Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Democratic gov ticket James Smith and Mandy Powers Norell will host fundraiser for Jen Gibson in House District 99 race

Nancy Mace won the seat in a special election held in January

Posted by Adam Manno on Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 2:31 PM

Jen Gibson is running for S.C. House District 99. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Jen Gibson is running for S.C. House District 99.
The campaign of S.C. House candidate Jen Gibson will get a boost from a couple of the state's most prominent Democrats at a fundraiser this Saturday afternoon.

State Rep. and gubernatorial candidate James Smith and his running mate, state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, will host a wine tasting and meet-and-greet to raise funds for Gibson's first run for office.
The fundraiser will be held from 4-6 p.m. at Bin 526 on Daniel Island. The event is $100 to attend (tickets here), $250 to be listed as a sponsor, and $500 to be listed as a host.

Gibson, a Charleston-based travel agent and community activist, is mounting a progressive campaign for District 99 that includes support for the legalization of marijuana, Medicaid expansion, background checks for all gun purchases, and fervent opposition to offshore drilling.

District 99 encompasses parts of Berkeley and Charleston counties including Daniel Island, the Cainhoy Peninsula, and parts of Hanahan and Mt. Pleasant. It includes close to 50,000 residents, according to 2010 census figures.

The district is currently represented by Republican Nancy Mace, the first woman to graduate from The Citadel. In January, Mace defeated Democrat Cindy Boatwright in a special election by 484 votes.

Last year, the seat was vacated prematurely following the resignation of Jim Merrill.

In December 2016, Merrill was indicted by a grand jury on 30 counts of ethics violations and suspended from his House post pursuant to state law. He later pled guilty to one count of misconduct and a year of probation in exchange for helping state and federal investigators root out corruption among his peers.

Gibson has raised a total of $28,000 for November's general election, according to the state's Ethics Commission. Mace, on the other hand, has raised close to $18,500, though she won January's special election with a total of $138,443 in contributions.

Gibson will face Mace in her attempt to win the seat in a typical even-year general election on November 6.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the amount of money raised by both candidates in the District 99 race. We regret the error and have since updated the figures.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

S.C. Rep. Joe Wilson duped by Sacha Baron Cohen in sketch highlighting political obsession with guns

Wilson says he was targeted as part of a practical joke

Posted by Sam Spence on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 at 12:22 PM

The South Carolina congressman who screamed "You lie" at President Barack Obama says he was the target of a prank by a comedian notorious for twisting American politicians into problematic rhetorical knots.

Congressman Joe Wilson says he was targeted by Sasha Baron Cohen, who debuted a new Showtime project on Sunday night called "Who Is America?"

Wilson told the The State that he thought the meeting would be about his history as a pro-Israel lawmaker when he met with Cohen masquerading as military officer and terrorism expert "Col. Erran Morad."

The segment, about a fake program called "Kinder Guardians" designed to train young children to combat mass shootings. In addition to Wilson, a preview of the sketch posted on YouTube before the Sunday premiere also features pro-gun group leaders, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and Joe Walsh, an ex-congressman now working as a conservative pundit.
Cohen posed as terrorism expert Col. Erran Morad in interviews for a segment on his new Showtime series - SHOWTIME SCREENSHOT
  • Showtime screenshot
  • Cohen posed as terrorism expert Col. Erran Morad in interviews for a segment on his new Showtime series
"A three year old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it," Wilson appeared to read from a teleprompter. "Our founding fathers did not put an age limit on the Second Amendment."

To his credit, Wilson gets the least amount of screen time of all the officials in the preview, and though he went through with the taping, he appears a bit more skeptical than the rest. In an interview with CNN, Walsh said that he agreed to read the selection on camera after a fake group presented him with a fake award for his support of Israel.
Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) appeared in Sunday's episode of "Who Is America?" on Showtime - SHOWTIME SCREENSHOT
  • Showtime screenshot
  • Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) appeared in Sunday's episode of "Who Is America?" on Showtime
Cohen's team somehow managed to get Walsh to say that in the "Kinder Guardians" program, "In less than a month, a first grader can become a first grenader." A former Gun Owners of America leader read copy that claimed children under five "have elevated levels of the pheromone 'Blink 182.'"

It's unclear the exact circumstances of Wilson's appearance. (Will report back if/when Showtime bestows us with a copy of the segment.)

The preview of the segment appears to highlight Republican hypocrisy over ongoing push for expanded gun rights as mass shooting events continue to occur. But liberal figures have also been duped by Cohen for upcoming shows, including former DNC leader Howard Dean and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Conservative talking heads like former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Joe Arpaio were also reportedly tricked by Cohen.

Sunday's premiere also includes other segments which don't land quite as well as Cohen's Morad bit. NPR called the episode as a whole "hit-and-miss." Vulture has at least five write-ups on the episode already, because Vulture, and they rank Wilson's as the #4 "most damning" appearance on the show right behind Walsh. Another take worth considering is Vox culture writer Aja Romero's pre-show assertion that Cohen's fake interviews are a "bad match for our current cultural climate."

"Who Is America?" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Renderings revealed for Emanuel Nine memorial by designer of Sept. 11 memorial

It could be as long as two years before it breaks ground

Posted by Adam Manno on Sun, Jul 15, 2018 at 5:58 PM

A design rendering showing a crowd gathered at Memorial Court, directly to the left of Mother Emanuel on Calhoun Street. - COURTESY DBOX FOR THE MOTHER EMANUEL NINE MEMORIAL / HANDEL ARCHITECTS
  • Courtesy Dbox for The Mother Emanuel Nine Memorial / Handel Architects
  • A design rendering showing a crowd gathered at Memorial Court, directly to the left of Mother Emanuel on Calhoun Street.
The 200th anniversary service at Mother Emanuel ended with more than the usual parade of Sunday best and children scrummaging past pews.

More than three years after a self-avowed white supremacist opened fire during a Wednesday night bible study just one floor below, killing nine, the packed nave of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church got a first look at design renderings for a memorial honoring the victims, their families, and the countless lives affected.
Michael Arad, the 49-year-old New York-based architect who designed the National September 11 Memorial honoring victims of the World Trace Center terrorist attacks, unveiled plans for the two-part memorial honoring Charleston's Emanuel Nine.

Beach Company CEO John Darby (L-R), Rev. Eric SC Manning, architect Michael Arad - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Beach Company CEO John Darby (L-R), Rev. Eric SC Manning, architect Michael Arad
"One of the first things I remember Rev. Manning saying when we began this process is that we must keep the church in the middle of this process," Arad said during the presentation Sunday. "The church is at the heart of everything we've done here and I hope you see that."

The estimated cost for the full memorial will be close to $15 million, and it could be as long as two years before it breaks ground, according to John Darby, the CEO of the Beach Company, who is leading the fund for the memorial.

Arad said that part of his goal of "elevating" the church led him to draw up plans to surround the church with three walls on the north, east, and west sides, which will connect the east and west parts of the memorial through a path to the north, behind the church.

The west side of the church (to the left from Calhoun Street) will feature a 40-foot wide and 120-feet long Memorial Court. It will be flanked by two nine-foot benches with a center fountain. To the east, a Survivor's Garden will be "dedicated to memory, the past, to those who have perished," Arad says.

Names Fountain and Fellowship Bench at Emanuel Nine Memorial - COURTESY DBOX FOR THE MOTHER EMANUEL NINE MEMORIAL / HANDEL ARCHITECTS
  • Courtesy Dbox for The Mother Emanuel Nine Memorial / Handel Architects
  • Names Fountain and Fellowship Bench at Emanuel Nine Memorial
"When we saw the credentials of the gentleman, and then when we met in person, he was so passionate and so honorable," said Maxine Smith, a member who handles public relations for the historic church, in a presentation video. "If he could create a design in New York City to honor the September 11 disaster, we thought we could trust him to design a memorial to the Emanuel Nine and the survivors."

The memorial must still go through the typical city approval process.

Charleston City Councilmember William Dudley Gregorie, who served in the memorial committee, said that the two benches facing each other on Memorial Court evoke a number of images for him.

"It reminds me sometimes of a ship for enslaved people who are going to freedom, sometimes it reminds me of the wings of angels, sometimes it reminds me of the arms of God," Gregorie said.

Others in attendance included Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, who talked about the importance of remember tragedy following last month's controversial slavery apology resolution, and police Chief Luther Reynolds.
"We find that there are things about our history that maybe we need not just to remember, but to learn," Tecklenburg said. "Things that were forgotten, things that were never told."

Tucked into the corner at the north end of the design is a smaller, private praying space called the Contemplation Base.

This is Arad's twelfth trip to Charleston for work on the memorial.

"In both cases, it's not about the number," Arad said of designing a memorial for nine victims as opposed to one for almost 3,000. "It was a range of opinions, a range of feelings, and it was about hearing them and trying to respond to them."

The design was presented to the victims' family members two weeks ago.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

McMaster backpedals on family planning veto, instead ruling abortion providers "unqualified" to provide services

Clinics including Planned Parenthood provide medical services to low-income patients in S.C.

Posted by Adam Manno on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 4:03 PM

  • Joshua Adams via Henry McMaster's Flickr
Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the state agency in charge of Medicaid to drop abortion clinics as health care providers a mere week after he vetoed $16 million for essential family planning services.

McMaster's veto last week was squarely aimed at Planned Parenthood as the governor asserts his anti-abortion bona fides in an attempt to win his first gubernatorial election.

Planned Parenthood only got about $82,000 of more than $42 million spent by the state on Medicaid reimbursements for family planning services during the 2016-2017 fiscal year, but that didn't stop McMaster from vetoing $16 million meant to fund everything from preventative screenings to birth control to lab work.

"Taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood," McMaster wrote in his veto letter to the state legislature last week.

Today, McMaster ordered the state Department of Health and Human Services to deem abortion clinics "unqualified to provide family planning services and therefore, to immediately terminate them upon due notice and deny any future such provider enrollment applications for the same."

However, Friday's executive order also directs the department to continue funding family planning services with carry-forward funds.

"Although the State should not contract with abortion clinics for family planning services, the State also should not deny South Carolinians access to necessary medical care and important women’s health and family planning services, which are provided by a variety of other non-governmental entities and governmental agencies," McMaster said in a statement.

In South Carolina, the DHHS operates Medicaid, a joint federal-state program that provides health insurance to low-income residents.

Planned Parenthood, which has clinics in Charleston and Columbia, has maintained that abortions represent a single-digit percentage of services offered at their locations.

The governor's Democratic challenger, state Rep. James Smith, responded to McMaster's executive order in a tweet Friday afternoon.

"As governor, I will understand the impact of my vetoes before I make them. I would never play political games with the healthcare of the people of South Carolina," he wrote.

PDF Executive_Order_2018-21.pdf
S.C. Governor's Office

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The Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a flood risk study of the Charleston peninsula

It should be done within the next three years

Posted by Adam Manno on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 11:36 AM

White Point Garden following massive flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 - DUSTIN WATERS FILE PHOTO
  • Dustin Waters file photo
  • White Point Garden following massive flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received funding to conduct a flood risk management study of the Charleston peninsula to be finished within the next three years.

The study will help the city determine strategies for long-term flood risk reduction.
"This flood risk study is critical to help us identify problem areas and prioritize our current flood prevention efforts on the peninsula," said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg in a statement.

According to a study released in June by the Union of Concerned Scientists, some 8,715 South Carolinians will live in homes at risk of "chronic inundation," or flooding at least 26 times in one year, in just 12 years based on the highest sea level rise projections.
The assessment will be financed entirely by the the federal government as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which was passed hurriedly in the early morning hours of Fri. Feb 9 and signed by President Trump at 9 a.m., causing what was widely dubbed as a "second shutdown," though no services were affected.

The study will cost less than $3 million, according to the city, which says it will work with the Corps to define a scope of work and evaluate flood risk prevention strategies and improvements.

"The $3 million supplemental funding the Corps has received will enable us to study possible long-term solutions that could help reduce flooding on the City of Charleston's peninsula," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Palazzini, the district engineer and commander for the Charleston District.

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