Without a doubt, the biggest issue facing the good citizens of North Charleston is the ongoing battle with the S.C. Department of Commerce over two radically different plans to serve the new port in North Chuck.
As you know, the state's plan would place a terminal on the northern end of the Navy Yard, destroying Mayor Keith Summey's vision for the old navy base, and send trains around the revitalized area of Park Circle.
These trains would cross over North Rhett at the I-526 on- and off-ramps and effectively block off interstate traffic into and out of Park Circle for significant periods.
The other plan would create a terminal on the southern end of the Navy Yard and even more trains through the impoverished North Charleston neighborhoods of Union Heights and Chicora-Cherokee.
Further complicating matters: the rail line in question is owned by CSX. Their competitor Norfolk Southern would have to pay CSX to use the line. Both Norfolk and the state are strongly opposed to this.
With this in mind, you would think that current Charleston County School Board member and recently announced mayoral candidate Chris Collins would have something to say about it. But he doesn't. The P&C reports:
At his announcement, Collins said he had no position on the most heated issue of the day in North Charleston: picking a preference between the dueling state and city plans on how to approach and address rail lines and traffic toward the new State Ports Authority terminal being built at the southern end of the city.
I don't know about folks, but that's not what I would call leadership.
And as a resident of North Charleston, I sure as hell don't want something who is unwilling to address the biggest issue of the day to be my mayor. Just saying.
Back in the fall, we found out our house had termites.
It was horrible. They had eaten their way down a beam on one side of the house and about halfway up another.
Equally horrific, in order to repair all the damage — and kill all those the termites — the Haire household was going to have to shell out thousands and thousands of dollars.
Which we did.
Except that it wasn't on repairing the damage.
We bought a brand new 60-inch flat screen TV.
And a cruise to Jamaica.
And an iPad for me and another for the wife.
And then we blew a whole shit-ton on booze. Lots and lots of booze.
OK. We didn't do that. We're responsible adults after all. We know that no matter how much we'd like to rent a cabin in Asheville for the weekend, if the AC's broke, well, fixing that is the priority, no matter how much of a drag it is. You fix the fuckups before you move on to having fun.
Evidently, the city of Charleston doesn't think like this.
In fact, they've decided they'd rather spend $10 million to beautify the Crosstown instead of putting that money aside to fix the roadway's flooding issues. Dumb, right?
What's even dumber is that according to the Post and Courier, the city plans to shut down the Crosstown from six to four lanes for six frikkin months, beginning in this December. And exactly what does that beautification project entail? The P&C reports:
Building a new landscaped median down the center of the Septima Clark Parkway, as that section of U.S. Highway 17 is officially known, along with new curbs, sidewalks and crossing improvements.
Repaving the road and adding an "intelligent transportation system" involving traffic-monitoring cameras.
Cleaning and repairing storm-drain systems, and adding 5,500 feet of new storm-drain piping. Benefits will be limited until the new tunnels and pumps needed to remove stormwater from the system are built.
But here's the rub, according to the P&C:
City officials say the work is the initial phase of an estimated $146 million plan to eliminate persistent flooding problems, but the deep tunnels and pumping station needed for the drainage work have not been funded, and there's no telling when they might be.
Let me get this straight, the city plans to beautify the area — putting in new sidewalks, new curbs, and a new landscaped median — before embarking on a $146 million construction project, one that will likely involve tearing up a substantial portion all of those new sidewalks and curbs and medians that make up the $10 beautification project.
And instead of inconveniencing drivers that use the Crosstown during one construction project, the city plans to do it at least twice.
Surprisingly, the Nikki Haley-WACH Fox 57 story appears to have some legs.
Not only has a Charlotte Fox affiliate picked up on the report — you know how our neighbors to the north like point their fingers at us and laugh — but the Process Story's Wesley Donehue, a SCGOP staffer, has felt compelled to weigh in on the matter.
In a recent video rant, Donehue, one of the noteworthy players in the whole Nikki Haley-Will Folks scandal, attempts to argue that the press is upset with Haley because she has cut them out of the loop. Instead of talking to the press, Haley is talking directly to the people.
And as a result, Donehue says, the traditional press — newspapers and TV — has a vendetta against Haley because she has eliminated its role as an informational middleman.
Now, I'm not going to argue that far too many in the press — in particular the state's Columbia press corps — believe their duty is to communicate what the governor and her compadres in the legislature want communicated to the masses.
However, Donehue fails to understand that while Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of new media have given Haley and others a direct line to the people to spread her views, the governor apparently only believes in one-way communication. And Donehue, apparently, doesn't have a problem with that.
Here's the thing: Donehue thinks it's perfectly fine for Haley to tweet her feelings about WACH Fox 57 at 12:33 am the night of the Super Bowl, proclaiming that the news organization is tabloid news, but he doesn't believe that Haley has to answer questions from the press about her childish comments — and believe you me, I know all too well about childish comments. They are my stock and trade.
Of course, I would expect as much from Donehue. After all, Donehue played a major role in prompting Will Folks to go public with claims that he had an inappropriate physical relationship with Haley. In fact, Donehue has admitted that, at the time, he believed the allegations to be true — back when there was absolutely no evidence that any such relationship took place. Now — after the text messages, phone records, and Haley's refusal to release her legislative emails during that time — he does not.
And now, he continues to stand by his gal.
Way to sell your soul, Wesley.
Is it hot in here or am I just angry?
A few days ago, I was writing about our fascination with all the political porn coming out of Washington, the kind that is shown 24 hours a day on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC.
And it's this obsession of ours with the antics of Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Harry Reid, and their Congressional colleagues that consumes us when we, as South Carolinians, should be looking at what our legislators in Columbia are doing.
Well, the same also applies to our failure to pay attention to politics at the local level. A big difference between local politics and national politics is that city and town council members don't have to advertise their party affiliation.
Now, I would argue that because of this most folks ignore municipal matters. It doesn't fit into the accepted my team versus your team mentality that drives national politics, cable news, and the discussions we have with each other.
So as a little exercise, I wondered what it would be like to take an important story about a lawsuit against Mt. Pleasant Town Council by a former council member and change it up to reflect our national and partisan expectations. In essence, transforming it into the political porn will all crave.
Please head on over to the P&C to read the original story here before proceeding with the story below.
Washington, D.C. — The question of whether Congress conducts public business by e-mail in violation of the state Freedom of Information Act is a key issue in a lawsuit brought by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
The suit is expected to be heard next week by the U.S. Supreme Court. It alleges that a majority of Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee members frequently communicate with one another by e-mail on public matters. In its response to the suit, Democratic members of the Congressional committee deny the allegation.
"He can rule me out on that, without question," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a member of the Banking Committee. He communicates with committee staff by e-mail, but 99.9 percent of the time does not respond to an e-mail from a senator on the committee, he said.
DeMint's suit was filed in 2006, when Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was a senator.
"I think his quest for transparency is good. Do I think anyone intentionally hid anything? No," Feingold said.
Feingold, who gave a deposition for the suit, said Congress saves e-mails between senators members and staff. He did not save copies of e-mails between himself and another senator.
"Then you're saying you can't talk about town business if the two of you are standing in the hallway," he said.
A quorum for a Congressional committee is five members, which is necessary for official business to occur in a public meeting. If a quorum is present for a private discussion, then it could be considered an illegal meeting, officials said.
"I never saw a situation where an e-mail was going back and forth between five or more people in a discussion-type thing. I don't believe that you can really conduct a meeting by e-mail," Feingold said.
That sort of thing might happen on a conference call, he said.
Ray Slander, attorney for the U.S. Press Association, said electronic communication may not be used to circumvent the FOIA.
E-mails between two senators on private computers probably would not be considered public record, he said, but e-mail from a senator to congressional staff is considered public and the federal government is required to save it, he said.
DeMint's allegations against the town date to 2005, including his assertion in court documents that Congress illegally changed an agenda at the last minute, met without proper notice to the public and misrepresented the purpose of an executive session.
"Mr. DeMint has filed a suit. He has every right to do that," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "We believe we made every effort to follow all legal procedure."
DeMint and his attorney, Rahm Tinsley, declined comment.
DeMint's suit asks a judge to declare that the Congress violated the FOIA in certain instances described in the litigation, including a committee vote on Dec. 5, 2006, to buy Potomac River property for $6 million.
The suit also asks a judge to issue an injunction preventing future conduct by Congress that violates the FOIA.
DeMint and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) clashed over what Kennedy described in a 2005 letter to Reid as his "disrespectful and confrontational attitude" toward the Banking Committee.
In the letter, Kennedy suggested that it might be time for DeMint to consider whether it would be best for him to resign. Reid responded that he is assertive, not disrespectful.
The Senate appointed DeMint to the committee in 2005. Midway through his four-year term, commission members elected him chairman. DeMint said in 2009 that he was not reappointed to another term by Congress because he had questioned the legality of some congressional actions.
"Going back to 2005, the committee attacked me for asking the U.S. attorney general if the nation violated the law by approving the Central Potomac River Development without Planning Commission approval. According to the AG, they did violate it," he said at the time.
"The committee reacted to the AG opinion by secretively crafting a letter requesting I resign, for 'lack of respect' in requesting the opinion, and then leaked that letter to the press before I received it. That was a punitive action, as the Freedom of Information Act suit I filed states. The decision not to reappoint me is more of the same," he said.
I'm a piss-poor political reporter.
I don't watch presidential speeches.
I don't watch debates.
And I don't give a rat's ass about the State of the Union speech.
So you can imagine how I feel about watching Nikki Haley's State of the State speech.
Yeah. I didn't watch it. In fact, when the wife walked in and saw me watching it, I felt embarassed, like she had caught me watching the porn parody of The Incredible Hulk, featuring Tori Black, the 2011 AVN Female Performer of the Year and star of over 200 adult films, an monumental feat for a, gulp, 22 year old.
You know, on second thought maybe I shouldn't have revealed that I knew so much about Miss Black, who recently displaced Sasha Grey as the queen of the porn world and who...
Crap. There I go again. This is embarrassing. In fact, it's almost as embarrassing as getting caught watching the porn parody of The Incredible Hulk, featuring Tori Black, the 2011 AVN Female Performer of the Year and star of over 200 adult films, an monumental feat for a, gulp, 22 year old.
The point is not that I that I know too much about Tori Black, but that for a guy who professes to be a political pundit, I really don't care all that much about keeping up with politics, especially at the state and local level.
Then again, that's doesn't make me all that different from you.
The thing is, ladies and gentlemen, we've been distracted from the politics and policies that affect us the most. We constantly look to Washington when we should be looking to Columbia. See, the decisions the guys and gals in the state General Assembly make impact our lives to a degree that only Uncle Sam dreams. And yet we look away.
Instead of discussing, dissecting, and dissing the actions of our state Legislators, we focus on national issues that have almost no impact locally. And we follow intently the ups and downs of politicians that have never and will never do a damn thing to or for the state of South Carolina. Why? It's entertaining to watch their antics, both the scary and the silly.
In a world where politicians like Sarah Palin, Joe Scarborough, and Mike Huckabee all have shows on the cable news networks, folks like Glenn McConnell, Hugh Leatherman, and Jake Knotts are a bunch of not ready for prime-time players. They're stammers, stumblers, and speech-writing amateurs. They are not polished performers. They are us.
And although they decide our fates, we would rather be distracted by the ever-ongoing horse race for the presidency and the soap opera antics of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and Michele Bachman.
The sad truth, ladies and gentlemen, is that we're addicted to political porn. And if that's the case, then the entire U.S. has devolved into a Triple-X parody.
That's why in 2012, I'll be voting for the Porn Party ticket: Tori Black for President, Sasha Grey for VP. If we're going to continue to get screwed, we might as well enjoy it.