Once again The Eye can count on the stupidity of local politicos to help out during a slow news week. This time the culprits are North Charleston City Councilman Bob King and City of North Charleston Ombudsman James Bell.
Also, for those keeping score here in The Southland, The Eye will note for the record that the former is caucasian and the latter is African-American and everybody out there knows this has nothing to do with anything.
It all started earlier this summer when Councilman King says he parked his Nissan Murano (more than once) in the (clearly marked and reserved) parking space for the North Chuck ombudsman, thinking that Mr. Bell was not working when he parked his SUV. Upon returning to his vehicle, King discovered that his SUV had been vandalized with an old-school "keying" down the passenger side.
King duly notified North Charleston Police and officers began investigating the alleged vandalism on city property. Officers set up a sting operation Sept. 7 and videotaped King parking his SUV in the ombudsman's spot. The tape was released last Tuesday following a Freedom of Information Act request on the behalf of local media outlets. From the footage, The Eye noticed that the sign designating the reserved status looks as though it had been enhanced by some hardware store materials.
That's O-M-B-U-D-S-M-A-N, bitches!
Anyhoo, Bell is shown parking his vehicle in the spot next to King's vehicle. He gets out, examines King's car, looks at his vehicle (presumably checking the lock) and then walks behind Smith's SUV, dragging his keys against the truck's door. Bell was arrested the next day and charged with malicious injury to personal property and posted a $1,087 bond.
Afterward, Bell told the Post and Courier, "I had no intentions of scratching his vehicle ... I put my hand on his car to check the license tag. I did not intentionally key his car." Bell's lawyer Bill Runyon said that Bell was merely steadying himself against King's SUV because of recent knee surgery.
Nice try, mused The Eye.
Bell went on to imply that even though he did nothing wrong, he was clearly galled into action. "It's a provoking situation when your parking space is clearly marked ... why he would do it to frustrate me doesn't make any sense to me. It really affected me."
Being a resident of downtown Chucktown, where parking spaces are sacrosanct, The Eye will give Bell that one. That being said, The Eye still suspects that a little bit of court-ordered anger management is in Bell's immediate future. For his part, King was not content to keep his big mouth shut and let the North Charleston Municipal Court handle everything. He made comments to the P&C calling Bell "the mayor's boy" following the arrest and again after the videotape was released.
King says his comments are not racially motivated, "They are just upset because he got caught."
Sure they weren't, thought The Eye, but King's "The Citadel" vanity license tags tell an old tale of institutionalized racism and an overbearing sense of entitlement.
Bell, an adviser to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, told the P&C that he had not yet seen the videotape: "I think people have a tendency sometimes to make bad judgment, but that doesn't mean they are a bad person because they make one mistake ... It's something I will have to sit down and put a lot of thought into."
Just for a little bit of cheap quick irony, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "ombudsman" as "a government official appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses or capricious acts of public officials."
This situation is what it is — two petty old geezers lashing out at each other over past bad blood and everything could have been avoided if King had parked his SUV where he was supposed to and walked the extra 50 feet to City Hall's front door.