The event, happening locally on Folly Beach and in nearby Garden City and Hilton Head Island are designed to raise awareness for alternative energy, "to say “no” to offshore drilling and “yes” to clean energy" as Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Coastal Climate and Energy Coordinator Chris Carnevale said in a P&C letter to the editor on Friday.
Carnevale believes this year's event holds a special meaning, "offshore drilling exploration and eventual drilling are more a reality for South Carolinians now than perhaps ever before," but that "opportunities for clean, renewable energy are becoming more attractive each year."
In 2010, in the aftermath of the BP Gulf oil spill, up to 300 people gathered on Sullivans Island for the event. Carnevale took note of the spill in his letter Friday, "all it takes is one accident for the tourism and seafood markets to crash."
Carnevale says he hopes events like these will spur state leaders to take action, and that legislation like the Energy Systems Freedom of Ownership Act and the solar tax credit will help relieve the upfront costs of installing solar power equipment.
The event begins at 11:40am on Folly Beach near the Fishing Pier, with the actual joining of hands happening at noon. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.
In July 2010, the Laurens County Tea Party filed for tax-exempt status as a social welfare organization. Nearly three years later, they still haven't been approved, and president Dianne Belsom says her organization is just one of the many Tea Party organizations that has been singled out by the Internal Revenue Service for undue scrutiny.
Belsom, a homeschool mom who lives in Laurens, S.C., says that keeping up with the IRS's demands has been like "a full-time unpaid job" at times. Belsom says she hadn't heard anything back a year after applying for the nonprofit status, so she called the IRS and got someone on the phone. "He said, 'Well, your case is still pending,' so I said, 'I guess that means I don't need to do anything, right?' He said, 'Oh no, no, you still need to file tax returns.' So we've been doing that," Belsom says.
After more than a year of continued silence from the IRS, Belsom says she received a letter from the IRS in September 2012 requesting a bevy of documents, including:
• Articles of incorporation, which Belsom says she had already sent with the original application.
• Information on all of the Laurens County Tea Party's committees, including how much of the organization's time and resources was devoted to each committee's activities.
• Detailed information about all of the group's meetings, rallies, and events, including names of speakers, agendas, and whether guest speakers made remarks about upcoming elections.
• From any candidate forums and candidate interview videos, copies of all invitations to candidates, copies of any introductory statements made by organization members, copies of all questions asked of the candidates, and explanations for any interviews that were conducted but not posted on the group's website.
• A list of expenses for 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Belsom says she sent the information in via FedEx and fax, even though she says she was aware at the time that the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. The situation seemed especially absurd to her because the Laurens County Tea Party is a small group, with only 60 paid members and 300 people on its e-mail list. She says all of the organization's money comes from private donations and $30-per-family membership dues — although there's no way for an outsider to confirm this, since the IRS still hasn't granted the organization nonprofit status and opened its financial records up to the public. "The amount of hours they've wasted looking into our group, it's just not even cost-effective," Belsom says. "But I guess when you're using the taxpayers' money — and that's endless — to harass people, you know, whatever.
In January this year, Belsom says she received yet another request for information, including a third demand for articles of incorporation, as well as copies of e-mails the group has sent out on topics including sharia law, Agenda 21, and current events. She says the IRS also asked for 50 pages of screen printouts from the group's Facebook group. Since the group is private, Belsom says she blacked out everyone's names on the printout to maintain their privacy.
Since sending in the documents in early February, Belsom says she has heard nothing back from the IRS, and she thinks the demands have been excessive. "It's definitely been onerous," Belsom says. "I really feel like this was their intention, to take time away, because all the time I had to spend doing that was time I couldn't devote to working on somebody's campaign who's running for office or other things that I do to fight the Obama agenda."
This week, Belsom says the conservative nonprofit organization FreedomWorks paid for her to fly to Washington D.C. to do media interviews about her ordeal. News outlets are reporting that Tea Partiers from around the country have descended on the capital this week. Belsom says she doesn't know what to make of theories that the additional IRS scrutiny came about as a result of an order from the White House. "Who knows?" Belsom says. "Maybe that will come out, but as of right now, it's unclear."
Idol - St. Helena Island native Candace Glover was crowned the new winner of American Idol in the season finale last night. The AP takes a look back at her victorious road to taking the final prize on the show's 12th season.
SC Unemployment Down - The state unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 8% in April, down from 8.4% in March.
State planes - Democrats knocked Gov. Nikki Haley (The State) yesterday over her use of the state-owned aircraft, for allowing a campaign videographer to fly aboard the plane with Haley to document the governor on duties across the state. Dems contend that Haley should reimburse the state for the consultant's expenses. Yesterday, the state Senate voted to sell the controversial state-owned planes.
Ted Vick - If you missed it earlier this week, Chesterfield state rep and former 7th District congressional candidate Ted Vick was arrested for the second time in a year on drunk driving charges, this time in the basement parking garage below the Statehouse. Police dashcam video (WIS-TV) shows an unsteady Vick being placed under arrest and searched (on his last charge, he was carrying an unregistered pistol), and reacting in disbelief (The State), "I can't believe I got handcuffs on me at the Statehouse," Vick said. Taking advantage of the incident, state Republicans edited together video of the endorsement of state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the presumed Democratic nominee against Gov. Nikki Haley in her re-election next year, playing the audio of Sheheen praising Vick during his congressional campaign over the video of the handcuffed state rep being searched by state police.
WWII vets - A group of World War II veterans form the aircraft carrier Franklin will gather aboard the Yorktown for a final reunion of the 21 surviving veterans.
Downtown schools - Charleston County Schools has approved additional money (P&C) to fast-track the completion of James Simons Elementary on upper King St., which is currently undergoing a complete reconstruction, to be sure that the school is ready for the fall semester.
Butts everywhere - The hospital district smoking ban has forced employees to venture to Cannon Park (P&C), just off the hospitals' campuses, to light up and leave their cigarette butts littering the ground nearby.
A Columbia couple has filed a lawsuit against the Medical University of South Carolina, Greenville Hospital System, and the S.C. Department of Social Services for unnecessarily reassigning their son's gender.
The Post and Courier reported this week that the boy, identified publicly as M.C., was born with ovotesticular disorder of sexual development on Nov. 20, 2004 in Greenville. The rare intersex condition gave him both male and female reproductive organs.
M.C. and his twin sister were born prematurely and became wards of the state when their mother stopped showing up to visit them in the hospital, and their father could not be reached. His sister soon passed away, and M.C. spent more than two months in the Greenville Hospital System. While he was identified as both male and female in medical records, surgeons at MUSC removed M.C.'s male reproductive organs when he was 16 months old. Mark and Pam Crawford adopted their son in 2006 and initially raised him as a girl until he started presenting as a boy.
In a video released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is are representing the Crawfords in the case, the couple says there was no medical reason for their son's sex reassignment surgery. When they were going through the adoption process, they learned that their son was intersex, but they didn't find out until later that the surgery had been performed three months before the adoption was finalized.
"I was really sad that that decision had been made for him," Pam said in the video. She goes on to explain that she had an intersex friend in high school, and she knew about the condition from her own time in medical school. "It's become more and more difficult as his identity has become more clearly male, the idea of that mutilation was done to him had become more and more real."
Mark explained that more caution should have been taken beforehand, and Pam added that she would not have chosen a gender for their son at the time. They say that now M.C. wants to be a normal little boy, and they allow him to follow those instincts as much as possible.
The couple explained that their intent is to "uphold constitutional principles and the integrity of a person's body," and to guarantee that infants have due process when adults are considering this kind of surgery. "This case is about ensuring the safety of all children who do not have a voice," Alesdair H. Ittelson, SPLC staff attorney, said in a prepared statement. "No one advocated for M.C.'s right to be free from unnecessary medical intervention at a time when the state was entrusted with his safety and well-being. It is high time all involved answer for the needless injury they inflicted on M.C." An additional federal lawsuit has been filed that names MUSC Drs. Ian Aaronson and Yaw Appiagyei-Dankah as defendants, along with a doctor from Greenville Hospital System, former DSS Director Kim Aydlette, and six DSS employees, according to the P&C.
"I think the decisions made by the state send a message to M.C. that your body is not acceptable the way it is, that you need to have a body that conforms more to what we think it should look like," Pam said.
The City Paper contacted MUSC, DSS, and Greenville Hospital System, none of whom would comment regarding pending litigation. MUSC provided the following statement: "MUSC's general counsel and leadership will review the lawsuit through standard operating procedures for legal matters. MUSC will not be able to offer further comment on this pending litigation."
The story has since been picked up by national media outlets like CNN, Reuters, and USA Today.
Boeing IT- Boeing Co. says it expects about 600 information technology jobs (CRBJ) are destined for North Charleston over the next three years as the company reorganizes its IT workforce.
Idol - In the finale of American Idol Wednesday night, the show's judges applauded St. Helena Island native Candace Glover's performances (AP), making it seem like she had the edge going into the four-hour voting period last night. The winner will be crowned tonight.
E-cig tax? - Lawmakers debated a possible tax on electronic cigarettes at a state House subcommittee meeting Wednesday, discussing a proposal that would add a 5 cent-per-mililiter tax on the nicotine mixture used in e-cigs. Support of the bill from tobacco industry representatives present was mixed.
TEDxCharleston - A sold-out crowd gathered at PURE Theatre Wednesday (P&C) for the inaugural TEDx series in Charleston to hear from speakers of all ages and backgrounds from around the Charleston area.
Monkeys - An animal rights group is taking issue with reported treatment of research monkeys at a Yemassee lab after it was learned a handful of the animals were injured or killed while in the care of reasearch company Alpha Genesis.
TIF editorial - The P&C has an editorial on the vote last week to abandon plans for a $82 million tax-increment finance district on Johns Island to benefit a proposed development, including analysis of the sunk cost of the project, which one county council member said amounted to a "colossal waste of time."