Saturday, October 29, 2011


For many, many years, there have been County Council Rules in place addressing the procedure for introducing and passing BC Ordinances. The process is very simple:

1. The Administration develops a "Proposal".
2. The "Proposal" is presented to County Council by title only, first at the Committee level. At this juncture, typically, there is no document available for review and, more likely than not, members of County Council are as much in the dark as to the details of the "Proposal" as is the public. At the Committee level, during consideration prior to "FIRST READING" there can be discussion of the "Proposal" and votes are taken. This procedure puts the issue "into the record" and sends the "Proposal" forward to the Regular Council meeting for "FIRST READING" where there is no further discussion or vote.
3. The next step is review prior to "SECOND READING" which takes place at the Committee level. At this point, the issue is opened for discussion and the members of Council should have documents as to the content of the "Proposal". But, at this step in the process, it is not unusual that the documents connected to the "Proposal" are yet to be finalized. County Council has to rely upon the administration for accurate and complete information on the issue. After the discussion is complete, a vote is taken. If the vote is positive, the "Proposed Ordinance" moves on to the Full Council. If the vote is negative, the effort dies.
4. The final step is review prior to "THIRD READING" which takes place at the Committee level. As with the last step, the "Proposal" is read, opened for discussion, and voted upon. With a positive vote, the "Proposal" goes forward to Full Council for "THIRD READING". When Full Council votes for the Proposal it becomes County Law. In a perfect world, at this point in the process, not only a legal document but also all supporting information for this "Proposal" would have been provided. But, history has shown this to not always be the case.

The time frame of this process can vary widely. If there is no hurry for the Ordinance, the full process of passage can take as much as three months. The "Proposal" can receive consideration prior to "FIRST READING" at the Committee meeting on the second Monday of a month and "FIRST READING" at the Regular Council meeting the fourth Monday of that same month. "SECOND READING" and "THIRD READING" can be done the month after and the month after that. But, if the issue is pressing, the process can be shortened measurably. "Special" Committee and Full Council meetings can be called to address the issue.

GE&P is cognizant of the fact that an "official" legal document, "THE ORDINANCE", cannot be issued before County Council has had the opportunity to make all desired revisions to the original "Proposal". But, there is no legitimate reason why this administration cannot issue a document containing the details of its "Proposal" prior to "FIRST READING". There is no legitimate reason why the public should not be fully informed on all matters of County government. There is no reason why the public should not know the intent and possible ramifications of all proposed Ordinances.

GE&P is, also, aware that former administrations have followed the same process for the passage of new "ORDINANCES". But, with all due respect, this administration has proven itself to be a horse of a different color. This administration has maneuvered issues through this process without full disclosure to Council. One glaring example of this subterfuge is the Hwy. 311 waterline issue.

Just because "this is the way things have always been done" does not mean it is correct or even acceptable in this new environment. With past administrations, Council could depend upon the fact that all pertinent information on any issue would be provided. Now, not so much.

County Council could correct this situation very easily. If members of Council would make it known to the administration that they would reject, at "FIRST READING", any new proposal that is not accompanied by a publicly available fact sheet, this nonsense would stop. But, don't hold your breath for this to happen. Some members of Council do not have the time to be involved to this degree of specificity connected to the governance of our County and others just do as they are told.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Today GE&P received a call back from Mr. Dan Brown, reporter for the Berkeley Independent. We discussed his article from last week's paper and Mr. Brown acknowledged that his statement about the "County being in violation of the Clean Water Act" was in error. He, also, agreed to review the DEHEC document that we have supporting our position on the SWMP. Mr. Brown said that he intends to investigate the issue and write a followup article.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Our Founding Fathers were, indeed, the most special people of all time. They formulated a form of government that is more perfect, more amazing, than any other that has ever graced the face of this earth. Also, they constructed their creation atop a bedrock foundation of Rights, one of which is the Freedom of the Press.

When we read the writings and letters of the Founders concerning Freedom of the Press, we learn just how vital they thought this element to be. They realized that the people needed a watchdog to keep an eye on even this pristine new form of government. They considered the Press to be an invaluable element in this "Great Experiment". They didn't consider the role of the Press to be inconsequential. In the Press, they entrusted the responsibility of being the "Fourth Branch of Government".

Since the days of the Founders, history shows that many of the original intentions of these great men have been eroded and bastardized. Some of these attacks have been minor and some have struck at the core of our Republic. One such threat has been the erosion in the trustability of the media. At one time, an American could confidently exclaim, "I read it in the paper so it has to be true and accurate". Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

GE&P could list the national outlets and electronic media sources that can no longer be trusted to provide us with truth in reporting but let's just concentrate on sticking really close to home. We are referring to an article that appeared in the Berkeley Independent this week. Mr. Dan Brown wrote an article to inform the public as to the results of the County Council meeting of September 26, 2011. His main topic in this article was the vote of Council on the Storm Water Management Program fee.

At the beginning of this article, Mr. Brown presented misinformation as true fact. Later in the article, Mr. Brown presented more erroneous information in the form of quotes attributed to Supervisor Davis. The entire article was awash with false information and misleading statements which, consequently, led the readers to false conclusions concerning the issue. GE&P can state with confidence that the BI article presents false information because we have official documents in our possession that directly contradict many of the statements made in this article.

GE&P has attempted to contact Mr. Brown but our call has gone unanswered. We wish we could ask a few questions so as to clarify exactly what led up to the printing of this misleading article.

"Mr. Brown, did you do any independent research on the subject of the SWMP prior to penning this article?"

"Mr. Brown, is it your policy to accept at face value, without obtaining independent verification, any factual statement made by an elected official?"

"Mr. Brown, do you agree with our Founders that the Press is the Fourth Branch of Government and, if so, how seriously do you take this responsibility?"

GE&P does not expect anyone, including ourselves, to be perfect all the time. Believe it or not, we have actually "misspoken" on an occasion or two but it is totally unacceptable for a newspaper article about an issue of so much import to the community to go this far in the wrong direction down the garden path. To add to the outrage, GE&P's offer to provide the newspaper with the official documents that disprove the statements in this article was rejected. We would have thought it might be beneficial to the public to confront Supervisor Davis with these documents and, then, write an article about his reaction.

GE&P would like to humbly offer some advice to all local publications: If you want to be considered "newspapers", then print the complete truth with as much accuracy as possible. Present your readers with all sides of the issues that impact their lives. If your only goal is to be considered a "shopping guide", then change your name and advertise yourselves as such.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


GE&P would like to do a bit of housekeeping today. We have noticed that a few threads have been left hanging from the very busy list of BC government happenings of late.

The taxpayers of BC experienced two major victories last week:

On Monday, by a 6/2 vote of County Council, a new SWMP Fee (tax) was rejected. All 4 of the Conservative Republicans and the 2 Democrats on Council helped achieved this taxpayer victory with their "NO" votes. As was to be expected, the 2 RINOs, Schurlknight and Call, supported the new tax with their "YES" votes.

On Tuesday, a Conservative Republican was elected to fill the vacant State House #100 seat. There was a well organized Democrat challenge in this race. The success for the Conservatives was due, in large part, to the leadership and organizational skills of the BCGOP Chairman, Tim Callanan.

Citizens who keep up with the shenanigans within BC government were not surprised that many oddities accompanied the vote on the SWMP "FEE" issue. It seemed that the Supervisor was convinced, right up to the moment the votes were cast, that he would be successful in imposing a new $1.4 Million tax on the people of BC. As the vote approached, the Council chamber was electric with anticipation. Conservative Councilmen Callanan, Fish, Farley, and Davis voted "NO"; Rinos, Call and Schurlknight voted "YES". Only the two Democrat votes were left to be cast. Piece of cake for the Supervisor, right? Not so fast.

As the Supervisor confidently sat displaying his customary smug little grin, Mr. Pinckney shocked the room as he voted "NO". The next 30 seconds seemed to elapse in slow-motion. The Supervisor's smug grin melted, replaced by an expression of disbelief. He turned toward Mr. Pinckney and Mr. Davis' countenance revealed his thoughts without him uttering a word, "SAY, WHAT?"

After Mr. Pinckney's "NO" vote, which meant the issue was defeated, Councilman Davis joked about his vote being irrelevant and unnecessary at that time. The Supervisor ignored Mr. Davis's comments and flew into a hissy fit. He announced that he planned to "write a letter to DEHEC, reporting the names of the Councilmen who had voted against the Ordinance". Possibly due to the rarity of disloyalty from any of his minions, the Supervisor truly made a fool of himself with his comments.

As amusing as the actions surrounding the actual vote were, there were other interesting events connected to this issue. Due to the curiosity of several taxpayers, it was learned that the proposed "FEE" had been added to the online tax bills several weeks prior to the vote of Council. These online documents were reviewed by numerous citizens and members of the media. Originally, the full "FEE" of $36 appeared on the bills. Shortly before the Monday Council meeting where the Supervisor introduced his new proposal to reduce the "FEE", the "FEE" was already reduced to $12 on the online bills. The day after the "NO" vote was taken, the "FEE" had totally disappeared from these bills.

The week before the Council meeting in question, members of the media contacted the administration to inquire about the "FEE" being on the tax bills prior to a vote of Council. The administration, via a second level official, assured the reporters that the "FEE" was definitely, positively, absolutely, unequivocally, unquestionably NOT included on the tax bills. (GE&P's question to those who viewed the tax bill prior to the cleansing: "Who are you going to believe, the administration or your lying eyes?")

Another interesting thing happened during this time frame. For quality control reasons, it seems that there are "test runs" of the tax bills printed prior to the mailing dates. Consequently, being as the "FEE" was included on the electronic versions, the "FEE" appeared on the "test runs". Numerous folks witnessed this to be a fact. Oops. But, don't be concerned that any of these documents might have fallen into the "wrong" hands, establishing proof that "somebody" lied. The administration collected all of these incriminating documents and, we are certain, disposed of them properly. Really? (200+ year old advice from one of our Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin: "If three people intend to keep a secret, two of the three had better be dead people.")

The events surrounding the SWMP FEE are yet more examples of the bewildering mindset of this administration. Considering the debacle in Charleston County concerning their tax bills, it would have been perfectly understandable had the Supervisor admitted that the "FEE" had been included on our bills prior to a vote. He could have explained that, since he fully expected the Ordinance to pass a vote of Council, he included it as the tax bills were being prepared, so as to avoid any delay in the mailings. He may have received some criticism after the "NO" vote but he would have avoided being accused of being disingenuous. As it is now, it appears this Administration's first inclination is to tell a lie even when the truth would be of more benefit.

Just because the taxpayers have dodged the $1.4 Million new tax bullet, this is no time to sit on your laurels. Don't forget the budget process for the upcoming "physical" (We decided to use the spelling and pronunciation preferred by Mr. Schurlknight. After all, he is the Chairman of the Finance Committee so he must know from whence he speaks.)year is just around the corner. The SWMP "FEE" is bound to be put back on the table. It is incumbent upon the citizens to stay involved and insist that this administration adhere to the portions of the mandate that require citizen education and input.

It may come as a surprise to some that the execution of this mandate requires no special expertise other than familiarizing oneself with the Rules. All one has to possess is the ability to read and comprehend the English language. Consequently, input from regular citizens who have taken the time to educate themselves on the subject can only be of benefit to the County in this effort. If enough private citizens are involved in the process there will be a smaller opportunity for the Supervisor to "cook the books" and create a false justification for a huge tax increase next year. Fear not, Mr. Davis, BC citizens will not take their eyes off this ball.

GE&P has no intention of basking in the soft glow of success. Tune in tomorrow for an outline of our next campaign.