City Briefs: Pearlz, online scams, horse investigation, tuition hikes 

City OKs Late-Night Pearlz Pitch

After several weeks of closing at 11 p.m., Pearlz on East Bay Street is back in business until 1 a.m. After one member of the City of Charleston's Zoning Board of Appeals determined he should have recused himself from voting on extending the popular oyster bar's hours, the board took another vote last week and OK'd the request.

The restaurant had been operating for years under the assumption that it was allowed to stay open until 2 a.m., like other restaurants in the area, but those establishments were granted special exceptions that Pearlz did not have.

Opposition came from French Quarter residents, who have been frustrated by late-night troublemakers trolling the neighborhood after closing time.

Resident Tom Bradford told the board that the rowdy bars further down East Bay Street and on the Market were hurting the area.

"Every additional hour that any establishment stays open has a bearing on our quality of life in the neighborhood," Bradford said.

The community outcry led to a split vote from the board in May, essentially refusing the request to maintain the 2 a.m. closing time.

The decision by board member Russell Rosen that he shouldn't have voted on the matter, almost assured support from the board in a revote. Pearlz owners Mark Cumins and Jerry Scheer had also worked with the French Quarter Neighborhood Association on a list of concessions, including increased monitoring of drunk patrons, employee parking, and sidewalk noise, as well as an earlier, 1 a.m. closing time.

Board Chairman Leonard Krawcheck again voted against Pearlz, saying the issue should be weighed by the City Council. —Greg Hambrick

Internet Scams Evolve

Apparently, it's no longer just foreign lottery winnings or a mysterious inheritance from some expatriate that's keeping online scam artists busy in Hotdoggystan.

In one recent incident, a downtown women received a Facebook message she assumed was from a neighbor. The message claimed the neighbor had been robbed on a trip to London and needed $650. The woman wired the money, but became suspicious when she received a second request for an additional $600. She eventually reached the neighbor, who was on Isle of Palms with her family. She didn't make the loan request and had never been to England. —Greg Hambrick

Carriage Concerns Prompt City Investigation

City of Charleston tourism officials are investigating the Carolina Polo and Carriage Co. for accusations stemming from the deaths of five horses since 2007.

City Tourism Director Vannessa Turner-Maybank says the city was alerted to the deaths by Tom Doyle, operator of Palmetto Carriage Works. Nancy Lane, who kept the horses on her farm when they weren't working, contacted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals after the latest death last month, according to a report in The Post and Courier.

Manager Robert Knoth did not return calls seeking comment. The city requires health check-ups every six months and a city-hired veterinarian does a yearly check-up.

Lane was also concerned about operations at Carolina Polo, including a lack of downtime for several of the horses. The city ordinance requires breaks during the day, at least one day off a week, and two weeks off every four months. Maybank says the city has requested work logs from all carriage operators downtown for review. —Greg Hambrick

Tuition increases

While economic trends are making a college education an invaluable tool in the marketplace, it's also creating enough debt to almost justify a little Congressional whoring.

Here are some recent tuition increases:

• College of Charleston, In-state: $294, Out-of-State: $714

• Citadel (includes housing and required costs most schools do not charge up front) Freshmen, In: $416, Out: $1,020

• USC, In: $318, Out: $824

• Clemson, In: $234, Out: $878

Greg Hambrick

$20 million

The amount of stimulus money the Obama administration is sending to South Carolina's State Energy Program to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in South Carolina. Looks like Sanford was a little too busy in Argentina to reject more money from the government. And you thought the affair was all bad news.


That's the record-breaking number of riders for the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority's free rider day last month. CARTA is continuing its summer riding promotion with a weekly $100 texting campaign. There's more information at

"They always have all kinds of money for everything in the world they want to do."

Charleston County School Board member Arthur Ravenel Jr., who successfully voted down a tax increase for school district operations. Staff had suggested the proposed increase be offset by delaying repayment on construction debt. The belt tightening means $5 millions less for school operations next year. Source: The Post and Courier


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