"Outraged liberals: Stop picking on Obama's Baby Mama!"
A phrase displayed by Fox News producers last week during a segment on GOP criticism of Michelle Obama. The station apologized for the potentially racist gaffe, which followed previous apologies for on-air comments calling a celebratory exchange between the Obamas a "terrorist fist pump" and another incident where a pundit suggested Obama should be assassinated. Source: New York Times
Primary Elections Not So Close
Primary elections held last week decided most races in the Lowcountry, with only one Charleston race headed for a run-off on June 24.
Charleston City Councilman Wendell Gilliard received 46 percent of the vote in a three-way race for the S.C. House District 111 seat. It was just short of the 50 percent needed to win the race outright, forcing a run-off with second place finisher Clay Middleton. While Gilliard should be focused on getting his supporters back to the polls again, Middleton will likely be trying to pull in more voters for a second shot at winning the seat.
In other news, local Democrat Mike Cone lost the primary race to challenge Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in November by a narrow 400 votes out of the nearly 125,000 made. Charleston Democrat Linda Ketner will challenge U.S. Rep. Henry Brown in November. While Brown barely mustered two-thirds support from his own party, Republican primary voters out numbered Democrats in the races four-to-one.
State Sen. Randy Scott lost in his reelection bid. Everyone in District 38 is encouraged to stay off the roads. State Sen. Robert Ford easily won his primary reelection race in District 42 and will face Republican Scotty Sheriff in November.
Newcomer Anne Peterson-Hutto got a strong win against fellow Democrat Eugene Platt in James Island's District 115, but he may still be on the ballot in November representing the Green Party. The candidate or candidates will take on Republican Rep. Wallace Scarborough in November. With targeted voter turnout, Isle of Palms Mayor Mike Sottile beat back insurmountable odds to win the Republican primary for the House seat representing coastal East Cooper. Republican Charleston County Council Chairman Tim Scott beat similarly daunting odds for the House District 117 seat that mostly represents lower Berkeley County. Not facing strong opposition in November, Scott will likely be the first black Republican to serve in the Statehouse since reconstruction.
District 9 Solicitor Scarlett Wilson easily won a challenge from former Deputy Solicitor Blair Jennings. While Jennings' negative campaign ads near the end of the race likely weren't a factor in his loss, it was probably a signal he saw it coming. Nancy Cook lost in her GOP primary challenge to Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic. She can still run for reelection on the school board (good luck with that). Republican Mark Peper will be challenging Councilwoman Colleen Condon in November. County Coroner Rae Wooten had a strong showing in her primary race, but will face Democrat Henry Middleton in November. —Greg Hambrick
That's how many times the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce's Thompson Penney and Wilbur Johnson used the word "celebrate" in a Post and Courier editorial last week, espousing the virtues of the new port terminal at the old Navy Base. Environmentalists say the new terminal will impact Charleston's air quality and increase truck congestion on I-26.
A Burning Question
Charleston County Council recently adopted a proactive approach toward making the county more environmentally responsible, but amidst a desire to reduce waste and increase recycling, they're still faced with the task of how to handle the incinerator, which burns 80 percent of household garbage in the county. On Tuesday, June 24, the council will host a neighborhood meeting to share information about the Waste to Energy Facility for Municipal Sold Waste (read, "incinerator"). After the 6:30 p.m. presentation at the Gethsemane Community Center in North Charleston, 2449 Beacon St., they'll hear public comments. The Lowcountry chapter of the Sierra Club took a stance cautioning against renewing the incinerator's contract this week, publishing a fact sheet of health concerns related to burning garbage on their website. Items that could be burning at the incinerator as you read this include household cleaners, pool chemicals, automotive fluids, pesticides, glue, paint thinner, and batteries. Something's in the air, but is it change? —Stratton Lawrence
Ravenel's "Bitch" Comment is Back
Representatives of the NAACP and other local residents told the Charleston County School Board on June 9 that board members should be held accountable for their recent comments. Arthur Ravenel reportedly called Superintendent Nancy McGinley a "bitch" and allegedly threatened her job in April. Also this spring, board member Nancy Cook made comments regarding sterilizing unfit mothers on a local radio program. Ravenel did not attend the school board meeting, but listened in via a conference call. Visitors called the comments by Ravenel and Cook outrageous and shameful.
"There was a time when you could do these things without reproach," says Nelson Rivers of the NAACP. "Welcome back to the future."
The NAACP presented a petition signed by nearly 1,000 people calling for censure of Ravenel for his comments.
Board chairman Hillery Douglas told speakers not attack district staff in their comments to the board.
"I guess you have to join the board to do that," Rivers said —Greg Hambrick
For Whom the Road Tolls
The debate over the proposed Cross Island Expressway (also called Sea Islands Parkway) on Johns Island is heating up this week. Proposed by Charleston County Roadwise and funded by the half-cent sales tax, the high-speed toll road would bisect Johns Island, crossing private properties over a previously undeveloped thoroughfare, linking Kiawah and Seabrook Islands with downtown Charleston. Parkway proponents, many of whom have commented on an online petition supporting its construction, cite the need for a safe hurricane evacuation route and decry the proportionately large number of accidents on Bohicket and River roads. "We are new property owners on Kiawah, and we find the ride from the airport to Kiawah very dangerous," wrote one of the most recent posts at press time. "Since there are so many contractors and vacationers using this road, we feel it is imperative to fix this." A petition opposing the road has also garnered large support. Many Johns Islands residents argue that preventing accidents requires slowing down traffic rather than adding a new high-speed toll road. "What has drawn a lot of people here could potentially be jeopardized with the construction of a mass expressway," says Jennifer Bost, a Kiawah homeowner. "I'm not insensitive to people's feelings about safety, but I feel this is an issue that should be decided by the people of Johns Island." The project has the support of Kiawah's mayor, and some opponents suspect the current strong push for the road lies in a desire to complete it for golf's PGA Championships to be held on the island in 2012. Opponents say the toll road would do little to improve the island's most dangerous intersections, and that road money priorities should be in fixing existing thoroughfares. Roadwise hosts a public comment session on the Parkway, at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs., June 19, at St. John's Island High School, 1518 Main Road. With nearly 3,000 people signed on to one petition or the other and strong feelings on either side, expect a ruckus. —Stratton Lawrence
That's the increased cost of tuition at the College of Charleston next year. The price for in-state students will climb from $7,778 to $8,400. Source: The Associated Press