Officers from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division have arrested James Arren Preacher Jr., mayor of the small town of Norway (pop. 327 by the 2010 census). He faces charges of misconduct in office and impersonating a law enforcement officer.
On Jan. 18, a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper pulled Preacher over in Orangeburg County for driving 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. Norway Town Council had disbanded the Norway Police Department in 2011, and Preacher claimed he was acting as the town constable in chasing a car he believed was involved in a gas station robbery, according to the Times and Democrat.
"The town doesn't have any money and hasn't paid an electric bill since November," Preacher told the T&D at the time. "Sometimes you've just got to do what you've got to do to survive."
Moments after being ticketed, Preacher turned on blue lights and a siren in his Dodge Charger and pulled the highway patrolman over. The trooper complied and handed Preacher his license and registration, which Preacher returned before driving off.
The whole sequence of events led SLED to conduct an investigation that finally resulted in Preacher's arrest today. According to an affidavit from SLED, Preacher had asked the Norway town clerk to start paying him the same salary as the town's previous police officer, in addition to his salary as mayor, without approval from Town Council. He had also hired his son, James Arren Preacher III, to a position at the town's water treatment department, which he claimed to be overseeing. In addition to the misconduct-in-office charge, SLED found that he had no authority to pull over a state trooper.
"All this was done in violation of his duties of good faith, honesty, and accountability in his capacity as a public official, the Mayor of Norway," both affidavits read.
Preacher was booked this afternoon at the Orangeburg County Detention Center, and his case will be prosecuted by the Ninth Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Gov. Nikki Haley will pay a visit to Blue Bicycle Books tonight at 6 p.m. to sign copies of her new memoir, Can't Is Not an Option: My American Story.
To get a spot in line to meet the governor, you'll need to buy a copy of the book from Blue Bicycle, either at the store or ahead of time via the store's website. The book is selling for $27.95.
The Washington Times calls the book "inspiring" and says, "The GOP does not come out smelling like a rose in this book. The false scandal-mongering is depressing; so is the overspending of taxpayer money by Republicans, in South Carolina and in Washington, especially given the GOP’s claim that it is the fiscally responsible party."
False scandal-mongering? Well, some of those accusations haven't been settled yet.
The specifics for the Trayvon Martin rally at the College of Charleston have been tweaked slightly. The rally will still begin at the courtyard behind the Stern Center student union building (66 George St., at the corner of George and Coming streets), but the program has been condensed. Here is the updated schedule:
• 5:45 p.m.: Gathering of Voices by faculty, students, and community leaders
• 6:30 p.m.: Keynote address by Dot Scott, president of the NAACP Charleston chapter
• 6:45 p.m.: Candlelit march via Coming Street to Rivers Green (behind the Addlestone Library). Moment of silence upon arrival and a call to action.
• 7 p.m.: Conclusion of program
The event, now being called I Am Trayvon Martin, comes in the wake of last month's shooting of a 17-year-old black boy in Sanford, Fla., by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain. People who plan to attend have been asked to wear hoodies or black clothes. Organizer and College of Charleston student Brandon Upson says he expects a crowd of hundreds at the event. He says speakers will talk about "their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the tragedy of the Trayvon Martin case, and how stereotyping, profiling, and racial injustice hurts our communities."
Gov. Nikki Haley opened the floodgates on her Facebook page Sunday afternoon, announcing that she would be riding in the car for a while and would be available to answer people's questions and comments.
Predictably, some of the questions were rhetorical in nature, and there was a rush of back-patting from her fans. Haley also worked in a pitch for her upcoming memoir, Can't Is Not an Option, which is set for release April 3 (and by the way, if you're interested, she will be signing copies of the book on April 9 at 6 p.m. at Blue Bicycle Books).
But some of the legitimate questions got illuminating answers. Here are a few of the questions, followed by Haley's responses:
• Do you have interest to become a GOP senator in the future? I have no desire right now to run for US Senate. I am perfectly happy being Governor of the best state in the country!
• Carolina or Clemson? Go Tigers!
• It seems almost daily here in SC where a parent or person is being arrested for child abuse. What can be done to make longer sentences for child abusers? Contact your legislators to push for tougher standards on child abuse.
• How's the SC tax reform coming along? The House did not include our tax reform in their budget. Please contact the Senate and remind them that it is your money.
• Governor Haley, serious question: How do you think other states should improve to be more competitive for jobs? Right to work state's [sic] and fair and balanced tax structures are the key to job growth and retention.
• What can we do to bring good clean prosperous industry to Williamsburg Co? The way we help Winnsboro is the way we help every other part of our state, we have to seriously reform our tax code, increase educational options, strengthen our workforce training so that we match those unemployed with companies that need jobs, and continue to reduce regulations on businesses. all of the things we work on everyday [sic]. thanks!
(As many of our readers have pointed out, Winnsboro is actually in Fairfield County, not Williamsburg County.)
• Just want to know...have you and the kids seen The Hunger Games??? We have not seen The Hunger Games but can't wait!
• I live in NC and am very impressed with your jobs creation. Do you have any plans to meet with Pat McCrory when he is the new NC governor to discuss how SC is bringing jobs to the Southeast? I have already been campaigning some with Pat McCrory and look forward to partnering with him to better the Carolinas.
• What are your thoughts on open carry? I believe SC is one of 6 states that doesnt allow it. As a CWP holder myself, I have and would support open carry laws in SC.
• Why is unemployment so broken, I have had people steal from us and then get benefits. Why can't SC at least drug test people that want or need assistance? I support drug testing FTP receive unemployment benefits.---
The questions that Haley chose not to answer were also noteworthy. Here are a few of the queries she left hanging:
• You're doing a great job Nikki! One comment though: our son has special needs (verbal apraxia) and we've recently set up our education plan with our Greenville County School District. They could not provide a special ed classroom for him because of the high criteria, even though he is non-verbal and cannot communicate with the students and staff at his private preschool. There is a gap for children with only communication needs that needs to be filled, and soon!
• What can you do to help the FIRST robotics teams of the state...existing and up and coming...fund their season. Nick Zais actually did show up at our competition this weekend and got to see what we do with our kids first hand. The problem is teams are struggling from lack of funding. This is too good of a program to let slip away.
• Are you a supporter of TFA [Teach For America] and other programs like it, seeking to get the best teachers/leaders in front of ALL classrooms, no matter the ZIP code?
• Why does your budget call for more cuts in spending for education? I'm an educator and with all these cuts on top of local and federal bureaucracy it is making it harder and harder to want to stay teaching.
• Do you have any plans to be more supportive of the teachers and the law enforcement in our state? The retirement bill that is being passed doesn't appear to be showing any support. Taking more money, lowering the benefits and extending the time to work. We haven't gotten any pay raises in a quite a while and the government is talking about taking more from us. The pay raises that were talked about a month ago won't amount to anything if this retirement bill passes. What is your explanation for this?
• When will you run for president? You'd be terrific!
Oh, and our favorite non-sequitir question of the day:
• Why did Russains sell land that did not belong to them i am talking about alaska
• INTERGALACTIC FRIENDSHIP DEPT.: On Wednesday during discussion of a bill that would make it illegal for prisoners to use Facebook, Rep. Kris Crawford (R-Florence) called the website “Spacebook,” according to tweets from the Statehouse floor. Either Rep. Crawford is way ahead of the social-networking curve, or he was referring to NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus' now-dormant blog from the International Space Station.
• "I'D OF" DEPT.: Apparently the South Carolina-North Carolina border isn't quite where we thought it was, and the recent work of surveying teams has meant that the owners of 93 properties — mostly in the Charlotte area — have suddenly found their taxes, gas prices, fireworks restrictions, school districts, and telephone area codes in flux. That in itself is not worthy of a Bless Their Hearts entry, as the original colonial surveyors did the best they could with the resources they had, using hatchet marks in trees to mark off the boundary. No, the BTH goes out to the Associated Press copy editors who let this gem of a quote slip by from a North Carolina driver who stopped at a gas station just south of the border:
• BRUSH WITH FAME DEPT.: Every week, the City Paper stops by the Charleston Police Department headquarters to take a look at the crime reports and write the Blotter. Recently, while our reporter was sitting in the lobby poring over the reports, he was greeted by a man sitting across the room, and the following conversation ensued:
MAN: Hey, are you the guy who does the Blotter?
REPORTER: Yes sir, that's me.
MAN: Man, I've been in there a few times.
[Silence for a few excruciating seconds]
REPORTER: Well, it's good to meet you.
MAN: Yeah, that's some funny stuff. You'll see me in the reports this week, but it ain't very funny, so you probably won't use it.