Dismiss lawsuit against Carnival? That’s a fantasy, P&C, June 3, 2012, Editorial. 


For months Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4) has been asking Carnival Cruiselines questions and getting silence in response.

Soon the silence should be broken because it will be a judge asking the questions in relation to to a lawsuit pending against Carnival.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, neighbors, preservationists and environmentalists, contend that Carnival isn’t in compliance with local zoning ordinances.

Defendants, including the city of Charleston, which attached itself as a defendant, have said the suit is irresponsible and certain to be dismissed.

It wasn’t. The Supreme Court has referred the pending motion to dismiss and related filings and hearings to Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman for handling and recommendations.

That means parties to the suit will have the opportunity to argue the motion before a trial judge.

C4, whose mission is to see that enforceable restrictions on Charleston’s cruise industry are enacted, first communicated with Carnival via a letter dated Jan. 5. Executive director Carrie Agnew asked Gerry Cahill, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Cruise Lines in Miami, a number of questions, and made suggestions about the size of ships that come here, and the frequency of their visits. C4 asked about discharge, air emissions, amplified announcements, user fees, and local purchasing.

No reply.
So Mrs. Agnew tried again. Her letter of Feb. 10 to Mr. Cahill asked again for a response, and asked Carnival to support an independent study to determine the best site for a new cruise terminal. (C4 thinks the terminal would be better located north of the site selected by the S.C. State Ports Authority.)

No reply.
Since then, she reports having written SPA executive director Jim Newsome, various elected city officials, the members of the SPA board, and Debra Kelly-Ennis, Carnival’s newest director and a member of its Health and Environmental, Safety and Security Committee — all with questions and none drawing a response.

The one response she received was from Sir John Parker, a Carnival director and chairman of its Health and Environmental, Safety and Security Committee. His two paragraphs thanked her for her letter and assured Mrs. Agnew that Carnival is “fully aware” of the issues she described and is “in close touch also with the City and State, who are supportive of Carnival’s operations out of Charleston.”

That left Mrs. Agnew to note that, while Carnival has been in touch with the city and state, it has not been in touch with Historic Charleston Foundation, the Preservation Society of Charleston, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League, the Committee to Save the City, the South Carolina Medical Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the World Monuments Fund or Charleston Communities for Cruise Control — all of which have called for restrictions on or standards for cruise operations here.

Ironically, in its 2009 Sustainability Report, which is posted online, Carnival describes itself as being “committed to doing our best to be a good corporate citizen. To us, that means treating our employees right, being kinder to the environment and giving back to the communities we serve.”

But apparently, it doesn’t always mean answering questions raised in those communities.

Maybe some answers will now be forthcoming — in Charleston, at any rate — as the Carnival case cruises toward a date in court.

The community deserves a response.