committees and government agencies begin fighting over their share of the funds we've put away for the good of our island.
July 28, 2004
A James Islander despairs
Alfred F. Croucher III
469 Riverland Dr
James Island. Those words bring fond memories to those of us who grew up on this island. The rural setting has long past and those of us here wished to preserve that which was left. It was for this reason we, the actual residents, were asked to decide our future through the ballot box. Majority rule! At least that is what we were taught in the schools we attended on James Island. We went to the ballot box twice and the inhabitants of this little island produced the majority vote both times to form our own town and determine our own future. Did I mention we did this twice?
However the ballot box was not the deciding vote. The will of the people, being the inhabitants of this plot of land, was overthrown by the will of judges who are not elected by the people but appointed by officials in office. A handful of people who know nothing about the area and the people who live here have the right to decide the living conditions of those who do?
Something is not quite right here. I was taught that the government was of the people, for the people and by the people. We just weren't told by what people.
Has our right to determine our future been taken away? When did this happen? Perhaps Margaret Mitchell coined the most apt phrase for this.......it is "Gone with the Wind."
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:02 PM
July 22, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals-Zoning July 20.
Does the Zoning Board understand its responsibilities?Pat Jones who covers Planning
The Board of Zoning Appeals - Zoning just cannot bring itself to deny the variances and exceptions sought by the developer of the old Chapter II Book store. At the meeting two weeks ago, the board decided to give the developer "another chance" to meet some of the conditions. The Chairman stated that he thought that the Board should deny the request for variances and exceptions but he would go along with the suggestion of Mr. Altman and give the developer "another chance". So the representatives of the Historic Foundation, the Charleston Preservation Society and a host of people from Ansonborough, all of whom opposed and spoke against the variances and exceptions, trudged home exasperated, though still strong in their conviction.
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
July 13, 2004
Planning Commission Meeting, July 12
Is the Building Arts College good for McLeod Plantation?
Pat Jones who covers Planning
It is possibly the only intact plantation in all of America. Plantation house, slave houses, oak allee, magnificent vistas from the front piazza plus fields, where once, rice was cultivated. But, no, that wasn't enough to convince the Planning Commission that McLeod was worth preserving. Misty-eyed students and McLeod board members (of which there were so-o-o many) positively swooned whenever the proposed school was mentioned.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:40 PM
Planning Commission Meeting, July 12 (cont)
City gets its way with new height limitations
Ansonborough Field development near certain
Pat Jones who covers Planning
Well the city got its way. The Planning Commission voted to increase the allowable height for new construction in the Ansonborough Field area. The height limit will be 55 feet but if developers meet certain conditions, they will be allowed to add another story and buildings can rise to a maximum of 70 feet. However, the top story cannot exceed 50% of the footprint of the building with a maximum of 25% devoted to habitable space and the balance for mechanics etc.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:40 PM
July 10, 2004
Say "no" to unsightly development! Come to Planning Commission meeting on Monday
39 Society Street, Charleston
In June, Charleston Watch warned residents of the adverse consequences of the proposed changes to the City's Zoning Ordinance to allow taller buildings in flood-prone sections of the peninsula. Please alert them now to the fact that these changes will probably be addressed by the Charleston Planning Commission for the final time on Monday, July 12. (The hearing will be at 5:30 at 75 Calhoun Street across from the County Library.)
Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:41 PM
July 07, 2004
Zoning Board Meeting, July 6
What does it take to stop the continual "Developer requests for Zoning Variances"?Warwick Jones, Editor
What does it take to stop all of these variance requests? The mega-building planned for the site of old Chapter II bookstore has drawn the ire of many city residents. Yesterday the developer went before the board seeking variances and exceptions to allow a structure containing 60,000 square feet without meeting the required parking and entry/exit driveway width under the current zoning requirements. For reference, the old bookstore has floor space of 6000 square feet.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:07 PM
Horse carriage regulations are sorely needed
357 Anchor Circle, Charleston
I would like to clear up the inaccuracies in Tom Doyle's recent letter to the Post & Courier regarding Charleston's carriage horse industry.
Mr. Doyle claims that the Charleston carriage horse industry has an unblemished record and implied that the industry is unfairly burdened with restrictions regarding the care and treatment of horses. In actuality, the city of Charleston has no enforceable regulations regarding the care and treatment of horses used by this industry nor is there a system in place to track any incidents of abuse, neglect, or premature deaths of horses. Currently, heat restrictions are completely voluntary and other care and treatment issues, including stall size and carriage weight, are not addressed at all. Unlike Charleston - most cities that use carriage horses, including Savannah, New Orleans, Dallas, and Austin, have enacted city ordinances that mandate minimum standards of care for horses being used by the carriage horse industry.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:43 PM
June 16, 2004
City Council June 15, 2004
A momentous meeting?Marc Knapp, City Council Correspondent
The City Council meeting last night has the prospect of being momentous. Before the council was a rezoning of a 6 acre plot of land on James Island, along Seccessionville Road. In a sense, the issue was not major. The developer wanted to build approximately 20 houses as opposed to the 4 or so that the present zoning would allow. The zoning proposed was Residential (SR1) and was identical to that of the surrounding area.
Councilman George said that he would not vote in favor on the rezoning! He was drawing "a line in the sand"! He said that council was approving too many zoning changes and subdivisions. These approvals were stretching the limits of the infrastructure and the capacity of roads. The city needed to reassess what it was doing and to study the problem. There was a great danger that Charleston would end up like Mount Pleasant with massive traffic congestion.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 06:12 PM
June 11, 2004
Objections to proposed change in some city building heights
Warwick Jones, Editor
Some City residents are very concerned about the proposed changes to building heights in the eastern part of the Peninsula Area. The specific area encompasses East Bay Street to the Cooper River, an area that includes Ansonborough Fields. The proposed changes were outlined by the City's Design Development and Preservation Department in a presentation to the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association on June 9.
May 21, 2004
P&C supports Mayor again on Ansonborough Fields. Surprised?
The Post and Courier is at it again. It supported the city's plan to raise building height limitations on the area around Ansonborough Fields, even though it probably did not fully understand what was proposed. In the editorial on Friday, May 21, 2004, it strongly favored the changes proposed by the City to height and set back for sections of the historic district. Interestingly. the Planning Commission found that the increases proposed for the area around Ansonborough Fields were too complex and that further information and time were needed. The language used by the city in describing the changes was obfuscating and not enlightening; a view seemed to be shared with the Commission. I suppose this made no difference to the P&C opinion. As it is evident in relation to Ansonborough Fields, the sales tax increase, CARTA and everything else, there is never a difference between the editorial opinion of the P&C and that of the City Administration, and in this case even if the issue was not fully understood.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:17 PM
May 19, 2004
Where are the black councilmen?
There are 5 black members of City Council. Despite the disdain that the mayor shows to black issues, why do these councilors, with the exception of Councilman Campbell, vote with him on all issues? Take the issue of Ansonborough Fields. They support the development of the Fields proposed by the mayor, presumably because they think there will be substantial affordable housing included. But why does affordable housing need to be here when there is so much of East Side and the Neck areas that are crying for renovation and revitalisation. Ansonborough Fields has been greenspace for more than 10 years. It should be left as such. And the Councilmen should note that the children of the East Side lack playing fields. We haven't heard any of the councilmen suggest that Ansonborough Fields should be used to provide this amenity to a conspicuously deprived section of the community. They should!
Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:59 PM