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DeMint against money , City Council Runoff, Scarborough Window, Post and Courier Layoffs

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"The flipped-back baseball cap alone is worth more hard time than any hit of South Carolina chronic."

Former High Times Editor Mike Edison on the negative stereotype of college stoners reinforced by the Michael Phelps bong photo. Taken in Columbia last November, the picture has made national news and lost Phelps at least one sponsorship. Source: The Daily Beast

Charleston Gets $2.53 Million, DeMint Wants No Part of It

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) made a startling announcement last week. The Department of Homeland Security awarded the City of Charleston a $2.53 million staffing grant. And DeMint wanted voters to know he had nothing to do with getting the city that money.

The grant will help the Charleston Fire Department to reach the industry standard of four firemen per unit. Among other problems cited after the fatal June 2007 Sofa Super Store fire, the department was criticized for only having three firemen per unit. Though the grant is a positive step toward improving local fire protection, DeMint has strongly opposed legislators imposing their influence in regards to federal funding. It's a sharply different approach than one taken by Sen. Lindsey Graham or Congressman Henry Brown, fellow South Carolina Republicans who proudly proclaim when they've worked to find federal aid for local projects.

"These funds were not awarded at the direction of Sen. DeMint who works to prevent the allocation of taxpayer funds through congressional earmarks," his office said in the statement announcing the grant. —Greg Hambrick

City Council Runoff Feb. 17

District 6 candidates Tommie Coaxum and William Dudley Gregorie will have a runoff election for the seat on Tues. Feb. 17. Neither candidate pulled in 50 percent of the vote on Feb. 3. The seat includes the West Side nieghborhood on the peninsula and several old, historically black neighborhoods in West Ashley. Coaxum will likely benefit the most from the votes that went to third place finisher Jeffrey Hill in the first election — both reside in West Ashley. But voter turnout for such a small race will be key for both of the remaining candidates. —Greg Hambrick

Hutto Seeks To Close Scarborough Window

Rep. Anne Hutto (D-James Island) has joined other state House members for a new bill that would prevent the General Assembly from having the final word on election disputes. Hutto's election in November was by a wide enough margin to avoid a recount, but former Rep. Wallace Scarborough pressed on with an appeal into the new year, suggesting he would ask the GOP-controlled House to use its authority to nullify the election. He eventually gave up his fight before it made it to the House.

The new bill introduced last week would ask voters to remove the constitutional provision that allows the House or Senate to rule on the election of its own members. —Greg Hambrick

25

That's the number of layoffs last week at The Post and Courier. "We remain committed to producing the best and most authoritative source of news and information in the Lowcountry through The Post and Courier and Charleston.net," Publisher Larry Tarleton said in a press release.

GOP Can't Get Stimulated; S.C. Leaders Rally Opposition

President Barack Obama has taken his argument to the American people to combat the battle in the press led mostly by South Carolina's two U.S. senators, Republicans Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham.

According to White House estimates, the more than $800 billion stimulus would help create at least 53,000 jobs in South Carolina and provide up to $1,000 in tax cuts for nearly 1.8 million workers in the state. New tax credits for college and increased unemployment insurance benefits were also touted for their potential impact to South Carolina residents.

DeMint has been pressing for a stimulus plan that only has tax cuts, claiming it will keep more money in the private sector and encourage economic activity without government intervention. While presenting his plan on ABC's This Week on Feb. 1, DeMint received some pointed push-back from Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

"We need to fix highways and bridges," Frank said. "I've never seen a tax cut fix a bridge."

Graham has argued for less spending on ancillary items that might not provide direct stimulus. He's called for a sharper focus on things like infrastructure improvement. In an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, Graham criticized the new president for not coming to the bargaining table for a compromise.

"If this is the change we can all believe in, America's best days are behind her," Graham said.

Meanwhile, Congressman Henry Brown has been targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for his opposition to a the House version of the stimulus plan. The ad campaign targets Republicans that are seen as weak during the next election cycle, noting these congressmen supported aid packages for banks and credit agencies, but opposed a stimulus plan for American workers. —Greg Hambrick

"It was fair at the time, but that was then and this is now."

Mt. Pleasant Councilman Joe Bustos on differing appraisals for the Shem Creek property the town bought 14 months ago for $6 million. A new County Parks and Recreation appraisal put the value at about half that amount. Source: The Post and Courier

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