Friday, June 23, 2017

Lowcountry Local First awards 10 'local luminaries'

Be the light

Posted by Mary Scott Hardaway on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 1:52 PM

Lowcountry Local First's 10 local luminaries - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Lowcountry Local First's 10 local luminaries
Award recipients received these locally made lights by the Urban Electric Co. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Award recipients received these locally made lights by the Urban Electric Co.
Lowcountry Local First — this year celebrating its tenth anniversary as a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting independent businesses — recently gathered to name 10 local leaders who have positively impacted the grassroots movement in Charleston.

The 2017 local luminary award recipients are Jennifer Ferrebee of Verde, Joseph Fields of Joseph Fields Farms, Mariana Hay of Croghan's Jewel Box, Andrea Limehouse of Limehouse Produce, Jim Martin of Compost in My Shoe, Jennifer Murray of South State Bank, Christine Osborne of Wonder Works Toy Store, Steve Palmer of The Indigo Road restaurant group, Vic Rawl of Charleston County government, and David Thompson of David Thompson Architect.

LLF executive director Jamee Haley says about the luminaries, "It was such an honor and joy to celebrate these individuals and recognize their contributions to our community. What these business leaders do day-to-day is no small feat — and to go above and beyond to protect the character of this place we call home speaks volumes about their passion for people."  Haley received her own award from the LLF staff, board of directors, and past steering committee members for her dedication to the organization over the past decade. Business Alliance for Local Living Economies executive director Michelle Long says about Haley, "Where others see empty buildings, empty lots, aimless people, or discarded goods — she sees opportunity and puts it all to work and connects all the dots. She is a true entrepreneur and the best kind — choosing to do it all in service not to herself but to her community."

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The Agenda: School board wants to raise its salary; Transit hub gets final money; S.C. sees GOP health plan

School board proposal would raise members' pay to $14,000

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 11:41 AM

CCSD Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait told an NAACP forum this week that the district needed to rethink how it pays teachers - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • CCSD Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait told an NAACP forum this week that the district needed to rethink how it pays teachers

The Agenda is our daily news round-up of the stories affecting South Carolina.

Charleston School District Superintendent is pushing an initiative to "think differently" about teacher compensation while the school board debates raising their own salaries by about $14,000 each without going through the normal processes that would require public debate. Source: P&C

The Charleston Planning Commission says the proposed Charleston six-month development moratorium on James Island goes too far. Source: P&C

CARTA says it has secured the last $2 million it needs to begin work on a long-awaited multimodal transportation hub in North Charleston near Park Circle. Source: P&C

Berkeley County has been without a major hospital since 1975, but won't be for much longer. Source: P&C

The S.C. health care community spent yesterday wrapping their heads around the newly-unveiled Republican Senate health plan. Health care experts say that S.C. residents and hospitals will likely lose out in the new bill as less money is pledged to health programs. Source: P&C, The State

NYT has a comparison of the new Republican plan with the existing Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Source: NYT

A state Department of Juvenile Justice officer has been charged with federal violations that she hog-tied two inmates. Source: P&C

Washington Post headline: "Trump visited this Boeing factory to celebrate jobs. It just announced layoffs"

The P&C has a good longform examination of how Piggly Wiggly Carolina workers went from a proud 'family' to betrayed ex-workers who lost out on their savings. Source: P&C

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Agenda: Is CofC the prettiest of them all?; Allendale schools resist takeover

Charleston declared "Eclipse Central"

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 11:18 AM

The Agenda is our daily news round-up of stories affecting South Carolina.

College of Charleston is one of 20 schools that have popped up in Travel+Leisure magazine's "Most Beautiful College" contest. Source: T+L

A judge is expected to decide tomorrow whether S.C. solicitor David Pascoe can continue his investigation into two influential Statehouse consultants, one of whom is also a sitting lawmaker, who requested that he be removed from the case after they say a SLED raid on their office improperly broke attorney-client confidentiality. Source: P&C, The State

A CofC geology professor says that NASA has declared Charleston "Eclipse Central" as the agency announces plans to livestream video during the total solar eclipse in August, which will send a swath of S.C., including near Charleston, into darkness in the mid-afternoon. Source: P&C

Allendale County schools are reportedly resisting a state takeover of their school district as a last-ditch effort to improve student performance. Source: P&C

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, formed in the aftermath of the subprime lending crisis, is trying to hold Columbia-based National Asset Advisors in contempt for resisting a judge's requests for information about the company's business collecting payments from low-income customers who've entered into rent-to-own contracts on rundown homes. Source: NYT

NYT from Nov. 2016: "Federal Watchdog Agency Steps Up Inquiry Into Home Contracts"

Yesterday: "Machinists union closes North Charleston office"- Source: CRBJ

Today: "Layoffs announced for first time at Boeing's 787 Dreamliner campus, other North Charleston operations"- Source: P&C

The White House has reportedly signed-on to a measure endorsed by the House this week that would extend tax credits for nuclear power production. Source: WSJ

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

First-time candidate announces Democratic challenge to Mark Sanford by standing against Nancy Pelosi

Joe Cunningham: "I have no political debts to pay"

Posted by Sam Spence on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 1:54 PM

Charleston lawyer Joe Cunningham became the first Democrat to announce a campaign to unseat Congressman Mark Sanford in the 1st District.

Cunningham, 35, is currently a construction attorney at the downtown firm Lyles and Lyles. He attended high school in western Kentucky and spent a couple years at College of Charleston before transferring to Florida Atlantic University where he earned an ocean engineering degree. After a few years as an engineer, Cunningham enrolled in law school at Kentucky. He returned to Charleston in 2014; he and his wife Amanda live in West Ashley and also co-own Soul Yoga + Wellness on Ashley River Road.

In a video declaring his candidacy today, Cunningham paints Sanford as a career politician who "has been in one political office or another for decades" and pledges to stand up to President Donald Trump. Looking to score with Lowcountry voters unhappy with establishment politics, Cunningham, who has never run for political office before, tweeted that he would not support Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi for speaker if Democrats win back the House in 2018.

Cunningham's announcement comes the morning after Democrats suffered two losses in special elections that were seen as tests of the president's effect on national Republicans. In the 6th District of Georgia, the DNC put some $24 million behind Jon Ossoff, who ended up losing by 5 percent. In the South Carolina 5th, Democrat Archie Parnell received a modest $275,000 infusion from the party, but lost to Ralph Norman by just 3 percent in a reliably Republican district.

Coincidentally, the D.C. media consulting firm behind Parnell's surprise insurgence also worked on Cunningham's intro video.

No Democrat has mounted a serious challenge to Sanford since he returned to Congress in 2013 - FLICKR USER GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Flickr user Gage Skidmore
  • No Democrat has mounted a serious challenge to Sanford since he returned to Congress in 2013

Since Sanford returned to Congress in 2013, he's been re-elected twice, going unopposed in 2014 and winning by 25 percent against Dimitri Cherny last year. It will be interesting to watch how the race shapes up since Sanford hasn't exactly been a rank-and-file Trump supporter. Back in March, the president dispatched Sanford's former colleague Mick Mulvaney, now Trump's budget director, to tell Sanford that he would earn himself a Trump-backed Republican challenger if he didn't support the leadership's early Obamacare repeal proposal. Sanford has also repeated calls for Trump to release his tax returns.

In a press release today, Cunningham said, "I have no political debts to pay and my decisions will be made with one and only one consideration in mind — what's best for the lives of my neighbors in the Lowcountry."

Two Republican candidates planning primary challenges against Sanford have opted-out of the race, but the P&C reports that Summerville Rep. Katie Arrington is being urged to run by local conservatives as a pro-Trump candidate. No other Democrats have announced that they'll run.

The 1st District includes coastal areas south of the Santee River to Hilton Head, including lower downtown Charleston, and suburban areas of Berkeley and Dorchester Counties.

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Charleston city leaders clash over specialized audit for racial bias in police department

Councilman Waring: ‘Politics won tonight’

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 1:38 PM

  • Dustin Waters
The ongoing debate between Charleston Area Justice Ministry and Charleston officials boiled over during Tuesday evening’s meeting of City Council.

For months, CAJM members have demanded that a specialized firm conduct an assessment of possible racial bias within the Charleston Police Department. Citing statistics that show that Charleston leads the state in the number of public contact stops — investigatory stops not ending in a citation or arrest — CAJM says a significant disparity exists between the number of African Americans stopped compared to the rest of the population.

Members of City Council have already approved a wide-reaching audit of all city departments, which includes a look at policing bias. CAJM has argued that Novak Consulting Group, the firm overseeing the police assessment, lacks the necessary expertise to determine racial bias.

In response to CAJM’s demands, Councilman James Lewis submitted a resolution calling on the city to hire a specialized firm to audit the police department, modeling the assessment after one requested by the city of Madison, Wisc. Prior to City Council’s 5-7 vote against Lewis’ resolution, Mayor John Tecklenburg took the opportunity to voice his frustrations with the members of CAJM as it relates to the call for a specialized firm.

“We’re going to do an audit. There’s a need for accountability, but y’all have really denigrated our police force. And I don’t appreciate it,” said Tecklenburg, during a more than 30-minute response to CAJM members who addressed City Council Tuesday evening. “I think you’ve insulted our police chief, and I think you’ve insulted our police department. And I think that was improper and incorrect.”

In arguing for the current effectiveness of the Charleston Police Department, Tecklenburg said that violent crime is down 6 percent over the last year and citizen complaints against officers have declined from 33 complaints in 2014 to 15 complaints in 2016. The mayor applauded the department’s early implementation of body cameras and the continued work of the Illumination Project.

Carrying the support of a majority of City Council members, Tecklenburg stated that city leaders would instruct Novak to begin a search for a subcontractor specializing in racial bias audits on police departments.

Among the members of City Council who voted in favor of Councilman Lewis’ unsuccessful resolution were also the same Charleston officials who promised to support such an effort during CAJM’s Nehemiah Action Assembly in April. The other council members supporting Lewis’ resolution were Robert Mitchell, Marvin Wagner, William Dudley Gregorie, and Keith Waring. Councilman Gary White was not present for Tuesday’s vote.

Prior to the vote, Councilman Lewis voiced his concerns over the alleged actions of other members of council. According to Lewis, he submitted his resolution to the clerk of council’s office, but two unnamed council members entered the clerk’s office and requested copies of the resolution, which was disseminated prior to being added to City Council’s agenda.

“I don’t know the reason, but sitting on this council, I have the right to present a resolution to this city — whether they agree with it or not. For council members to come and try to undermine what I do because they don’t like what I do, I think that’s not right. We are elected officials. We have a right to our opinions,” said Lewis, who said that his resolution was in no way an attack on retiring Police Chief Greg Mullen.

Councilman Waring reiterated that the call for a specialized auditing firm wasn’t about Mullen’s job as the head of police. Waring did question the procurement process that led to the selection of Novak as the firm to examine the police department’s practices. Waring bemoaned the lack of diversity among Novak’s staff as well as the committee responsible for selecting Novak, a decision that was approved by City Council. Toward the close of Tuesday’s meeting, Tecklenburg agreed to name Waring as the head of the committee tasked with re-evaluating the city’s procurement process for outside firms in the future.

“To put a process in place that is going to assess the performance and best practices of every department in the city and not have any minorities involved in that process, that’s not transparent, Mr. Mayor. And that you should be ashamed of,” said Waring.
He later added, “Politics won tonight. Not fair and openness. Not inclusion. Not unity.”

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