The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
July 22, 2015
City Council, July 21
Mother Emmanuel victims honored
Late Night Activity Review Committee makes its reportMarc Knapp
It was the first meeting of Council since the Mother Emmanuel shootings. Council member Moody gave the invocation prior to the Ways and Means meeting, and Council member Riegel, that for the City Council. Both invocations drew heavily on the killings. The City Council meeting opened with a resolution to honor the members of the church who were slain. It also was to establish the “Mother Emanuel AME Church Days in the City of Charleston” beginning June 17, 2016. On each of these days next year, a live oak tree will be planted at nine locations within the City in remembrance. The City Council will appoint a committee to determine the location of the plantings
July 17, 2015
County Council, July 16
No resolution of problems at Bees Ferry landfill
Old incinerator site to be soldWarwick Jones
The meeting of the Recycling/Solid Waste (R/SW) Committee took up most of yesterday’s proceedings. Although the Finance Committee agenda had 8 items, there was little discussion and all items were passed quickly and unanimously.
June 17, 2015
City Council, June 16
Error in collection of environment impact fees on Daniel Island?
Citizens’ abuse of Citizens Participation and Public HearingsMarc Knapp
With outside temperatures near the century mark (and it is still June) it was a slow moving day. The Ways and Means session was scheduled to begin at 4.30pm but when the Mayor looked in a few minutes before, there were only two people in the chamber. Undoubtedly, the extreme weather affected attendance. Four members of Council were also absent for most of last evening’s session though as the Mayor explained, this had nothing to do with the weather.
June 12, 2015
County Council, June 11
Most elected officials to receive “market" level remuneration
But Treasurer to receive much moreWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee wrestled hard yesterday over pay increases for elected officials. No member of the Committee had issues over the need for an increase. But how large should they be, and to what extent should they be adjusted in future for Cost of Living increases (COLA) and merit pay? After the making and dismissal of a number of motions, the Committee voted to increase remuneration to the “market" level determined by the County’s Committee for Auditing, Performance and Evaluation Standards (CAPES). There would be no COLA or merit increases unless such increases were also voted by Council for staff. There would not be longevity allowances. At the insistence of Chairman Summey, the remuneration of the County Treasurer was to rise to $124,000 from the $111,022 “market” level determined by CAPES.
May 29, 2015
County Council, May 28
Sites for libraries in James Island and West Ashley chosen
Library Board rebuffedWarwick Jones.
The Finance Committee last night chose the sites for new libraries on James Island and in West Ashley. And they were not the recommendation of the Library Board. At a meeting a month ago, staff was tasked to create a list of all suitable and available sites for the libraries and for the Library Board to make a recommendation for review by the Committee. The lists had 12 potential sites for West Ashley and 9 for James Island. The recommendations were given to the Committee last night.
May 27, 2015
City Council, May 26
May 20, 2015
County Council, May 19
Millage increase proposed in General Fund budget
Strong property tax revenue not enough to offset all appropriationsWarwick Jones
Staff gave an outline of its proposed 2016 budget at the special Finance Committee meeting yesterday. Expansion of the library system and new hires under Public Safety would significantly lift expenditures. To balance the General Fund, staff recommended an increase in the millage rate from 40.7 to 44. 7. This would represent a tax increase of $160 on a residence valued at a million dollars.
May 15, 2015
County Council, May 14
Sheriff’s Department to get body cameras
Issues over funding for senior centers and non-profitsWarwick Jones
The most important item discussed and approved last night was the provision of body cameras for the Sheriff’s office. But more time was spent on discussing how to deal with requests for funding for senior centers, and non-profit organizations.
May 13, 2015
City Council, May 12
Tourist Management Plan adopted
But without the Planning Commission’s recommendationsWarwick Jones
It was a long meeting. We expected it would be because of the public hearing on the Tourist Management Plan. But a proposed change in the City’s procurement policy also generated substantial discussion and citizen comment.
April 29, 2015
City Council, April 28
Hours for night time taxi rates amended
Decision on hammocks in parks deferredMarc Knapp
Against a background of a burning Baltimore, the seizure of a US registered ship by Iran, and chaos in the Middle East, part of last night’s City Council meeting had a surreal feeling. I refer to the discussion and debate about stringing hammocks in City parks. Isn’t this taking minor issues to an absurd level? City Council thought twice about its proposed ban and deferred the issue while staff attempted to find a compromise solution.
April 17, 2015
County Council, April 16
Decision deferred on site for new library on James Island
Staff to look for more possible sitesWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee directed staff to investigate the availability of other properties beyond the three discussed last night for siting a new public library on James Island. It was to report back within 30 days. The decision was a logical step in our view in the light of the public hearing and discussion. The discussion of the Committee was along a circuitous route over which there was much disagreement. The final motion, proposed by Chairman Summey passed with only Council member Rawl opposed. But the motion followed two others that fell short of approval by one vote.
April 08, 2015
County Council, April 7
Consideration of new technologies for waste treatment abandoned
RFP for Materials Recycling Facility to move aheadWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee struggled after the presentations by the two companies making proposals to manage, extend and improve the County’s recycling efforts. It struggled to comprehend the contents of the presentations, to accept their plausibility, to make reasonable comparisons, and to reach a conclusion. In the end, it opted to follow the old adage “when in doubt do nothing”. After some debate, the Committee decided, (or defaulted) to simply move ahead with its own plan to build a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) and to defer any consideration of utilizing new technologies until the MRF plant was constructed. And from the discussion, any new technology considered would have to be proven.
April 03, 2015
County Council, April 2
Council mulls the next step in recycling
And on plans for the Morrison Drive propertyWarwick Jones
Under its new Chair, Council member Condon, the Recycling/Solid Waste Committee had its first meeting yesterday. Considering that it had a scheduled start 1 ½ hours before the start of that for the Finance Committee, a lengthy meeting must have been anticipated. It was lengthy, with more than half time taken up by an executive session to deal with “contractual matters”. The session might also have included discussion of the sudden departure that morning of Art Braswell, the head of Solid Waste, from the County employ. Before it broke for the executive session, the Committee discussed the new technologies that could be available to deal with solid waste disposal, and the results of a Request for Proposals (RFP) which drew interest from only two contractors.
March 25, 2015
City Council, March 24
Resolution opposing offshore drilling approved but with much dissent
Management of Galliard construction questionedMarc Knapp
The resolution to oppose drilling and seismic testing off the coast of South Carolina was subject to much debate at last night’s Council meeting. All but one Council member spoke to the issue and Council ultimately approved the resolution. But with a 7 to 5 vote, the support was not overwhelming. Council members White, Alexander, Riegel, Moody, and Wagner voted against the resolution. The Mayor supported the resolution and said that a vote was necessary at the meeting to enable the resolution to be submitted to Ocean Energy Management before the end of this month when the opportunity for public comments closed.
March 20, 2015
County Council, March 19
CARTA loan of $7.6 million forgiven
Council member Rawl unhappy about mutual assistance agreementsWarwick Jones
Differing from most meetings this year, that of the Finance Committee last night was lively. The issue of forgiving a $7.6 million loan to CARTA was divisive, as was a 5-year tax abatement extension for Greenridge Properties LLC. County Sherriff Cannon was also taken to task by Council member Rawl over his department’s “assistance operations” outside the County but it seemed that few or any other Council members shared his ire.
March 11, 2015
City Council, March 10
Council edges closer to comprehensive transportation ordinance
Major contract awarded for Spring/Fishburne drainageMarc Knapp
A new ordinance to replace those relating to taxis and limousines, and to cover Network Transportation Companies (NTCs), is shortly to come before Council. The Transportation Committee has been working on the ordinance for some weeks and the Committee Chair, Council member Moody last night indicated it’s near completion. He also gave to Council an “executive summary”. It is summarized below. The most controversial part of the new ordinance is probably the new taxi cab rates.
February 25, 2015
City Council, February 24
Council honors a feisty Auschwitz survivor
Hopes for greenspace on Upper King StreetMarc Knapp
It was a bleak night and probably most of us would have preferred to have been somewhere else. And maybe staff wanted an early night too as the thermostat in the Council chamber was turned to an uncomfortable low level. Notwithstanding, the session lasted longer than most Council members hoped, I suspect. And it was mainly discussion on what we thought was an undeserving item that prolonged the meeting.
February 20, 2015
County Council, February 19
“Clean” report by external auditor, again!
Contract for new cell at Bees Ferry landfill awardedWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee met last night and similar to other recent meetings, there was little news worthy on the agenda.
February 11, 2015
City Council, February 10
Still working on Transportation Network Companies ordinance
Revisions likely of taxi and limousine regulations as wellMarc Knapp
Last evening’s Council meetings were short. There was little of note relating to business items on the agenda. In common with some recent meetings, presentations and recognitions took up a significant amount of the time.
January 28, 2015
City Council, January 27
Still working on Transport Network Companies ordinance
Long Savannah showing life
There was little of substance on the agenda for last night’s Council meeting. In consequence, the meeting was relatively short, and ended a little less than an hour before the Mayor was scheduled to deliver his State of the City address.