Bless Their Hearts

Vocabulary voids, chicken-sandwich politicking, and poorly timed jokes

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If you have lived for a spell in Charleston, you know what it really means when a genteel Southern belle or country gentleman says, “Bless your heart.” The meaning is something to the effect of “You poor fool” or “How embarrassing for your kin.” Sometimes, that is exactly the reaction we have to the news.

• During last week’s City Council meeting, one councilman became confused when the Tourism Commission presented its recommendations for monitoring ambient temperature downtown. His confusion centered around the word “ambient.” “I take an Ambient to go to sleep,” he said.

• At the same meeting, a few people got riled up about some new residential developments cropping up around Charleston. During the public hearings, one man (who did not identify himself) spoke his mind about developers who he said had pushed African-American communities off of the peninsula over the years. “They used to give you a chicken sandwich for your vote and then take over your community,” he said. “Now they give you air conditioning.” People in the galley started clapping, and Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. reminded everyone that Council’s rules of decorum do not allow applause.

• The same man stood again during the open-comments session to rebut Mayor Riley’s previous claim that Police Chief Gregory Mullen was the greatest chief in the country. No, he said, Chief Reuben Greenberg was the greatest. “Mullins cannot tie his shoe,” he said.

• At a public meeting between city officials and an outdoor thermometer vendor Thursday, a group of carriage tour company owners came in the door a few minutes after the meeting had begun. The first to stick his head in the door asked jokingly, “Is this where they give away money?”

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