Friday, July 20, 2018

Delay driving downtown this morning if possible, Charleston Police say

Flash flood warning extended to 9 p.m.

Posted by Adam Manno on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 9:45 AM

After a good downpour overnight and this morning, the Charleston Police Department is advising drivers to avoid traveling downtown for as long as they can.

"If possible, motorists are asked to delay their travel into downtown Charleston this morning due to flooded streets," said CPD spokesman Charles Francis in a statement Friday morning that was also posted to Twitter.

Septima P. Clark Parkway, also known as the Crosstown, was closed at both ends on Coming and Lockwood streets Friday morning. By 1:15 p.m Friday, most Crosstown lanes were once again opened to traffic.

Drivers were being re-routed back toward West Ashley or diverted back to I-26 through an impromptu U-turn on Coming Street in the morning, according to a city spokesperson.

All lanes are closed at the intersections of King and Huger streets, North Market and East Bay streets, and East Bay and Cumberland streets. For more closures, click here.

The National Weather Service has extended a flash flood warning throughout Charleston County until 9 p.m. Friday.

"At 7:54 a.m. EDT, Doppler radar and automated rain gauges indicated widespread 4 to 5 inches of rainfall occurred across Downtown Charleston from early morning storms," the warning reads. "Local law enforcement officials reported numerous roads flooded across Downtown Charleston. Flooding will likely continue into the mid morning hours, due to slow drainage."

Numerous posts on social media sites have shown cars submerged in inches of water as commuters made their way to work this morning.

Commercial trash pick-up couldn't be completed downtown due to flooding. Additional crews will resume collection in this area Saturday morning, according to the city.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Tourism transparency advocate files suit against Charleston mayor over removal from May city council meeting

Decorum in the Polite City

Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Skip Hoagland was asked to leave City Council chambers Thursday night - PHOTO VIA YOUTUBE/CITY OF CHARLESTON SC
  • Photo via Youtube/City of Charleston SC
  • Skip Hoagland was asked to leave City Council chambers Thursday night
After being escorted from a Charleston City Council meeting against his will, a fiery transparency advocate is suing the mayor of Charleston, the city, and the local police for allegedly violating his free speech, breaking state transparency law, and conspiracy.

Hoagland - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Hoagland
"My name is Skip Hoagland from Hilton Head, South Carolina, and I am here to help you," Hoagland said as he began to address Mayor John Tecklenburg and City Council on the evening of May 24. With a box full of "important docs" that he claimed demonstrated accommodations tax corruption among the state's various destination marketing organizations, Hoagland launched into a prepared statement that would spur his removal from the building.

Calling for a forensic audit of the Charleston Area Conventions and Visitors Bureau, Hoagland voiced allegations regarding the CVB's executive director, claiming, "Numbers don't lie. Helen Hill lies." At that point, Tecklenburg declared Hoagland out of order.

Following a brief exchange, Hoagland was led out of City Council chambers by police officers, including Chief Luther Reynolds, for allegedly violating the city's rules of decorum. With the lawsuit, filed on July 9, the former businessman has now taken legal action against the mayor and the city for his expulsion from City Hall that evening. (See the full filing below.)
"At the time the defendants took physical possession of the plaintiff's person and forcibly removed him from a City Council meeting and the entire building," Hoagland alleges in his complaint, "the plaintiff was exercising his First Amendment right to speak to the government about evidence of fraud, conversion, theft, and waste of millions of taxpayers' dollars, which can never be considered a 'breach of the peace' or 'disorderly conduct.'"

Video of Hoagland's removal from the May 24 council meeting:

Hoagland's complaint touches on territory similar to his previous courtroom venture that reached all the way to the South Carolina Supreme Court. In May, Hoagland's legal victory over the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce was overturned when state justices reversed a lower court's decision, ruling that private organizations entrusted with millions in tax revenue collected from local residents to promote tourism are not subject to public information requests. Hoagland was previously removed from a meeting of the Bluffton Town Council in 2015.

Undaunted, Hoagland's latest suit seems to assert that Charleston Area CVB leader Helen Hill is not protected by City Council's rules of decorum. Following Hoagland's initial ouster from council chambers, city spokesman Jack O'Toole told the City Paper that Hill was not a public figure and "Personal attacks on everyday citizens are a violation of rules of decorum and should be called down."

Hoagland's lawsuit challenges the assertion that the mayor and police were merely protecting a private citizen, alleging that as he "attempted to speak and present evidence of improper and fraudulent use of taxpayer money, the defendants combined and joined in for the illegal purpose of censoring the plaintiff and preventing him from presenting evidence of improper and unlawful use of public money."

When contacted about the latest suit on Wednesday, city staff said the suit was referred to the city legal department, but offered no comment.

PDF Hogland July 2018 suit against Chs. officials
Charleston County Circuit Court

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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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