Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Agenda: N. Chs. led state in 2015 murder and rape; Statehouse corruption indictments coming?

WaPo comes out against capital punishment for Roof

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 11:47 AM

  • Flickr user North Charleston
According to the 2015 FBI Uniform Crime Report, North Charleston reportedly leads the state's largest cities in murder and rape and per capita robbery and theft.  Source: The State

Washington Post editorial page comes out against the death penalty for accused Emanuel AME shooter Dylann Roof, questioning "whether justice is best served" by holding two capital trials as Roof offers to plead guilty in exchange for abandoning the death penalty. Source: WaPo

Corruption indictments in the ongoing Statehouse ethics probe could come by December, unnamed sources say. S.C. Rep. Jim Merrill of Daniel Island is reportedly among those who are possible targets. Source: The State

Though the state's unfunded pension debt could be nearing $40 billion (double the previous estimates), the state says it could have a fix move into place by the beginning of the year. Lawmakers are also debating closing the pension plan to new members, adding new employees to 401(k)-style plans. Source: The State

Speaking to a mostly-white crowd in Charlotte yesterday, just a few blocks from where riots broke out after a white police officer shot and killed a black man last month, Donald Trump promised a "new deal for black America." Source: The State

Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey says he won't seek re-election to his leadership position on council when its term expires in January. Summey will remain on council, he is unopposed for re-election next month. Summey says the decision has nothing to do with reporting on secret tapes turned over to the P&C that showed him as critical of local and state leaders and "playing both sides" on I-526, according to the P&C. Source: P&C

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Charleston City Council again considers reining in Planning Commission’s power

Get out your calculators

Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 11:28 AM

Charleston City Councilman Keith Waring - PAUL BOWERS
  • Paul Bowers
  • Charleston City Councilman Keith Waring
In what has evolved into a long-running debate over the power of Charleston’s Planning Commission, members of City Council failed to pass a new ordinance Tuesday night that would have reduced the vote needed to override a negative recommendation from the commission.

Currently, a super-majority vote of 10 of City Council’s 12 members and the mayor is needed to overturn disapprovals by the Planning Commission. The nine-member board appointed by the mayor and members of council is tasked with reviewing concept plans, zoning ordinances, and subdivision requests before passing on recommendations to City Council.

Last month, the Planning Commission discussed a request from city officials to reduce the required vote to overturn disapprovals from 75 percent of City Council members present to 60 percent — dropping the requirement from 10 to eight members. The issue returned to City Council Tuesday night, with the Planning Commission offering a compromise of a 65-percent threshold, which would mean nine votes. But before council could make their decision on the newly proposed recommendation from the Planning Commission, Councilman Robert Mitchell wanted to clarify his main concern with the commission’s current level of power.

“They are volunteers. We were elected to do the job that we are sitting here to do for our community,” said Councilman Robert Mitchell. “And in some sense, it seems like they have more power than the City Council has that we are elected here to do.”

Councilman Bill Moody joined Councilman Mitchell in arguing that a 75-percent super-majority isn’t required by neighboring municipal councils hoping to overturn commission recommendations. Speaking for those in his downtown district, Councilman Mike Seekings said the ordinance in place works and the specialized knowledge and focus provided by the Planning Commission should not be undermined. Mayor John Tecklenburg also opposed reducing the required majority to 60 percent from the current super-majority requirement that was put in place by city leaders in the 1930s.

“I do believe that council 100 years ago, or nearly 100 years ago, had no more power than you do, but they had an incredible insight about protecting the built environment of Charleston. And that led to this remarkable historic place that we have,” said Mayor Tecklenburg.

Faced with the Planning Commission’s recommendation of 65 percent, Councilman Keith Waring stood by City Council’s original plan to set the required vote to 60 percent and again discussed the underlying problems that he sees with the current system.

“That rule was put in place almost 100 years ago, in part, to protect the financially privileged. There has never been an African-American businessman to come in front of this body in 20 years who has been able to overturn and be successful in obtaining that 75-percent vote. In the 1930s, that wasn’t even conceived of,” said Waring. “When you change the zoning of a property, it either significantly increases the value of the property or significantly decreases the value of the property. It is embedded in economics. This has a whole lot more to do with than just history.”

Waring added that in his experience, wealthy applicants are the only group with the resources necessary to hire consultants to appeal to local officials and possibly gain the support needed to overturn decisions by the Planning Commission.

“They hire the legal firms. They hire the engineering firms and architectural firms. Historically, this is at the disadvantage of African Americans, women, and minority owners,” said Waring. “To say that this has worked, it has worked well — for a few. But not for the many.”

Councilman Peter Shahid countered that he does not believe that the current ordinance is discriminatory to minority applicants, saying, “I haven’t seen that the government of the city of Charleston has been racially biased in this modern era. It has in the past. I’ve felt it. I felt it as a minority in my own place. I understand it and I understand where Councilman Waring is coming from. ... I know in 2016 and I know in 2006 that this ordinance has worked effectively.”

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

CSU warns students of knife-wielding person in clown mask

Police offer Halloween safety tips

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 10:38 AM

  • Flickr user davocano
  • Y'all...
Adding to the growing number of reported clown sightings across the country, students at Charleston Southern University were warned of an alleged assailant wearing a clown mask and brandishing a knife.

Late Tuesday evening, a schoolwide alert notified students and faculty that a student walking her dog when she was approached in a threatening manner by a person wearing a dark hoodie and a clown mask, armed with a knife. The woman was able to escape the person chasing her, but students and staff were advised to contact the North Charleston Police Department regarding any suspicious activity.

Wednesday morning, the Charleston Police Department issued safety tips in preparation for Halloween and the upcoming night of trick-or-treating. In addition to the usual advice for children and parents — carry a flashlight, travel in groups, look both ways before crossing the street — there are a few more things to know this holiday.

Children are advised not to carry prop guns, knives, or swords, and if they do so, ensure that they do not appear to be realistic weapons. According to the Charleston police, trick-or-treating must stop at 10 p.m. under city ordinance, and no one over the age of 16 may wear a mask in public.

“If attending a late-night or costume party, people must wait until they arrive to put on any masks,” according to the recommendations from the department.

Businesses are also advised to place signs reading “No Masks” in their storefronts, and suspicious activity in the city of Charleston can be report to the police by calling (843) 743-7200.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Charleston City Council to livestream meetings

Don’t cross the streams

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 12:31 PM

Kick back, relax, and get ready for tonight's Charleston City Council meeting - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Kick back, relax, and get ready for tonight's Charleston City Council meeting
For those of you looking to keep tabs on Charleston’s leaders without having to leave the comfort of your own home, City Council meetings will now be livestreamed online.

Yes, with Tuesday’s meeting beginning at 5 p.m., you can see all the municipal action live on the city’s official YouTube page. Videos of past meetings can be viewed online through the city’s website.

Starting out, the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting includes a resolution honoring the memory of legendary Burke High School coach Modie Risher. There will also be a hearing to allow for public input from citizens regarding the 2017 City Budget, as well as an ordinance that would modify the vote required by City Council to opt against recommendations from the city’s Planning Commission.

As with every City Council meeting, you can check for live updates and color commentary on Twitter by following along with @CCPNews.

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Mt. Pleasant wins for best local Halloween video

PSAs of Terror

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 11:03 AM

  • screenshot/TOMP Communications Channel
Halloween — it’s that special time of year when we place a large amount of effort into taking something harmless and non-offensive, like a pumpkin, and transform it into a representation of our deepest fears. Either that, or we just make everything sexy. Sexy pumpkins abound, really, but that’s beside the point.

Giving credit where credit is do, it’s time to recognize the Town of Mt. Pleasant and the Mt. Pleasant police for going above and beyond with their most recent Halloween video. Seriously, this thing is much better than it needs to be.

Opening with a slick graphics package and a Danny Elfman-esque soundtrack, it’s hard to believe the one-minute clip was made just to inform us about this year’s trunk-or-treat events. Then we’re introduced to Officer Van Brunt with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department. He’s speaking to us from a football field full of squad cars, which we’re sure is standard operating procedure. The video then cuts to a graphic listing where you can donate candy — no chocolate or nuts — and it seems as if things are going to end on an ordinary note. Wrong!

Cut to Van Brunt and a fellow officer suddenly dressed as Batman and Wonder Woman, flanked by back-up. We did not see that coming. It’s really just a bunch of fun. I’m of the belief that we should just unleash our children into the streets every Halloween and let them fend for themselves while dressed like Spiders-Man, Kylos Ren, and Batman from that movie where he murders people, but it’s Halloween fun like this that warms my cold, tired heart. Check it out below.

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