International Drive Stalemate

October 15, 2015 7:01 AM
International Drive Stalemate

A recent meeting between residents in the SC 90 area and representatives of the Coastal Conservation League highlighted the International Drive stalemate.

According to sources familiar with the meeting, homeowners in the area want the road built and the environmentalists won’t give in unless they get their way.

Their way is to add millions of dollars to the cost of the project for bear tunnels, electronic warning signals, higher fencing and additional mitigation not needed for the project at the cost of a $1.6 million payment to The Nature Conservancy.

In other words, the environmentalist tactic is to delay the project for as long as possible and to add as much additional cost as possible in the hope the road project will be abandoned.

And I don’t believe these delaying tactics are about bears in the area at all.

Fifteen years ago, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority board discussed using authority funds to pave International Drive as a means of reducing garbage truck traffic on SC 90.

The environmentalists were never heard from during these discussions.

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PR: SCAM ALERT: Avoid Fraudulent Charities

October 7, 2015 1:51 PM
PR: SCAM ALERT: Avoid Fraudulent Charities

In response to the devastation of the recent flood, many South Carolinians are searching for ways to help victims. The SC Department of Consumer Affairs and Secretary of State Mark Hammond advise consumers to be on the lookout for fake charities in the coming weeks.

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Michael Slager Denied Bond

September 14, 2015 6:00 PM
In this undated photo provided by the North Charleston Police Department shows City Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager. Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a black motorist after a traffic stop. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told a news conference that city Slager was arrested and charged Tuesday, April 7, 2015, after law enforcement officials saw a video of the shooting following a Saturday traffic stop. (AP Photo/North Charleston Police Department)

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager has been denied bond by Judge Clifton Newman.

Slager, the officer who made international news by shooting a fleeing Walter Scott numerous times on April 4, 2015, will have to stay in jail for now as preparations for his defense go forward.

In his short narrative order filed earlier today, Judge Newman said, “After careful consideration of all the evidence presented and the nature and circumstances of the offense, the Court finds that release of Defendant would constitute an unreasonable danger to the community and the request for release on bond should be denied.”

This ruling was predictable considering how aspects of the case have been handled so far.

While SLED was honoring FOIA requests from media sources about some of the evidence in the case, Slager’s attorneys have made numerous requests for evidence that have been ignored.

A statement from Slager’s attorneys about the decision reads:

“We share Michael’s disappointment in today’s Court decision but remain firmly convinced that following a review of all the evidence, a jury of Michael’s peers will find that he was free of any criminal intent in his actions on April 4, 2015.”

The statement is signed Andrew J. Savage III, Shaun C. Kent, Cameron J. Blazer.

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New Evidence in Michael Slager Case

September 9, 2015 6:00 AM
In this undated photo provided by the North Charleston Police Department shows City Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager. Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a black motorist after a traffic stop. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told a news conference that city Slager was arrested and charged Tuesday, April 7, 2015, after law enforcement officials saw a video of the shooting following a Saturday traffic stop. (AP Photo/North Charleston Police Department)

New evidence has been filed with the court in the case against former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager in the shooting death of Walter Scott.

The evidence was filed yesterday in preparation for a bond hearing for Slager to be held tomorrow.

Slager’s attorney, Andrew Savage of Charleston, provided Grand Strand Daily with a copy of the Mitigation Package for Bond Hearing filed with the court.

We all know what we saw on the video of Scott running away from Slager and Slager firing his weapon multiple times killing Scott.

What isn’t nearly as evident, nor covered in most media stories on the incident is what happened before the final scene.

A hospital report on Slager and Scott’s autopsy report show bruises on both men’s bodies consistent with violent confrontation.

Gunshot residue was found on both of Scott’s hands during the autopsy. Scott’s proximity to a weapon being discharged, or firing one himself, had to have occurred before the final minutes of the incident captured on the video.

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HCSWA Info to Council Faulty

September 6, 2015 5:30 AM
HCSWA Info to Council Faulty

Horry County Council received faulty information about the HCSWA dealings with Charleston County during its regular meeting last week.

I do not believe the intent was to provide false information. Rather, I believe it was the result of information being provided sparingly when it should have been discussed openly and shared from a much earlier date.

Several council members were very upset about being asked to quickly consider a budget amendment for the HCSWA budget after a contract was signed and Charleston County trash was already making its way to Horry County.

Council member Johnny Vaught asked when the first contact was made between Charleston County and the HCSWA board. Authority board chairman Lance Thompson said HCSWA staff was first contacted May 28, 2015.

Vaught asked when the HCSWA board became involved in the contract decision. Thompson said a couple weeks later the board was notified, then, at a board meeting the board voted to allow staff to negotiate.

Vaught said, “Essentially negotiations had not begun until you (HCSWA board) were contacted and you guys voted to go ahead.” Thompson agreed that was correct.

Council member Gary Loftus stated he understood Sonoco, the company that was running the Charleston County material recycling facility, had given notice in December 2014 that it was considering terminating its contract with Charleston County.

A representative from Sonoco said the company informed Charleston County that it was unable to operate the Charleston County MRF economically and notified the county it would cease operations July 31, 2015 under the termination clause. In addition, Sonoco took the decision because of the limited progress made toward Charleston County’s commitment to build a new, more efficient MRF.

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The Tough Fight of Curtis Loftis

September 4, 2015 5:00 AM
Curtis M. Loftis Jr., South Carolina’s treasurer, has pushed to learn more about private equity fees. Credit Dale W. Ferrell for The New York Times

Despite continuing efforts to embarrass and silence him, SC Treasurer Curtis Loftis continues to criticize the SCRSIC for poor performance.

Loftis was subjected to allegations in 2011 that he and Mallory Factor were partners in what was called a “pay to play” scheme involving state retirement funds.

Despite the best efforts of members of the SC Retirement System Investment Commission, Gov. Nikki Haley, then state senator Greg Ryberg and others, Loftis was cleared of all allegations by SLED and the SC Attorney General’s office.

Currently, he is facing an Ethics Commission hearing alleging Loftis used his influence as a state constitutional officer to include a business associate and friend as a lawyer in a lawsuit against the Bank of New York Mellon.

I predict these allegations will be found just as baseless.

The good ole boys and their confederates just can’t stand a politician who looks out for the public good first.

And Loftis is not criticizing without reason. The SC retirement system is consistently among the bottom few performers of public pension funds in the nation despite paying hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in fees and giving the underperforming staffers at the SCRSIC generous annual bonuses with more taxpayer dollars.

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