News Blips 

An art exhibit titled "Line Up" that's running at the New York Library shows doctored photos of President Bush and key members of his administration being booked for crimes. There have been some complaints, but the library has defended the exhibit as a "relevant example" of political commentary. Source: New York Daily News

"The mayor's usually-accommodating staff furiously, and in some cases physically, tried to keep reporters away from Giuliani as he walked away, shouting at and jostling with cameramen and photographers."

A report from a recent Rudy Giuliani campaign stop in Beaufort County. Another reporter referred to the exchange as "manhandling" by Giuliani's staff. Source: CNN, MSNBC

BUT HE HIT ME FIRST!

The feud between members of Mt. Pleasant Town Council and Planning Commission Chair Steve Brock is nothing new. Council Chair Joe Bustos and Brock both took jabs at each other in City Paper's recent "Bullies and Bribes" cover story (Oct. 10) about developer Bob Miller and the Central Mt. Pleasant project. Brock has long stated that he believes Council is wrong for making changes to the town's comprehensive plan without the approval of the Planning Commission, and he wrote to S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster in October to seek his opinion on the matter. McMaster responded that "the local planning commission must recommend (changes to) the comprehensive plan ... in order for the local governing body to adopt such a plan," a statement that favors Brock's understanding of the Commission's role.

After a Nov. 12 story in The Moultrie News, Mt. Pleasant Mayor Harry Hallman wrote a letter recommending that Brock consider resigning, citing his "combative attitude" and his "waging war in the press." The Moultrie News has confirmed that they did not receive the letter from Brock, but Council charges that Brock went to the Attorney General without the consent of Council or the Commission he represents. "I feel like a man under siege," says Brock. "The irony of accusing me of waging war in the press is leaked letters and the public announcement of disciplinary action against me. As far as speaking to the press, I did not surrender my First Amendment rights when I took this position."

Council has postponed further discussion of Brock's tenure until January. At any rate, if the slinging continues like this, Mt. Pleasant's marshes may soon be facing a mud shortage. —Stratton Lawrence

OSHA CUTS CITY'S SOFA STORE FINES

The state's Office of Occupational Safety and Health and the City of Charleston have reached a settlement on the fines and penalties stemming from the June Sofa Super Store fire that killed nine firefighters. OSHA withdrew penalties for a lack of standards on metal truss roofs (there were no state standards), reduced the fines to $3,000 (from $9,000), and replaced a charge of "willful" violations to "unclassified."

The city's argument against the penalties was hardly about the money and more about the language used in admonishing the fire department. The state office had claimed the city "willfully" neglected industry standards in command protocol at the scene. Legally, the city couldn't sit by and leave that accusation of responsibility without comment.

Charleston has worked to turn the department around, Mayor Joe Riley says, with an independent review and millions of dollars devoted to new staff, equipment, and procedures. The hope is that the city will become an industry leader in fighting fires.

"The legacy of this fire will be the City of Charleston's leadership," he says.

But Monday's announcement was far from vindication for the city. Charleston may have dodged accusations of "willful" culpability, but their successful argument of ignorance (in response to the dangers of a lax command protocol, deficient uniforms and equipment, and an inability to enforce safety requirements) is no badge of honor. —Greg Hambrick

$4 million

That's how much the State Ports Authority has donated to the City of North Charleston to reduce the impact of port expansion at the old Navy Base. The money will go toward affordable housing, a maritime trainings institute, community center improvements, economic development, and other needs. Source: Charleston Regional Business Journal

S.C. DEMS A REDDER SHADE OF BLUE

A new Associated Press poll looks at Democratic voters in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The findings on social issues (gay marriage, abortion, immigration, New Coke) fall under the headline "South Carolina Democrats More Socially Conservative." We're not terribly sure that's news, but here are the findings:

• On gay marriage, the poll found 55 percent supported it in Iowa and 68 percent in New Hampshire, while only 34 percent supported it in South Carolina.

• On abortion, 68 percent of Iowans and 81 percent of New Hampshire Dems said abortion should be either mostly legal or always legal. In South Carolina, that number fell to 52 percent.

• On immigrants, 51 percent of S.C. Dems said the growing number of immigrants to the U.S. threaten traditional American customs, compared with 33 percent and 34 percent in the other two states. —Greg Hambrick


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