Friday, August 17, 2018

The Agenda: Secessionists worried over "half-assed" flag display; McMaster urges patience on Trump tariffs

Environmental group gets a win in fight over waterway protections

Posted by Lauren Hurlock on Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 11:39 AM

  • Dustin Waters file photo

The Confederate flag that last flew outside the state capitol will be memorialized in a state Confederate museum exhibit, but is not providing any state funding to build an exhibit. State 'secessionist party' leaders warn against a "half-assed" attempt at displaying the banner. Source: The State

Gov. Henry McMaster, an early Trump supporter, to AP on proposed Trump tariffs: "I would say to those who are concerned: there is concern. It’s legitimate concern ... But let’s be patient, and let’s provide as many facts as we can and fashion what we think is the right result."

Yesterday, U.S. senators confirmed U.S. District Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr. and U.S. Attorney's Office Deputy Chief Jay Richardson to fill seats on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in S.C. Richardson successfully prosecuted Dylann Roof in 2017. Source: New York Times, The State

The Charleston County Council has rejected a proposed plan to redevelop the former Charleston Naval Hospital. The proposed plan would have cost $66 million in addition to $35 million that local taxpayers have already put into the project. Source: Post and Courier

Charleston's U.S. District Judge David Norton has ruled in favor of environmental groups against the Trump administration, finding that they did not properly seek public input when it suspended protections against waterway pollution. Source: U.S. News

If you want to combine the party and the after-party, Waffle House has added a food truck to their usual staples. It's exclusively for private events, so you'll still have to go to your neighborhood Waffle House for your fix, which is half the fun. Source: The State

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

International African American Museum reaches $75 million fundraising milestone, clearing way for groundbreaking

The museum is expected to break ground early next year and open early 2021

Posted by Adam Manno on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 2:26 PM

Digital rendering of the Middle Passage exhibit at the International African American Museum set to open in Charleston in 2020. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Digital rendering of the Middle Passage exhibit at the International African American Museum set to open in Charleston in 2020.
The International African American Museum has completed its initial fundraising goal, effectively clearing the way for a groundbreaking early next year.

The final pledge came from Herbert L. Drayton III, a Charleston native and the CEO and president of Vertical Holdings, a medical investment company based in North Charleston. Drayton committed $125,000 to the museum's $25 million private fundraising goal.

Charleston County and the City of Charleston have contributed another $25 million in total, while the State of South Carolina's $25 million pledge was rounded out last week with an $11 million commitment from the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority.

The museum is set to open by April 2021 at Gadsden's Wharf on the Cooper River where almost half of all enslaved Africans forced to come to America disembarked.

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who led the city for 40 years, first proposed the museum during an inaugural address in 2000.

"When I first announced the dream to build this institution 18 years ago – it was just that — a dream," Riley, an IAAM board member, said in a statement released Thursday. "Thanks to all those who believed in the value and necessity of this museum, it is now more than a dream, it will soon become a reality."

Drayton's contribution is all the more significant considering his family's history.

A veteran of the Air Force and Marine Corps Reserves, Drayton's ancestors arrived through Gadsden's Wharf and were once enslaved at Middleton Place, a plantation that is now a popular tourist destination in West Ashley.

The museum will now shift its focus to two other fundraising goals: an $8 million effort to support programs and curation for the Center for Family History and a $6 million effort to grow the museum's current endowment to $10 million.

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The Agenda: Priest named in Penn. sex abuse report spent time in Chs.; State floats online sales tax

Sales tax may be coming to a site near you

Posted by Lauren Hurlock on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 11:57 AM

  • Google Street View

At least one Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse in a Pennsylvania grand jury report spent time in Charleston. The Reverend Father Robert E. Spangenberg served at St. Patrick Catholic Church (134 St. Philip St.) from 1990 through 1992. Source: Post and Courier

The S.C. Department of Revenue has proposed rules for taxing online shopping starting October 1. The public has until Aug. 27 to weigh in on the changes. Source: Post and Courier

National Democrats have added 1st Congressional District candidate Joe Cunningham to their Red to Blue list, a list of candidates from historically Republican districts who they think can flip the district. Cunningham is up against Republican state Rep. Katie Arrington in November. Source: McClatchy

The Town of Mount Pleasant updated their smartphone app to give students the capability to send the police anonymous tips for everything from missing fire extinguishers and vandalism to bullying and threats of violence. Source: Town of Mount Pleasant

The City of Charleston is changing its mandatory tour guide licensing to a voluntary certification. Many established tour groups will still require their guides to take the test. Source: City Paper

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Charleston shifts tour guide requirements to 'voluntary certification' after losing federal lawsuit

Tour guides must still obtain business licenses

Posted by Adam Manno on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 4:57 PM

  • Flickr user annbrasco
The City of Charleston will morph its previously-mandatory tour guide license into a "Voluntary Certification Pending Judicial Review" program after a federal judge declared the rules unconstitutional earlier this month.

Tour guides will no longer have to pass a 200-question test based on an almost 500-page manual to be legally allowed to speak about the Holy City's history for hire, though the hurdles will remain in place for any guides who want a stamp of approval from city officials.

"While the recent ruling means the City cannot require tour guide licensing at this time, the City is taking action to promote a quality tour guide experience within the bounds of the Judge’s ruling," according to a press release issued Wednesday.

"The licensing law imposes real burdens on those hoping to be tour guides in
Charleston," according to U.S. District Judge David Norton, who found that the licensing rules violated guides' First Amendment rights.

"The law applies to all tour guides who wish to give paid tours within Charleston’s historical district, a lucrative profession in a city where tourism is the most profitable industry," Norton wrote in his order. "But the record demonstrates that the city never investigated or tried to use any less speech-restrictive alternatives."

The city will file a motion asking Judge Norton to reconsider his Aug. 3 ruling and will consider taking its case to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals if necessary.

City officials argued that the licensing rules were the best way to ensure the quality and historical accuracy of tours given within city limits. Some tour guides, including the three who sued the city in January 2016, argued that the city's test asked questions that were often irrelevant to the subject matter they covered with tourists.

Guides will still need a business license from the city unless they're working with an already-licensed company, and they must still pay the 50-cents-per-ticket tour fee, which is self-reported in monthly and quarterly forms.

"In the meantime, it is our hope that this voluntary program will help maintain the high quality of customers' experiences when paying for a tour here in Charleston," said city lawyer Susan Herdina.

Several of Charleston's most established tour groups have said that they will continue to require guides to pass the city's test.

Animal welfare provisions, geographic restrictions, and rules governing tour hours will still be enforced.

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No more late fees at Charleston County Public Library for overdue books

Procrastinators rejoice

Posted by Adam Manno on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 4:04 PM

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The Charleston County Public Library will no longer punish patrons for being a little late.

All 16 branches of CCPL have stopped charging the standard 20-cent-per-day late fee on books.

The fine-free policy has been in place since June 20.

According to CCPL Digital Content Coordinator Sam Tyson, the library didn't want to make a fuss about it while they test out the policy. Other library items may be considered for fine forgiveness in the future, Tyson said.

For the year ending on June 30, 2017, CCPL received $279,548 in total fines. The fines only accounted for 1.68 percent of the library's total revenue, according to last year's financial report.

The move comes amidst a recent awakening about the social implications of library fines. Librarians, educators, and city officials want people to take advantage of this essential public service, but checking out a book can be cost-prohibitive for many low-income families.

Still, the new leeway doesn't exactly mean you get to hoard library items in your dusty bookshelf forever. If a patron doesn't return a book within 42 days of check-out, he or she will be billed for the full cost of the item. And patrons still have to pay any fines accrued before June 20. (You can pay overdue fees here.)

Non-new release books come with a loan period of 28 days. Newer books can be checked out for 14 days.

Multimedia items like audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs will still carry the standard fee. Telescopes and digital magnifiers will still to come with $5-per-day late fees.

"The change in the overdue fine policy was implemented to eliminate any barriers for our patrons to use our libraries and to access the wealth of materials and resources available," Tyson told City Paper in an email. "The elimination of overdue fines is another way to serve our community and encourage those who might not regularly use the library to stop by and experience what we have to offer."

You can check out CCPL's new, updated fine schedule here.

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