Managing Tourism and more: Let’s connect the dots.

Inauspicious.  That summarizes the first Charleston Tourism Committee Forum, held April 7th in crowded meeting room at 75 Calhoun.  Instead of a forum, citizens were relegated to asking questions on 3×5 cards.  Then, rather than listen to citizen input, one city official chose to pontificate, giving his opinion as fact, declaring that there should be public restrooms near White Point Gardens “because people down there want them,” and that the cruise terminal won’t be moved up to the Columbus Street Terminal, “because it’s the most important cargo terminal in South Carolina.”

To this observer, the first question read from a submitted card was brilliant:  “Given the overbalance of committee members who are either directly involved with tourism or who profit from it,” what assurance can we have that the real tourism issues downtown and in the historic district will be addressed?   No reason to bore you with the non-answer response.

But there is hope that at TONIGHT’S MEETING at the Charleston Museum, the Tourism Committee will actually let the public speak and that City officials might listen. (1)

Why?   First, there was a follow up Committee meeting on May 29th at the Historic Charleston Foundation.   And prior to that meeting, many residents expressed their dissatisfaction of that first meeting to both committee members and city officials.  Secondly, Steve Gates, chairman of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Assn., prepared a cogent 12-page statement of tourism concerns complete with specific recommendations; it appears to be an excellent blueprint.(2)  Thirdly, the committee members, including good new members who have recently been added, appear to be taking their tasks seriously.   And fourth, then came April-May, 2014–perhaps the two most horrible months in history for living in Charleston, a time when even the most oblivious realized that we’ve stepped beyond the “tourism tipping point.”  As the 5-million tourists-per-year threshold may be breached this year, some finally asked the right question:  What is Charleston’s “tourist carrying capacity”?

Yes, there are those who still don’t see the potential catastrophe of rampant tourism.   Only yesterday in the Post and Courier, a letter-writer was near apoplectic that the newspaper editorial board wanted to “‘lighten the tourism load'” as that would surely cause “a major reduction in tourism dollars, resulting in jobs lost and businesses struggling.”(3)   This should be called “reverse NIMBYism.”   The letter writer was from…North Charleston.

That May 29th meeting may have market a turning point for another reason.  Mayor Joseph Riley announced several tourism initiatives on-the-spot, asserting that these problems were so obvious that there was no need to wait for a final report to take action.  He pledged to put three new tourism enforcement officials on-the-street under the supervision of the Livability Officer.  He pledged to continue the moratorium prohibiting any new special events for the peninsula, he said the city would crack down on short-term rentals, and he would ask the city council to end the sale of liquor at midnight for new establishments.  This blog isn’t often complimentary of the mayor, but these were welcome and needed actions.

Yet there’s a large concern beyond tourism that will negatively impact the value and quality of life in Charleston.  It’s equal to the scourge of the proposed, ill-sited cruise terminal bereft of any meaningful restrictions on growth.  It’s large-scale development.  The recently scotched proposal for a new Sergeant Jasper complex is an ominous case-in-point.  That proposal (as presented to several neighborhood associations this spring) called for three large-scale buildings set on three parcels at the west end of Broad Street between the city tennis courts and Lockwood Blvd, and it included plans for a 70,000 sq. ft. office building on the now-vacant St. Mary’s field.  Then to accommodate thousands of square feet of new apartment units, the developers planned a four-story, 700-car parking facility in addition to retail spaces on both Barre and Broad Streets near the center of this huge complex.(4)  The traffic impact on this already-congested corner could be immense.  Right now–not a week or month later–is the time for the city to toughen the requirements for all new large-scale projects that seemingly get approved without adequate parking (or enforcing existing regulations), without adequate open public space, and without any requirement to conduct a truly comprehensive traffic study that considers all existing and potential traffic impacts, not just whatever traffic is added by a new project.

A new Sergeant Jasper project proposal will likely be revealed at any moment.  Will the city ensure us that, before any approval, the proposal will comport with the small scale architecture and historic ambiance of the surrounding neighborhoods and that the traffic impacts will be significantly reduced from the original?

Tourism grew out of control, in part, because five different commissions are involved in promoting, permitting and policing it.   No one, it seems, was managing the big picture.  While it appears that we’re finally focused on the rapidly growing impacts of tourism, and let’s hope we are, there are other big threats.  Let’s study all of them.  Let’s connect the dots.

# # #

–Jay Williams, Jr.
12 June 14

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.

footnotes/links

1)  The Tourism Commission meeting will be held tonight, June 12th, 2014, at the Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street.  This is an important meeting; please attend!

2)  The CNA board approved tourism recommendations for Charleston.

3)  “Wrong Message,” Letters to the editor, P&C, June 11, 2014
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140611/PC1002/140619915/1025/letters-to-the-editor-for-wednesday-june-11

4)  There is a concise write-up of the Beach Company’s original Sergeant Jasper presentation in the current issue of Preservation Progress, The Preservation Society of Charleston’s magazine.  It is available at the Preservation Society book store at 147 King Street.

The resident in Charleston has become an endangered species.

To Whom It May Concern:

 

To add to the public record of residents on the issue of tourism and its impact on residential neighborhoods, I would like to make the following statements:

 

As a friend who would like to remain anonymous has so aptly put it to me, “ The resident in Charleston has become an endangered species. As such, they should be afforded the protections due to an endangered species.” I couldn’t agree more.

 

The concept of living a life of quiet enjoyment, not the legally deeded kind but the physical kind, has just simply gone missing in downtown Charleston. At any gathering of residents of the neighborhoods, there is always a review of the latest trespass by tourists or college students. I personally would hate to have to count the number of times my dog has stopped to inspect vomit or I have stepped in it in the Harleston Village area. Livability Court and the willingness to cite violators is the only thing that makes living in a college area a possibility. In other neighborhoods, residents have viewed tourists relieving themselves in their driveways, even on their rose bushes. People have had their doors knocked upon followed by inquiries to use the facilities or view their garden. Are we on display like show animals. If so, I’d like to have the city pay for my costumes. I’m fond of Armani.

 

There are several issues at the top of my list.

1. What possible benefit could be afforded residents by putting a cruise terminal with 900 flat surface parking spaces in the residential neighborhoods. The first thing the city could do to prove that it had an interest in the well-being of the residents would be to get that terminal and its fall-out vehicle congestion, people traffic congestion and parking issues out of the residential areas. It cannot be justified and it is foolishness to not accommodate the people and cars elsewhere and transport those tourists to their destination by public transport. The revenue will still be there, the tourists and their cars won’t be. To not do this indicates to the residents that the city administration just doesn’t care about those of us who have no alternative but to use those streets.

2. Shore power. How can a city that has signs outside of schools stating that you should  not idle your vehicle because students breathe there, allow ships to idle in port with no shore power.

 

These first 2 are no-brainers. There is no justification for having the terminal where it is planned to be. There is no reason to add the burden of poor air-quality to the other congestion related quality-of-life issues currently challenging the peace and quiet of those residing on the Charleston peninsula.

 

Why would anyone take prime real estate and plan a 900 space flat surface parking lot?What a stupid use of tax dollars and space. Wherever you decide to put a 900 space flat surface parking lot in the year 2014, it should at least incorporate solar so that the residents of whatever neighborhood you place it in will have an energy break for their troubles. Other countries have managed this. Why can’t we?

 

If you’re going to put something massive in a space so prominent, why not make it world class…think Sydney Opera House. There is a glorious bridge already in place, a world class facility could be placed where the terminal is slated to be. You could put solar over the parking lot and a park on top of the building. Get out of the box and really go for it if you’re going to mess around with the neighborhoods and put something there that everyone can enjoy, not just a tourist bringing a car down so they can get on a ship and go somewhere else.

3. Could we please have a moratorium on building for the hotels and office buildings over 3 stories that have already been approved until we can adopt a set of guidelines for the next 20 years that isn’t based on the last 20 years. When you put a building up that is over 3 stories, and then you do it again and again and again, you have no idea how much you are limiting the light and the visual vista that create a town that feels manageable rather than a city. Go to Charlotte if you want to see a small city. People do not come to Charleston to experience a small city. They come to enjoy, among other things, a historic city with beautiful architecture. The pitiful nature of the ugly architecture that has risen around the city in the last few years is unforgivable. If you’re going to do something, at least try to get it right. I actually sat through a City Council meeting in which a decision that was being requested for a large building was referred to by the presenter as ‘non-precedent setting’. Please. Think about that.

4. Clearly the silo effect of planning events and tourism has to change. Someone must coordinate it all and make it work for the residents, not just visitors.

5. Try to pay a little attention to the residents of the city and their specific needs. A friend of mine  owns a car that was hit by someone and a witness left a note including a license plate number for the car that did the damage. As of 6 weeks later, and many calls to the police, the issue had not even been investigated. The police were ‘too busy’.  As Giuliani stated so many times as he cleaned up New York, “Its the little things that count.”

6.  Public toilets in residential neighborhoods. When I travel, I plan accordingly and don’t expect there to be a public restroom at my disposal. There could be signs that say that “You are entering a residential neighborhood. There are no public restrooms, plan accordingly.” That doesn’t seem so hard now, does it?

 

Thank you for your time.

 

Leslie Scanlan

 

 

 

SPA’s terminal ‘victory’ illusory

The State Ports Authority has won another round in court regarding its planned passenger terminal.

But it is losing in the court of credibility with the public by using such legal rulings to avoid doing two things that are clearly the right things to do.

The SPA will not commit to installing shoreside power for cruise ships to use while at dock.

Even Charleston City Council has indicated its concern about air pollution from cruise ships. And both the state and the county medical societies have called for shoreside power on behalf of public health.

Further, the SPA refuses to sign a memorandum of agreement that it will not increase the size or number of cruise-ship calls in Charleston.

SPA president/CEO Jim Newsome has given his word that he won’t grow the cruise business without first informing the city.

Why not an official limit?

Establishing one would defuse a lot of the angst people have about cruise ships and the burdens they put on historic Charleston. Crowding. Noise. Visual insult. And threats to the health of people and to the environment.

And why not agree to shoreside power, which is the present gold standard for reducing air emissions?

Why won’t a state agency do what is best for citizens of that very state?

An agency that considers itself part of Team South Carolina would want healthy neighbors. It would openly discuss where a new terminal should go.

It shouldn’t take a court order for the SPA to do what’s right.

Indeed, while S.C. Administrative Law Judge Ralph Anderson III ruled last Friday against a coalition of neighborhood associations preservation organizations and conservationists challenging the plan for the terminal, he didn’t say their concerns were wrong.

In essence he said that those who filed the suit were no different from others whose health is in jeopardy because of air emissions from cruise ships.

That might make sense to lawyers, but the public is reasonable to ask why the SPA operates in a way that affects so many people negatively.

Further, Judge Anderson said that the law doesn’t apply to what might happen, only what has happened. So to suggest that more and larger cruise ships visiting Charleston would mean more pollution, more crowding and diminished property values is not admissible. It might not happen.

But again the public is reasonable to fear such an increase and the ills it would bring. Ports around the globe have taken such courses to the detriment of their host cities.

And again, the SPA, which doesn’t intend to grow the cruise business, could put the public’s minds at rest by agreeing to reasonable, enforceable limits.

The State Ports Authority has an economic mission: to grow and to serve more business and industry.

But it is a state agency, and there’s something wrong when a state agency, given the opportunity to do the right thing for the public, chooses not to.

CHS | A hollow victory at City Council?

Those favoring regulating toxic cruise ship pollution won a hollow victory Tuesday night.   Facing an overflow crowd of concerned citizens, the Charleston City Council passed resolution that “the city supports the actions of the state General Assembly in assuring funding is available for shore power at the new terminal when needed.”(1) [emphasis supplied]   In spite of the 10-2 vote, the fragility of the City Council’s commitment came with the final two words, “when needed,” words that were added in the last moments to obtain majority support.  And without the strong endorsements of Councilmen William Dudley Gregorie and Mike Seekings, even this weakened resolution wouldn’t have gone anywhere.(2,3)

Eliminating the soot, smoke and sulphur dioxide wafting over Charleston caused by cruise ships idling in port is such an obviously good idea, you’d think everyone would be for it.  But they’re not.  According to the Post and Courier, “[Mayor Joe] Riley has said that the city should allow SPA (SC Ports Authority) time to figure out if shoreside power will be needed at the new cruise terminal.”  Really, Mr. Mayor?  They’ve already wasted years; how much time do they need?  And even with the squishy language of the resolution, two Council members, Rodney Williams and Dean C. Riegel, still voted against it.  Reigel said that the SPA’s presentation showed that a resolution would not be necessary since it could limit the agency’s efforts to control emissions.  Councilman Riegal said, “I see no need for a resolution, I think they are doing all the right things.”(1)  If doing nothing is doing all the right things, he’s right.

Jim Newsome, the SPA’s CEO, made that 10-minute presentation before the vote.  He claims that the 25-year-old “Fantasy” will be retrofitted with “scrubbers” that will reduce sulpher dioxide and soot when it goes into dry dock in October, 2015, and the SPA plans to add an air quality monitor to the new terminal.  But even after years of complaints about soot, smoke, and health issues caused by cruise ships, neither has been done, and even the promise that anything will happen is a year and a half away.  Let’s be real: the ancient “Fantasy” isn’t far from the scrap heap, “scrubbers” are a weaker substitute for shoreside power in removing pollutants and particulates, and “scrubbers” on the “Fantasy” won’t stop airborne pollution from other cruise ships calling at Charleston.

We’ve witnessed Carnival’s murky environmental record on the TV news, but do you also sense the SPA’s lack of concern?(4)

Jim Newsome parsed his words when he said there “is no data that cruise ships create a health issue in Charleston.”  Note that prepositional phrase, “in Charleston.”  Because cruise ships do pollute, and there’s lots of data.(5,6,7)  But if that statement didn’t give you a sense of Jim Newsome’s commitment to reduce cruise ship emissions, consider this one: “I think the general thrust is that they [the Council] endorse that we are doing what is best to improve air quality in the harbor and we will see where it goes from there.”

Are you breathing easier?

In 2012, in an op-ed written by Dr. Stephen Schabel of the Charleston County Medical Society, he noted a proposed resolution claiming that the “average cruise ship discharges four times the amount of airborne pollutants, especially sooty particulates, compared to the average cargo ship, thus affecting residents and visitors when ships run their engines continuously…for hours while passengers embark and disembark.”   Dr. Schabel added, “The effects of airborne pollutants have been shown to include increased chronic respiratory and heart diseases and increased cancer risk, especially among dockworkers, merchants and residents closest to the docks” and that “onshore power” reduces “airborne cruise ship pollutants by up to 90%.”(8)

It’s sad that the same City Council that stomped out smoking on the sidewalks around our hospitals has never attempted to regulate far more serious toxic emissions from cruise ships in port–or demand the obvious healthy shore power alternative.

#   #    #

–Jay Williams, 27 Feb 14

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.

1)  Charleston City Council approves resolution supporting shoreside power – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140225/PC05/140229627/1010/charleston-city-council-approves-resolution-supporting-shoreside-power

2)  Charleston City Council to address support for shoreside power…  – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140218/PC05/140219326/1010/city-council-to-address-support-for-shoreside-power-at-downtown-cruise-terminal

3) Shore power is the wave of the local cruise future – Mike Seekings – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140224/PC1002/140229768

4)  Disney Gets Top Grade on Cruise Ship pollution Report – USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2013/10/23/cruise-ship-pollution/3170463/

5)  2013 Cruise ships pollution – Friends of the Earth
http://www.foe.org/cruise-report-card

6)  Air samples at cruise ship docks worldwide – Friends of the Earth
http://www.foe.org/news/archives/2013-12-air-samples-at-cruise-ship-docks-worldwide-find-dangerous-soot-lvls

7)  Harboring Pollution – strategies to clean up U.S. Ports – Natural Resources Defense Council
http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution/ports/execsum.asp

8)  Reduce the risks of air pollution from cruise ships – Dr. Stephen Schabel, Charleston County Medical Society – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20120308/ARCHIVES/303089919

City Council passes weakened shoreside power resolution

Tuesday night, after considering a resolution in favor of shoreside power plug-ins for visiting cruise ships, Charleston City Council passed a watered-down version of the original resolution. Whereas the original resolution called on state lawmakers to mandate the use of plug-in power at the planned Union Pier cruise terminal in Charleston, the new one deferred the matter to the State Ports Authority’s judgment.

City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie introduced the original resolution, saying it was about “putting people’s health first” and doing “what’s best, not what’s better.” Idling cruise ships release pollutants and known carcinogens into the air while docked in Charleston, and some downtown residents have complained about soot accumulating on their houses since Carnival Cruise Lines started coming to Charleston. Several neighborhood associations and environmental groups have called for the new terminal to include a plug-in for grid power so that cruise ships don’t idle in the harbor. Onshore power has been added to numerous cruise ports, including Brooklyn, N.Y.; Juneau, Alaska; San Francisco, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash.

A study commissioned by the Charleston-based Southern Environmental Law Center found that shoreside power could reduce carbon monoxide emissions from docked cruise ships by as much as 97 percent. The study also found that a 2,000-passenger Carnival ship emits 68.3 metric tons of nitrogen oxide a year while idling in Charleston. With shoreside power, the same ship would emit only 0.8 metric tons of nitrogen oxide per year.

Jim Newsome, president of the State Ports Authority, spoke against the proposal at Tuesday night’s meeting. Installing shoreside power would add an estimated $5 million to Union Pier’s projected $35 million price tag, and the SPA has been fighting the proposal tooth and nail. “There’s really no data that the cruise ships create a health problem in Charleston,” Newsome said at the meeting.

Dr. Gil Baldwin, a local physician, disputed that claim. He said the “elephant in the room” was polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are not affected by new “scrubber” technologies in cruise ships’ smokestacks. That particular category of pollutants has been linked to a long list of cancers, and Baldwin said shore power would virtually eliminate their emissions from idling ships.

During council debate over Gregorie’s resolution, Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. introduced a shortened version of the resolution with more deferential language, and it ultimately passed 10-2. The new resolution states:

“City Council endorses the actions taken, and to be taken, by the State Ports Authority in maintaining and improving the air quality at the Union Pier terminal and supports the efforts by the General Assembly to assure that funding is available for the installation of shore power at the new passenger terminal, as and when needed.”

Jay Williams, a downtown resident and shore power activist, called the final resolution “a hollow victory” in an e-mail after the meeting.

“It’s sad that the same City Council that stomped out smoking on the sidewalks around our hospitals has never attempted to regulate far more serious toxic emissions from cruise ships in port — or demand the obvious healthy shore power alternative,” Williams wrote.

 

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/imager/city-council-passes-weakened-shoreside-power-resolution/b/original/4874437/a135/uncharted-magnum.jpg

illustration by Scott Suchy

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/TheBattery/archives/2014/02/28/city-council-passes-weakened-shoreside-power-resolution

Shoreside power advocates support resolution

Click here to see the newsclip or read the verbiage below.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Charleston City Council is debating whether it should pass a resolution supporting shore power for cruise ships. The measure would require ships to use electricity while docked instead of its onboard diesel engines.

A group of supporters is pushing to make it a reality.

“We want people to still want to come here.  We don’t want them to be overwhelmed,” said Carrie Agnew.

She loves Charleston, but she worries about its future as a tourist destination because of pollution from cruise ships.

“If you’re going to be doing something, you want to be doing the most advanced thing as possible.  And I think Charleston deserves no less,” said Agnew.

She’s executive director of Charleston Communities For Cruise Control, also known as C-4.  Her group wants city leaders to push for shore power at a proposed passenger terminal at Union Pier.

“We just think it makes much more sense when you’re building a new cruise terminal to be fiscally responsible and environmentally sensitive and do the right thing,” said Agnew.

Carnival has already promised to install exhaust-gas cleaning technology on its Charleston-based “Fantasy” next year.  It’s already begun using low-sulfur marine gas oil.

Officials from the State Ports Authority say more than $16 million has been spent in the last ten years to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.  They support Carnival’s efforts to do the same.

Still, advocates of shore power say more needs to be done to protect the environment and people.

“The amount of soot on my porch increased significantly,” said Gil Baldwin.

He lives near Union Pier.  The retired doctor is also a medical advisor for C4.  He, too, is concerned about pollution from cruise ships.

“We know that plug-in power reduces these harmful, very carcinogenic materials to virtually zero,” said Baldwin.

A simple vote for cleaner air

A simple vote for cleaner air

If Charleston City Council, when asked Tuesday to support reducing air pollution from cruise ships, says “no,” local residents should have some serious concerns about the people who have been elected to represent them.

A resolution by Councilman Dudley Gregorie simply supports adding shoreside power capabilities to the new Union Pier passenger terminal that the State Ports Authority wants to build. Doing so would allow cruise ships to turn off their particulate-spewing diesel engines and run on electricity while docked.

The debate over cruise ships in Charleston has been long and heated about whether they bring too much crowding and too few economic benefits.

But the Medical Society of Charleston and the state medical association have both called for shoreside power to all but eliminate emissions that can harm people’s hearts and lungs and have been associated with cancer.

Those emissions could be reduced significantly by switching to shore power.

Neighbors of the port have talked about the buildup of soot on their homes from cruise ships and their health concerns about breathing polluted air. Numerous ports have made the switch to shore power to address health risks.

Recognizing that, the federal Maritime Administration recently agreed to contribute $700,000 for the construction of a test hydrogen cell power system at the Port of Honolulu. Why? It would be cost effective and more environmentally friendly than diesel fuel.

Carnival Cruiselines, wanting to use less expensive fuel than the government is mandating, is experimenting with scrubbers to reduce some of the emissions, and thereby satisfy those tougher regulations.

Anything to reduce pollution is good, but scrubbers are not the final answer in Charleston. Dr. Robert Ball, chairman of the Charleston County Medical Society’s Public/Environmental Health Committee, said, “Scrubbers are inadequate to satisfactorily address long-term public health concerns. They are, according to current data, one-fourth as efficient as shore power.”

Still, the SPA has not embraced the idea of shoreside power. It is working with DHEC toward monitoring the impact of vessels’ engines.

And a port spokeswoman alluded to “more modern technologies that provide equal or greater benefit,” but offered no specifics.

That possibility is hardly an excuse for failing to include shoreside power in plans for the terminal. If, before construction, something far superior appears, plans can change. But if it doesn’t, the people who live and work and visit the area near the port should be assured that they will be spared noxious emissions.

Mr. Gregorie hopes that if council approves the resolution, the state Legislature will take note as it considers setting aside up to $5 million to install shore power.

The allocation was proposed by Reps. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, and Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston. It has been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee.

City Council could mend some fences and demonstrate it has residents’ best interests at heart by supporting Mr. Gregorie’s resolution. Failing to do so would send a message that members don’t really care if people are exposed to cruise ship air pollution. Or if members do care, they don’t care enough to take a stand on the issue.

Or it could signal that Charleston’s elected officials are more interested in pleasing the SPA than taking care of residents. The people of Charleston are as eager as the rest of the state to see the port continue to be a success. But it isn’t as if the SPA would be asked to do anything many other ports aren’t already doing by using shore power.

Banners on numerous houses in downtown Charleston call for reducing cruise ship emissions by adding shore power. Neighborhood associations support the idea.

The movement isn’t arbitrary or insignificant. And data support what they stand for.

Cleaner air for Charleston? There’s no reason to say “no.”

CHS | Why we’re lucky to have the Post and Courier

There are big differences in journalistic integrity among today’s newspapers.  Some papers refuse to be self-critical, some papers stifle comments and opinions opposed to their editorial positions, are critical of the paper or one of their reporters or columnists.   Some were once “great newspapers” that became great by reporting stories honestly and serving as a forum for an open public discourse of issues and ideas.   But in the industry’s new era of cost-cutting, media bias and compromise, many have slipped.
Today the editors of Charleston’s Post and Courier demonstrated greatness.  It wasn’t simply because they published the op-ed below, but because this particular op-ed openly criticized the viewpoint of a popular columnist.  They didn’t have to publish it.  No one would have known.  But they published it.  Unedited.  Charles Rowe and the P&C editorial board deserve credit.  We’re fortunate to have a newspaper in Charleston run by people who still care about journalism’s highest calling.

Here’s that op-ed: “Court keeping a Close Eye on Cruise Issue.”

BY JAY WILLIAMS

If Brian Hicks and Mayor Joe Riley are your only information sources about the proposed Union Pier cruise terminal project, you may be forgiven for not knowing much about it. Especially about two of the most recent lawsuits.

A recent Hicks column began, “The State Supreme Court was pretty dismissive to the ‘cruise control’ crowd last month” before saying that the justices “were sort of condescending.” And “if that wasn’t dismissive enough,” Hicks continued, “Mayor Riley called the lawsuit ‘almost laughable’ from the start.”

Fortunately, there are more nuanced commentators…

Please continue reading in today’s printed Post and Courier or at this link:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140218/PC1002/140219420/1021/court-keeping-a-close-eye-on-cruise-issue

 

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.

Back shore power

Back Shore Power

My home is on Laurens Street. The city long ago zoned Laurens Street, which is adjacent to the proposed cruise terminal, for high-density residential development. This zoning means there are many families living in this very small area.
There are already 60 condominium homes, which are a stone’s throw from where the cruise ships will be docked.

Also approved for development on Laurens Street are two additional high-density residential buildings, one of which would be for senior citizens, many of whom will likely have pre-existing health problems.

My question to Mayor Joe Riley and the members of City Council who blindly follow his lead is this: How can you first zone an area for high-density residential living and then in good conscience propose to place ships proven to emit huge amounts of dangerous sulfur dioxide emissions immediately adjacent to all these homes?

On Feb. 25, at 5 p.m at the Charleston City Council meeting, council member Dudley Gregorie will introduce a motion in support of shoreside power for the proposed new cruise terminal.

I strongly encourage all residents of the city to attend this meeting and take a stand with Mr. Gregorie in support of shoreside power.

I thank Mr. Gregorie for his caring stance on behalf of all citizens.

Tommie Robertson

Laurens Street

Charleston