Monday, January 08, 2007

Sugarplums and Lumps of Coal: The State of the Lowcountry

Sugarplums and Lumps of Coal

We’re handing them out for 2006

By Will Moredock

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Yea, I know it’s been used before, but it’s a pretty good line and a perfect description of 2006. And so, with apologies to Mr. Dickens, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

First, the best of times. A deal was put together to save Morris Island from development. Bobby Cremins came to the College of Charleston to coach the Cougars basketball team and their future never looked brighter. John Graham Altman III, the racist, homophobic fool who represented House District 119 in the General Assembly for a decade has been retired. It looks like the push for oil drilling off the South Carolina coast has been stopped – at least for now.

And the worst of times. People continued to pour into the Lowcountry, threatening our environment and way of life with their sheer numbers. Some 135,000 new homes are in the pipeline in the tri-county area. The Republican Party maintained its death grip on statewide offices in the November elections. They now have a near monopoly on corruption and mismanagement in Columbia. The killing in Charleston and North Charleston set new records in 2006. This is part of a nationwide trend, but that doesn’t make it feel any better.

There are some groups and individuals who deserve special attention and we would like to recognize them at this time with a sugarplum or a lump of coal for their Christmas stockings. Let’s begin with the lumps of coal.

So without further ado…the first envelope, please. (Drum roll here.)

The Post and Courier, Charleston’s “newspaper of record,” gets the season’s first lump of coal for yet another year of mediocrity and uncompromising mossback conservatism. While the newsroom appears to be making progress, especially in reporting on race and racial issues, the troglodytes in the editorial suite are beyond redemption. They continue to defend George W. Bush in the face of his six years of failed policy and needless war. They had continued to bash former President Bill Clinton in the years since he left office, but with his wife leading the pack for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, she has become their favorite target. And it only gets worse, year after year.

Luxury Cars of Charleston gets special attention here for sparking a racial incident with their crude and highhanded manner. When Jerome Heyward complained that his father had been deceived into overpaying for a Mercedes and had not received proper service on that car, a manager allegedly asked him, “Well, what do you want, a watermelon or a piece of fried chicken?” Protesters have been marching in front of Luxury Cars for the past week.

Chip Boling and his staff at Coastal Carolina Fair get a lump for another racial incident they inspired this past fall. First, they refused to remove a racist T-shirt that a vendor was selling from a booth at the fair. When a woman protested the T-shirt at the entrance to the fair, Chip & Co. had her arrested. Such consistently bad judgment is usually found in the White House.

Wallace Scarborough, the bad boy representative from District 115 gets a lump of coal, along with his girlfriend Catherine Ceips, the bad girl representative from District 124, in Beaufort. While their constituents thought their representatives were working hard for them in Columbia, the two married Republicans were involved in a very public Statehouse affair. The story, which broke in City Paper last summer, nearly cost Scarborough his reelection. Come to think of it, let’s give the voters of districts 115 and 124 a lump, too.

First District Congressman Henry Brown, who loves fossil fuel, gets a nice big lump of coal for his support of legislation that would have allowed oil drilling off our coast. In fact, let’s give Henry a bundle of switches to go with that coal.

Of course, Charleston had its heroes and heroines this past year and two of them were Pat Jobe and Alice Gray Gregory. Jobe and Gregory launched “The Connection,” a Comcast Cable television program for progressives who want to know what’s going on in the Lowcountry and how to get involved.

The voters of House District 119 gets a sugarplum for electing a decent man and progressive Democrat, Leon Stavrinakis, to the Statehouse. Are these the same people who kept electing John Graham Altman?

A big sweet sugarplum to Sullivan’s Island for becoming the first municipality in the state to enact a general smoking ban. And plums to Greenville and Columbia for following suit. So what is Charleston waiting for?