News Blips 

"Our primaries have a way of doing that. There is a tradition of it. It is accepted behavior, and frankly it works."

That's Charlie Condon defending South Carolina's slimy GOP practice of voter manipulation, most evident in 2000 when George Bush supporters commissioned a poll on the eve of the GOP primary asking voters if they would still support John McCain if he had illegitimately fathered a black child. The answer, apparently, is no — the state saves that kind of support for the homegrown conservative heroes. Source: The New York Times

Fire Dept. Review: We Can Rebuild Rusty

Mayor Joe Riley and Fire Chief Rusty Thomas released the report from the city's independent fire review team last week. Immediate recommendations in August included fire hose sizes, command structure, and staffing. The latest report adds details on improved training programs and avenues for rank-and-file firefighters to contribute ideas for improvements, along with new uniforms and other new equipment. Most of these changes will be spearheaded by the department's new committee structure.

Mayor Riley said again that he wants the department to be a national leader and noted several times that the new city standards will be better than the minimum standards the state requires (and the city was apparently scraping by with).

"When a fire department has a tragic fire ... they will come here to learn," he says.

The big news was the new man standing beside the mayor. Well, it was still Chief Rusty Thomas, but his encouragement and excitement (really, we're not kidding) about the new changes to the department couldn't be understated, as he barely kept from pumping his fist and giving out a crazed Howard Dean scream.

Thomas and Riley met with firefighters last week to discuss the changes.

"I felt like our department took ownership of the fire department," Thomas says. "It was the beginning of a new day for Rusty Thomas and the Charleston Fire Department."

Of course, it's going to need to be a new day for Rusty, with new command structures in the department that dilute his influence in hiring, training, equipment, and operations.

Janet Wilmoth, editorial director for Fire Chief magazine, may have said it best after her recent visit to Charleston.

"It was like stepping into a fire department from the 1960s," she told The Post and Courier. "I'm sure there are still fire departments across the United States that are like that, but one that services a city the size of Charleston? I'd be surprised." —Greg Hambrick

420DDD

That's our best guess at the bra size of the well-endowed (but oddly shaped) Mama blow-up doll at Mama's Used Cars on Savannah Highway.

How Many Jobs, Al?

The Coastal Conservation League held a press conference last week to bring to light the 2002 economic impact study that the State Ports Authority has used to justify their expansion. Written by fraudmeister Al Parish, it claims 280,000 jobs will be created. CCL Director Dana Beach cited the minimum of $600 million (and up to $1.2 billion) that taxpayers would fork out for the expansion. The SPA continues to use Parish's report as justification for the pursuit of permits and additional funds, despite the fact that Parish destroyed the data he used to compile it, and other studies' job-creation estimates range from as low as 5,000 up to 83,000. "This isn't some academic exercise we're talking about, this is about a project potentially diminishing the quality of life for all of us," said Beach. "The bottom line here is the state has been duped by collusion between ports authority management and an economist who has been discredited." —Stratton Lawrence

Tell us Again About the Flooding

This week provides more opportunities to hear from City Council and mayoral candidates before the Nov. 6 election. The League of Women Voters will hold two forums. A Wed., Oct. 24, event will include candidates for District 7 and District 11 at 7 p.m. at St. Andrews Middle School, while a forum at 7 p.m. Mon., Oct. 29, will include mayoral candidates and District 1 challengers at Bishop England High School on Daniel Island.

From Barges to Charges

Days after settling a $500,000 lawsuit with a N.C. developer and clearing up their tax delinquency to the tune of $565,000, Charleston-based commercial transportation logistics company Carolinks found themselves in the hot seat again last Friday when the state Attorney General accused them of investment fraud. The charges claim that company founder Lucy Duncan-Scheman used funds from investors for "personal and household expenses" and could result in $50,000 in civic penalties plus fees for the state's investigation. Carolinks recently gave up plans for an "inland port" on Lake Marion when Dubai-based Jafza International purchased the land. Carolinks now says they'll take a more national approach to their business. —Stratton Lawrence

50
percent

That’s the number of delegates South Carolina Republicans could lose for moving their primary to Jan. 19. State party leaders have pledged to fight the penalty in court if it’s approved by the full RNC in November. Source: Time.com

Charleston Gets Own Hillary Hub

Democratic fundraising guru and former National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe officially opened Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign offices Friday. The Savannah Highway HQ was well lit, with some 50 "Hillary for President" signs in the yard (there may have been more red and blue than green on that lawn). McAuliffe asked local religious leaders to pray for the campaign and quizzed anxious college students about whether they were "pumped up for Hillary."

The jockeying by other states to get ahead in the primary calendar began when McAuliffe himself pushed South Carolina to the beginning in the '90s. He says the growing number of primaries being held on Feb. 5, just days after South Carolina, makes our state even more important.

"With this new compressed calendar, it's going to go so fast it'll be over by Feb. 5," he says. "I think that magnifies the importance of South Carolina. It's also a southern state that will prove Hillary can win all over the country."

While Clinton leads in 36 of 38 states that are currently polling, McAuliffe says they're not taking anything for granted.

"We never view ourselves as frontrunners," he says. "They would talk about Hillary's inevitability, and I would cringe. We're not taking anything for granted. We're running like we're 20 points down."

A quick scan of the audience at the opening showed Hillary's support among women, and McAuliffe says that is something the campaign is hoping to grow.

"People aren't going to like Hillary because she's a woman, but because she's strong, she's tough, and she's experienced," he says. "But the idea of us having a woman president is so exciting."

That growth may come one red sedan at a time. A college student showed up in her roommate's car with an Obama sticker on the back. "My roommate is going to kill me," she said as she drove off, the "Obama" gone and "Hillary" gracing the rear windshield. —Greg Hambrick


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