Trees’ fault?

What alternate universe are we living in when we continue to blame inanimate objects for humans’ faults, failures and lack of personal responsibility? It is quite a stretch to punish trees along I-26 for the accidents that continue to occur there. These sentinels help cool the Lowcountry air and suck up all that nasty old pollution from vehicles passing by. They seem to be getting a bad rap.

Once you leave the Orange-burg area, driving does become hypnotic with nowhere to park and walk off the doze. Many times I have been tempted to pull into the truck weigh station.

Since three law enforcement agencies overlap in policing the area after crossing I-95, why not more consistent “patrolling the big block”? How about a car parked as a decoy and moved daily — occasionally with a valid officer?

When I travel that area at the posted speed limit, I am passed like I’m parked, but in the whole strip I see nary a sign of law enforcement. Issuing some tickets might help.

Or maybe the DOT could build an easy-in-easy-out pull-off with walking room in the high accident area. Maybe they could even allow truck vendors to bid for time and help reduce the S.C. budget shortfall at the same time.

S. M. Salmon

Runnymede Lane

Summerville

Time to explain

How many more news articles does The Post and Courier intend to publish about the business/political dealings of Bobby Harrell before the front page headline reads “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”?

He makes it so easy with lame excuses for everything instead of real proof, unless there is none. It is a wonderful blending of hubris and chutzpah.

A classic reason for term limits on legislators; they won’t be around long enough to have to explain.

Seymour Rosenthal

Waterfront Drive

Mount Pleasant

Funding proposal

As members of Charleston City Council, we were recently presented with an additional funding request by Mayor Joe Riley to support the construction of two fire stations and provide additional police officers near our elementary schools — both public and private.

I know that any time there is a tax increase proposed, there is a negative reaction. That was also my initial reaction.

I do not consider this increase an emergency as it has been described. There are several factors at play, which I have studied, and these were used to guide my decision to support this measure during its first vote.

To me the most pressing issue is that of the fire stations at Cainhoy and in the Carolina Bay areas of the city. These stations, equipment and personnel should have been part of the budget process in 2011. I am disappointed in those city officials, including the fire department, for not prioritizing these expenditures in their budget request. As a result, people living in those areas would have seen significant increases in their insurance premiums due to the fact of not having a fire station and related manpower and equipment. I believe providing fire services for the protection of life and property is a core function of government.

After the Sandy Hook event in December, Chief of Police Gregory Mullen was tasked with reviewing our local risks and he developed a comprehensive plan. The plan included both public and private elementary schools and calls for a high level of coordination and cooperation between the schools and police.

The addressing of these issues is not a question of “if” but when. Those who voted against the tax increase acknowledged the need for the services. All of our concerns were about how to pay for them.

In the short term, I believe we can offset the increase by using 100 percent of the local option sales tax to lower our millage, which was done in the 2012 budget. My thoughts are that as our economy improves, the increased local option sales tax will allow us to offset the proposed tax increase. We are also hopeful that the state will provide funds to assist us with the school safety issue.

This is not an easy decision for me or my colleagues on council but one that requires leadership.

Please attend the public hearing on this issue on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. at Charleston City Hall on Broad Street. Let your voices be heard.

William Moody

Betsy Drive

Charleston

Tax hike

I attended the Feb. 12 Charleston City Council meeting. The main topic was the Emergency Public Safety tax hike that required $3.48 million starting this year. Included were 19 new police officers for elementary school security and two new fire stations at Cainhoy and West Ashley. Each was identified in detailed briefings as critical by Police Chief Gregory Mullen and Fire Chief Karen Brack.

No councilmember questioned the need for, or spoke against these city identified requirements. Many in attendance spoke emotionally about the need to protect our children in their schools, but I don’t recall anyone mentioning the need for more fire stations.

All council members supported increasing school security; the only question was how to fund it.

Mayor Joe Riley was very emotional and spoke about the assassination of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and the recent violence in schools.

After the 8-5 vote in favor of the bill, he questioned the logic used by some councilmembers to delay the project and seek other means of funding. Unfortunately, Mayor Riley let his emotions cloud his fiscal responsibility as mayor.

Councilman Gary White gave an excellent presentation that acknowledged the need for increased school safety but outlined funding means other than taxation.

Other councilmembers asked if the city was remiss in not identifying fire station needs years ago. It was mentioned that two months ago, Mayor Riley stated the 2013 budget met all urgent city needs. He made no mention of additional fire stations.

I am reminded of a statement made by a former presidential chief of staff:

“Never let a good crisis go unused.” Has Mayor Riley decided this is the way to run the city?

More school security is important, but we must also be fiscally responsible.

Al Hansen

Dalton Street

Daniel Island

Perfect candidate

The Feb. 17 article dealing with the music director search proposed by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (“CSO plans 2013-14 season; candidates to conduct concerts”) failed to mention the most qualified and respected candidate for this position: Yuriy Bekker.

Mr. Bekker serves as concertmaster and acting artistic director for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and is in no small measure responsible for the revival of the CSO.

He currently conducts a substantial number of the CSO’s chamber and pops concerts, consistently displaying both artistry and formidable musicianship.

His leadership, when combined with the talents of respected guest conductors such as JoAnn Falletta, would provide a clear path toward distinction for the CSO.

Frederick Himmelein

Lenwood Boulevard

Charleston

Risky drive

Between the gunfire and the trees, it’s a wonder anyone traveling I-26 makes it to Columbia alive.

Tom Doyle

Godfrey Park Place

Charleston

No trust

I am stunned that Mark Sanford has personally asked me for my vote by numerous telephone calls and by mail. Mr. Sanford’s failure and insult to his family are private matters, but he also abandoned me, a taxpayer and a former constituent who voted for him.

He left his post and took a vacation on my time and using my funds. His staff couldn’t find him and was left to face the music while he “wandered in the mountains.” He wasn’t even in the United States.

I equate his actions with the Italian cruise boat captain who abandoned his sinking ship, leaving some passengers and crew to perish.

There is no honor in Mark Sanford. He destroyed his own career. He is not a “wounded warrior” as he claims. He has dishonored all military wounded warriors who actually faced the enemy in battle.

I hope the voters of South Carolina don’t become the laughingstock of the United States by voting for someone who lacks moral fiber — who lies, cheats and runs away.

M.M. HOLT

Trinity Place

Ladson