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Shrimp 'n Grits

Shrimp 'n Grits is written by Lee Walton. Lee was born in Charleston and has spent most of his life here.

December 20, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

During this joyful Christmas Season, please pause a moment and give grateful thanks to the countless husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, relatives and friends serving in our nation’s armed forces throughout the Middle East and other foreign lands. As we gather safely together to celebrate this holy season with family, friends, and love ones, let each of us remember those who willingly place their lives in harm’s way, keeping watch over our nation that we may enjoy the peace and security their sacrifice provides.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
SPA’s Newsome threatens Union Terminal Nuclear Option

Lee Walton

SPA CEO Jim Newsome’s latest dual roles as “spoiled brat” and “neighborhood bully” over the future fate of the Authority’s Union Terminal are both unflattering and uncharacteristic of one who reportedly heads of one of South Carolina’s most important economic engines. Newsome’s extremely heavy-handed attitude expressed in Saturday’s Palter and Chatter article, “SPA vows to avoid fight over cruise ship project”, leaves little doubt that before the Authority will tolerate protracted delays or suffer environmental activists who would “…hold up this grand plan…to take cargo out of the historic district - the Ports Authority will revert to its other option of updating the less desirable site it uses now.” Apparently, if Newsome can’t play by his rules, he’ll take his ball and go home.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Waterfront Park - late nights for Hugging, but also for Mugging

Lee Walton

It’s always a safe bet that when an unsavory event occurs at one of Mayor J. Pericles Riley’s many legacy venues, he’s quick to respond by either belittling the seriousness of the situation, blaming the victims or spouting a sickening spray of platitudinous drivel to divert public attention from his administration’s failure to adequately protect citizens while in public spaces. Such was the case in last Friday’s Palter and Chatter article, “Police to step up park patrols”, when Riley leaped to defend the safety and adequacy of police protection at Charleston’s Waterfront Park following a recent late evening mugging that left a young couple beaten, robbed, stripped naked and swimming for their lives after being tossed from the end of the Waterfront Pier.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Free DASH – Not Original and Not Free

Lee Walton

It has taken over a decade and a half for an idea that had its genesis in Portland, Oregon to become reality in downtown Charleston, but the current recession has made even the Riley Administrations reconsider all possible ways to sustain downtown tourism and commercial revitalization efforts. When first proposed by former Council Member Shirley several years ago after a council fact-finding trip to the West Coast, Mayor Riley, the majority of his handpicked city council and his budget department gurus scoffed at Portland’s novel pro-business concept to offer free inter-city transit service to regional shoppers and tourists visiting Portland’s central business district. That fine bastion of west coast progressive ideology had discovered that, if it collaborated and offered discounted parking and free central shopping district transit service to all comers, its revitalized center city business district and city would both benefit.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Reuben’s Horse – a tradition worthy of preservation

Lee Walton

My first and most memorable close encounter with mounted police occurred late one warm spring Saturday afternoon at the intersection of St Peter and Bourbon Streets during the height of Marti Gras too many decades ago to count. A large crowd of jubilant and mostly intoxicated revelers was packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the center of the intersection screaming, yelling and visibly beginning to get out of hand. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a pair of City of New Orleans mounted policemen began gently nudging their way into the crowd politely, but firmly, asking the more unruly partiers to step back onto the sidewalk and clear the intersection. I never will forget turning around and staring too close for comfort into the heavily muscled, dark brown shoulder of one of these gentle, but ominously powerful animals. It was an impressive, unforgettable vision that remains clear in my mind’s eye to this day.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
City Residents not Keane about planning Power-Grab

Lee Walton

For those who closely follow City of Charleston governance, it should come as no great surprise that one of Mayor J. Pericles Riley’s most trusted and well placed lickspittles now proposes to de-fang Charleston’s Commercial Corridor Design Review Board “…to speed up the process for some developers…” and delegate this 12-year old board to the same toothless capacity as the City Board of Firemasters. Thanks to Robert Behre’s Sunday Palter and Chatter article, “City may change review process”, at least some folks now have a “heads-up” and will get a chance to voice their opposition during this Wednesday’s meeting of the City Planning Commission. Hopefully, at 5:00 PM on the 17th, this latest of Riley’s deal-estate development “quid pro quo” schemes will confront serious public scrutiny and be dealt a quick, fatal blow.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Politics for Dummies – and Democrats too!

Lee Walton

Robert Behre’s Sunday Palter and Chatter article, “Dems’ party ‘on life support”’, was unambiguous proof that South Carolina Democrats have chosen the weapons of their own destruction by embracing a pragmatic, left-wing political ideology and ever-increasing intolerance for dissenting opinion within their midst. Over the past half century, the state Democratic Party has chosen the same self-destructive path as its national counterpart by adopting an absolute lack of tolerance for conservative opinion. Try as it might to read political mischief or corruption into the tealeaves remaining in the cup served them this past November 2nd, it still doesn’t get the message – center-right voters are simply not buying its message.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Campaigning from the gutter - where everyone’s a loser

Lee Walton

With extremely few exceptions, this election season’s local, statewide and national political campaigns have been the vilest, most vicious and fallacious in a recent memory. During the current campaign, new lows have been reached to which individual candidates, political parties and special interest groups will stoop to destroy the reputations, families and achievements of their opponents without regard for truth. Newspapers, mailings and the broadcast media are flooded with seemingly endless streams of negative political accusations as opposing candidates spiral ever downward in vicious cycles of attacks and counterattacks with little or no focus on the issues of interest to the electorate. The unprecedented deterioration of civility and common decency will likely leave most active campaign participants psychologically scarred and deeply polarized regardless of the outcomes on Tuesday, November 2nd.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
SPA “Hot Berths” Cruise Ship Terminal

Lee Walton

As a life-long Charlestonian, I saw something Monday afternoon while crossing the Ravenel Bridge on my way home that I’ve never seen in Charleston Harbor before. Two large, white cruise ships were literally passing each other in the Rebellion Roads channel as one departed and another entered port to berth at the foot of Market Street at the same SPA Terminal just vacated by the outward bound vessel - so much for the recent SPA inference that there would only about one cruise ship arrival per week. Just imagine what the east side of the Peninsula will look like after Mayor J. Pericles Riley and the SPA complete their plans to redevelop the Union Terminal into a sprawling cruise terminal facility capable of berthing two or more cruise ships at a time. The area from East Bay to the waterfront has the propensity to be full of Fisherman’s Wharf knock-off eateries, trinket shops and cut-rate hotels catering to market rate cruise ship clientele.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:10 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Charleston County Consolidated Government – only in a perfect world

Lee Walton

Last Wednesday’s Palter And Chatter lead editorial, “New consolidation review”, was the most recent in a series of news reports and articles about the upcoming county-wide referendum question to create a broad-based committee of local governmental appointees to study the possibilities of consolidated public and governmental services. Regrettably, subsequent editorial reference to this “merger commission” and its appointee composition raises crucial questions as to the underlying motivations of its covert sponsors and at least two of its County Council proponents.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
McLeod Plantation - Riley’s political Hot Potato

Lee Walton

Given the amount of editorial space recently devoted to the future fate of McLeod Plantation by the Palter and Chatter editorial staff, there are obviously folk up on the third floor of that mystical Columbus Street bastion that really want this old long ignored and longer neglected plantation saved for public posterity. Last Sunday’s feature editorial, “Put McLeod in public realm” was the latest is a string of supportive editorials seeking to motivate the Historic Charleston Foundation to accept the recent proposal offered by the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission. This latest editorial came the closest yet to publicly cajoling the HCF by reminding its board, staff and supporters of its mission to “preserve and protect the integrity of Charleston’s architectural, historical and cultural heritage” - including McLeod Plantation. That being said, they then gracefully pirouetted away from the 800-pound gorilla, or more correctly a 135-pound shrimp, sitting square in the middle of Charleston City Council Chambers. The fate of McLeod Plantation will not be settled until Mayor J. Pericles Riley can figure out a way to rid himself of this political Hot Potato and not a moment before.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Charleston cruises toward an uncertain destiny

Lee Walton

Sorry folks, but for once in a blue moon, I’m with Dana Beach and Hank Holliday on this one. Only the benefit of at least a decade of hindsight will provide reliable answer to the question asked in Sunday’s Palter and Chatter feature front page article, “Are cruises a boon for local economy?” For lack of a crystal ball, no one in the Holy City can reasonably predict the outcome and impact of a greatly increased cruise ship tourist presence upon the peninsula’s livability and business environment. There are just too many variables and currently unregulated aspects of Charleston’s fledgling leap into the high-stakes cruise ship gamble to predict, with any degree of certainty, the net long-term benefits to our local economy or the adverse impacts upon our quality of life. Given the nature of the paradigm shift in the peninsula’s tourism marketing required for the transition to a cruise ship dominated hospitality industry, the stakes are just too high to rush headlong and “bet the farm” on such an unregulated one-way only, no U-turn commitment.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Hutto’s campaign high jinks

Lee Walton

From all indications, the local political campaign “silly season” in off to a rambunctious start, particularly for S.C. House District 115, which covers most of James Island and Folly Beach. During dinner out with friends Friday night, an old school mate of mine, who has resided on James Island since BC (Before Connector), told us an interesting story about two strange political robo-calls they got late last week. Around dinnertime last Thursday, they received a prerecorded message asking them to respond to a one-question poll for Democratic S.C. House Representative Anne Peterson Hutto. The “press 1 for Yes” or “2 for No” question apparently asked if Anne Peterson Hutto, the State House District 115 Democratic Party incumbent, should seek an endorsement from Democratic U.S House of Representatives Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi while Pelosi was in town as the honored guest for the NAACP’s Freedom Fund banquet.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
CSO 75th Gala Anniversary Concert – resurrection or Irish Wake

Lee Walton

For the past several years Shrimp ‘n Grits has followed the relentless death-spiral of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) toward insolvency as it struggled with progressively smaller audiences, dwindling benefactors and one unrealistic operating budget after another. Almost mercifully, its struggle ended this past spring as the CSO Board and musicians union reached an untenable impasse over further reduced salaries, broken contractual obligations and insufficient financial resources to meet operating expenses. Now, over seven months after it ceased operations, the defunct symphony organization and a small group of its core musicians are hoping to pull-off a desperate attempt to raise the CSO from its former ashes in a grand 75th Anniversary Gala headlined as a “one-time blowout.” Anticipate as we might and hope, as we should, the demographic and financial realities that brought the CSO to its knees can no longer be ignored.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Swimp Mon still dreamin’
Lee Walton

Earlier this summer, Mayor Riley announced his unabashed plans for a 526 Parkway across James and Johns Islands, complete with at-grade intersections, the quintessential bike paths and 45 MPH speed limits. Now, thinly disguised as “accessory dwelling units”, Riley and his merry little band of progressive city planners want to encourage work force, rent-controlled housing all over Charleston. One can only imagine the necessary zoning variances for building setbacks, lot coverage limitations, parking and the multitude of other winks and nods required to make this latest half-baked nightmare work.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Moultrie Park deal-estate development Boondoggle

Lee Walton

Just when the citizens of “Rileyworld” thought things couldn’t get any worse with all the $142 million Gaillard wheeling and dealing and the cruise ship promotions by City Hall, many choked on their coffee as they read the Palter and Chatter’s September 3rd lead editorial, “Clarify Moultrie Park plan”. For those longer in the tooth than the cum yuh’s on the Peninsula sporting their first shiny South Carolina automobile tag, the Beach Company-Moultrie Park land swap has been in Riley’s cloak room plan book for decades. This smoke and mirrors land swap would allow the Beach Company to consolidate its several landholdings in the area and redevelop a large contiguous tract consisting of the southernmost third of the area bounded on the south by Broad Street, west by Lockwood Boulevard, north by Beaufain Street, and east by Ashley Avenue. The City would graciously give up a public street and a large, long-standing public park and playground where many older Charlestonians safely played as children. In exchange, the City would receive the center third of the city block described above.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
No funds for flood-relief, but Millions for the Gaillard Renovation

Lee Walton

As Charleston watches with timorous dread, another string of tropical storms and strengthening hurricanes are beginning their annual march across the Atlantic to once again threaten the Lowcountry. Images of extensive property loss and extreme destruction wrought by Katrina five years ago and similar devastation by Hugo over twenty years ago remain seared in the minds of many whose property and livelihoods were devastated by these massive hurricanes. Nonetheless, Mayor J. Pericles Riley remains content to play his annual game of Russian roulette with the lives and property of Charlestonians. Riley continues to divert critical funding from the proper maintenance of Charleston’s aging storm drainage infrastructure to his high visibility, world-class monuments of dubious value, including his latest gilded vision to renovate the Gaillard Auditorium for $142 million.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
HCF running out of excuses and time for McLeod Plantation

Lee Walton

Sunday’s Palter and Chatter lead editorial, “Move quickly on McLeod”, accentuated the increasing urgency to place this last intact, nationally prominent Sea Island plantation in the credible, dedicated public care of Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC). Now that the Town of James Island’s threat to acquire McLeod has been dropped by its newly elected mayor and council, HCF needs to quit stalling and act before the remaining structures either fall down from neglect or mysteriously burn to the ground some dark, windy night.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Cycling Enthusiasts – share the load to share the road

Lee Walton

Over the past decade or more, local cycling enthusiasts and their elected proponents have become more organized, better politically connected, and increasingly vocal in their demands for the construction of dedicated bikeways in all new roadway and on bridge projects throughout the Lowcountry. Their most visible and costly accomplishment to date is the very successful, highly visible, and politically prized addition of bike and pedestrian lanes on the Ravenel Bridge. With all this dedicated attention and taxpayer funding now devoted to this relatively infinitesimal segment of the commuting public, its only fair that cyclists return the favor and “put a little skin in the game.”

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
I-526 Parkway – a nightmare waiting to happen

Lee Walton

SCDOT’s recent selection of a cobbled-together hybrid alternative for the long-suffering completion of the I-526 Loop promises to be nothing short of a nightmare for James and Johns Islands. Consider the scale and complexity of notorious at-grade intersections in West Ashley and on Johns and James Islands that currently handle tens of thousands of vehicles daily and then imagine them handling four to five times more volume at the proposed intersections of the I-526 Parkway with Folly Road, Riverland Drive and River Road. Consider the tens of thousands of additional vehicles wanting only to cross over James Island becoming snarled in the sea of red taillights backed-up halfway from the Folly Intersection to the Harbor View Road Overpass during westbound evening rush hour traffic. Notwithstanding that Mayor Riley would predictably be “extremely happy with the wonderful solution”, what other renowned mystical gurus have thought this latest “compromise” through to a logical, defendable conclusion?

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s Sofa Super Store Cover-up Conspiracy

Lee Walton

Glenn Smith’s explosive article in Sunday’s Palter and Chatter finally exposed the Riley Administration’s bungling attempts to muzzle its own handpicked panel of fire experts hired to investigate the Sofa Super Store fire that needlessly killed nine CFD firefighters. Against all odds and contrary to anything Charlestonians could imagine, a few Palter and Chatter editors and at least one brave journalist have finally mustered the courage to confront Riley head-on and very publicly. By publishing a factual account of e-mails between panel members, the Palter and Chatter finally exposed an intense three-year conspiracy by Riley and his administration to ignore, dismiss, deflect and cover-up the findings and recommendations of the city’s own nationally prominent panel of fire experts.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:12 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2010

Shrimp n' Grits
CSO faces inevitable Banquet of Consequences

Lee Walton

Given the rather grim impasse now existing between the Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s Board and its unionized professional musicians, there seems little hope for a workable consensus between the two that will avoid either bankruptcy, a protracted internal legal dispute, or both. Sunday’s Palter and Chatter article, “Symphony may plan concert”, was a lengthy, albeit well-written synopsis of the inevitable train wreck now facing the CSO Board. A former board member publicly lamented what hundreds within the Greater Charleston artistic and business communities have recognized for years – “The current business model has proven over ten years not to be viable.”

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Casino “cruise to nowhere” vessels – serious environmental threats

Lee Walton

As the latest in a series of articles on the subject, Sunday’s Palter and Chatter “Casino boats gain support” left little doubt that casino cruises will soon be running out of North Charleston’s old Navy Base at the rate two trips per day. This may not sound like much of a concern compared to larger 3,000 passenger cruise ships calling weekly at the Market Street Cruise Ship Terminal until one considers the number of passengers gaming vessels can carry. The environmental threats that these floating casinos will create to near-shore waters just three short miles off Charleston Harbor and the surrounding beach resorts are potentially far greater than a weekly cruise ship visit.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s Beer Bust hypocrisy

Lee Walton

Charlestonians can always tell when Mayor J. Pericles Riley has had his nose tweaked to the breaking point over an embarrassing municipal incident. Invariably, Riley has to have the last word as he rationalizes city blunders or covers up for the inappropriate actions of his city employees. Such was the case when Riley cajoled the editors of the Palter and Chatter for their recent chastising “Heavy-handed enforcement” editorial. Riley then condescendingly whined in a two full column rebuttal and rationalization for his defense of a city police officer’s recent arrest, cuffing, and jailing of a retired tourist caught with an open can of beer on a city street. Sometimes the less said in such circumstances is best, but not for Riley. True to his thin-skinned character, he just has to have the last word on such issues to demonstrate his superior knowledge and intellect to all who will listen, even at the expense of confirming his own self-serving hypocrisy.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
July 4th - tempered by words of warning from Thomas Jefferson

The following are selected quotes by Thomas Jefferson that are as applicable today as they were during his lifetime:

“When we get piled
upon one another in large cities, as in Europe,
we shall become as corrupt as Europe.”

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Why support the Tea Party?

Lee Walton

As a child whose parents were of the Greatest Generation, I’m probably a typical Baby Boomer having matured during the turbulent and dynamic decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Like many young people of that era, I served in the military and witnessed, first-hand, the political and ideological conflicts precipitated by the Viet Nam War. These same socially dominant, post-Christian era “isms” continue to guide our nation down the slippery path toward European-style socialism at best, or, at worse, ultimate destruction as a representative republic. Like many of my generation, I am deeply concerned about the current path that our national government, guided by the current Obama Administration, seems dedicated to follow, regardless of the consequences or growing opposition now fermenting throughout America.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Victor is Greene – one with envy, the other with astonishment!

Lee Walton

Once in a while, the stars align just right and poetic justice is served to those deserving a lesson in humility - swiftly as a cold, bitter banquet of consequences. Such was the case in the recent Democratic Party Primary Election for the U.S. Senate race in November. Literally out of nowhere, Alvin Greene, an absolute unknown rural African American veteran with no prior political experience, no campaign organization, no funding and apparently no effort, trounced the Democratic Party’s hand-picked favorite son by over 30,000 votes in a astonishing defeat that left Victor Rawl and the state Democratic Party covered in Jack-Ass excrement from the Greenville foot hills to the Lowcountry.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
The “New Gaillard Center” for no new taxes – The Big Lie

Lee Walton

U.S. Representative Joe Wilson had it right when he blurted out “You lie” during President Obama’s State of the Union Address. The same can and should be said for Mayor J. Pericles Riley’s ridiculous claim that the sources of the $71 million for the public’s share of his latest $142 million world-class “Gaillard Center” would come from existing city revenue sources and new borrowing that would not impact taxes.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Clap-hat Spoleto

The following poem was first published a year ago as one in a series of related poems comprising the Swimp Mon Chronicles. With a few edits and additions to reflect current events, it’s the author’s contribution to the special poetry of Spoleto 2010.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Memorial Day – a day of tribute to our Nation’s Fallen Defenders
Lee Walton

As we celebrate Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, pause to remember those who, over the past two centuries, have given the full measure of their lives to protect and defend the basic freedoms we often take for granted.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Saks Closing – King Street’s Cemetery Ridge?

Lee Walton

The high water mark in the history of King Street’s revitalized shopping district may have been reached recently with the announced departure of Saks Fifth Avenue from the corner of King and Market. The reality of the current world-wide recession, changing tourist demographics, and an initial reach too far to serve a relatively small, specialty customer market share has combined to end a 14-year experiment for Charleston’s first and only nationally prominent, luxury department store. What started nearly two decades ago as a much-hyped “almost impossible dream” for Charleston’s Mayor and one of his closest, most loyal deal-estate developer cronies will end as a whimpered sigh later this summer.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Charleston’s tourism industry fosters Urban Ghettos

Lee Walton

There’s an old cliché in socioeconomic theory that “The best family value is a good job” which strikes directly at the cruelest unintended consequences of low-wage minority employment in Charleston’s tourism and hospitality industry. The profound lack of quality, long-term employment opportunities in the tourism industry for urban minorities, particularly for black males, has created working conditions insufficient for the support of a family without a combination of welfare, subsidized housing, and other forms of public largesse. The less than symbiotic relationship that exists between the downtown tourism industry and the Peninsula’s low-wage, unskilled minority workforce needed to fuel the economic engine of the Lowcountry continues to foster untenable conditions for Charleston’s minority families.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
A mother 24/7 – dare we ask the reason why?

Lee Walton

This past Sunday’s lead Palter and Chatter article in its Faith & Values section, “A mother 24/7”, is fortuitous reinforcement to a current theme being examined in several recent articles and books attempting to deal openly with one of the most perplexing and potentially explosive social problems facing black communities throughout the U.S.. Not surprisingly, the ever-present two-ton elephant in the room overshadows open, productive public discourse and makes the topic a potential minefield for those brave enough to enter. To his credit as a journalist, Adam Parker didn’t sidestep the social and economic hardships faced by local, predominately matriarchal, single-parent households featured in his article or the underlying impacts of multiple absentee fathers upon the mothers and grandmothers left behind to care for and nurture the children they sired then abandoned. One of the women featured in Parker’s article correctly and succinctly framed the quintessential problem at the core of the over 72 percent of out-of-wedlock births now prevalent in this nation’s black communities – “They’ve got to become men before they become fathers.”

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s C.R.A.P. – hypocrisy trapping area minorities

Lee Walton

The Mayor’s recent efforts to launch his latest Charleston Racism Awareness Plan (CRAP) is just another of his covert schemes to keep area minorities locked in low-wage, subsistence jobs essential to his tourism based “Plantation Economy”. Built upon the backs of working-class minorities in the City of Charleston, Riley’s unswerving focus upon the tourism industry to generate tax revenues is essential to feeding his insatiable appetite for one world-class grandiose project or festival after another. Charleston’s “Plantation Economy” depends upon a near minimum wage, unskilled minority labor force to maintain a competitive edge in the current national and international tourist destination market. Without this large, cheap, undereducated labor force, the cost of catering to Charleston’s primary revenue generator would loose much of its competitive advantage, and with it the tens of millions in tax revenues needed to keep up the charade.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Nibbles ‘n Bits – Carr’s admission of omission, C of C + ACBA, and Hippodrome’s demise
Lee Walton

Sometimes it’s just difficult to select a single topic from the several revelations that pop-up in Charleston during a particular week. Such was the case this past week with several local news stories competing for attention in the local media. Three items in this past Wednesday’s edition of the Palter and Chatter were particularly interesting, because each dealt with the rationalization and acceptance of an underlying issue of failure, either corporate or personal.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2010

Shrimp n' Grits
Charleston’s fate – Emerald City or Brigadoon?
Lee Walton

For the past several days, Charleston has not been a place for weary locals planning a quiet, restful weekend or tourists hoping to spend a few secluded days in a quiet little B & B on the Peninsula. With nine headline events crowded into a single weekend blessed by the clear blue skies of a typical Lowcountry spring, Charleston was overwhelmed with tens of thousands of cars packed with outdoor enthusiasts of all sorts and descriptions seeking out their own forms of gratification and fulfillment. With the predictable “…traffic jam and parking deadlock facing everyone…”and “…the horde of people and cars expected to muddle through Charleston…” the Lowcountry is rushing headlong toward a tipping-point where the “Angels and tennis and grits, oh my!” of last Saturday’s Palter and Chatter headline will irreversibly become the “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” of Dorothy’s Kingdom of Oz.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Rawl’s got fleas!
Lee Walton

From comments contained in Robert Behre’s Palter and Chatter article this past Sunday, local wana-be U.S. Senator Victor Rawl didn’t waste any time showing his true dark-blue colors and hard-core liberal political affiliations by his first public attacks demeaning Senator Jim DeMint and in his choice of political consultants. From the sound of it, Rawl’s strategy for his upcoming campaign is to skip right over the mud slinging and jump right in with a pack of Washington Belt-way Democratic Party Blood Hounds. He ought to know by now that when you lay down with dogs, you get fleas.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s fate – Icarus or Phoenix
Lee Walton

Few with deep roots in the Holy City were expecting the blunt force of last Monday’s banner headline story, “CSO suspends its operations”, announcing the immediate suspension of operations due to its dire financial condition. From its founding in 1936, the CSO has struggled but survived over seven decades of economic cycles, wars, storms, and catastrophes like so many other local public and private enterprises and even the City itself. But over the past few decades, even through the best of times, the CSO’s existence has been nothing short of hand-to-mouth, ever dependent upon the largesse of last minute donations and one-time gimmick fundraisers to make payroll and pay basic operating expenses.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
BINGO – Charleston has another lackey legislator defender of its former Fire Chief
Lee Walton

With not even a week’s respite between their Palter and Chatter pleadings, another member of the local legislative delegation has sprang to the defense of former fire chief Rusty Thomas in yet another thinly veiled attempt to divert the blood hounds of justice from the scent of criminal negligence charges leading down a three-year old trail that may ultimately end on the steps of Charleston City Hall.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Another “Chip” off the old RINO Block
Lee Walton

From all indications, Representative Chip Limehouse has joined the increasing ranks of South Carolina “RINOS” (Republicans In Name Only) and outed himself by siding with other local, liberal-leaning bleeding hearts who have jumped on the bandwagon, or more precisely, fire truck, in a series of recent attempts to defend Charleston’s former Fire Chief Rusty Thomas.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Command Accountability – a prerequisite for final closure

Lee Walton

This past Sunday’s Palter and Chatter front page article, “SLED reviews records for signs of negligence” reopened a deep, festering wound in the minds and hearts of surviving relatives and countless citizens alike who believe that criminal negligence by the CFD’s command structure was the principal reason nine firefighters lost their lives on the evening of June 18, 2007. With all but one remaining study completed, there are now consistent findings from several Sofa Super Store investigative reports that ”…cited command failures as a predominate factor in the (Charleston) Fire Department’s unstructured and uncoordinated response to the blaze, which exposed firefighters to excessive and avoidable risks.”

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Yes, it is all about balance

Lee Walton

For those who may have been counting, beginning last November 8th, the Palter and Chatter has devoted at least five lead editorials to the east Calhoun Street and Market Area comprehensive land-use plan. This past Sunday’s “It’s all about balance” shared at least two common concerns echoed time and time again: don’t rush the plan and consider all proposed projects in context with each other. A few of these editorials correctly chided City Council for its perplexing decision to put the “cart before the horse” and unanimously approve this massive, far-reaching plan before allowing sufficient study of the complex interrelationships of the multitude of proposed individual projects or to seek community input from those caught in the cross-hairs of this pending development juggernaut. Notwithstanding its newly found editorial courage, the Palter and Chatter stopped short of a dedicated effort to hold City Council accountable for its spineless acquiescence to Riley’s well-honed, relentless intimidation tactics.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Nibbles & Bits
I’m just a Pothole!
Lee Walton

Has anyone else noticed the rapidly deteriorating condition of the more heavily traveled streets and highways throughout Greater Charleston this winter? For the life of me, I can’t remember so many streets with unraveling pavement, loose asphalt chunks as big as cats, potholes the size of wheelbarrows, and asphalt ruts at major intersections. Notwithstanding the recently well publicized “graveling” of the asphalt pavements along I-26 and I-526, many other streets downtown, throughout West Ashley, Mt. Pleasant, and James Island are quickly becoming serious physical hazards. Of particular note are the deplorable pavement conditions on upper East Bay and Morrison Drive, Calhoun Street east of King, Lockwood Boulevard south of Calhoun, and the notorious oil-pan-splitting Bee Street. Other “rough and raveling” roadways throughout the area include several sections of Savannah Highway, Maybank Highway and Harbor View Road. As quickly as we learn to dodge a particularly bad pothole, another forms a few yards away. Weeks usually pass before the occasional shovel of asphalt haphazardly appears as a not-to-permanent patch.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Pericles – Puppet Master, Playwright, Director and Itinerate Actor

Lee Walton

While recently flipping through the channels during a break in the Winter Olympics, I stumbled upon the local public broadcast station airing, of all things, Richard Todd’s interview of Charleston’s own Mayor J. Pericles Riley. As is often the case with Riley’s one-on-one interviews, he was in his element, flailing his arms and squeaking in high nasal tones about the countless benefits and world-class wonders of his promised Calhoun/East Bay/Concord Redevelopment Plan. As is also more frequently the case, Todd pitched him one underhanded soft ball after another and joined the ranks of countless other reporters intimidated by near forty-years of Riley’s imperial reign.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
City Council transparency and trust– LOST

Lee Walton

For an unheralded two weeks in a row, a suddenly brave Palter and Chatter editor with reckless abandon, a death wish, or both has dared to tweak the nose of Charleston’s self-styled Banana RepublicMayor, J. Pericles Riley. This latest hard-hitting editorial rightly questions Riley’s near closed-door dictatorial control over the goings on within City Council Chambers. This past Sunday’s editorial, “Put City Council on the air,” again raised the long lingering question why Charleston’s too-long serving mayor continues to stubbornly oppose televising Charleston City Council meetings while other area municipalities have done so for years at little or no public expense. Several key issues raised in Sunday’s editorial are worthy of further in-depth discussion.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Drive-by Zoning – It ought to be a crime!
Lee Walton

The Riley Administration’s haste to rezone the long vacant L. Mendel Rivers Building on Meeting Street and include it within the Accommodations Overlay District is a direct affront to all of the Peninsula neighborhoods that have been promised a voice in the development of a comprehensive plan for the Calhoun/East Bay/Concord Planning Area. This latest rezoning to accommodate conversion of the old Federal Building into another massive hotel on Marion Square exemplifies the arrogance and total disregard for the residences of the neighboring boroughs by Riley and his emasculated planning staff as they press headlong with one massive, uncoordinated project after another. As with other drive-by crimes, these seemingly spontaneous, random, ill-planned and uncoordinated acts invariably result in egregious damage to the quality of life in surrounding residential neighborhoods and often lead to irreversible, unintended consequences that adversely impact residential livability and quietude throughout the Peninsula.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2010

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s Neighborhood Squeeze Play
Lee Walton

Notwithstanding the multimillion dollar valve of the many well preserved, historic homes in the French Quarter, Ansonborough, and Mazcyk-Wraggborough Neighborhoods, the few remaining locals with roots in the Peninsula must surely suffer the pains of compassion and pity as these long suffering neighborhoods now face seemingly insurmountable challenges to their very existence. For nearly four decades, the relentless pressures of increased tourism, commercialization, atrocious public schools, and the insatiable need for increased student housing has driven both locals and transplants alike from the Peninsula by the thousands.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2010

Shrimp n' Grits
Brown to Obama – It’s the Center Stupid!
Lee Walton

Only one week later, it’s still amazing how one single event in the ultra-liberal Bay State could change national political momentum literally over night. With the Lion of the Senate not even cold in the ground, a center-left conservative, running on a more independent than Republican platform, came out of virtually nowhere to trounce the Democratic Party’s chosen candidate and win the most pivotal U.S. Senate race in arguably a century. Within 24 hours, Scott Brown’s stunning upset stopped the U. S. Senate, House of Representatives, and Obama Administration cold in their tracks and instantly reversed a seemingly inevitable slide into national socialism.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2010

Shrimp n' Grits
A Rising Tax Jolts Joe’s Votes
Lee Walton

For those who may have missed the similarity, there is an old political cliché that claims, “A rising tide floats all boats”. For Charleston’s too long serving mayor, this year, and particularly, the City Administration’s upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2011, may be the greatest financial and political challenges that J. Pericles Riley has faced in his nearly four-decade tenure as Mayor and chief executive officer of Charleston. Notwithstanding Charleston’s main engines of economic growth and expansion as the now all-to-lame two-trick pony of tourism and sustainable construction in the commercial and residential sectors, Charleston’s primary revenue generating resources of property and sales/consumption based taxes are being pummeled by the continuing recession and lack of meaningful economic rebound so hoped for by the smoke generators and lever pullers in City Hall.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2009

Shrimp n' Grits
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

During this joyful Christmas Season, pause a moment and give grateful thanks to the many husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and friends serving in our nation’s armed forces throughout the Middle East and in other foreign lands. As we celebrate with family, friends, and love ones, remember those who willingly place their lives in harm’s way, keeping watch over our nation that we may enjoy the peace and security their sacrifice provides.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2009

Shrimp n' Grits
It’s the Drainage Stupid!
Lee Walton

The severe flooding, property damage, disruption of commerce, and subsequent shutting down of the Peninsula of Charleston during the afternoon and evening of Friday, December, 18th was yet another example of the reckless, unacceptable, and inexcusable performance of the current City Administration. This unprecedented disruption of the lives of tens of thousands of people, either trapped in the Peninsula or trying to drive through it, ranks only slightly below the recent inexcusable and tragic death of nine Charleston City Firemen – the root causes of both can be nothing less than incompetence and a gross dereliction of duty by public officials responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the citizenry of Charleston.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Twas da night befo’ Votin’

With much seasonal joviality and response to the following poem published in Shrimp ‘n Grits two years ago, we thought it worth repeating, albeit with a few timely updates to include the new faces on Charleston City Council. Regrettably, although a few names have changed, the lack of individual intellect and courage befitting a worthy Council member remains a constant burden for the citizens of this fair city to suffer.

Twas da night befo’ votin’, ‘n all t’ru Joe’s City,
All ‘e cronies be’n smoozin’, ‘n dat be’n da pitty.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2009

Shrimp n' Grits
“Obama pay me” – Joe Riley’s rendition of Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”

Obama pay me, slip a stimulus under my tree,
For me.
Been a world-class, visonary mayor,
Obama pay me, just hurry down from D.C. tonight.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
College of Charleston – Plantation rich, but plan poor
Lee Walton

This past Sunday’s Palter and Chatter feature article, “Getting ‘Dixie Vision”, was nothing more than thinly veiled damage control to mitigate the College of Charleston’s recent, albeit still swelling, black-eye over its pending purchase and reported readaptive uses for the historic McLeod Plantation on James Island. Notwithstanding the obvious fact that the College and its nonprofit foundation are only fourteen years late and several million dollars short of any useful educational benefit from Dixie Plantation, both the College and its foundation are now scrambling to put a fresh face on their efforts to justify owning what the wife of one recent past president described as an expensive albatross around the College’s financial neck.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits

Thankful to be…

…a native son of the United States of America with its Constitution and Bill of Rights that allows and encourages those who are governed to hold those entrusted with the powers of government accountable for their actions.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2009

Shrimp n' Grits
Latest proposals to tinker again with tax policy will surely yield more unintended consequences
Lee Walton

Over a year and a half ago, the Shrimp n’ Grits article, “Tinkering with tax policy yields unintended consequences,” expounded on the not so virtuous virtues of the 2006 Tax Reform Act. Realtors throughout the state now say the 2006 reform has stifled economic growth and pushed countless millions of dollars in out-of-state real property investments and thousands of jobs into our sister states to the north and south. Most realtors and several economic gurus throughout the state now lament that point-of-sale reassessments and owner-occupied home exemptions have dealt crushing blows to our state’s regional economic competitiveness and real estate sales, particularly the sale of commercial property that is the engine of small business job growth.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2009

Shrimp n' Grits
De Swimp Mon Chronicles
Begone Evans - Be Gone!

Da She Crab who’ben dat Begone Evans
Don’ hab no luck w’en she chunk fo’ duh sevens.
Fo’ near twenty –fo’ year she ben da Council phony
Dat ben fo’ dat Swimp Mon ‘e mos’ loyal long-time crony.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits

De Swimp Mon Chronicles

Lee Walton

For those who may be new readers of Shrimp n’ Grits and recently, De Swimp Mon Chronicles, the following poem, published over two years ago just before the last Charleston mayoral and City council elections, ushered in the Swimp Mon and all his regal, albeit often covert and sinister, motives and talents – the best of which is hand picking and buying by-the-pound each new council member added to his chicken-neck trap. The latest choices offer nothing new to change the make-up of City Council; voters could just as soon put them all in a croaker sack and blindly pull out the first six that comes to hand. As long as the Swimp Mon and his closet crony, Fruit Mon, continue to run the City like a third-world Banana Republic, nothing will change – all municipal power will remain concentrated in the mayor’s office.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2009

Shrimp n' Grits
Kiawah River Plantation Planned Development TIF District, A Boondoggle in the making

Lee Walton

Given the slim local news pickings lately in the Palter and Chatter, one is often forced to even read the minutia hidden in the bowels of the classified Public Notices and Meeting Notices to find out what’s happening on the Lowcountry political agenda.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Palter and Chatter

Every so often it’s beneficial to digress and explain to more recent readers the origins of the descriptive, sometimes colorful, synonyms used to describe the people, places, and organizations that are the subject of frequent articles in Shrimp ‘n Grits. Such is the case with The Post and Courier, Charleston’s current successor to a long, illustrious, and notable printed press that informed and faithfully served citizens of the Lowcountry through almost two centuries of “Hell and High Water”. Sadly, what once were, in the living memories of many Charlestonians, two credible daily newspapers, The Evening Post and The News and Courier, has now dwindled to a single literal and figurative journalistic lightweight, emasculated by political influence and self-serving egos of its current owners. It’s no wonder that newspapers nationwide like The Post and Courier now find themselves living off the dwindling assets of their balance sheets as they slowly founder in rising seas of red ink.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Mon Chronicles
Da Sno’ Crab

Now da Sno” Crab, ‘e ben dat Not-So Lilly White,
Cause Swimp Mon pick’um fuh be in dat future mayor fight.
‘E ben bawn ‘n bred fuh tuh make da big sho’
Dat be da one now tap tuh folluh Little Joe.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Journalistic Adaptive Reuse – the gift that keeps on giving
Lee Walton

Given a lifetime of knowledge about the political intrigue typifying the Banana Republic of Charleston, sometimes this writer just can’t help being amused by our fair City’s similarities to other larger, internationally prominent cities in our nation that suffer from the same junta governance malady. Such was the case when reading a recent Wall Street Journal article by Douglas Belkin about Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s over reaching bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. Either Mr. Belkin has secretly studied the political lives of both Daley and our own J. Pericles Riley, or the two mayors are twins who were mysteriously separated at birth.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
The College of Charleston at McLeod Plantation –Harmony or hustle?
Lee Walton

This past Saturday’s Palter and Chatter headliner story, “College seeks piece of history”, caught most folks on Jim Island as a typical late summer Charleston political maneuver. The dust had just started to settle following the aftermath of Historic Charleston Foundation’s (HCF) recent buy-back of the Plantation from the rapidly foundering College of the Building Arts and the settlement of ongoing litigation by the Friends of McLeod against the City of Charleston. Over the past months, a few notable suitors began lining up to sign the McLeod dance card and have a go at buying the aging, down-on-her-luck Southern Lady from the HCF.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Free Press – Now the Liberal Sup-Press
Lee Walton

Slowly, but surely – thanks to the Internet and talk-radio that continues to give the “silent majority” a voice and means of communication independent of the liberal dominated national media – the truth is coming out about the actual size, collective character, and motivating concerns of more than a million patriotic citizens who gathered in Washington D.C. on Saturday, September 12th. Try as they might to suppress the size and demeanor of this massive, spontaneous gathering, the national left-wing media and the Obama Administration have been unable to suppress the success of this grass-roots movement that has quickly become the lynch-pin creating a distinct tipping point in this nation’s fundamental political awareness.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Mon Chronicles
Da She Crab

Da She Crab on de City Council ben dat Begon’ Evans
Dat ben one ‘o da twelve since dey ben sky in da heavens.
She ben dat Swimp Mon mos’ loyal, loud yamm’a,
‘Cause ‘e save ‘er bad-boy from dat long-time jail-slammer.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Obama’s Parking Ticket
Lee Walton

Last Friday night my wife and I went downtown to East Bay Street for dinner. We were only there for about an hour and a half while parked in a 2-hour neighborhood-parking district over in the French Quarter. As we were walking back across State Street toward our car, there was a City “Meter Maid” writing out a parking ticket.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
“Somebody’s got to go to jail”
Lee Walton

To quote Agent Sadusky as he sat with Ben Gates near the alter of historic Trinity Church after the latter had just found the Knights Templar Treasure in the blockbuster movie, National Treasure, “Somebody’s got to go to jail.” Similarly, to atone for the nine CFD firefighters whose lives were lost in the tragic Sofa Super Store conflagration over two years ago, somebody’s got to be held accountable!

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Mon Chronicles

De Jimmy Crab

De Jimmy Crab ‘e ben da self’made preach’a mon,
‘N ta’k frum dat City Council all de perk ‘e can.
‘E new coat ben alltime jus’ cut rite ta fit,
Like ‘e hab all da money dat ‘e can now get.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley – a vicarious member of the Senate Judicial Committee
Lee Walton

Mayor J. Pericles Riley’s July 16th Palter and Chatter “Letter to the Editor” supporting the Sotomayer nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court offered yet again another portal into the tormented mind of one that time and circumstance has bid a just farewell. With his executive powers stymied at the Charleston City Line, and his covert influence and back-room political mischief making limited to a few coastal counties, Riley has become a frustrated outsider to Washington politics, vicariously acting out higher national office that he can now only envy or image. His greatest demon now is his own mortal clock, which is rapidly winding down and denying him any real hope for future statewide office or a higher national calling. Try as he might, he’s still just the mayor of a relatively small, albeit historic and unique, southern coastal city that has, for the most part, prospered in spite of his lengthy tenure, not because of it.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Mark Sanford and Joe Riley – World Class Hypocrites
Lee Walton

It must be something in the vapors peculiar to the evenings on the Isle of Palms that have created not one, but two pathological liars that also happen to be prominent, nationally recognized politicians consistently reelected by the voters of this State and the City of Charleston. As their real characters finally wear through the slick, polished veneers that both Sanford and Riley have made their public image trademarks, the citizens of this State and the Lowcountry are finally seeing the deep, hidden flaws in their personalities and glimpses of their secret, darker motivations. It’s bad enough that each has consciously and diligently fabricated grandiose stories to hide their own obsessions and weaknesses, but to systematically and blatantly lie to those who placed their faith, trust and lives in their hands is truly unforgivable.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits

The revelations of The Swimp Mon Chronicles will return next week.

But for this week, as we celebrate the anniversary of our Republic, read again the complete, original text of what was first written to the tune of an old English Tavern song that became the National Anthem of a nation that remains the strongest and freest ever created by mankind.

Happy 4th of July!

Lee Walton

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Mon Chronicles
De Crazy Crab

De Crazy Crab ben da Council “cum yeh” crony
Wit’ dat Yankee twang, she uh foul cuss’in’ phony.
Mos’ alltime she mout’ like da chamber pot,
But now all Chaa’stun kno’ she ben de Council sot.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Mon Chronicles
De Fiddler Crab

Now dat Fiddler Crab be anudduh Swimp Mon crony
‘N de real sad trute be, she jus’ uh po’ two-trick pony.
She pluck on dat harp ‘n strok’ ‘n dat wa’ta,
But dun sel’ she’own sole tuh dat Mon fuh da quar’ta.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Mon Chronicles
De King Crab

De King Crab ben dat mos’ oldest fella
Tuh be in da Swimp Mon City Council celluh.
O’ all Council bubbuh dat kno’ dem sly tri’k,
De King Crab use all tuh git da mos’ ‘n ‘e tick.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Mon Cronicles
De Fruit Mon

De Fruit Mon be dat Swimp Mon bes’ bugguh-man.
Tugedduh, dey do all de sly debblement dey can.
Dem alltwo, dey ben got’s dis wicketty bon’
Dat be real ‘special ‘culiar tuh mos’ udduh mon.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Swimp Mon dreamin’

De national debt, it be in duh zillions,
But Swimp Mon, plan tuh spend mo’ millions.
‘E got no clue who be gwine tuh pay,
‘N still be dreamin’ o’ da long pas’ day.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Swimp Mon’s Clap-hat Spoleto

It soon ta be dat Spoleto time,
When fairies dance ‘n poets rhyme.
Downton’ be fu’l wid’ dem hambon’ folk,
Impressed by mirrors ‘n lots ‘o smoke.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Times be skimpy fo’ dat mon Swimpy

De hundred deys e’ com ‘n gwan
But dat mon Obama, e’ jus an’t shone
What Swimp Mon need fo’ ta’ fix da City
De funds jus’ an’t. dere ‘n dat’s de pity.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Promenade Intermodal Facility – a high-stakes deal-estate gamble
Lee Walton

There’s an old Broad Street axiom in behind-the-scenes political shenanigans. It equates the amount of political capital and news print ink invested up-front in a land deal to the potential wealth to be reaped by the selected few holding the high cards and controlling the public purse strings – the greater the Palter and Chatter coverage, the more money, influence, and prestige there is to gain. Given the one-inch high, above-the-fold headline of Sunday’s Palter and Chatter, “Rail or no rail?” and the entire page 12A dedicated to Allyson Bird’s article, the possibility of a Promenade Intermodal Facility on Town Creek must rank right up there with Daniel Island, Long Savannah, and Poplar Grove.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Promenade’s demise signals tough times for Riley’s Neck Area TIF

Lee Walton

Tough times and storm clouds seem to be gathering over the lower Charleston Neck as Bobby Ginn, one of Charleston’s more recent and much touted deal-estate developers, quietly threw in the towel on his major 200-acre mixed-use redevelopment project proposed at the site of two former County land fills along the Town Creek waterfront. David Slade’s article, “Hotels out, rail yard in,” in last Saturday’s Palter and Chatter was as informative for what it didn’t say as for what it did. The Ginn Company’s proposed Promenade Project, conveniently located within the lower limits of the City’s 2004, $117 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, had been the subject of much spirited community debate, praise from the usual sycophants, and gleefully anticipated by Charleston’s world-class visionary leader, Mayor J. Pericles Riley.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Sales Tax Chickens have come home to roost!
Lee Walton

Following a national trend in public tax policy that has continued to evolve for several decades, Charleston County, the City of Charleston, and other larger municipalities throughout the Lowcountry slowly, but ever so purposely, transitioned their revenue dependency from a system based principally upon local property tax to today’s hybrid tax policy heavily dependant upon regressive consumption-based tax revenues and user fees. Given the Lowcountry’s expanding population and increasing wealth relative to that of other inland areas of the state, the local economy seemed, to many in business, finance, real-estate, and governance, insulated from the adverse impacts of past post-war (WW II) national economic cycles – the Lowcountry has historically entered downturns later, bottomed-out at higher levels of activity, and recovered quicker than the majority of the nation.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Mister Speaker - you’re wrong on Sanford and wrong for your party!
Lee Walton

Bobby Harrell’s commentary, ‘Uneven’ Sanford out of touch with South Carolina, in this past Sunday’s Palter and Chatter shamelessly lambasted Governor Sanford’s steadfast opposition to the Obama Administration’s debt laden recovery plan and the Governor’s preference to pay down a portion of public debt with a small percentage of this state’s stimulus share. Not that he would care, but by his vicious diatribe, Harrell violated the most sacred of conservative tenants of the Republican Party – speak no public ill of a fellow party member. In doing so, it was not Sanford’s character and image that suffered, but the Speaker’s. In the eyes of many throughout this state, Harrell’s public image shrank to that of just another foot-stomping, shrill-shrieking, chicken-little political demigod. Lord knows, this state’s got one too many of them already in the Lowcountry.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Sanford – One person with courage is a majority!
Lee Walton

No wonder liberals, progressive Democrats, and sundry socialists throughout S.C. and the nation hate and fear him. They can’t control him, intimidate him, or silence him, and he’s not in their political pecking order. Governor Mark Sanford just can’t be turned from his mission; he’s like the Eveready Bunny – tirelessly banging on his drum for the entire world to hear. Sanford personifies the greatest fears of progressive Democrats and accentuates the qualities of character most lacking in themselves. Since his early days as a fledgling member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Sanford has held fast to his core conservative, Christian beliefs and steadfastly maintained a degree of personal courage that still sets him apart from friend and foe alike.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley brokered James Island land swap between First Baptist School and Griffith-Knapp Properties
Lee Walton

In Charleston, business deals, particularly covert deal-estate development deals, are often like young, promising vintage wines. Once bottled, tucked away quietly in a dark cellar and left undisturbed for a few years to quietly mature, they are usually safe from prying eyes or loose lips unless one of the players just can’t wait any longer and pops-a-cork too early. Such was the intriguing story about a James Island land swap brokered by Mayor J. Pericles Riley in the latter part of 2007 when he summoned the leaders of the First Baptist School of Charleston to his office and offered them a deal they just couldn’t refuse. But for a strategically placed mole in City Hall, some would say a sharp-eared rat; the story of Riley’s quintessential covert involvement in this deal may have gone undiscovered for at least a few more years.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
“Every Body’s got skin in the game” – ‘fraid not Tiger!
Lee Walton

What a ridiculous comment for the President of the United States to make about his solution to the nation’s current financial crises. This isn’t some Chicago back-street pick-up basketball game. The survival of our nation’s private banking system hangs in the balance, and the Obama Administration is making some flip, street-smart comment about an obscure solution requiring new, massive private sector investment in a banking sector that’s still in a flaming tail-spin toward a possible federalized crash-and-burn finale. The Administration’s solution would require the unqualified participation of the few remaining private sector financial investors that had enough savvy and reserve to stand aside and watch through the smoke and mirrors as the greedy - some are saying fraudulent - nation-wide financial institutions and Wall Street bond brokerages created the mess that caused the current toxic loan nightmare. From what little dribbles we’ve been fed to date, Treasury Secretary, I’ll pay my taxes when I’m caught Geithner hasn’t got a clue about how he’s going to handle the toxic portion of real property “legacy loans” that are choking the loan portfolios of bank’s balance sheets across the nation. One thing for certain, it won’t come out of his taxes; he’s too smart to pay them like the rest of us unwashed commoners.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
To borrow our way out of debt – a statement that defies all logic!

Lee Walton

To borrow our way out of debt. Say it three times slowly and let it roll on your tongue like a glass of cheap, offensive screw-top wine. There’s just something that doesn’t taste, sound, or feel right – it simultaneously insults a multitude of our ingrained senses. The oxymoronic logic of this statement goes against everything our parents, relatives, and that endless string of schoolteachers taught us all our lives. It defies all fundamental economic theory we’ve ever learned during high school, through Economics 101, and for a few with advanced business degrees, graduate courses in business theory, policy, and finance.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
“Inside the whirl of newspapers” - Burger Barf
Lee Walton

Ken Burger should stick to sports; at least then he wouldn’t create his own “credibility gap”. Yes, many newspapers across the nation are dying because of increased multi-media competition for shrinking advertising revenue, newsprint’s inability to adapt to new technology, and falling circulation. But for many, the calculated decision to take highly polarized political positions and interpret or control the news instead of providing unbiased, factual reporting has also been a major contributor to the death of their credibility and, justifiably, their market share.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley & Obama – Kindred Narcissistic Spirits
Lee Walton

Sometimes after a slow week for local political sources, it’s difficult to find an interesting topic worthy to write about; such was almost the case this past weekend until scanning through the internet and stumbling upon Dr. Samuel Vaknin’ article, “Barack Obama – Narcissist or Merely Narcissistic?” that was posted in this past Saturday’s edition of the American Chronicle. With such an eye-catching and timely title, it surely was worth a quick scan. After a few moment’s investment, I was both stunned and convinced that Dr. Vaknin was not only describing the psychological profile of our nation’s new President, but that of none other that Charleston’s mayor, J. Pericles Riley. Dr. Vaknin’s description of the characteristics of one suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) not only seemed to describe President Obama, but his local side-kick, pitcher-boy, and small city want-to-be emulator, J. Pericles Riley.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:14 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
The National Economic Crisis – a tipping point for Charleston’s future
Lee Walton

Just as the Great Depression was a national crisis that changed the social, financial, and political fabric of America throughout the 20th Century, the current economic crisis is likely to result in sweeping changes that, in many ways, will become the harbinger of social, financial, and political tipping points that will change the futures of cities and towns throughout this nation for generations to come. Few, if any, regions throughout the nation are likely to escape the adverse impacts the deepening recession as it continues to spread beyond large municipalities into every city, town, and village. Undoubtedly, this recession will descend more heavily upon some regions than others and precipitate the decline and reversal of fortune for many less fortunate communities. As the current financial crisis deepens, it will profoundly alter the national economic paradigm and mark the end of the “American Dream” that endured for the last half-century.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Stimulus Bill – Words! Just Words!
Lee Walton

As this nation’s fledgling president prepares to sign a nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package in response to the growing world-wide financial crisis, it’s timely to review the relative success of Congress’s most recent stimulus attempt, the much touted Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP -1, intended to save the nation’s largest banks from impending financial collapse. If the downward paths of Bank of America and Citigroup are any indication of bailout success, the current Stimulus Bill will provide much more hurt than help.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Struggle for Stimulus purse strings to pit Riley against Sanford
Lee Walton

If this past weekend’s Senate debates offered one clue of local importance in the ongoing evolution of the pending Obama-Pelosi Stimulus Bill, it’s the strong probability that federal funds to South Carolina, and the Lowcountry in particular, will flow through the state government and Governor’s Office and not directly to Charleston City Hall. Given the magnitude of federally mandated state-level regulatory infrastructure already in place to administer and allocate federal funds for state transportation, education, and public infrastructure projects, even most liberal members of Congress are leaning strongly toward state-level oversight via existing grant and loan programs developed and enhanced over many decades. The last things members of congress need during future campaigns are reminders of stimulus fund graft, corruption, and uncontrolled waste for lack of sufficient fiduciary oversight, particularly with a very partisan bill as this one promises to be.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
State of the City Address – Same Old Song, Same Old Dance
Lee Walton

Charleston’s reincarnation of the Eveready Bunny made his annual appearance before City Council last Tuesday evening, wildly flapping his arms, and beating his own little drum with the same old tired rhetoric, polemic hyperbole, grandiose claims, and hollow promises that the Lowcountry must suffer to hear year after year. After taking credit for Charleston’s relatively good economy, of which he happens to be a recipient, albeit not the creator, Mayor Riley wasted no time or effort in touting his close personal connections with the new Obama Administration and his prominence as the conduit through which promised federal stimulus dollars and assorted “Washington Candy” would flow into the City of Charleston.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Bashing Conservatives – Hitting the tallest nails standing
Lee Walton

This past week’s demonstration to the world of how the United States of America celebrates democracy through a peaceful, orderly transition of executive leadership remains one of the highest achievements of our over two-century-old republic. The celebrations in Washington and throughout America honoring the election of this nations 44th president ushered in what will be to all citizens, a time of great anticipation and change.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:08 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
An open Letter to all employees

This letter is being provided to all employees in response to the recent scuttlebutt being whispered about the future of this company, and possible layoffs or salary cuts. It’s no secret that Charleston, our state, and the nation are free-falling into one of the worst economic recessions in over seventy years. Locally, the current business environment is as bad as most can remember. We’ve seen several competitors downsize and a few shutdown in reaction to current business challenges. We’re suffering too, but, long term, the local and national economy isn’t the greatest threat to your job security. To the contrary, it’s the fundamental changes in our national political structure that pose the greatest threat to all of our futures. Let me offer each of you a few facts from my perspective, which might help to clarify my position and the future of this company.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2009

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s “shovel-ready” stimulus list – political candy for his cronies
Lee Walton

Over the past few weeks Charleston’s Mayor J. Pericles Riley has made a Herculean effort to convince citizens of the Lowcountry that his $1 billion wish list of “pork barrel projects” is the only way to save Greater Charleston from “…the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.” Both he and Governor Sanford have been dueling via a string of Palter and Chatter commentaries in vain attempts to claim the visionary high ground in a war of words reminiscent of two spoiled brats kicking dust at each other during recess. Unfortunately for our city, state, and nation, our Governor and Charleston’s mayor represent the polar-opposite political extremes in a national debate that is now shaping our economic future for the next several decades. One can only hope that the outcome of the coming congressional stimulus debates will result in an effective, measured response that will slow the downward economic spiral without triggering the unintended consequences of stag-flation, a return to the “misery index” of the Carter administration, or worse.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

During this joyful Christmas Season, pause a moment and give grateful thanks to the many husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and friends serving in our nation’s armed forces throughout the Middle East and in other foreign lands. As we celebrate with family, friends, and love ones, remember those who willingly place their lives in harm’s way, keeping watch over our nation that we may enjoy the peace and security their sacrifice provides.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Two “Cities” in a pod
Lee Walton

By a twist of journalistic fate, Sunday’s Palter and Chatter just happened to contain two very similar articles about the current state of Chicago politics that brings to mind the current state of political affairs in the Lowcountry and the corruption of the political process of governance in the City of Charleston that has endured for nearly four decades.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Tragedy of the Commons
Lee Walton

Notwithstanding CSO music director David Stahl’s lament in his recent Palter and Chatter commentary that “There are no Fortune 500 companies in our area to underwrite the CSO as there are in many other metropolitan areas”, two fundamental flaws are evident in his wishful logic: First, given the deepening national economic crises, there is now ample evidence to support the conclusion that “Fortune 500 companies” have lately becoming oxymorons – current national data doesn’t support long-term corporate charitable contributions to the arts at levels common in previous years. Second, Charleston’s common pasture available to provide charity-program contributions is neither as diverse as that of larger metropolitan areas nor of the member quality and quantity needed to sustain the ever-increasing herds of grazing non-profit organizations seeking the limited financial nourishment that the finite Charleston area commons can provide in this period of economic drought.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Tough times ahead for the performing arts and tourism venues
Lee Walton

There’s and old saying: “It’s better to fix the problem than the blame.” But sometimes fixing the problem requires that we identify who’s to blame. Arguably, the worsening financial problems facing several local performing arts groups and tourism venues have two fundamental causes: The insatiable appetite of Charleston’s mayor for ever more world class self-aggrandizement and the reality that the Greater Charleston Area has exceeded its finite carrying capacity to support an ever increasing number of competing non-profit organizations that are dependant upon the same limited funding base from which to draw sustenance.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:51 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Sprinkler incentives still a bargain – and sound public policy
Lee Walton

Given the financial and human cost of the Sofa Super Store tragedy, and the City of Charleston’s own findings, repeated in Sunday’s Palter and Chatter article “Sprinkler incentives not hot item for cities”, that “…the fire would have been controlled quickly with only minor damage had there been a sprinkler system”, investing a one-time local property tax credit of 25% against cost to install fire suppression sprinkler systems is not only a bargain, but good public policy.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:06 PM

November 16, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Bail out Detroit? Why?

Lee Walton

So now it’s the big three automakers pleading for taxpayers to fork over $25 billion dollars to keep them afloat until the new Obama Administration can take the tiller of a very leaky ship-of-state. The latest hand ringing from Detroit is just the next in a long line of mismanaged industries queuing up for financial handouts from Washington politicians. Why on earth would they now rush to bailout an industry that will just continue to waste limited natural resources and energy to produce a product that U.S. consumers neither want nor can afford to own and operate?

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
“Just take the stickers off!”
Lee Walton

As I walked slowly east on Wentworth, I couldn’t help but notice the rusty wine-red hues of the Dogwood trees and the variegated yellows and orange of the Crape Myrtles lining the sidewalks as they shimmered in the early afternoon breeze. Pleasant warmth penetrated my jacket from the bright noonday rays of an Indian Summer sun that flickered between the shadows from the eves of the stately old homes lining both sides of the narrow streetscape typical of the Ansonborough District of Charleston. I approached East Bay Street, preoccupied with the heavy burdens of my struggling business, and was suddenly startled by the same homeless fellow that I had befriended at lunchtime a week ago. His broad grin was ringed by a weathered face obviously unshaven for days. “Hey buddy, can you help an old friend again?” Today, the Vote Obama, I need the money sign he proudly held before was replaced by a large piece of cardboard held in my face bearing a scrawled plea Viet Nam Vet – Will work for food. After gathering my thoughts and composure, I replied that I had a proposition for him if he was still on the corner when I returned from lunch.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:24 AM

November 02, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Capitalism is not a four-letter word
Lee Walton

Capitalism is not, as Senator Obama, Hugo Chavez, Nancy Pelosi, and the far left, post-Christian era neo-socialists would have us believe, an amoral economic system based upon exploitation, greed, and selfishness. To the contrary, the roots of capitalism as a morally based economic system can be traced directly to ancient Judeo-Christian tradition and morality anchored firmly in both the Old and New Testaments. For thousands of years these standards of moral behavior and ethics have exhorted countless generations to achieve their highest potential by rewarding individual ability and skill with the fruits of diligent labor. Throughout history capitalism has encouraged the virtues of prudence, reliability, industriousness, diligence, charity, conscientiousness, and frugality. Capitalism has made possible the creation of new concepts to advance mankind through scientific research, exploration, inventiveness, economic growth, and the spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship that civilized and industrialized the modern world.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Income Redistribution - A fulfilling experiment when personally applied!
Lee Walton

Last Thursday while walking to lunch on the corner of Market and East Bay, I passed what appeared to be a homeless man standing on the corner of Wentworth and East Bay holding a hand-made sign that read, “Vote Obama, I need the money.”, I laughed to myself and admired the man for his misplaced, albeit blatant honesty.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
TAPAS - Socialist tidbits and assorted Left-wing hors d’oeuvres
Lee Walton

The Cottages at Longborough

As predictable as flooded streets, crime on the East Side, and empty DASH buses on a Sunday afternoon, when anyone dares to let a little air out of one of Mayor Riley’s world-class social engineering balloons, the Palter and Chatter can be counted on to promptly counter with a public relations blitz to repair any perceived damage to the Mayor’s ego and image. Such was the case again last Wednesday when that journalistic wonder of Columbus Street, David Slade, countered recent criticism about one of Riley’s most heavily taxpayer subsidized deal-estate projects, The Cottages at Longborough. Slade’s latest sop to Riley, “Affordable city condos draw dozens of applicants”, dripped with the typical kudos, personal endorsements, high praise, and favorable spin which typifies articles by Slade as he and his Palter and Chatter puppet-masters do the Mayor’s bidding and damage control.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Freddie’s busted and Fannie’s whacked
But Riley’s plan is still on track
Lee Walton

Mayor Riley’s plan to provide affordable housing on the Peninsula remains as rigid and impractical as ever as our nation faces a financial crisis of epic proportions triggered by sub-prime lending to unqualified, mostly first-time, homebuyers who simply lacked the basic economic knowledge, personal budgeting skills, and resources to own a home in the first place. Faced with a string of recent City sponsored first-time homeowner failures and subsequent costly buy-backs, the Charleston Homeowner Initiative has become an embarrassing oxymoron to the City Administration and another in a long line of financial rat-holes into which Riley continues to toss millions of taxpayer dollars.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Spin and Timing–To Riley, just convenient labels for Smoke and Mirrors
Lee Walton

It was no coincidence that property tax bills arrived from the County Auditor the same day as Mayor Riley’s latest Palter and Chatter laudator, David Slade, authored a slick little shirttail to spin a positive outcome for Charleston’s latest budget woes and all but forgotten Riley-sponsored December, 2007 property tax increase. If City taxpayers had read only the headline and opening paragraph of Sunday’s “City on target with 2008 budget” write-up, they would have been left with the impression that the City of Charleston stands high on a shimmering fiscal hill while “… some area governments reduce staff and increase taxes because of financial problems…” That’s the exact impression this little pseudo-journalistic sop was intended to have on those of us who struggle with stagnant wages to pay ever-increasing living expenses in these troubled times.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
New City Market deal – a quintessential Riley quid pro quo
Lee Walton

Honestly folks, you just can’t make this stuff up! Emboldened by nods, winks, and a few who’re forever asleep at the switch, Mayor Riley slipped another of his classic deal-estate development moves over on his bought-by-the-pound band of lackeys at last Tuesday’s City Council Meeting. With out even a single raised eyebrow or hesitant thought, that emasculated little band of shameless public servants rubber-stamped Riley’s choice for the new management team that includes one of the mayor’s largest, long-time political contributors and one of his closest, consistent behind-the-curtain political operatives.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Cracks widen in the foundation of Charleston’s Fiscal Accountability
Lee Walton

Readers doubting last week’s Shrimp ‘n Grits article asserting that Mayor Riley and Charleston City Council violated state law by granting an unprecedented bailout loan to the American College of the Building Arts, need look no further than last Friday’s Palter and Chatter article, “Local governments: Stocks best bet”, for factual confirmation. “The state constitution currently limits local governments to investments in government-insured debt.”

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:04 AM

September 14, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s Loan to College of Building Arts violates State Code of Laws

Lee Walton

With little more than a muffled murmur on the evening of September 9th, Charleston City Council rubber-stamped Mayor Riley’s “financial lifeline to the American College of the Building Arts …agreeing to loan the fledgling school $734,500 to help pay operating expenses.” In doing so, both Council and the Mayor knowingly, flagrantly, and simultaneously violated Section 6-5-10 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina and national standard accounting policies which restrict municipal investments and loans to a very limited number of well secured, federally or state collateralized investment alternatives. This latest demonstration of Riley’s blatant control over his “bought-by-the-pound” council of lackeys ushered in yet another era in Riley’s escalating quest for absolute power to control the management and financial resources of Charleston.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:02 PM

September 07, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
“An excellent dress rehearsal” – in more ways that one!
Lee Walton

Tropical Storm Hanna almost gave Mayor J. Pericles Riley what he’s been “rain-dancing” to have for nearly two decades, but this little storm fizzled and turned north before his well scripted little “dog and pony show” could get much beyond the initial press briefings. With ruffled hair, upturned Polo shirt collar, and yellow slicker at the ready, Pericles was fully primed to be Charleston’s Modern Day Moses and again part the waters for his humble flock. Unfortunately for Pericles, Mother Nature had other ideas. Nonetheless, Greater Charleston TV viewing audiences did get a chance to see Pericles wheel out his trusty sidekick and successor-in-training, Napo-Leon Stabyourbackus for a public showing of progressive partisan togetherness.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:06 PM

September 01, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley Administration laments no funds available for flood-relief projects
Lee Walton

As the nation watches once again with guarded anticipation, a string of tropical storms and potential hurricanes are lining-up in the Caribbean and Atlantic to threaten low-lying coastal communities in Southeast and Gulf Coast States. Images of the personal turmoil and massive devastation wrought by the likes of Katrina, Andrew, and Hugo remain like fresh scars in the minds of millions whose lives, property, and livelihoods were impacted by these incomprehensible events. Nonetheless, tens of thousands of people continue to migrate into these most vulnerable parts of our nation each year; most are oblivious to the natural dangers posed by massive hurricanes and the overwhelming challenges faced by local governments when confronted with these potential disasters.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Failure of College of Building Arts could leave HCF holding the bag!
Lee Walton

Sometimes noble ideas should remain just that; such may be true of the fledgling, albeit financially struggling, American College of the Building Arts. Initially proposed as the first liberal arts college of its kind in the nation to offer an accredited baccalaureate degree in applied building arts, ACOBA now appears to be on terminal life support with little hope of long-term survival. By its own admission, ACOBA has quickly blown through four presidents and over $14 million in private donations and public grants during its first three years of existence. At best, ACOBA now has just a few dozen full and part-time students including only seven of its original Class of 2009. In an act of shameless desperation, its latest new president and board of trustees have turned to the City of Charleston in a last gasping attempt to secure critically needed operating funds to pay day-to-day expenses and salaries with a loan from waning City tax revenues.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Storm Drainage requires Tricky Engineering – Give us a break!
Lee Walton

Chronic flooding throughout the streets of Charleston has been the bane of peninsula dwellers for over a century, but its damaging impacts upon property, commerce, tourism and private vehicles continues to accelerate at an ever increasing rate due to the woefully inadequate action by the current City administration. For over three decades, the current mayor of Charleston has promised sweeping improvements to the peninsula’s all-too-frequent flooding woes. Like a frog croaking after a spring shower, each time a major flooding event occurs downtown, Mayor Riley resurrects the same old shop-worn rhetoric, his star-crossed Calhoun Street tunnel project, and other outdated drainage master plans as fodder for his loyal media cronies and speech-numbed citizens alike.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
A Harbor View Road Duck Tunnel – why not?
Lee Walton

A recent increase in the frequency of pressed duck being served to motorists frequenting Harbor View Road has motivated a few nearby residents to cry fowl and take matters into their own hands. But, short of posting a few hand-lettered signs to warn motorists of an all-too-fatal duck crossing, little support has materialized by way of a solution to this messy problem. Last week’s Journal, that sad little emasculated remnant of a once proud and independent James Island weekly publication, contained a feature article lamenting the loss of many Mallards and a few giant Canada Geese that frequent the grassy banks of the roadway shoulders in the Lawton Bluff Subdivision.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Riley Administration – a cult of cronyism
Lee Walton

While researching materials for a upcoming series of articles on the cult of cronyism that has had a stranglehold on the City Administration of Charleston for nearly four decades, a previous Shrimp ‘n Grits article seemed to have already laid a solid foundation for the series. It is worthy of repeating as a harbinger of the light that will shine on Riley’s cult of cronyism this fall.


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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:15 PM

July 28, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Maybank consultants send mixed signals for Johns Island’s future
Lee Walton

If last week’s flurry of Palter and Chatter articles and commentaries are any indication, Charleston’s imperial mayor and his deal-estate development cronies have a whole lot riding on their world-class visions for the future of Maybank Highway and the rest of Johns Island. Riley and his want-to-be environmentalist and sidekick, Dana Beach, recently conned County Council into second-guessing the will of the voters who supported the ½ cent sales tax referendum and voted specifically to widen Maybank Highway. In a local parallel to what Bill Clinton’s meaning of the word “is” is, Riley and his stable of sycophantic pettifoggers are now claiming that construction of turn lanes and bike paths would legally constitute the vote-approved roadway widening. Meanwhile, Riley’s hired “ringers from off” have been spinning more convoluted and contradictory visions for the development of Johns Island.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Glenn McConnell right-of-way funding – more smoke & mirrors
Lee Walton

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

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Maybank Highway’s “Network of Streets” – a smoke screen for another large Riley deal-estate development
Lee Walton

The City’s latest planning and engineering consultant “from off” may have unintentionally spilled too many beans as he extolled the virtues of his planned “network of streets” proposed as his “top priority” for solving growing traffic congestion on Johns Island.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:23 AM

July 07, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Commuter Rail – no quick solution to 10 pounds in a 5-pound sack
Lee Walton

Sunday’s Palter and Chatter lead story, “CLOGGED and getting worse”, made a good argument for considering commuter rail and other public transit options as worthy alternatives to spending $300 million for the widening of I-26 to alleviate rush-hour gridlock down the spine of the upper and lower Charleston Peninsula. Unfortunately, like all complex problems and their equally complex solutions, there are other underlying variables and a few five hundred pound gorillas in the equation that must also be considered if the Lowcountry is to remain economically competitive and viable in the next century. The increasing cost of energy and its impact upon the region’s equation of commerce, coupled with the unintended consequences of previous regional land planning strategies, will dominate the actions of local policy makers for decades as they attempt to out-guess several other rapidly changing national and international market forces.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:34 AM

June 30, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Will new editorial page editor end Palter and Chatter hypocrisy?
Lee Walton

With all the national campaign hype about the need for change in the Executive Branch of our national government, it’s easy to become desensitized to the various meanings of change. Webster defines change as an alteration, transformation, substitution, or exchange. For the remaining readers of the Palter and Chatter’s editorial page, one can only hope that the retirement of Barbara Williams as editor of editorials brings either of the former definitions but neither of the latter. For nearly four decades the editorial page of the Palter and Chatter has been little more than a convenient political broadside in defense of the never-ending Riley Administration. Seldom, if ever, have local editorials seriously questioned the covert nature, politically ruthless, single-handed tactics, or misguided visionary choices of Charleston’s unique career mayor. To the contrary, countless favorable editorials, blatant platitudes, and journalistic influence upon the composition of Charleston’s City Council has underpinned, defended, supported, and colluded with the Riley Administration to forge a symbiotic relationship that has benefited the Palter and Chatter and sustained Riley in a position of unchallengeable local power and influence for nearly four decades.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:19 AM

June 23, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
So what else isn’t World Class in Riley’s Emerald City?
Lee Walton

For nearly four decades the citizens of Charleston have been either awed, misled, or intimidated by “…that man behind the curtain…” as he frantically jerked levers, pushed buttons or pulled strings to beguile Charleston with smoke, mirrors, glitter, festivals, and other assorted side-shows. Time and time again Charlestonians were told that, under Riley’s inspiring leadership, his self-made Acropolis by the Sea was second to none, “World Class”, and the envy of cities throughout America. Time and time again we were told that we either were the best of or had the best of all those municipal attributes that made this City second to none.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:01 AM

June 15, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
June 18th - it’s not about you Mayor Riley
Lee Walton

This week’s proposed memorial services to honor the needless and tragic deaths of nine brave CFD firefighters one year ago should not become a shameless excuse for Mayor Riley to practice false humility, personal image rebuilding or self-aggrandizement. There should be no speeches about how great Riley’s Class One ISO fire department was or will become or what a great leader his ex-Fire Chief Thomas is or was; none of these hollow platitudes are appropriate for the solemn occasion the City of Charleston faces this week.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:49 PM

June 10, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits

Rileyworld

Lee Walton

Joseph Pericles Riley, Jr., having chosen politics as his only career, now finds his fate falling out of his control in the local public arena. Last week Pericles watched his mythical kingdom of Rileyworld continue to slip from his imperial grasp as a consequence of his three-decade mismanagement of the Charleston Fire Department. The unpardonable lost of nine CFD firefighters on Riley’s watch has now even been questioned by one of his handpicked lackeys, albeit now independently courageous Councilmen, the Reverend Jimmy Gallant. As Public Safety Committee Chairman, Gallant attempted to call a special meeting to ask Pericles and his “Good Old Boy” political crony, Rusty Thomas, for answers to demands for information from several of Gallant’s constituents, other citizens of Charleston, CFD firefighters, and firefighter experts from around the nation.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

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.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:17 AM

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley at the Bat
Lee Walton

The outlook wasn't hopeful for the Charleston nine that day;
The Sofa Store was full with flames, with but one more prayer to say.
And then when one hose dried of thirst, and another did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the firemen from everywhere that came.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:14 AM

May 25, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Memorial Day – a day of tribute to our Nation’s Fallen Defenders
Lee Walton

As we celebrate Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, pause to remember those who, over the past two centuries, have given the full measure of their lives to protect and defend the basic freedoms we often take for granted.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s Spinning – Out of control
Lee Walton

A tipping point in the threshold of political credibility and trust was crossed last week when the unspoken covenant between the mayor of Charleston and the citizenry he is elected to serve was boldly and blatantly smashed in a public display of audacity unseen for over three decades in the Lowcountry. Politicians often are accused of misrepresenting the facts, cherry-picking facts to suit their purpose, or using facts out of context as they spew forth political hyperbole to support their positions. However, until last Thursday, even in the Riley Administration, there has been the public perception of some truth or factual basis for the rhetorical spin always emanating from City Hall. Deep down in the core of the Mayor’s previous diatribes, he could at least find some shred of fact, albeit misrepresented, distorted, or twisted, to support his contention. Last Thursday he boldly crossed the line – Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. lied to the press and the citizens of Charleston in a display of intellectual deviousness that would make a suffering schizophrenic proud.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:26 AM

May 11, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Rusty Thomas – too ignorant to resign, too dangerous to terminate
Lee Walton

Many Charlestonians grew up thinking their city government existed to protect the lives, safety, and property of its citizens; now most know with certainty that the primary objective of the Riley Administration is to protect its own interest. As recently as in this past Saturday’s Palter and Chatter, Riley was again quoted doggedly defending Chief Rusty Thomas as “…dedicated, hard-working and a ‘great leader’…I have confidence in (Thomas) and we will move forward with him as a leader.” In reality, Riley hasn’t got much of a choice. He handpicked Thomas and created his “best fire chief in the nation” image with a creative public relations campaign that ultimately won Riley his coveted Class 1 ISO Rating. Now Riley must live with the unintended consequences of his choice and the deaths of nine firefighters on his conscience.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:40 PM

May 04, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Riley Conspiracy - A public deception and unpardonable disgrace

Lee Walton

Who will speak out for the citizens of Charleston and the survivors of the nine CFD firefighters so tragically and needlessly lost on the evening of June 18, 2007? Who will demand accountability of Charleston’s elected officials? Will the editorial staff and owners of the Palter and Chatter continue to stand idly by and shamelessly look the other way as the Riley Administration continues to rationalize the irrational and defend the indefensible? Will Charleston City Council finally find the fortitude to reach deep within its viscera and find the collective courage to say, “Enough is enough”? Will the taxpayers of Charleston ever know the real cost of Riley’s incompetent leadership that precipitated the ongoing CFD cover-up? Are there any other local elected officials on County Council or in the state legislature with courage and character enough to openly challenge Riley’s cover-up and conspiracy being perpetrated in City Hall and demand a full accounting of the events now being spun with overlapping webs of deception and tangles of blatant lies? Is it too much to ask that the governor of this state commence an immediate criminal investigation of the Watergate Style Conspiracy continuing to develop within Riley’s personal fortress of deceit, formerly Charleston’s City Hall?

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s policy on city personnel accountability – Loose as a Goose
Lee Walton

What is the rationale behind the City administration’s profoundly inconsistent responses to the killing of a single goose and the death of nine firefighters? In response to the former, the city terminated a personnel contract with a local employment agency that provided dozens of temporary employees to the City for over nine years because one of their workers killed a Canada goose at a City park. In response to the latter, Mayor Riley continues to extol his confidence and unwavering defense for an unqualified, uneducated fire chief whose gross incompetence resulted in the unnecessary and tragic death of nine city firefighters? How can a reasonable person reconcile the City administration’s divergent responses to these two events without drawing a comparison between them?

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
$1.85 million for sofa store site - a high price for the Mayor’s absolution

Lee Walton

Although the idea was rumored to be floating about City Hall after the tragic events of last June 18th, Mayor Riley finally announced last week that he would recommend to City Council on Tuesday, April 22nd that the City purchase the former Sofa Super Store site for $1.85 million. As reported in last Saturday’s Palter and Chatter, Mayor Riley has no firm plan but only the intent to “…come up with the best way to design an appropriate memorial.” His personal guilt and that of his handpicked lackey, Chief Rusty Thomas, have now taken yet another twisted turn to deflect accountability while seeking atonement for the totally unnecessary deaths of nine City Fire Department (CFD) firefighters. Following on the heels of sweeping procedural changes within the CFD and the expenditure of millions of dollars for new equipment, training and increased manpower, the purchase of the sofa store site raises many legitimate questions regarding the Mayor’s true motives and his hidden agenda crafted to protect his own public image.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Devil’s in the details of the City’s Maybank Highway Street Grid Plan
Lee Walton

So now Mayor Riley, the Coastal Conservation League, the City’s Planning Director, and another “renowned traffic engineer” from off want to build a village-like grid network of latticed streets across Johns Island offering multiple travel options for motorists instead of a single, improved Maybank Highway. With interconnecting gathering places scattered from River Road to Main Road, “…modeled loosely like McClellanville and Rockville…” these visionaries propose a grid design of neighborhood-quality crisscrossing roads “…more in keeping with the island’s rural character.” Characteristic of most political hype emanating from RileyWorld, it sounds like a world-class vision, but, like making sausage, the process will likely be a bloody mess to implement, cost tens-of-millions more than estimated, and the results may not be palatable to those unfortunate islanders who happen to be in the way.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Shrimp ‘n Grits - reflections upon the beginning…
Lee Walton

Believe it or not, Shrimp ‘n Grits is celebrating the beginning of its third year as a thorn in the rear of the “powers that be” who think they rule the minds and hearts of the few caring “Charlestonians”, natural or naturalized, left in this fair City.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Tinkering with tax policy yields unintended consequences

Lee Walton

What a great idea!– Cap periodic property reassessment at 15%, eliminate school operating taxes on residential property, and fund it with a state-wide1% increase in sales tax. Let the tourist pay while the locals play! It was high time those poor folks South-of Broad got a little recognition for keeping up those beautiful old mansions that draw those nosey tourist “from off” here in the first place.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Spitzer’s Slice & Dice politics no stranger to Charleston’s Mayor
Lee Walton

While reading the March 3rd Palter & Chatter commentary “Pride preceded self-righteous Spitzer’s fall”, I was struck by the very familiar personality profile that Jay Ambrose used to describe ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York; he could just as easily have been describing Charleston’s own Mayor Joseph P. Riley. The persona that evolved under the frank observations of Ambrose parallels the same characteristics that have been used by Riley’s critics and political opponents for over two decades – “… a monarchical arrogance, a sense…” Riley “…has had that he is vastly superior to others, always right and a law unto himself… this self-important egotism that propelled …” Riley “…to a political success that once seemed to have no limit, and yet it is the same arrogance that got him into a fix from which there was no rescue.” Time will tell if Riley’s attempts to cover-up his administration’s gross mismanagement of the CFD and current spinning of the blundering good-old-boy ineptness of his lackey fire chief’s responsibility for the Sofa Super Store tragedy will lead to a similar public downfall and disgrace.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Our Nation’s morality and freedom, albeit need, of religion
Lee Walton

From time to time we should each endeavor to better understand the principles and intellect that guided the founding fathers of our nation as they struggled to create a government that marked the beginning of American democracy. The assembled delegates at the 1787 convention in Philadelphia did far more than make the first formally written constitution; they successfully preformed the awesome task of forging a new nation. These were remarkable men of timeless vision, wisdom and courage, but, arguably, their greatest shared asset was a profound sense of Judeo-Christian morality.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Elpis mortgage default fails the Smell Test

Lee Walton

Charleston City Council’s unanimous vote without debate or question last week to bail the nonprofit Elpis out of default on its Josiah Smith Tennent House $1.4 million mortgage spoke volumes about the extent of control Mayor Riley now exercises over his council, ostensibly elected to exert fiduciary control in the public’s best interest. From its inception in 1993, with the acquisition of the Josiah Smith Tennent House from the City for $5, Elpis has functioned as a funding funnel through which approximately $6 million have flowed from private donations and City and federal coffers with the unconstrained blessing and support of the Riley Administration. Over $1.5 million in federal HUD funds alone were awarded to Elpis by City Council. Apparently, the only worthwhile Elpis asset remaining is the House itself with a recent book value of $2.6 million and a $1.4 million mortgage. What else of public value has been purchased with or provided by the unaccounted for millions is anyone’s guess.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Food + Wine Festival – Greater Event, But Wrong Venue Again
Lee Walton

For the second time in two weeks, Peninsula Charleston has hosted major back-to-back tourism festivals and, once again, these events have demonstrated that too much of a good thing in a small, ill-equipped location can be just that – too much! Even before the dust of the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition settled on the all too downtrodden pathways of Marion Square, it was again covered from edge-to-edge by a village of tents, vendor trailers and port-a-potties for the next onslaught of hungry and thirsty revelers eager to sample the many tasty tidbits of Charleston’s renowned cuisine.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:55 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Fire Sprinkler Reimbursements – Who pays and who benefits?
Lee Walton

Proposed statewide efforts to underwrite fire sprinkler systems for homes and businesses hit critical snags last week that now threaten to block legislative action sought in response to the loss of nine Charleston firefighters in last June’s Sofa Super Store tragedy. Recent articles in the State and Palter & Chatter have followed differing versions of current bills as the House and Senate struggle to resolve the fundamental issue for funding subsidies. Although broad, nonpartisan support still remains to encourage and partially fund installation of sprinkler systems, there is an apparent lack of political will to accept responsibility for funding rebates or tax credits by state, county or local governments.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Growth Limit Pontifications – All Hat and No Cows
Lee Walton

A recent series of Palter & Chatter editorials extolling the virtues of regional growth limits have offered stark contrast to other recent published commentaries that have attempted to justify a mixed-use mega-development on the outermost fringes of West Ashley’s already over-stressed public utilities and transportation infrastructure. To the Palter & Chatter’s credit, each of these four editorials have contained clear and unambiguous urgings for local governments to institute and implement regional growth control policies or suffer the unfortunate fate of several rapidly expanding metropolitan areas in our state and elsewhere throughout the southeast. Common traits each of these four editorials shared are strong beginnings and equally powerful summations. Unfortunately, it’s the missing opportunity in the middle of these editorials that reflects poorly upon the journalistic obligation of the Lowcounty’s only daily newspaper to take a courageous position in opposition to the Long Savannah deal-estate development and its potential to do irreparable harm to the quality of life in the extended West Ashley area.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:23 PM

February 10, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Commuter Rail – but on a different track to the same destination
Lee Walton

For several decades, area politicos and business leaders have attempted to interest the commuting public in a 22-mile commuter rail alternative paralleling the much maligned and overused I-26 Corridor from Summerville to Charleston’s lower peninsula. A mid-2006 study commissioned by CARTA, a follow-up federal grant funded study sponsored by BCD COG, and a privately funded study supported by the mayors of Charleston and North Charleston have each focused on commuter rail service as the best viable, cost-effective alternative to rapidly increasing commuter vehicle traffic congestion plaguing I-26. The common consensus of these study efforts is that commuter rail service from Summerville to Peninsula Charleston will be expensive to initiate, slow to attract a profitable user base, heavily dependent upon large annual subsidies to offset initial operating deficits, and, lastly, at least a decade away.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:25 PM

February 03, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Sofa Super Store – “We don’t know who is most responsible for this tragic loss.”

Lee Walton

Public statements like that above which appeared in last Saturday’s February 2nd Palter & Chatter article, Sofa store lawsuits in flux, not only beg the question, but accentuate the collective head-in-the-sand attitude and questionable motives of those in positions of responsibility to frame the proper questions. As “complex” as Circuit Judge Roger Young declared the circumstances of this case to be, one clear, unambiguous fact remains - if nine firefighters had not been ordered into a known death trap, they would still be alive today.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
Credibility of journalism plunges with circulation
Lee Walton

Over the past two decades, newspaper circulation has been plummeting down hill with no bottom in sight. Ever increasing competition from cable television, talk radio, the Internet, and, most recently, telephone news service has scattered the traditional audience of newspapers to these vastly more convenient and accessible media sources. Adding to this ever-increasing problem is the realization that the traditional newspaper-advertising model is obsolete – it’s not interactive, time efficient, and does not narrowly target the demands of today’s quality consumer. Declining circulation has manifested itself in the adoption of a more economical tabloid format, smaller text, shrinking news space, more advertising per page, newsroom staff cutbacks and non-traditional, short-term marketing gimmicks. Such desperate acts increasingly reinforce the readers’ suspicions that newspapers are now motivated more by profit than quality journalism or caring about the best interest or their readers.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits
One carriage flip away from a tragedy – Why?
Lee Walton

The City of Charleston and thirteen very fortunate tourists luckily averted a much more serious outcome following the wreck of a runaway carriage on the afternoon of January 9th. As reported in the Palter & Chatter on January 10th, “… at least six of the thirteen people aboard were injured when the carriage tipped over while turning onto Meeting Street.”

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2008

Shrimp 'n Grits

The writings of Lee Walton will return in mid-January. Until then, CharlestonWatch has selected what we consider the “Best of Shrimp ‘n Grits” published in 2007. Only a Lowcountry native intimately familiar with the ageless intrigue and inner workings of Charleston City politics could author such a poem.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

During this busy Christmas Season, please pause a moment and give grateful thanks to the many husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and friends serving in our nation’s armed forces throughout the Middle East and other foreign lands. Also say a special prayer in memory of the nine brave Charleston firefighters lost so tragically on the evening of June 18th.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Rusty, the Red-neck Fire Chief

Rusty, the Red-neck Fire Chief,
Made his men wear dangerous clothes,
And if they ever melted
They’d cling and cause some awful woes.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Twas da night befo’ Votin’

Twas da night befo’ votin’, ‘n all through Joe’s City,
All ‘e cronies be’n smoozin’, e’ben Ms. Kitty.

Da land deals ben stashed in da brief case ta tote,
‘N hopes dat His Honor would soon get da vote.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
City Council signs another “Blank Check” for Riley – The Long Savannah Development

Lee Walton

In one despicable, brazen evening of showmanship, Mayor Riley got His Council to annex 1,484 acres beyond the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), amend the City’s Century V Comprehensive Master Plan to justify the UGB breach, approve the complex and convoluted Long Savannah Development Agreement, zone all 3,052 acres as Charleston’s newest Mega Planned Unit Development (PUD), and obligate Charleston Water Systems to provide the required water supply and wastewater transmission and treatment capacity (about a million gallons per day). Not a bad day’s work, even by Riley’s own standards.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:31 PM

November 25, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Urban Growth Boundary - A line in the sand or political smoke and mirrors?
The time for testing the mettle of County Council is now!
Lee Walton

Not quite seven months ago, the first real test of the County’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) by Riley and his loyal band of deal-estate development cronies seemed poised to be the dominant county-wide political power struggle of the year. Then strangely, after several months of deals brokered by a brace of the Mayor’s prize pettifoggers, the Long Savannah deal went underground. With a mayoral campaign looming, and uncertain of which opponents he would face in the fall, Riley and his cronies put the whole deal on ice rather than allow it to become a campaign issue. Now that he’s been re-elected, Riley, with the help of his deal-estate development cronies and loyal sycophantic hangers-on, appears intent on pushing the Long Savannah deal and the relocation of the UGB down the throats of County Council.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:50 PM

November 19, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Thankful to be…

Lee Walton

A native son of the United States of America with its Constitution and Bill of Rights that allows and encourages those who are governed to hold those entrusted with the powers of government accountable for their actions.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:41 PM

November 12, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley – a political party unto himself!

Lee Walton

Mayor J. Pericles Riley is to be commended for his ninth victorious mayoral campaign. Few municipal politicians in our nation have gained such notoriety; fewer still would seek such an aberrant distinction. In the aftermath of last Tuesday’s election results, the Palter & Chatter editors and other local political analysts continue to pick through the election results like Paleolithic shamans chanting incantations and casting small bones into the dust as they attempt to justify their meaning for those of us deemed less informed or enlightened. The mystic conundrum confronting these self-proclaimed shamans is not what Riley did, but how he did it.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Tuesday’s mayoral election offers Charleston a Harbinger of Change

Lee Walton

The only constant in life is change. How often have we either heard variations of this cliché or experienced this most basic of life’s lessons first-hand? We see it in our children from the day of their birth as they mature and begin to lead their own lives. We see it in the faces of our friends, loved ones and even ourselves. Change can be sudden or slow, painful or pleasurable. Change occurs constantly all around us in our personal lives, neighborhood, city, state and nation. Change often dictates that an elected leader, chosen to lead through a uniquely challenging time, subsequently step aside or be replaced with another more capable or suitable to face new and different challenges of an uncertain future.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:43 AM

October 29, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
An Inconvenient Truth – the latest Skeleton in Riley’s Closet
Lee Walton

Persistent denial and a cloak of silence are poor substitutes for facing the truth that continues to confront Mayor J. Pinocchio Riley as revelation after revelation publicly confirm the incompetent leadership of his woefully inadequate fire chief who has led a once proud department to near collapse. The Mayor’s continued unwillingness to brave the truth about the person behind the CFD’s tragic decent into mediocrity, without doubt, has contributed directly to the tragic loss of nine brave firefighters. Riley’s continued denial and unwillingness to accept the consequences of his and Chief Thomas’ actions now cast doubt upon the Mayor’s continuing ability to effectively and rationally make the day-to-day decisions necessary to govern the City of Charleston.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Shortcomings of City Fire Department again highlighted
Post Incident Assessment Report stresses compliance with National and State Standards
Lee Walton

The Phase 1 Routley Report released last week as “…an independent comprehensive review of the Charleston Fire Department and the overall state of fire protection in the City of Charleston, following the tragic Sofa Super Store fire…” hit deep into the soft underbelly of a department caught in a cultural and philosophical time warp while still struggling to cope with the loss of nine of its own. Even after being subjected to intense editing by Mayor J. Pinocchio Riley and his loyal little workshop of wooden-headed elves and fairies, the findings and recommendations set forth in this, the first of a three phase project, leave little doubt about the depth and breadth of serious life safety shortcomings endemic to the CFD.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
“Charleston – we have a problem…”
Lee Walton

But unlike the three fortunate astronauts of Apollo 13 who were highly trained, well equipped and guided by NASA’s integrated command structure, the Charleston 9 were ill prepared to overcome the tragic fate that confronted them on the evening of June 18th. Not unlike the crew of Apollo 13, the courage and commitment to duty of the Charleston 9 never wavered, but the Charleston Fire Department’s leadership and command structure was fatally flawed, and their lives were unnecessarily sacrificed as a consequence. It is now painfully evident, after four months of in-depth investigations and condemning revelations, that the tragic loss of nine firefighters had its genesis in the decades of incompetent leadership under Fire Chief Russell Thomas. It is also now blatantly obvious that Mayor J. Pinocchio Riley continues to lie to the citizens of Charleston in a shameless effort to salvage any shred of his Fire Chief’s shattered credibility.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
J. Pinocchio Riley – The Prince of Palter
Lee Walton

Given the latest revelations contained in the October 7th Palter & Chatter front page story, “Firefighters lacked water”, the citizens of Charleston must now question the Mayor’s mental capacity to adequately evaluate and rationally respond to the complex combination of leadership errors and omissions that culminated in the tragedy of June 18th and caused the unnecessary death of nine brave firefighters. The Mayor’s actions demonstrated thus far are not those expected of a competent, rational and reasonable person faced with the same daunting challenges.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:11 AM

October 01, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
City’s OSHA challenge – a typical J. Pinocchio Riley tactic
Lee Walton

It’s now obvious that Mayor Riley’s cunning little Joseph McCarthy style publicity stunt staged in OSHA’s Columbia office last week fizzled as he desperately sought to divert attention away from that agency’s scathing indictment of the June 18th Charleston Fire Department tragedy that cost the lives of nine brave, albeit poorly led, equipped and trained firefighters. Armed with an expensive brace of new, taxpayer-funded pettifoggers and accompanied by Administration invited media coverage, J. Pinoccho Riley was certain his well planned attack would finally expose that “vast right-wing conspiracy” slinking around the halls of the State House and now using OSHA to give him and his city a world-class “black eye”.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Twenty-Seven Reasons why CFD isn’t World Class
Lee Walton

With little fanfare and no prior notice, Mayor J. Pericles Riley matter-of-factly delivered a seven-page report to Council members at the Tuesday, September 11th City Council Meeting that listed twenty-seven (27) immediate changes being implemented in the Charleston Fire Department. The list is detailed, comprehensive and addresses many apparent personnel and procedural shortcomings that have been the topics of intense, open debate following the tragic loss of nine CFD firefighters on the evening of June 18th.

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September 09, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits

Riley serves Charleston his Banquet of Consequences

Lee Walton

For over three decades Mayor J. Pericles Riley has single-handedly picked and molded each City of Charleston Department Head into loyal, unquestioning servants with a total disregard for the obvious fact that many are undereducated, ill-trained and under qualified for the responsibilities delegated to them. The only qualification of consequence to Riley is blind, unwavering loyalty and a willingness to “fall on a sword” when necessary to protect his image. Until the evening of June 18th, Riley, with the support of this loyal administration of lackeys and sycophants, has managed to bluff, blunder, threaten and cajole his way through the governance of the City by polemic arrogance, intimidation, political pressure and his Madison Avenue crafted persona.

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September 03, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley – Mayor or Maestro?
Lee Walton

The current power imbroglio among a few Charleston City Council Members and Mayor J. Pericles Riley following in the wake of the tragic death of nine city firefighters has again focused much needed public scrutiny upon the legal powers and responsibilities of city council. Under the seemingly endless imperial reign of Pericles, the functions of council have been relegated to that of an emasculated advisory committee to be ignored or patronized at the pleasure of the Mayor. His recent public discourse with a few members of Council’s Public Safety Committee exemplifies Riley’s self-proclaimed role as Maestro of the Chamber Music emanating twice monthly from City Hall.

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August 27, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Charleston’s Own Music Man
Lee Walton

If bedecked in his finest gold-fringed uniform and twirling a silver baton, Robert Preston, the late award-winning actor of stage and screen, would pale in comparison to the contorted visions, deals and shakedowns orchestrated by Charleston’s own Music Man, J Pericles Riley. Eighteen months ago the original Shrimp ‘n Grits version of whimsical verse repeated below described what was then a forecast of perceived threats to the fragile quality of life on the Peninsula. Today, each has become a tragic reality

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August 22, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Anthology
De Swimp’s Net

De Charleston Swimp ‘e need de tools,
So ‘e make ‘e Council ta be de fools.
‘E pick ‘um each fo’ de pawns dey be,
‘N hopes mos folks don’t care ta see.

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August 12, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Swimp Anthology
Swimp Mon! Swimp Mon! Swimp fo’ Sale!

De Swimp Mon ‘e ben round since e’ber,
Dis fo da reason ‘e be so clever.
Fo’ all de ‘lections, ‘e ben de boss,
‘N make ‘e cronies de stalkin’ hoss.

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August 06, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
De Charleston Swimp

Oh, de Charleston Swimp, ‘e be quite scrawny,
‘N ‘e hire de tief be Danny Malomy.
‘E talks so fine to all ‘e cronie,
But mos’ folks know ‘e jus’ be phony.

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July 30, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Palter & Chatter shatters harmony of green space approval

Lee Walton

It didn’t take long for the elitist editors of the Palter & Chatter to sharpen their steely little ink-stained knives and begin a concerted effort to press County Council into reversing its July 24th decision to approve PRC’s purchase of a 420 acre park site at Harmony Hall near Megget. It’s amazing how bitter and backstabbing these narrow-minded folks can be when things don’t go their way. Notwithstanding the “dog ‘n pony show” by Mayor Riley, City Council member Begone Evans, The Machine’s Colleen Condon, and a gaggle of the Mayor’s bought-by-the-pound sycophants, Riley and his deal-estate development cronies’ attempt to condition the Long Savannah Swampland purchase to a shift in the Urban Growth Boundary failed to fool the majority of enlightened and independent members of County Council.

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July 23, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Harmony Hall – A better buy for PRC and tax payers than Long Savannah swampland

Lee Walton

For over two months, readers of the Palter & Chatter have been bombarded with editorials and feature articles extolling the virtues of a J. Pericles Riley brokered deal extorting PRC into buying 1,600 acres of remote, federally protected swampland, tidal marsh and pitifully poor highland along the western edge of the proposed Long Savannah deal-estate development. This much hyped park site is the critical lynch-pin to allow the City of Charleston to annex and rezone 2,820 acres for a 3,600 home Planned Unit Development. This proposed Mega-PUD, the largest in Charleston County west of Daniel Island, would stick PRC and the taxpayers with a questionable park site of dubious value and limited public access for $6.5 million from countywide half-cent sales tax revenues. Its annexation into the City would also shatter the long-standing sanctity of County Council’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).

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July 16, 2007

Shrimp N' Grits
Smoldering Questions Spark Need for Change
Lee Walton

With the continuing revelation of facts surrounding the June 18th Charleston Fire Department tragedy, which cost the lives of nine brave firefighters, it’s increasingly evident that Charleston’s Fire Department is a glaring exception to both regionally and nationally accepted command procedures and fire-ground response protocols. This past Sunday’s well documented Palter & Chatter article, Experts question hose choice, is the most recent in a continuing series of articles describing the downward spiral of events that lead to the “total chaos” of June 18th. Together these articles present a clear and unambiguous indictment of the leadership and out-dated, tradition-bound command procedures practiced by Fire Chief Rusty Thomas. The long standing “…hard-charging, aggressive approach to battling fires...” first exposed in the Palter & Chatter’s Sunday, July 1st feature article, Tradition of Risk, now appears to have placed Charleston’s firefighters in unnecessary positions of extreme risk with ineffective equipment incapable of quenching a raging inferno or useful to save their own lives.

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July 09, 2007

Shrimp n' Grits
Class-One Damage Control or World-Class Cover-up
Lee Walton

In the recent aftermath of Charleston’s world-class public service tragedy that resulted in the loss of nine firefighters, Charleston’s Mayor and his sycophantic administration have adopted nothing short of full court press tactics to deal with mounting adversarial news releases and the rising level of open criticism from expert, professional firefighters and national safety experts throughout the Country. As typical of Riley’s duplicitous efforts to deflect blame and divert accountability from himself and his loyal band of yellow-dog protectors, he’s now adopted the tactically deceptive cloak of self-righteous hypocrisy in a blatant attempt to regain the moral high ground. Three of his current thrusts to deflect the growing number of critics include: championing statewide legislation to mandate retrofitting sprinkler systems in older buildings; dropping or drastically reducing sprinkler system impact and meter fees and monthly service rates; and audaciously suggesting that “No one should be trying to make political hay out of this tragedy.” The utter mendacity of such actions rises to nothing less than world-class levels of dissembling and misrepresentation.

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July 02, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Defense of Fort McHenry

Oh! Say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, o’re the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof to the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! Say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’re the land of the free and the home of the brave??

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June 25, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Courage Under Fire

Lee Walton

My first reaction was visceral, like a quick fist to the gut that takes your breath away. How could this tragedy have happened in Charleston? How could nine brave men have died so quickly and violently protecting the life and property of those they served? After reading Tuesday morning’s Palter & Chatter headlines and numbly watching the morning news, the sorrow that followed created a solemn sense of profound helplessness. The upwelling of tears was unstoppable as the number of firemen, so tragically lost, was repeated again over the radio on the way to work. Why? Why did so many men have to die this way? Heroic, gallant, loyal, courageous – these mere words can never describe their final actions as they did their duty and made the ultimate sacrifice their profession often demands. Later, their names, faces and backgrounds personalize the loss even more. It was like losing a close business acquaintance or neighbor that you never took the time to really get to know. As the days passed last week, I developed a deeper understanding of the special bond and fraternal brotherhood these brave men shared as they lived, worked and finally died together. In the end, their courage never failed them – but their leaders did.

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June 18, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Kudos to Senator Ford, a politician with a purpose – Clean Air!

Lee Walton

It’s been almost two weeks since a very informative article by Peter Hull appeared in the June 6th Palter & Chatter extolling the continuing efforts of Sen. Robert Ford to improve air quality at SPA’s existing terminals and the new container terminal being constructed at the former Navy Base. According to Hull’s article, the Senator has a clear understanding of “…air pollution generated by trucks, ships and trains at local shipping terminals” and how he can play the cards he holds to achieve positive air quality improvements in the Lowcountry. Given Saturday’s Palter & Chatter 7B Business Section headline article, “Ships to cut diesel fumes”, it appears that Sen. Ford is several long strides ahead of most other local politicians and self-proclaimed environmental experts who would rather pontificate than offer the diverse, albeit well targeted, plan of action envisioned by the Senator. It’s truly refreshing to finally see a politician Walk the Walk.

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June 11, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Blatant contradiction between Talking and Walking like a visionary

Lee Walton

Does it strike anyone else duplicitous that Charleston’s Mayor is so recently dedicated to saving us all from urban sprawl and global warming while remaining hopelessly addicted to deal-estate development schemes like Long Savannah, Magnolia and countless others in the hinterlands of West Ashley, Johns Island and up the Cainhoy Peninsula? Continued development at the current pace set by Joe Riley over the past three decades will add tens of thousands of new homes, transplants from off and their commuting automobiles to the already over-stressed natural environment and strained infrastructure of the Lowcountry.

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June 04, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Where has all the clean air gone?

Where has all the clean air gone?
Long time passing.
Where has all the clean air gone?
Not so long ago.
Where has all the clean air gone?
Mixed with bus fumes by the ton.
Oh, but the fuel that CARTA can burn?
Oh, when will Howard show concern?

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May 28, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Memorial Day – A day of tribute to our Nation’s Fallen Defenders
Lee Walton

As our Nation celebrates Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, each of us should pause and remember those who, over the past century and even today, have given the full measure of their lives to protect and defend the basic freedoms we so often take for granted, but many throughout the world can only vaguely imagine.

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May 21, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Really Go Green –Build Urban Parks!

Lee Walton

Last week, after a downtown business meeting and with a few minutes to spare, I drove to White Point Gardens and parked to watch one of the larger Tall Ships enter the Harbor for this past weekend’s Maritime Festival. As I gazed about the park that I remembered playing in as a young boy, something seemed missing from the majestic canopy of old Live Oaks that shaded this still beautiful, albeit now shop-worn creation of Olmstead’s genius. It took a few minutes until realizing that there wasn’t a hand-full of moss (Spanish Moss – neither Spanish nor moss, but an epiphyte) to be seen anywhere. Later while driving around the Lower Peninsula, I began consciously searching for any sign of this commonplace vegetation that still graces and accentuates most mature oak canopies throughout the more rural settings of the Lowcountry. One can’t help but be impressed by the beautiful old gray beard oaks that still line most heavily wooded roadways throughout the Sea Islands and surrounding rural landscapes south of Charleston. Ever the curious, I called an acquaintance who was in the landscape business and asked why there was no longer any Spanish Moss in the Peninsula. His answer was short and to the point – air pollution.

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May 14, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Charleston’s Deal-Estate Development Complex – an Elite Ruling Class

Lee Walton

The Elitist Doctrine holds that in any society, a minority ruling class makes the principal decisions. In democratic societies this small ruling class most often attains power and sustains itself and its individual members through monopolizing the skills and resources necessary to protect, create and enhance the individual wealth of its members. Once entrenched in a particular sector of the economy, this elite class cannot be controlled by the majority, even through normal democratic means, due to the power, organization, political skill, and individual abilities of its members. Its strength lies in its ability to dictate the terms of admission into its ranks by establishing the rules of conformity through social origin, race, religion, profession and often marriage. Given a favorable economic environment in which to thrive, members of this elite ruling class often amass great wealth, influence and create wide economic gaps between themselves and other less organized factions of local society. Over the past three decades the buying, selling and development of real estate in the Greater Charleston Area has lead to the creation of an autonomous ruling elite that now controls the primary engine of wealth in the Lowcountry – the Deal-Estate Development Complex.

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May 07, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Big Fish, Little Fish - Both were Financial Sharks

Lee Walton

The recent, nearly countless string of Palter & Chatter articles about Charleston’s latest Rogue-of-the-Year, Al Parish, begs comparison to similar financial scams that have graced the pages of other, albeit nationally prominent, newspapers in recent years. One article of striking applicability appeared in the June 4, 2006 edition of The New York Times. This story summarized the infamous deeds of none other than Enron’s Ken Lay and contained a quote by Samuel W. Buell that seems to sum up not only the many transgressions of the late Ken Lay, but Al Parish as well, “… at the end of the day, the machine just ended up being a coffee maker.”

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May 01, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Journalistic Credibility

Lee Walton

For the past three weeks, the Palter & Chatter has focused much of its reporting efforts on the trials and tribulations of Al Parish, the Financial Advisor and Investor, and those who have either suffered from or benefited by their associations with Big Al. This endless stream of articles has not been unlike the recent national media's handling of the Duke University Lacrosse team’s false rape case or the journalistic feeding frenzy surrounding the Imus firing. The common element linking these two national media events with that pursued locally by the Palter & Chatter is the wholly gratuitous manner in which the Palter & Chatter and several of the national news media handled each of these stories.

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April 23, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Al Parish, The Economist – “…an open and full discussion so important”

Lee Walton

For seventeen of the first twenty-two days this month, the Palter & Chatter has bombarded its readers with an unprecedented and seemingly endless barrage of articles about Al Parish, The Investment Advisor. Throughout a series of at least twenty-seven separate articles, the Palter & Chatter’s news staff has reported on everything from Parish’s Christian ethics to his bizarre collection of cars, artwork and jewelry. Stories about neighbors loosing their children’s college funds, greedy university board members and other poor, helpless “pool” victims, who were all to willing “to give a hundred dollars to be a millionaire” made front page, above-the-fold headlines as bold as any tabloid at a supermarket checkout. Nonetheless, the silence from the Palter & Chatter’s elite third-floor editorial staff remains deafening about Al Parish, The Economist. Why?

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April 15, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
BIG BAD AL

Ev’ry mornin’ at the Chamber you could see him arrive
He stood five feet six and weighed three forty-five
Very broad at the shoulders, even wider at the hips
And everybody knew ya gave all ya chips - to Big Al.
Big Al, Big Bad Al.

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April 09, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Ellis Oaks Greenbelt Grant Purchase – a day late and a dollar short!

Lee Walton

Charleston City Council proposes to use Urban Greenbelt Grant Funds from Charleston County’s Transportation “Half-Cent” Sales Tax proceeds to reimburse itself for a previous action to purchase the surviving remnants of a sea-island plantation garden at the intersection of Folly Road and Ellis Oaks Drive for use as a passive urban park. At its September 12, 2006 meeting, City Council agreed to purchase this 1.25-acre site, admired for its majestic Live-Oak canopy and mature azaleas, for $430,000. Council’s action ended several unsuccessful development attempts by the owner and Ellis heir, which were stymied by persistent public opposition and the City’s Grand Tree preservation regulations that severely restricted its commercial potential. At its recent March 27th meeting, Council agreed to seek a $430,000 Urban Greenbelt Grant as reimbursement for what it had already agreed to pay for the purchase of this rare example of what was once commonplace on James Island.

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April 02, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Urban Growth Boundary – a line in the sand or political smoke and mirrors?

Lee Walton

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.

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March 26, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Harbor View Road “PUD” – Peculiar, Ugly and Dangerous

Lee Walton

For those who travel Harbor View Road on a regular basis, many have noticed with a mixture of trepidation, wonder and amazement the queer collection of eclectic, postmodern residential structures being erected on what once was better known as the location of the historic, albeit recently demolished, Harbor View “Summer House”. This little collection of postage-stamp sized lots located on what was once a tiny, isolated marsh island has floundered for almost a decade as the ill-suited location of the poster-child of deal-estate developments by none other than one of Joe Riley’s most loyal political cronies and former administrative assistants.

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March 19, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Gentrification & Revitalization – Two Edges of the same Sword

Lee Walton

Robert Behre offered Palter &Chatter readers a rare glimpse of in-depth, timely journalism in Sunday morning’s front-page Debate over gentrification a social, political hot potato. His article gave a fairly accurate description, from the local perspective, of a debate that is now occurring in many coastal cities throughout the South. This increasingly familiar cycle of urban renewal is now producing whole city blocks of new townhouses between Spring and Cannon Streets to fill the insatiable demands of mainly white, affluent empty nesters and retiring “Boomers from Off” who are discovering or rediscovering the benefits of living in the relatively dense, pedestrian friendly urban environment of Peninsula Charleston.

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March 12, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Journalistic Hypocrisy – What are they Smoking?

Lee Walton

As dependable as gnats on a spring evening, the publishers and editors of the Palter & Chatter can always be counted upon to liven up a slow news week by providing yet another classic example of their journalistic hypocrisy for which they’ve become locally infamous. Saturday, March 10th’s lead editorial and B1, above-the-fold headliner, when taken together, are a classic case in point.

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March 05, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Food + Wine Festival – Great Event, Wrong Venue

Lee Walton

For the second time in two weeks, Peninsula Charleston has hosted major back-to-back tourism festivals and, once again, these events have demonstrated that too much of a good thing in a small, ill-equipped location can be just that – too much! Even before the dust of the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition settled on the all too downtrodden pathways of Marion Square, it was again covered from edge-to-edge by a village of tents, vendor trailers and port-a-potties for the next onslaught of hungry and thirsty revelers eager to sample the many tasty tidbits of Charleston’s renowned cuisine.

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February 26, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Black History Month – In Charleston, Blacks are History!

Lee Walton

As Charleston’s African-American citizens celebrate their culture’s many important and diverse contributions to our region’s history, it seems appropriate that we pause and take stock of just how relatively few now remain on the Peninsula and other historically black, albeit quickly disappearing, neighborhoods within the City of Charleston. Over the past three decades Charleston’s minority population has slowly, but steadily dwindled as property values and taxes have continued their relentless rise. Realistically affordable housing and a “living wage” sufficient to support minority families above the poverty level are essentially nonexistent on the Peninsula.

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February 19, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
George Washington’s Rules of Civility
Timeless wisdom for Charleston’s elected officials
Lee 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:

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February 12, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits

I-526/I-26 Conspirators "in league” with Riley’s Deal-Estate Development Cronies

Lee Walton

If one ever doubted the tenacity of the conspiring cronies hell-bent on shifting I-26 eastward in the Charleston Neck for the benefit of private development, they need not look further than the series of Palter & Chatter articles that have appeared over the past year. This past Sunday’s Palter & Chatter B-1 and H-1 above-the-fold broadsides were the latest in this series of misinforming drivel and editorial spin aimed at cultivating public support to move I-26 at the expense of the completion of I-526, the survival of the remaining remnants of the Rosemont Neighborhood and the proposed SPA terminal at the former Navy Base. This latest smoky back room scheme by Riley and his handpicked deal-estate cronies seeks to spend over $293 million in taxpayer’s money to move a short section of I-26 a few hundred yards simply to maximize the potential of another Riley World vision.

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February 05, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Joe Riley – Charleston’s own Homegrown Dictator

Lee Walton

It was surprising to read the February 1st Palter & Chatter editorial titled “Dictator in the making”. Instead of looking as far south as Venezuela and worrying about a left-wing socialist dictator like Hugo Chavez, these wanna-be-experts on foreign affairs need look no further south than Broad Street to find Charleston’s own – Mayor Joe Riley.

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January 29, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
Latest State of the City Address – Quintessential Riley Rhetoric

Lee Walton

In his 30th address to the citizens of Charleston, Mayor Riley, The King of Deal-estate Development, again spewed forth the same tired old political rhetoric and polemic hyperbole we’ve all heard so many times before. As such, it didn’t impress the been eh’s (that is, the few that still call the Peninsula home) at all. His entire message was filled with “candy platitudes” tailored for his loyal band of administrative sycophants and handpicked council of emasculated poltroons. Also not surprisingly, he continues to sprinkle his annual performances with claims of his past achievements and promises of new citizens’ committee appointments to win over a growing band of those from off who dream to touch the robe of Mayor J. Pericles Riley.

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January 22, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA Express – a step into the deep end

Lee Walton

CARTA’s much hyped new park-and-ride Express Bus service will be the first true test of its ability to penetrate Greater Charleston’s commuting workforce market beyond its traditional role as the mode of transportation for those with no other viable transportation options. Over the past half-century, public transit in the Lowcountry has served a relatively small captive market sector dominated by low-income service work-force commuters, or commuters whose economic circumstances, occupation or physical limitations dictated their reliance upon public transit as their sole source of transportation.

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January 15, 2007

Shrimp 'n Grits
To Conspire: "To act in harmony toward a common end"
Lee Walton

I beg to differ with Ron Brinson's commentary in Sunday's Palter & Chatter in which he took the State Ports Authority's spokesman to the woodshed for his recent comments about questionable actions by a deal-estate developer and local conservation group to stall permitting of the SPA's future North Charleston Container Terminal. Bryon Miller was correct with his recent choice of words in describing his agency's latest sandbagging as "environmentalist and a corporation conspiring against the port".

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December 18, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!
Less we forget, there are tens of thousands of husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and children serving in harm's way in the armed forces of our Country in the Middle East and other foreign lands this Holiday Season. As many of us gather together to joyfully share a festive celebration with family, friends and love ones, pause a moment and remember the many families whose gatherings will not be as joyful, but solemn and muted by an empty chair at their tables, some never to be filled again.


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came among them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angle a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:8-14, The Holy Bible, King James Version

Lee Walton

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December 11, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Light Commuter-rail - a heavy taxpayer burden
Lee Walton

Whenever the Palter & Chatter hits attentive locals with an across-the-fold, full color, A-1 info-mercial like David Slade's Training Ground on Sunday morning, most readers instinctively groan, grab their wallets and think, Here we go again! Such articles are usually the precursor for another assault on taxpayer sensibilities and ever-dwindling take-home pay. If the Palter & Chatter's facts are correct, Nashville's newly christened $41 million commuter-rail was no bargain to build and became a heavily subsidized taxpayer burden the day it opened. With CARTA struggling to do all but put paper cut-outs in its hundreds of empty seats daily, a poorly planned and under-funded commuter-rail is the last thing the Lowcountry needs now. CARTA can't even crawl on its hands and knees, let alone walk, and now the Palter & Chatter wants to put it in the railroad commuting business.

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December 03, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Broken civility and demise of common courtesy
Lee Walton

Now that the citizens of the Lowcountry have suffered through another election cycle, it's time again to reflect upon how much further the political campaign tactic of personal destruction has progressed and why we, as the electors of those we have chosen to lead, have become further and further detached from the political process. The disturbing growth of incivility among individual candidates and local party leaders reflects a growing breakdown in civil norms and common decency that continues to spread across the entire local political spectrum - nonpartisan school board elections are becoming as combative as local partisan state house and county council races.

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November 27, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA's“ unfulfilled expectations & poor perceived value
Lee Walton

During this past week, the Palter & Chatter'seditorial staff sent several of its younger, more adventurous reporters on a series of fool's errands as they each attempted to utilize Charleston County's much maligned public transit system as an alternative to their normal mode of commuting. Atypically, for the Palter & Chatter, this series of articles presented factual, first-hand accountings of the trials, tribulations and frustrations experienced by each reporter as they commuted to and from work on CARTA. Their stories were peppered with interviews with other commuters and personal, anecdotal experiences that, for the most part, were not flattering or complementary of CARTA. Each, in its own way, accentuated the fundamental flaw of public transportation in general and CARTA specifically - a mode of transportation exceedingly wasteful of otherwise productive time and, specifically for CARTA, undependable and unpredictable.

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November 19, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Thankful that I am!

A citizen of a republic that has a Constitution, Bill of Rights and a First Amendment that allows and encourages those who are governed to hold those entrusted with the powers of government accountable for their actions.

Born of modest origins and nurtured by parents - themselves children of the Great Depression – whose dreams and lives were tempered by harsh reality, but still raised their children in a loving Christian home.

able to benefit from a good public education offered as an opportunity and challenge, not a promise or guarantee, to provide a good and honest life for my spouse, our children and myself.

A veteran who was afforded an opportunity to defend the greatness of a nation that willingly gives its sons and daughters in defense of freedom, asking only sufficient foreign soil in which to rest its fallen.

Able to enjoy each day the unique beauty, diversity and wonder of a natural environment found only in the Lowcountry.

Able to sense and feel all of humanity's emotions that make life so richly rewarding, yet totally dependent upon interrelationships with others.

Able to share a chance smile or social courtesy with a stranger and experience special, inner warmth from the encounter.

The benefactor of hardy ancestors who suffered, but survived plagues and pestilence of past ages.

Born in an age that provides the benefits of modern medicine to ease the pains and infirmities of age.

Able to look into the eyes of my grandchildren and know with certainty that part of me will live in eternity.

A Charlestonian.

Lee Walton

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November 13, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits

Where's the Beef?
Lee Walton

Previous public statements and articles by Charleston County School Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson have been described in this column as characteristically “… peppered with acronyms and references to programs … that would befuddle all but the most devoted public school administration junkies. Again, this was the case in her recent November 10th Palter & Chatter commentary, "Community conversation on Plan for Excellence instructive". One must ask the obvious question - Where's the Beef?

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November 06, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Palter & Chatter School Board endorsements politics as usual!
Lee Walton

It's hard to be humble when it's so easy to be validated time and time again by the predictable actions of the Palter & Chatter's editorial staff. Almost three weeks ago Shrimp 'n Grits predicted, you can bet a cannon on the Battery that the Palter & Chatter will offer their endorsed slate of poltroons, hand-picked by Pericles, the weekend before the election. That prediction played out almost as scripted in Sunday's lead editorial, Charleston School Board choices. Saving one sop, Robin Beard, thrown to many in a community demanding both change and accountability on the Charleston County School Board, the Palter & Chatter's choices were three out of the four endorsed by the Charleston Metro Chamber's political action arm, BACPAC, over three weeks ago.

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October 30, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Hypocrisy thrives - Pericles accepted huge amounts of out-of-state campaign contributions in 2003
But the Palter & Chatter was silent!
Lee Walton

The Palter & Chatter can never be accused of lacking consistency, and its readers didn't have to wait long last week to be handed another classic example of its stinging, one-sided journalistic hypocrisy. Last Friday's "Candidates take out-of-state money" was another blatant example of a public, Page A-1 witch-hunt to denigrate a host of state and local Republican incumbents and candidates, because they accepted out-of-state campaign contributions from rich, single-minded donors or conservative PACs and other individuals. Starting with Governor Sanford, then working down to the local level, Adam Parker, the Palter & Chatter's latest hit-man, named six Republicans who had accepted what was inferred to be tainted money from "…outside groups promoting a policy that would destroy the public schools." Parker quoted one Democratic State House Member as saying "…by supplying certain individuals with money they will parrot the line of supporting vouchers and public dollars for private schools." Are these the twisted thoughts and impressions that the liberal owners and editors of the Palter & Chatter wish to plant in the minds of the electorate? Without political balance and unbiased reporting, the Palter & Chatter leaves its readers no other logical conclusion.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
RINOS Dupe Dumbos - Again!
Lee Walton

Mercy! Isn't Charleston politics just plain fun to watch this time of year? Why pay for cable or a movie when such intriguing entertainment is free? The big Three-Ring Circus now going up under Charleston County's election year Big Top has something for voters of every age, gender, race and political persuasion. In addition to the three main events, there's the quintessential Ringmaster with his usual collection of Political Clowns, Carnies running things behind the scenes, Sideshows to distract the unwary, Barkers to confuse the uninformed, Freaks to distract the innocent, and trained Stalking Horses to steal the show.

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October 16, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Political mischief marginalizes Charleston County School Board
Lee Walton

Just when the voters and public school parents were thinking that things couldn't get more contorted, confused or polarized in the upcoming Charleston County School Board Election, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce entered the fray with its endorsed slate of candidates. Now the voters have three slates of candidates to choose from on Tuesday, November 7th.

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October 09, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Bribe to "Ride CARTA Week" - A Taxpayer Charade!
Lee Walton

Mercy! Now there's a new low - even for CARTA and its glitzy Madison Avenueish advertising consultants - bribing people to ride the bus by giving away "… breakfast, as well as gift certificates from local businesses." Breakfast and Gift Certificates - why not just hand out Dollar Bills to anybody standing next to a bus stop as a bribe to hop on and ride? What's worse is that the CARTA Board, Howard The Bag Man Chapman, Mayor J. Pericles Riley and the Palter and Chatter now have the unmitigated gall to brag about it in their newspaper. The nerve of these conspiring polemics using ½ cent sales tax revenue from our pockets to spuriously pad CARTA's ridership numbers in order to justify a request for increased state and federal transit funding next year. Who's kidding whom? The Bag Man is just cooking-the-books as usual to get more tax revenue and then blow it out the tail pipes of CARTA's big empty buses.

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October 02, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Please! Please! Not Another Pericles!
Lee Walton

Of all the things needed in Charleston County, the absolute last thing is for voters to be duped by Mayor J. Pericles Riley and his Palter and Chatter cronies into creating another parallel imperial reign, or, more likely, a subservient puppet poltroon handpicked by Pericles to govern. Ever since the Justice Department won out and forced single-member districts upon County government, the editorial staff and behind the scenes owners of the Palter and Chatter have been pitching a "hissy fit" to put their own chosen disciple in charge of County Council. They just can't stand the thought of nine equally powerful council members, elected by the citizens of nine separate districts, governing the affairs of Charleston County. To the editors of the Palter and Chatter, this must be just one short step from total anarchy.

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September 25, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
County Government and Services of Dubious Value to Big City Dwellers
Lee Walton

As a notable catalyst, the ongoing debate on Charleston County Council over the extent and cost of police protection to be provided within the new Town of James Island now affords a timely opportunity to scrutinize and question the relative value and equity of many public services currently being provided by Charleston County Government.

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September 18, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Public Services - a question of fairness and perceived Value
Lee Walton

Over the past several weeks there has been considerable debate on Charleston County Council about the levels and types of public services that the County should provide to municipalities of varying sizes throughout the County. Although this most recent debate had its genesis in the recent re-incorporation of the Town of James Island, the basic argument has its roots in decades of political infighting between the City of Charleston and the James Island Public Service District.

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September 11, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Charleston's Dynamic Political Duo!
Lee Walton

Slowly but surely the truth and facts are beginning to materialize about the real relationship between Mayor J. Pericles Riley and County Council Chairman Napo-Leon Stabyourbackus. Their common political philosophies and objectives are becoming more transparent as each pragmatically supports the same liberal agenda issues and acts to exert increased control over local politics through intimidation and polemic rhetoric.

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September 04, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Town of James Island - Democracy on Trial
Lee Walton

Once again Mayor J. Pericles Riley and his stable of handpicked poltroons and sycophants regard themselves as the elite group of Charleston's political society that knows what is good for other people better than those people do for themselves. The recent under-handed, covert campaign tactics unleashed by Pericles during the run-up to the latest James Island incorporation referendum clearly demonstrated the raw political power and shameless tactics for which Pericles is best remembered by James Islanders. For him, there were apparently no means unjustified to keep the town from successfully incorporating or now from defending its recent incorporation.

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August 28, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Crime & Flooding, the Sept-children of Pericles
Lee Walton

Why have the citizens of Charleston allowed themselves to be numbed by the deplorable state of two of the most basic responsibilities of municipal government? Why, decade after decade, do we tolerate the levels of criminal activity and urban flooding that has become commonplace and acceptable in our everyday lives? Are the citizens of other cities with similar population demographics, tax bases, resources and challenges willing to accept such intolerable levels of drug activity, murders, assaults, robberies and property losses to urban flooding as commonplace events or business as usual? Two recent Palter and Chatter news articles this past week exemplify the level to which Mayor J. Pericles Riley and his administration of subservient poltroons have desensitized the citizens of Charleston and conditioned them to accept the unacceptable.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:25 PM | Comments (1)

August 21, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Initial "Mark Clark Community Impact Assessment" Hype Fizzles
Lee Walton

Two recent articles in the Palter and Chatter, Charleston's local bastion of unbiased editorial opinion and truth, make you wonder if they're using too much ink in that poorly ventilated news room. On July 22nd James Scott's Study sees a new Johns, boldly reported "20%-40% extra growth possible if I-526 is extended" and warned that the expressway extension "…could spark explosive growth in the rural community..." Just four weeks later, Robert Behre's August 18th article, A boost but no boom, reported that "The extension of the Mark Clark Expressway would add between 2,500 and 5,000 people to the population of Johns and Wadmalaw islands by the year 2030. But even if the Mark Clark's last leg isn't built, those islands can expect to see their population increase from 18,177 in 2003 to 30,828 by 2030, an increase of 70%." Behre apparently did his homework, but Scott should switch to de-café, do a better job researching before he hits the keyboard, or stop "spinning" the facts for the benefit of the I-526 opponents.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:54 PM | Comments (1)

August 14, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Private Sewer Service - Environmental Blackmail or Hollow Threat?
Lee Walton

True to the old cliché that even a blind hog finds an acorn once in awhile, a brief spark of journalistic enlightenment appeared in a recent Palter and Chatter editorial entitled Utility's growth management role; the author acknowledged that "Coordination among public jurisdictions and the utility (Charleston Water System) will help limit the public infrastructure costs and traffic congestion that accompany urban sprawl." With no small amount of irony, this editor shared the sentiments of the recently terminated CWS Executive Director, "… John Cook tells us that the utility has limited sewage treatment capacity, and has to carefully decide how it will be used. Philosophically, we're trying to match up our service with the urban growth boundary," he said." That one statement could very well have been the proverbial last straw for Mayor J. Pericles Riley and his long-standing annexation policy. City sewer service has always been the "carrot" Pericles dangled above deal-estate developers as the ultimate enticement for annexation.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:34 PM | Comments (1)

August 07, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
All Hail Pericles - Prince of Palter
Lee Walton

The Saturday, August 5th edition of the Palter and Chatter was nothing short of a thinly disguised sonata composed by full-time Mayor, part-time newspaper managing editor and concert Maestro J. Pericles Riley as he orchestrated a blatant self-serving performance for the National Governor's Conference held this past weekend in Charleston. The only element missing was a local rendition of Carly Simons' classic hit - You're so Vain sung by the City Council Chamber Singers as the ending coda. True to his classical, albeit self-taught, training as the editing maestro, Pericles actually included each of the five essential sonata elements introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda) in his masterpiece of self-aggrandizement.

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July 31, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
TAPAS
Lee Walton
Charleston County's Little Napoleon
County Council Chairman Leon Stabyourbackus' op-ed published in the July 25th Palter & Chatter was nothing short of a self-serving laundry list of all his single-handed accomplishments while serving on County Council - guess he cut that law school lecture on humility to get his hair done. The other eight members of Council just as well be potted plants to hear Chairman Stabyourbackus boast of his single-handed skills as the problem-solver, financial wizard and self-proclaimed savior of the County Government. Notwithstanding his struggling attempt at humility, Stabyourbackus did manage to mention Me, My, and I a total of twelve (12) times. From the sound of it, Stabyourbackus is doing all the Council work himself. To follow the lead of J. Pericles Riley, the other eight members of County Council should be summarily dismissed while Sabyourbackus names himself Little Napoleon.

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July 24, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
OBITUARY NOTICE Charleston County Council Integrity
Lee Walton

Council's Integrity entered into eternal rest on the evening of July 18, 2006, in Charleston County Council Chambers after a valiant, albeit fatal, battle against broken promises and a complete collapse of personal courage. Integrity's untimely demise resulted from a truculent assault by Council Chairman Leon Stabyourbackus and his accomplice, The Machine's Colleen Condon, as they intimidated and cajoled the other seven Council members to approve an additional annual payment of $1.1 million to CARTA for the next six years.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA's Summer Games ---Hide and Sneak!
Lee Walton

When most folks are in the mountains or at the beach and could care less what happens in the Holy City when it's over 90 degrees, CARTA began its Summer Games at the July 13th County Finance Committee Meeting. It was classic Hide and Sneak starring Leon Stabyourbackus (Yep - you've just earned your nick-name) as Council Chairman, Howard, The Bagman, Chapman playing a silent bit part and J. Pericles Riley as the covert managing editor of the Palter and Chatter. The objective of this political game is to wait until no one is looking, hide a $6 million CARTA loan debt add-on to the upcoming transportation and green space Sales Tax Bond Referendum and sneak it past the voters of Charleston County in November.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Moonlighting Madness - A free-fall of corporate ethics
Lee Walton

Charleston's Digital Corridor creator can do private consulting on the side This was the July 8th Business Section subtitle in the Palter & Chatter describing an unbelievable deal with a former, now rehired city official. It clearly demonstrates Mayor J. Pericles Riley's profound lack of business ethics and understanding of basic corporate management principles. What a terrible message to send to hundreds of loyal City employees and the Greater Charleston business community. This latest example of yet another questionable business practice by Pericles also highlights his increasing detachment from the realities of corporate management and core business ethics.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:26 AM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
I-526 & the Urban Growth Boundary - A Winning and Necessary Combination
Lee Walton

For those who reside West Ashley and on the Sea Islands and Resort Islands southwest of the Charleston Peninsula, the recently announced State Infrastructure Bank funding of the last segment of I-526 promises long delayed relief from intolerable traffic congestion. However, to those who reside on Johns Island and beyond Bees Ferry Road, the perceived benefits are less certain and dependant upon the cooperative efforts and courage of County Council and the City of Charleston to resist ever increasing deal-estate development pressures. These two elected Councils and J. Pericles Riley control the two most important land planning tools available to maximize the regional quality-of-life benefits possible from the completion of I-526 --- Low-density Rural Zoning and the Urban Growth Boundary.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
James Island's third incorporation --- a referendum on credibility!
Lee Walton

For the third time, and in the most resounding defeat to date for J. Pericles Riley, his sycophants, cronies and "lap-dog" Palter & Chatter editors, the residents of unincorporated James Island voted in overwhelming numbers to form a new independent town. How and why did this happen and why in such a lop-sided exhibit of defiance in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds? The short answer has its roots in the profound lack of credibility and trust that James Islanders now have for Pericles, his council of emasculated, handpicked poltroons and the local print media. The long answer has its roots in three decades of condescending platitudes, ill treatment, public service neglect, misrepresentations, and deal-estate developments that have raped the serenity and natural beauty of an irreplaceable sea island treasure of the Lowcountry - James Island.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:54 AM

June 19, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Urban Redevelopment - A Blueprint for Gentrification
Lee Walton

The proposed urban redevelopment of the Upper Peninsula and Charleston Neck, spearheaded by J. Pericles Riley and his notorious "Real-Estate Development Complex", now threatens Charleston's most vulnerable inner-city poor and low-income minorities. The implications of this top-down, profit-motivated redevelopment are severe! The disruption of established political, cultural and social infrastructure, increasing property taxes and loss of affordable housing are all now further exacerbated by low service sector wages that have not kept pace with the increased costs of childcare, housing, transportation and basic necessities of a working family. Who are Pericles and his lap-dog council elected to serve, his wealthy deal-estate developers or the hard working citizens of Charleston?

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Charleston Neck Gentrification's Last Frontier!
Demands of Coastal Conservation League will do little for conservation
Lee Walton

Several, seemingly unconnected events have recently combined to open up the "Last Frontier" for gentrification in the Upper Peninsula and Neck. In a Palter & Chatter article on June 6th, Dana Beach, Coastal Conservation League's Executive Director, expressed atypical demands for the relocation of I-26 saying "County Council should spend its half-cent sales tax dollars on improvements to the Interstate 26 corridor, or neighborhoods in the upper peninsula will continue to suffer." A closer scrutiny of several ambitious redevelopment plans being implemented in these areas will have the opposite effect by creating a "wild west stampede" for opportunistic developers.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Malony Embezzlement - a real pocket book breaker
Lee 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.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:22 AM

May 28, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Rubin's Raiders
Lee 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.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:29 AM | Comments (3)

May 22, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Editing the Editor
Lee Walton

In a recent commentary in Saturday's, May 20th edition, a Palter & Chatter editor took the SC Department of Transport (DOT) to the "wood shed" for proposing to hire a P.R. firm to lobby the State Legislature for more state gas tax funding.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Palter & Chatter- inexcusable journalism
Lee Walton In its, May 16th, editorial The Palter & Chatter blatantly supports CARTA's plea for excessive 1/2% Sales Tax Funding and openly insists that County Council Members break their promises to the voters of Charleston County. In this same editorial The Palter & Chatter shamelessly defends CARTA's continual mismanagement and incompetence by lamenting that its "…officials may have moved too fast initially to regain rider ship."

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits

Extra! Extra! - Read all about it

Promises, Promises - Now a 'NEW' CARTA!

Lee Walton

J. "Pericles" Riley stated in the Palter and Chatter on May 10th that "…CARTA's budget, as proposed, will allow us (Riley, Hallman, Summey, Chapman and the CARTA Board) to keep our promises to the citizens of Charleston County at a time when it is needed most." This polemic doublespeak is very disappointing and "classic Pericles." How can he say that he is keeping his promise to the people when he and the other leaders gave us their word, not just once but twice, that CARTA would get only 18% of the annual 1/2% Sales Tax Revenue. Now Pericles and the other elected officials who championed the Sales Tax Referendum are poised to break their earlier promises and representations to all of the voters and taxpayers of Charleston County.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)

May 08, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Town of Sea Islands - an Intriguing possibility
Lee Walton

Much to the chagrin of both the Palter & Chatter and J. Pericles Riley, the supporters of a third incorporation effort on James Island have received authorization from the Secretary of State to hold a referendum this summer. Predictably, the negative tone and structure of recent Palter & Chatter articles leaves little of their position to ponder, driven no doubt by blind allegiance to Pericles and his relentless thirty year lust to annex all of James Island.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:38 PM | Comments (1)

May 01, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Lowcountry Boil - a different recipe
Lee Walton

The Lowcounty's recent experience with Third-world water supply problems has given new meaning to a Charleston favorite, "Lowcountry Boil". This succulent combination of shrimp, crabs, sausage, potatoes, onions and corn, is boiled together with a heavy hand of Old Bay then consumed among friends with copious amounts of cold beer at a casual evening cookout. After the recent two-day "boil-water advisory" following the failure of Charleston CPW's single largest water main, "Lowcountry Boil" can now be taken literally.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

April 23, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA - So whose fault is it?
Lee Walton

When I read, "…the system needs extra help for the next few years to pay off a debt incurred through no fault of its own" in the Palter & Chatter's April 17th editorial, my first thoughts were of an old rock and roll tune, "What kind 'a fool do ya think I am - do ya think I am now." The condescending editor who authored this offending chatter is no better than a profiteering bartender serving another drink to a staggering alcoholic. The Palter & Chatter's editorial staff is blatantly facilitating incompetent behavior by CARTA's Director and Board and would have us believe that CARTA's continuous mismanagement, shameless waste of tax revenues, empty buses, routes-to-nowhere and out-and-out bungling of everything they seem to touch is not CARTA's fault, but someone else's.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:13 PM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Great Urban parks - Unbounded Visions
Lee Walton

In a recent Commentary by Governor Sanford published in the Palter & Chatter on Sunday, April 2nd, he challenged each of us to share his "once in a lifetime" vision to create a world-class park of tomorrow on the southern tip of Daniel Island - a park to challenge "…the great parks in the great cities of the world." Governor Sanford then offers two constants shared by each of the world's great venues: They enhance value of the surrounding community, and quality-of-life is geometrically enhanced by the open space in urban environments. Respectfully, there are two additional constants of equal importance - great parks of the world and many smaller, but as equally cherished, parks in our own region and city are unbounded by physical barriers or time. Their physical boundaries are those of the public realm - streets, boulevards, waterfronts and other public spaces. Their timelessness is their ability to remain useful, desirable and meaningful to successive generations of urban dwellers and occasional visitors alike.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
No Water - No Wonder!
Lee Walton

Mercy! The "Acropolis" sure "ducked a bullet" Friday evening, March 31st. For almost four hours, over 400,000 Charleston CPW customers, thousands of tourist and almost 40,000 Bridge Runners found out what it's like to live without water - Third-world style. Charleston's Assistant Fire Chief Joe Schofield best described this shocking "wake-up call" in his quote published in the Palter & Chatter - "There's no water anywhere in Charleston." How would they have ever fought a major fire downtown?

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:41 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA - Fueled by Printer's Ink!
Lee Walton

Mercy! If CARTA could run on printer's ink and editorial platitudes from the Palter & Chatter, it wouldn't need any of the Half Cent Sales Tax revenue to operate. Talk about those who "… just don't get it"! These self- righteous hypocrites and would be "transit experts" want their readers to believe that the only solution to CARTA's chronic operational and management problems is to continue blindly throwing more and more tax money into the hands of its incompetent management. How can they continue to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to the mounting waste and incompetence that most now see as a bottomless pit for hard-earned taxes? Instead, the Palter & Chatter's March 29th Editorial chooses to ridicule and chide well founded public skepticism and "… attitude problems by some in the community who simply fail to see the personal benefits of a public transit system."

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:19 AM | Comments (1)

March 27, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Who's "Taking" Whom?
Lee Walton

Mercy! Mayor Joseph "Pericles" Riley sure got his knickers in a wad over the pending House "Takings Bill" in his recent Palter & Chatter Op-Ed. What a classic example of his imperial attitude toward his "subjects" and those who dare to disagree. In the interest of fair play, let's examine a few of his better known "takings":

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)

March 20, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
CARTA's "Fox" in TAB's "Hen House"
Lee Walton

"Will he or won't he?" That's the $64,000 (more like $6 million) question soon to be discussed during CARTA funding deliberations likely to come before the County's Transportation Advisory Board (TAB).

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Too much for a good thing
Lee Walton

Once a week, almost without fail, we enjoy a light dinner out at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. For the past several years we've been loyal patrons and have become friends with the owner and chef. He and the staff always welcome us as some of their "regulars" with warm smiles, our favorite "adult beverages" and exchanges about each other's week or small talk about recent events. It's not unusual to see the same crowd on any given night, many with their children or grandchildren.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Paper Politics
Lee Walton

Of noble ancestry from rebellion and courage,
Our local newspaper can trace its own peerage.
The "Mercury" proclaiming a fiery progression,
Once shattered our Nation with news of secession.
Through earthquake and wars, a dependable source
Of commerce, debate and open discourse.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:53 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
Chapman and Riley Tax Act (CARTA)
Lee Walton

There once was a pair from the City
Whose goals were not legal or pretty.
One said with a grin, "It won't be a sin
If we tax on the basis of pity".

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
"Seventy-Six Condos"
Lee Walton

Seventy-six condos planned for Anson Field,
With a hundred 'n ten town homes just behind.
And as every builder knows, there'll be
Rows 'n rows 'n rows,
Of the most expensive housing of its kind.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:22 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2006

Shrimp 'n Grits
The Palter & Chatter's Editorial Lexicon
Lee Walton

Any policy aimed at the suppression of dissent among elected officials shouldn't be tolerated, and any elected official who would endorse such a proposal should be tossed out of office at the earliest opportunity. Public policy discussions in South Carolina have often been a bit rambunctious. That tradition is far better than rules that would require false collegiality. Elected officials shouldn't be expected to merely nod their heads in unison.

P&C Editorial, December 21, 2002

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:51 AM

February 05, 2006

"Shrimp 'n Grits"
A test for the Mayor
Lee Walton

I am sick and tired of hearing the Mayor bragging about his vast knowledge of Charleston's architecture, history and economy. To test this vast reservoir, I challenge him to take the following exam that any South-of-Broad "Blue Blood" born before 1960 could "ace" with ease. It will be jointly administered by Clemson's School of Architecture and the College of Charleston's Business Department.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)