Best of Charleston 2008 | Charleston City Paper
Readers' Picks: Politics, Public Affairs, & Personalities

Readers' Picks: Politics, Public Affairs, & Personalities

We're so predictable. Year in and year out, we grumble about City Council member John, State Senator Doe, and all our other elected officials, vowing to vote them all out next time. But when next time comes, what do we do? More often than not, we vote the same old folks right back into office. You'd think we were brain-dead zombies or something. That said, there are some good eggs out there, real servants to the community. If you're interested in learning who Charleston City Paper readers chose as their favorite politicians and civic-minded folks, read on.

Best Party We're Glad We Missed

Thomas Ravenel's After-Parties

The former state Treasurer may be awaiting sentencing for sharing cocaine with his friends, but the rest of the Charleston social scene is waiting on word of who might be next to get dragged into the drug bust. Ravenel's lawyers have been angling for a reduced sentence, but that's only happening if Ravenel "cooperates."

Best Consolation Prize for a Pilfered Life Savings

An Al Parish Yard Gnome

After allegedly bilking Charleston residents out of more than $90 million, Al Parish had very little he could offer in restitution. So the feds collected nearly every earthly possession the man had and offered it up for auction.

Best Course Correction

Charleston Fire Chief Rusty Thomas

In the confusing and emotional days following the Sofa Super Store blaze that took the lives of nine firefighters, Chief Rusty Thomas told the local press that the city wouldn't fight fires any differently. The message was a bit different from Mayor Joe Riley's promise to make sure lessons were learned from the fire, and the veteran chief eventually changed his tune.

Best Political Mixer

Ron Paul at The Omar Shrine Auditorium

On his first visit to Charleston, Republican presidential candidate/longshot Ron Paul appeared at a surprisingly well-attended rally at the Omar Shrine Auditorium near Patriots Point. Tables in the lobby were filled with pamphlets, bumper stickers, pins, yard signs, and stacks of literature emphasizing his positions on government spending, borders, welfare, gun laws, and socialized medicine.

Best Potentially Unintentional Condescending Nickname

Cousin Arthur's "Dr. Maria"

There was never any love lost between Charleston County School Board member Arthur Ravenel and Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. Ravenel's most consistent jab at the superintendent was his sort-of folksy reference to her as "Dr. Maria," combining her educational accomplishments with her first name.

Best Land Grab

Mt. Pleasant's OK Tire

Owner and local attorney Mark Mason had hoped to build a 24-unit condominium complex at his OK Tire property, accompanied by 24 boat slips on Shem Creek. To ease approval, he proposed granting public access to the creek, with a park and boardwalk connecting hammock islands to Coleman Boulevard.

Best Mayoral Candidate Turned Gas Station Cowboy

Omar Brown

The underdog candidate in Charleston's mayoral race was center stage after a dispute with a fellow customer at a Dorchester Road gas station led to a shootout in the parking lot. Brown was injured in his thigh, while the other man, alleged parole-violator Antonio Rivers, walked away with at least five bullets in his back.

Best Citizens on Patrol

Citizens Patrol Against Drugs

Beleaguered with drug dealers and violence, residents in Charleston's East Side and North Charleston hit the streets to drive the activity out of their neighborhoods. Their work has pushed drug dealers off the street corners, but it has also proven vigilance is key.

Best Egg Beaters


For years, Mepkin Abbey eggs were the choice of conscientious consumers in Charleston. The de-beaking of the birds, the killing of male chicks, and the horribly confined cages that factory chickens spend their entire lives in is hardly a secret anymore.

Best Way to Get Fired From Patriots Point

Lewd Pictures

The executive director of Patriots Point resigned in October after "lewd photos and messages" were found on his computer, according to a Post and Courier report. Don't worry, if we were on the Yorktown every day, we'd probably get bored, too.

Best Example the Kids Ain't All Right

Porter-Gaud and Bishop England Fight

Just about any fancy private school can give your kid a top-rated education, but can they teach them how to throw a punch? After the two local rival schools had at it on the basketball court, four students from Bishop England allegedly took their own shot at a Porter-Gaud student, roughing him up in the parking lot.

Best Example of Our Failing Education System

Miss Teen South Carolina

Lauren Caitlin Upton (NOT a Lowcountry resident) was all nerves when she was asked in the finals of the Miss Teen USA pageant why so many people can't find America on a map. What followed was a rambling response that included "the Iraq" and a misplaced "such as" that made the clip of her fumble more popular than the pageant itself.

Best Mayor We'll Never Get Rid Of

Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.

With his sweeping reelection in November for a ninth term, Riley is all but unstoppable as Charleston's commander-in-chief. Here's a quick rundown of things birthed during Riley's first term that his mayoral career has outlived.

See Also: Politics, Public Affairs, & Personalities Archives

Reader's Picks: Attractions & City Living

Reader's Picks: Attractions & City Living

Each year about this time, they begin to descend upon our town, like an army of dumbstruck, digital camera clickin' zombies. Of course, we're talking about tourists. And there's a reason they come here — we've got attractions galore. But our city is about more than entertaining ghouls from Ohio. It's a place where folks work and play. Most importantly, it's a place where people live. And that's precisely why the living dead envy us. Especially Yankees.

Best Place to See a Bear Re-enacting a Charmin Commercial

Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site 1500 Old Towne Road.

Best Place to Get High Off Exhaust Fumes

Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation 1235 Long Point Road.

Best Place to Get Loaded and Fire a Shotgun

Folly Beach Turkey Shoot

For two weeks last fall, the Folly Beach Fire Department set up a turkey shoot at Folly River Park, next to the bridge onto the island. The cost to be handed a loaded weapon and shoot at a paper target was two bucks cash.

Best Hope for North Charleston

Olde North Charleston

Yeah, North Charleston is the seventh most dangerous city in the U.S. And it kind of smells a bit like farts from a chemo patient. And depending on where you live, there might not be a grocery store — decent or otherwise — within a mile of your house.

Best Place to View Rich People in Their Natural Habitat

Kiawah Island

Kiawah (and little sister Seabrook) is a bastion of wealth on the East Coast, nearly on par with the Hamptons on Long Island. Now that they've paved some of the world's finest tomato soil to put up the high-end Piggly Wiggly, Newton "Farms," and the Freshfield Village shopping center, Kiawah vacationers never have to venture off their idyllic enclave into the harsher (and poorer) world of Johns Island.

Best Place to Swing the Afternoon Away

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park Concord Street, Downtown

Best Place to Watch Tourists Literally Bake in the Sun

The Passenger Terminal

Surely in your many years on this rock, you've heard about the phenomenon of spontaneous combustion? And chances are you've decided whether it's bogus or not, right?

Best V-Day Billboard

Give Her Beef, Piggly Wiggly

Give Her Beef, Piggly Wiggly Hwy. 17.

Best Place to Build Condos

(Tie) Bert's Bar, Barrier Island Surf Shop, Cumberland's

Road-widening and condo-fication may be the double-edged sword that most threatens the character of the Lowcountry. In 2007, three notable music venues closed their doors (none of the club owners owned the properties).

Best Place to Pick Up Girls in the Afternoon

West Ashley Dog Park

The bars aren't exactly kicking yet, and as much eye candy as there is roaming the CofC library, it's not quite a kosher place to drop your pick-up lines. So where to score a last-minute date?

Best Place to Stage a Reenactment of the Israelites' Brief Stint Worshipping the Golden Calf

The Coburg Cow on Savannah Highway

A note to that student filmmaker wanting to a do a shot-for-shot remake of Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments: When it comes time for that scene when ole Chuck Heston walks down the mountain with the 10 Cs in his hand and sees his people getting all prostrate in front of a bovine idol, we suggest heading down Savannah Highway and building a set around the Coburg Cow. That would make Moses smile.

Best Post-Shower Public Pool

Lake Isabella at the City Paper Parking Lot

Lake Isabella at the City Paper Parking Lot Corner of Morrison Drive and Isabella Street.

Best Ocean View

Isle of Palms Connector

Everyone's got their side on the whole best beach debate, but few can argue that one of the best views around is on the way out to the Isle of Palms. Driving across the connector over the marshes is a beautiful sight in itself, but as you crest the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, the real view hits you — the Atlantic Ocean takes up the horizon, blue and sparkling in the sunlight.

Best Place to Act like You're Avoiding Landmines

The Park Circle Duck Pond

The Park Circle Duck Pond Park Circle. North Charleston.

Best Place for an Exhibitionist to Take a Very Very Very Quick Bath

Waterfront Park Fountain

Waterfront Park Fountain Concord St. Downtown.

See Also: Attractions & City Living Archives

See Also: Best of Charleston 2008 Archives

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