Posts Tagged preservation society of charleston

State Appeal Hearing… Thank you SELC & SCELP!!

Thanks to ALL those who attended! We took up most of the courtroom….Here is the full article:

 

TOP STORY

Appeals court hears argument on cruise ships in Charleston

COLUMBIA — The state Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in the long-running debate over a new cruise ship terminal in Charleston’s Historic District.

There is no deadline for the court to make its ruling, and it could take a year or more.

The arguments centered on whether the Preservation Society of Charleston, Coastal Conservation League and residents of the city’s historic district have the right to sue the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for issuing a 2012 permit to the State Ports Authority for support pilings beneath an old warehouse at Union Pier.

That is where the Ports Authority wants to build a new, larger terminal for cruise ships, about 100 feet north of its current terminal.

The group of preservationists and conservationists filed a lawsuit challenging DHEC’s permit because they feel a larger terminal in the Historic District would exacerbate problems like pollution and traffic.

A state Administrative Law Court judge previously ruled the groups did not have a right to sue. Those groups filed their appeal in 2014, but the appeals court delayed hearing the oral arguments repeatedly.

Blan Holman, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center representing the plaintiffs, reiterated concerns about the proposed terminal Wednesday to the panel of three judges. He said if residents may challenge a permit for a liquor store near their homes, they also should be allowed to challenge a permit for a large cruise ship terminal nearby.

“These are not cargo ships. They are floating towns with more people than Sullivan’s Island,” Holman said.

He added that residents who live near the docked ships deal with soot from the exhaust pipes in the air and on their properties, potentially harming their health.

“These people are experiencing harm directly on their person and in their homes,” he said. “They are entitled to have a hearing from an administrative law judge.”

Attorney Chad Johnston of Willoughby & Hoefer PA of Columbia represented the SPA. He said the Administrative Law Court was right to dismiss the lawsuit because those residents and groups will not be harmed by future cruise ship operations.

“The Ports Authority submits that the cruise industry is a valuable part of its business model, and it will continue to accept cruise ships at its current location or at the new one, regardless of what happens in this case,” Johnston said.

 In addition to the state permit, the Ports Authority also needs a federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with the new terminal. A previous federal permit application was tossed out by U.S. District Judge Gergel, who ruled that it did not properly consider the impacts the new facility would have on the city’s Historic District.

The Army Corps is now reviewing a new application.

Bradley Churdar, DHEC’s attorney, argued Wednesday that the state’s permit should not be vacated simply because a previous federal permit had been. He also said the Administrative Law Court decision is not subject to appeal.

Chief Judge James E. Lockemy asked Holman what he thought might happen if that court’s ruling is upheld.

“I believe if we were found to not have standing … we would have fewer rights than the person who challenges the liquor store on the corner,” Holman said. “It’s taking away these taxpaying, property-holding citizens’ rights to participate in an administrative process.”

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Judge: Opponents have standing to challenge state permit for Charleston cruise terminal

By BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press
Updated: December 03, 2013 – 3:16 pm

CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Charleston neighborhood, conservation and preservation groups may challenge a state permit for a $35 million South Carolina passenger cruise terminal, a state administrative law judge has ruled.

In a 16-page ruling on Monday, Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph K. Anderson III rejected a South Carolina Ports Authority motion to dismiss a challenge to a state Department of Health and Environmental Control permit.

The DHEC permit certified that putting added pilings beneath an old riverfront warehouse so it can be renovated as a new terminal complies with state coastal regulations.

The permit challenge is one of three ongoing legal fights involving the city’s cruise industry.

The Ports Authority in July asked Anderson to dismiss the challenge to the state permit, saying the pilings have not yet been installed and so there has been no injury to the plaintiffs and they have no standing to appeal. Attorneys also argued the appeal should be dismissed because whether cruises operate out of Charleston is a political question, not one for the administrative law court.

Anderson noted the plaintiffs, who include six local groups, allege the permit will allow more cruise ships with the pollution, traffic and health impacts that accompany them.

“At this stage of the proceedings, the court finds that petitioners have sufficiently alleged that the organizations have standing,” he concluded, but added he would consider the larger issue of whether cruises should be allowed at all.

“The case before this court involves the discrete matter of whether the permit issued to the Ports Authority complies with state law,” he wrote.

A hearing is set for next month.

The question of whether the cruise industry is a public nuisance is now before the state Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments last month and have not indicated when they might rule.

The third legal challenge is to federal permit for the terminal pilings. A federal judge ruled in September that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not study the issue adequately and tossed out the permit. The Ports Authority and the Corps have appealed that decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia

Terminal opponents say they want limits on cruises so they don’t overwhelm the city. Supporters say the city will only be a niche cruise market and the industry is already being appropriately regulated.

(Story distributed by The Associated Press)

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SC Group Teams With Cruise Groups in Fla., Italy – The New York Times

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 4, 2013 at 3:29 PM ET

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A citizens group from Charleston has formed a coalition with similar groups in Venice, Italy, and Key West, Fla., to work for regulations protecting smaller historic port cities from the congestion and pollution that can accompany cruise calls.

“The only way we can do anything is if we work together and if we shout together,” Carrie Agnew, executive director of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, said Monday. “By working together and by joining forces and sending out the same messages everywhere we can have that much more credibility, we can have that much more reach.”

The Charleston group will work with a group called No Big Boats in Venice and the Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism. The size and number of cruise ships has been a subject of controversy in both cities in recent years and “Charleston is sort of on a precipice,” Agnew said.

Agnew says her group does not want to ban the cruise industry. “What we are looking for are reasonable regulations for port cities,” she said.

The Charleston group has proposed a Cruise Ship Code of Conduct that includes a ban on ships with a capacity of more than 3,000 from regularly visiting the city, limiting cruise calls in the city to two a week and requiring ships to use onshore power or burn low sulfur fuel while idling at dockside.

Supporters of the Charleston’s cruise industry say the city will only be a niche market and that the cruise trade is being appropriately handled. They say it creates jobs and is an economic boost for the city.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ 2,056-passenger liner Fantasy has home-ported in Charleston for more than three years. Before that, cruises made port calls, but no ships were based in the city.

The expanded cruise industry and the South Carolina State Ports Authority’s plans for a $35 million cruise terminal has resulted in lawsuits by environmental, preservation and neighborhood groups in state and federal court and a permit challenge in state administrative law court.

On Nov. 19, the state Supreme Court hears arguments in a lawsuit alleging that cruises in the city are a public nuisance and violate city zoning ordinances.

Meanwhile, the South Carolina State Ports Authority is appealing a federal judge’s decision tossing out a permit to install pilings allowing the terminal to be built. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled earlier in September there was no adequate review of the effects on the city’s historic district. Another challenge to a state permit for those pilings will be heard in administrative law court early next year.

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Too Big to Sail?

Too Big to Sail? Cruise Ships Face Scrutiny

Peter W. Cross for The New York TimesRoyal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas has 2,706 rooms, as well as a shopping mall, a casino and a water park.

One of the largest cruise ships in 1985 was the 46,000-ton Carnival Holiday. Ten years ago, the biggest, the Queen Mary 2, was three times as large. Today’s record holders are two 225,000-ton ships whose displacement, a measure of a ship’s weight, is about the same as that of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

The Costa Concordia, owned by the Carnival Corporation, capsized off the coast of Italy last year, killing 32 people.

Cruise ships keep growing bigger, and more popular. The Cruise Lines International Association said that last year its North American cruise line members carried about 17 million passengers, up from seven million in 2000. But the expansion in ship size is worrying safety experts, lawmakers and regulators, who are pushing for more accountability, saying the supersize craze is fraught with potential peril for passengers and crew.

“Cruise ships operate in a void from the standpoint of oversight and enforcement,” said James E. Hall, a safety management consultant and the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board between 1994 and 2001. “The industry has been very fortunate until now.”

The perils were most visible last year when the Costa Concordia, owned by the Carnival Corporation, which is based in Miami, capsized off the coast of Italy. The accident killed 32 people and revealed fatal lapses in safety and emergency procedures.

In February, a fire crippled the Carnival Triumph, stranding thousands without power for four days in the Gulf of Mexico until the ship was towed to shore. Another blaze forced Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas to a port in the Bahamas in May. Pictures showed the ship’s stern blackened by flames and smoke.

Although most have not resulted in any casualties, the string of accidents and fires has heightened concerns about the ability of megaships to handle emergencies or large-scale evacuations at sea. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, introduced legislation this summer that would strengthen federal oversight of cruise lines’ safety procedures and consumer protections.

Cruise operators point out that bigger ships have more fire safety equipment, and contend they are safer. After a fire aboard the Carnival Splendor three years ago, Carnival adopted new training procedures and added safety features that it says helped with the rapid detection and suppression of the fire on the Triumph.

After the Triumph fire, Carnival also announced it would spend $700 million to improve its safety operations, including $300 million on its fleet of 24 Carnival Cruise Lines ships. Carnival is the largest cruise operator, owning about half of all cruise ships worldwide.

“We have over time improved the safety of our vessels by better training and better technology and learning from incidents that have happened over the years,” said Mark Jackson, Carnival’s vice president for technical operations, who joined the company in January after 24 years with the Coast Guard.

Some experts doubt that ships can grow much larger than the current behemoths, marvels of naval engineering that combine the latest technology and entertainment. Today’s biggest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, has 2,706 rooms, 16 decks, 22 restaurants, 20 bars and 10 hot tubs, as well as a shopping mall, a casino, a water park, a half-mile track, a zip line, mini golf and Broadway-style live shows. It can accommodate nearly 6,300 passengers and 2,394 crew members — the equivalent of a small town towering over the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. It measures 1,188 feet long. Its sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas, is two inches shorter.

Experts point out that larger ships have larger challenges. For instance, they have fewer options in an emergency, said Michael Bruno, dean of the engineering school at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., and former chairman of the National Research Council’s Marine Board.

“Given the size of today’s ships, any problem immediately becomes a very big problem,” he said. “I sometimes worry about the options that are available.”

A recent report by the Coast Guard on the Splendor fire revealed glaring problems with the crew’s firefighting abilities as well as failures in fire safety equipment.

The investigation did not address the size of the ship, which carried 3,299 passengers. But it showed that big vessels can quickly become crippled by small fires that disable complex systems. No passengers were hurt, but the damage to the engine room was severe, disabling the ship’s power and forcing it to be towed to port in San Diego.

The investigation found a wide range of problems with the engine’s maintenance history as well as missing fire safety records. No fire drills had been conducted in the engine room for six months. Emergency sprinklers were turned off by mistake and then doused the wrong parts of the engine room. Believing the fire had been contained, the captain vented the engine room to clear out the smoke. He reignited the fire instead.

These incidents have brought new attention to the behavior of cruise operators. Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for prevention policy, said at a Senate hearing in July that the three fires, including the one aboard the Splendor, “highlight serious questions about the design, maintenance and operation of fire safety equipment on board these vessels, as well as their companies’ safety management cultures.”

In July, the Coast Guard said cruise ships would need to conduct periodic engine-room fire drills.

The risks of building bigger ships became apparent over a decade ago, as cruise companies pushed the limits of naval architecture. The head of the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency in charge of marine regulations, warned in 2000 of the growing hazards of building larger ships and called for a comprehensive review of safety rules, known as Safety of Life at Sea, or Solas. William O’Neil, the group’s secretary general at the time, said the industry could not “rely on luck holding indefinitely.”

One result was a set of new global regulations in 2010 called the Safe Return to Port rules. Those require new ships to have sufficient redundant systems, including power and steerage, to allow them to return to port even in the worst emergency. Only about 10 ships built since then comply with this new rule.

“The idea is that a ship is its own best lifeboat,” said John Hicks, the vice president for global passenger ships at Lloyds Register, the largest ship classification society. “The idea is to do everything to keep the crew and passengers on a vessel.”

Bud Darr, the senior vice president for technical and regulatory affairs at the Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s trade group, said today’s ships operated under layers of oversight.

The Coast Guard inspects each ship that calls at United States ports at least once a year and enforces national and international norms. Private auditors, hired by cruise operators, perform frequent safety reviews, including comprehensive annual checks that last seven to 10 days, he said, and flag countries like the Bahamas or Panama, where most cruise ships are registered, provide their own oversight.

“We are subject to very close scrutiny,” Mr. Darr said. “The standards are universal.”

But incidents like the Costa Concordia grounding have raised questions about whether evacuation regulations are still applicable in the age of megaships. Under the Solas regulations, for instance, passengers grouped at their muster stations must be able to evacuate on lifeboats within 30 minutes of an evacuation alarm.

The investigation into the Costa Concordia revealed that the crew and its captain failed to sound the general evacuation alarm for more than an hour after rocks had breached the hull. As a result, some lifeboats could not be lowered once the ship started to list.

After the accident, cruise operators said they would change muster drill procedures. Instead of holding a drill for passengers within 24 hours of departure, cruise ships said they would do so before ships leave a port.

While ships are becoming bigger, the burden on crew members is growing. The Queen Elizabeth 2, which was launched in 1969, had one crew member for about 1.8 passengers. On the Triumph, the ratio was one crew member for every 2.8 passengers. The issue is also complicated by language and communication problems, and a high crew turnover rate that can reach 35 percent a year.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation, which represents seafarers and crew members, has expressed concerns about the evacuation time and suggested the need to limit the number of people aboard ships, depending on where they operate and what search-and-rescue facilities are available.

“Experience has cast doubt on the adequacy of existing lifesaving appliances,” the group said in a report. “The current equipment, especially lifeboats and life rafts, has proved to be inadequate when confronted with high sea states.”

Safety rules also state that lifeboats should not carry more than 150 people. But the two largest ships, the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas, have much bigger lifeboats, for 370 people, because of a provision of the 2010 rules that allows for exemptions if the cruise line can demonstrate an equivalent level of safety.

Those bigger lifeboats have only enough room for passengers. To evacuate the more than 2,300 crew members, the ships are equipped with inflatable rafts that would have to be entered through 59-foot evacuation chutes.

“The simple problem is they are building them too big and putting too many people aboard,” said Capt. William H. Doherty, a former safety manager for Norwegian Cruise Lines, the world’s third-largest cruise operator, and now the director of maritime relations at the Nexus Consulting Group. “My answer is they probably exceeded the point of manageability.”

He added, “The magnitude of the problem is much bigger than the cruise industry wants to acknowledge.”

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Now there’s an icon, Charleston.

The Oct. 20 Post and Courier Commentary page hit home on two counts: Alan Farago’s call for cruise regulations and Clemson President James Barker’s vision of the proposed Clemson Architecture Center at Meeting and George streets.

Having just returned from my fifth river cruise, with a post-stay in Prague, I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Farago.

The continuing unabated growth of cruise tourism will surely affect Charleston’s character, its quality of life and the environment.

The Charleston peninsula is simply too small to accommodate mammoth ships and hordes of passengers arriving and departing via personal automobiles.

Building the terminal in downtown Charleston would be a huge mistake.

Why can’t Mayor Joe Riley see that the sensible location for the cruise terminal is at the shipyard in North Charleston or across the river in Mount Pleasant?

Cruise passengers are accustomed to being bused to the day’s venue, often at some distance. It’s part of the adventure.

And to Mr. Barker’s desire for the proposed Clemson Architecture Center to become an architectural landmark in the city, I suggest he go back to the drawing board.

The low-level expanse of glass will quickly fill with potted plants, cluttered desks, dangling wires and the backs of computers — not a pretty view from the outside-in.

State of the art it may currently be, but an inspiring icon it will never be.

Let Clemson design an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, aah-arousing building that will have every tourist snapping a photo and buying a postcard, such as Prague’s amazing Dancing House completed in 1996 on a historical site destroyed in WWII. Now there’s an icon, Charleston.

Rose Hutchinson

Indigo Lane

Goose Creek

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Federal judge denies extension in cruise terminal lawsuit

The federal government shutdown is not cause for an extension in a lawsuit challenging a $35 million cruise terminal the State Ports Authority wants to open in downtown Charleston. In a recent ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel said the shutdown doesn’t give him the authority to change a deadline coming up this week in the federal complaint. The lawsuit is challenging an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the proposed passenger building at Union Pier. The Army Corps asked Gergel this month to extend Wednesday’s deadline to respond to his order requiring the agency to go back and review the project more thoroughly. The Army Corps said in court records that the federal shutdown has caused a lapse in funding at the U.S. Department of Justice, which is representing it in the lawsuit. The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the case after the Army Corps issued a permit allowing five pilings to be driven on the waterfront. The pilings are needed to help transform an existing warehouse into the new passenger building.

The opposition groups have said the agency didn’t take into account the impact on historic properties. Gergel agreed. In September, he ordered the Army Corps to redo the study with a more extensive review of the effects on the environment and historic properties. The ports authority, which has joined the lawsuit as a defendant, has been seeking to relocate its cruise terminal to the north end of Union Pier from the south end for about three years. The complaint before Gergel is one of three lawsuits targeting cruise-ship operations in downtown Charleston.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.

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F for Carnival Fantasy

Friends of the Earth has just released its Cruise Line Report Card for 2013, which can be viewed by clicking here.

This year’s Report Card compares the environmental footprint of 16 major cruise lines and 162 cruise ships, in order to help vacationers decide which cruise to take based on a cruise ship or cruise line’s environmental and human health impacts.
The Carnival Fantasy, for the fifth year in a row, earned an overall grade of an “F.” Carnival Cruise Lines began homeporting the Carnival Fantasy (the oldest ship in its fleet) in Charleston beginning in 2010.

The ship’s grade is the result of the following:

  • The ship lacks the most advanced sewage and wastewater treatment systems available, and instead dumps minimally treated sewage directly into the water.
  • The ship is not retrofitted to plug in to shorepower, and instead runs polluting engines when docked in the heart of our downtown area.
  • The ship utilizes higher sulfur fuels continuously.

Carnival Cruise Lines as a whole earned an overall grade of a “C-.” This is an improvement from prior grades over the years. Carnival Cruise Lines has 24 ships, and only two of those ships have advanced sewage treatment systems. The line has one ship operating in Alaska, and during the graded year received four citations from Alaskan authorities for violations of the state’s water pollution standards.
It is also important to distinguish that Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise holder, owns nearly half of the lines in this report, not just Carnival Cruise Lines.

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Don’t ruin city, letter to the editor 10/5/13

Don’t ruin city

I live in Houston, and have made numerous trips to Charleston to be treated time after time to the most pleasant, lovely, historically fascinating, gentle and delightful city in America. I have lodged in hotels downtown, in private homes, and at Middleton Place, and dined in many of your fine restaurants. I cannot say enough about the attractiveness of Charleston.
You are about to ruin this idyllic city with cruise ships. You have a sophisticated city with much appeal to thoughtful travelers who don’t care to jostle on crowded sidewalks with hordes of tourists whose main interest is buying another trinket or a beer.

For the sake of Charleston, don’t let cruise ships make your city a tawdry place. Keep it what it has been for centuries, an historical magnet for the discerning visitor who comes to Charleston for several days, and sometimes weeks.

We spend real money in your fine hotels and restaurants, and some of us may eventually choose to live in Charleston. Don’t spoil it with cruise ships. If you do, we won’t come back, and a treasure will be lost.

Christian N. Seger

Ivanhoe Street

Houston, Texas

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Power Struggle: You Cruise, You Lose!

As taken from The Post and Courier, by Frank Wooten:

Shoreside power to the cruise ships!

That variation on “Power to the people!” won’t generate a rallying cry for Charlestonians demanding that cruise ships use shoreside power when docked here.

But that contentious issue is still sparking hard feelings.

As plugged-in colleague Bo Petersen reported on our front page Wednesday, getting electricity to a cruise ship that “switches off its engine in port to keep from burning polluting fuel” requires an “outlet that zings enough juice to light up several thousand homes.”

However, the venerable Carnival Fantasy, which home-ports at the State Ports Authority’s cruise terminal on the south end of Union Pier, isn’t equipped for shoreside power.

Our story also reported that what “started this whole mess and continues to drive it is toxic black exhaust from the cruise ship smokestacks at dock as the engines provide the ship’s electric power.”

And that powers much of the opposition to the proposed new $35 million SPA terminal at the north end of Union Pier.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is on board with SPA President/CEO Jim Newsome for that plan, which includes an extensive — and expensive — waterfront redevelopment beyond the new terminal. Both men stress that you can’t have one (that grand redevelopment) without the other (that swell new terminal).

The Coastal Conservation League and Preservation Society of Charleston are among the groups challenging the terminal construction permit in court.

Some folks see the new terminal and its accompanying redevelopment as needed economic-engine boosters in what is, after all, our Port City.

Some folks question why the city gives cruise ships a virtually free regulatory ride — and why those massive motors should keep belching unhealthy emissions while those vessels are docked.

Some dignified downtown folks are aghast at the unseemly spectacle of cruise passengers clad in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops roaming freely about our Holy City.

Hazardous voyages

Enough about that divisive power debate for now.

What powers cruisers our way in the first place?

From Carnival’s web site:

“Give in to the genteel feel of the old South on Carnival cruises from Charleston, South Carolina. This is a gracious city of antebellum homes and sprawling plantations, best appreciated from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. The city’s unique Low country cuisine and dozens of delicious restaurants make it a southern foodie destination.”

Gee, and we genteel types lucky enough to live in these parts can do all of that without packing ourselves like sardines with strangers on a big boat (actually, a ship).

Most of us who live here even know that Lowcountry is one word.

Anyway, regardless of your present location or desired destination, why risk the ordeals endured by far too many cruisers?

Three months ago, Carnival figuratively threw co-founder Micky Arison overboard from his 35-year job as CEO.

From an Associated Press dispatch: “Arison came under fire during Carnival’s bad publicity earlier in the year when a string of its cruise ships suffered through mechanical problems and fires. The most dramatic of them was the Carnival Triumph where passengers were stranded at sea for five days as toilets backed up and air conditioners failed. There were media reports of raw sewage seeping through walls and carpets.”

We non-cruisers drew fresh validation from those gruesome plumbing details.

Fortunately, though, you can vicariously savor high-seas romance without smelling any broken-down cruise-ship stench.

Just watch vintage reruns of “The Love Boat” online.

Exciting and new

That 1977-87 ABC diversion features a future U.S. House member (Iowa Republican Fred Grandy as ship’s purser Burl “Gopher” Smith) and guest-star rosters of show-biz has-beens (including future California Republican House member Sonny Bono as a rock singer who falls in love with a deaf woman).

Despite a generally breezy tone, the series’ subtle subtexts frequently explore expanding social consciousness.

A DVD synopsis of my favorite episode, from 1978:

“A beauty contest on board ship divides a couple (Maureen McCormick, Bobby Sherman). A reporter (Vicki Lawrence) falls for a disgraced congressman (Dick Van Patten).”

They don’t make TV shows like that anymore.

But they do still make disgraced congressmen.

And they make cruise ships that can use shoreside power.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.

 

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