The upcoming mayoral election has me questioning my future in Charleston. I can't find one person running who I don't have major problems with. Let's look at some things.
Part 1: Jobs
Charleston is a city steeped in history. That presents all sorts of challenges. How do we as a city retain what makes us unique while moving into the second decade of the 21st century?
I moved to Charleston (for the first time) in 1998. I was drawn to the fact that downtown Charleston still had beautiful and old buildings (there were a couple exceptions to this rule— the library on King Street and the government building on Meeting Street being the most egregious offenders). It was a city with secrets older than my country, waiting to be discovered. I've always been drawn to the fact that the pirates never really left Charleston, they just became a little more genteel.
I wasn't the only person drawn to the area, as evidenced by Charleston's population explosion and by the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit our city. Many businesses have also come to call Charleston home.
Lately our Mayor has come out against Unions. He is the definition of a Blue Dog Democrat through and through. If you want to look how far right the Democrats have come, look at how they revere an anti-Union mayor. Because Mayor Riley has held power for so long, I guess the Democrats have been looking past his policies and only see the letter next to his name. One of my biggest problems with the local party is that no one calls him out on his bullshit.
Here's the thing. Charleston needs Unions now more than ever. Our restaurants and hospitality workers aren't going to be able to live in the city that they live in without unionizing. Our workers need better protection on the job. How many stories are out there in the F&B industry about a server getting fired because he or she didn't reciprocate feelings towards a general manager? How much longer are we going to tell ourselves that the guy doing the dishes will one day own one of these corporations (restaurant groups)? How many more internationally-owned hotels must go up, only to ship out the profits every night instead of letting some of that money come home with the workers?
It's our land, our city, and our way of life. Let's keep it and stop selling our citizens to the highest bidder. Let's vote for a candidate willing to support Unions.
No candidate has come out in favor of organized labor. Thankfully with organizations such as BACE League of Charleston, the workers voices are starting to be heard (although I'd like a little more fire and brimstone in their voices).
Part 2: Crime in the Holy City
A couple of months back, a friend of mine came to me and told me how she was drugged at a bar downtown, put into a taxi where she was driven to the Battery, then put into another vehicle where she was driven to a North Charleston apartment complex, raped, put back in the vehicle, and dropped off (still drugged) in West Ashley in a neighborhood she didn't recognize.
She went to the hospital and completed a rape kit. Later, she spoke to the detective handling her case. She was told that there is one detective that handles the rape cases in Charleston and if there were cases such as homicides, etc, the rape kit could take months to process. It's been 9 months and her kit has still not been processed, and she has resigned herself to the fact that it probably never will be.
My friend, and all victims of rape, deserve more than one detective investigating these charges. Even when my friend called the detective and left additional information on the case (including a license tag number for the taxi in question), she was never called back. When she asked the detective why only one officer would take the rape cases for this city, she was told that it made the male detectives uncomfortable to deal with rape cases.
There are many problems with crime in this city. Instead of dealing with them, we have our police force out on King Street on a Friday night making sure no one walks down the street with a beer; we have our investigators making sure college kids don't throw a keg party; we have a fully-funded "livability" court making sure that I don't rent my living room to a tourist on the weekend.
Riley and Mullen solve the case of the loud music coming from a bar after going to their detective guide books.
Here's a wake up call to our mayoral candidates: Our city and police department resources aren't making the city better if they can't fight actual crime. Stop using our officers for revenue collection. Instead, use them to make sure our friends, our family, our loved ones, and perfect strangers aren't RAPED and MURDERED.
Part 3: I-526
A view from River Road
First of all, I-526 is complete. This push to extend it is not only a waste of tax payer money ($720,000,000.00 dollars to be exact), but it's also poised to destroy wetlands and farmlands. Am I the only one who remembers that we are a coastal city that sometimes gets hit by hurricanes and barrier islands and that wetlands protect the city from hurricanes?
Keeping Johns Island (the fourth largest island on the US East Coast) as a rural island with agricultural and fishing industries is not only good for Charleston's food and beverage industry, it's beneficial when the next Hugo decides to wreck havoc on this city. I know that wealthy people on Kiawah Island donate to candidate's campaigns (as do real estate developers), but it's time to stop this mad talk.
Fix the roads we have now. Fix the roads on Johns and James Islands that don't have proper drainage.
Don't destroy the natural beauty of Johns Island with another bridge. Don't destroy estuaries and wetlands needed for shrimp and fishing industries. Don't leave Charleston more vulnerable to another hurricane. Don't destroy the farms on Johns Island needed to supply our city with fruits and vegetables.
The argument that traffic is bad on Johns Island and would be alleviated by building roads is ludicrous. It would behoove our candidates to read any one of the many traffic engineering studies that show that building new roads doesn't decrease traffic.
The other part about this that is terrible is the fact that many of these properties are owned, and have been owned, by black families for decades. This is a culture that is going to be destroyed because some asshole who just moved here from Ohio has decided that it's inconvenient for him to sit in traffic, despite being completely aware that traffic was a concern before he bought his new development house. Why are we catering to that? Why are we rewarding bad behavior? Let's keep culture, farm lands, fishing and shrimping industries all alive. Don't extend I-526.
Every single person running for mayor has come out in support of extending I-526. Why is Charleston intent on destroying it's culture? Stop the madness.