Thursday, June 23, 2016

PeopleMatter acquired by Virginia tech firm

Paradigm disrupting alignment

Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 11:19 AM

PeopleMatter's 466 King St. HQ - SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
  • PeopleMatter's 466 King St. HQ
Prep yourself for high levels of synergy. Virginia-based job-search marketplace Snagajob announced today that the company has acquired PeopleMatter, developers and providers of workforce management software headquartered in Charleston. No specifics were provided on the deal, but according to a news release from Snagajob, the transaction is expected to close later this month.

Jason Conrad, vice president of marketing at PeopleMatter, says the two companies’ product offerings complement each other well, and they will be “integrating common services to build more agility, while developing new products to help hourly workers connect with hourly employers in new ways.” According to Conrad, Snagajob is now the lease-holder for PeopleMatter's King Street office and has not provided any information about relocating the Charleston firm. PeopleMatter spokesperson Jeanne Achille says the company is planning to remain in its current spot.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome the PeopleMatter team to Snagajob,” Snagajob CEO Peter Harrison said in the release. “As employers struggle with a challenging hiring environment, the joining of our companies couldn’t be better timed. Adding PeopleMatter’s best-in-class products to our existing market-leading portfolio will help employers of all sizes more easily find, hire and manage their hourly workforce.”

Snagajob prides itself on connecting hourly workers with businesses, while PeopleMatter provides employers with software that assists in hiring on new talent, as well as training and scheduling. Keeping the buzzwords popping in Tuesday’s announcement was Jeanne Graves, vice president of human resources for Del Taco.

“I have worked with both Snagajob and PeopleMatter and really see the synergies with these two companies coming together,” said Graves. “Nearly 6,000 of the 20,000 job applications we receive each quarter come through Snagajob and seamlessly flow into our PeopleMatter applicant tracking and onboarding system. We are seeing the best bang-for-our-buck. We have so many quality applicants at this point, we don’t know what to do with them all. It’s a great problem to have.”

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Lyft launches in Charleston Thursday at noon

The other ride-hailing startup

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 10:36 AM

  • Provided
Beginning at noon today, folks in Charleston can get a lift with the latest app-based car service to launch in the city, Lyft.

Passengers landing at or leaving from Charleston International Airport can also request Lyft rides beginning today. Uber also offers rides from the airport.

Lyft and Uber operate mostly the same way, with prospective riders initiating contact with a driver via a mobile app that passes along rider location information. One difference between the two services is that Lyft offers riders the ability to tip drivers while Uber does not. Charleston fare estimates aren't yet available, but comparing rides in Charlotte, Uber appears just a little cheaper than Lyft.
As much as adding Lyft to the Charleston market will create more competition with Uber and legacy taxi services for riders, it also tightens the market for potential drivers. Uber and Lyft have offered sign-on bonuses for drivers and advertise decent hourly wages. However, a driver-recruitment tool on their website shows Lyft drivers in Charleston 'could make' $20 per hour. Like Uber, Lyft drivers are paid as contractors and use their own car, pay for their own gas, maintenance, and insurance, and are responsible for reporting their driving income for tax purposes. A Buzzfeed investigation published yesterday looking at Uber specifically found that those expenses can make up as much as 31 percent of drivers' take-home pay.

Lyft also recently launched in Savannah and is launching today in Richmond, Va. as well. Save $5 off your first ride by using the code "CHUCKTOWN" in the mobile app.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Developers and city reach settlement over Sgt. Jasper

Peace in our time

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 2:47 PM

The Beach Company's Building in the Park Modified plan was denied by the city's BAR last June - BEACH COMPANY/BAR
  • Beach Company/BAR
  • The Beach Company's Building in the Park Modified plan was denied by the city's BAR last June
Charleston City Council voted Tuesday to agree to a settlement in the legal battle over the redevelopment of the Sgt. Jasper site.

Under the agreement, the city will agree to conceptual approval of a new project for the site, and in return, the developer will set aside nearby land for the construction of a waterfront park on St. Mary’s Field.

Last June, the city’s Board of Architectural Review denied the Beach Company’s plan to demolish the existing Sgt. Jasper building and construct a new 13-story tower in its place. Soon after, the Beach Company filed a circuit court appeal of the board’s ruling. Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson ordered the Beach Company into mediation along with representatives of the city, concerned neighborhood associations, and preservation groups. Peace talks between the groups ended at an impasse in April, at which point Judge Nicholson ruled that the BAR had overstepped its bounds in denying the Beach Company’s application. The city filed a request for the judge to reconsider his order on the basis that it could severely affect the BAR’s ability to evaluate future projects. As a part of the settlement, the BAR will be protected from any further court challenge, and the Beach Company will once again submit its redevelopment plans to the approval process.

After returning from executive session to receive a briefing on the Sgt. Jasper case, City Council voted 12-1 in favor of the agreement, with Councilman Mike Seekings providing the dissenting vote. Seekings argued that council had not been given enough time to examine the final court document outlining the settlement.

“This is the settlement of a major piece of litigation over the biggest development issue we’ve had in our lifetimes, and we’ve got a seven-page document that no one’s read and we’re voting on it,” said Seekings.

Councilman Dean Riegel argued that after all the public scrutiny and city examination, it was time to finally settle the dispute.

Ginny Bush, president of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, was among several citizens who spoke out against the reported settlement during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. She argued that any such agreement would validate litigation as an alternative for developers hoping to gain approval for new projects. Many others who addressed City Council voiced their concerns that the decisions regarding Sgt. Jasper had been made behind closed doors.

Earlier in the week, Beach Company CEO John Darby released a statement on the settlement, saying that the developers are “grateful to the city for its efforts working together with us on a proposal that not only best fits the needs of Charleston, but also respects property rights and due process.”

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Charleston City Council holds off on hotel vote

Room for change

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 11:11 AM

The Grand Bohemian Hotel at the corner of Meeting and Wentworth streets - SHELBY DEL VECCHIO
  • Shelby Del Vecchio
  • The Grand Bohemian Hotel at the corner of Meeting and Wentworth streets
The vote on a new ordinance governing hotel development on the peninsula was deferred by Charleston City Council Tuesday night, but the proposed rules could have a significant impact on the future of downtown accommodations.

As currently written, the ordinance creates greater limits for hotels that would displace housing, office space, and more than 25 percent of ground floor retail space on streets mainly fronted by shops. The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals would also be required to consider the amount of affordable housing units affected by a proposed development and whether requirements should be set for maintaining a minimum percentage of affordable units on a property.

Jacob Lindsey with the city’s Planning Department said the proposed ordinance would also prohibit developers from skirting the 50-room limit on projects downtown. For example, Lindsey said that under the current rules developers hoping to construct a 100-room hotel can simply build two 50-room developments side by side.

The proposal would also require the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals to assess any new project based on its long-term plans for on- or off-site parking for employees and ability to provide free transit passes or incentives to encourage employees to use public transportation. New hotels with more than 50 rooms located outside of the immediate downtown area would also be asked to provide shuttle services to and from the historic district.

The outline for the proposed ordinance comes from the findings of the city’s recent 90-day hotel study, conducted by the Planning Department, traffic engineers, and the College of Charleston Office of Tourism Analysis. The study’s initial finding were reported last month, at which time Lindsey said there were 4,930 hotel rooms existing or under construction on the peninsula, with an additional 731 rooms recently gaining approval. More than 1,300 rooms are expected to be added over the next four years.
After this week’s deferral, City Council is expected to discuss the proposed changes in July.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Despite scheduling concerns, trial of Michael Slager still set for Oct. 31

Defense attorneys request investigators’ notes

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 3:52 PM

  • Courtesy of Charleston County
  • Michael T. Slager
The state trial for Michael Slager, the former North Charleston police officer charged with the shooting of Walter Scott, remains on track to begin Oct. 31.

Slager appeared in a Charleston courtroom Tuesday as attorneys for the defense and prosecution discussed the possible conflicts that might arise as his trial is set to overlap with the federal trial of accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof, which will begin Nov. 7.

Slager’s defense attorney Andy Savage is also providing legal counsel for several of the family members of the victims and survivors of last June’s shooting at Mother Emanuel. Savage had previously petitioned the judge overseeing Roof’s federal trial to excuse him from all court appearances from mid October to Jan. 15, 2017 — a move that would have put the trial date for Slager in question. According to the request filed by Savage, it appears that the two adult survivors of the Mother Emanuel shooting and the family members he represents are likely to be called to testify during Roof’s federal trial. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, who is overseeing the trial, rejected Savage’s request, ruling that the attorney should seek a protective order from the courts in which he wishes to be excused from appearing.

On the other side of the aisle, Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who is leading the prosecution in both Slager and Roof’s state trials, voiced her concern over the lack of “breathing room” between court dates. Wilson estimated that Slager’s trial will last approximately three weeks, but she said she must also prepare for jury selection in the state trial for Roof, which will begin Dec. 6.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman said in court Tuesday that nothing he has heard thus far from attorneys gives him reason to change the start date for Slager’s trial. Newman added that he is fully focused on the trial, but Wilson made it clear that she could not simply “hone in” on Slager’s case alone.

After discussing the issues of scheduling, much of Tuesday’s hearing focused on the defense’s requests for evidence from prosecutors, much of which involved the notes taken by SLED investigators during interviews with Slager and witnesses involved with the case. Attorneys for the defense told the judge that they are hoping to examine the original notes to find any possible contradictory statements in the findings of investigators. The defense is usually not permitted access to such documents, but Judge Newman said he would examine the notes and make a decision at a later date. The defense also requested documents related to the $6.5 million civil settlement between the City of North Charleston and the family of Walter Scott, arguing that they might point to an “inference to municipal fault in policies and procedures” related to Scott’s death.

Following Tuesday’s hearing, Solicitor Wilson said that her main concern with trial scheduling is the consideration of the victims. While she admitted that it will be taxing to transition from Slager’s trial to jury selection for Roof, she said that the prosecution will be ready for the start of both trials.

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