HICKS COLUMN: This 526 thing is getting too nasty
Just before the election, someone took one of Colleen Condon's campaign signs and wrote “Pleez rape” right above her name.
That's monumentally offensive, and not just because this illiterate knucklehead doesn't know how to spell.
The Charleston County councilwoman puts the blame for this tasteless vandalism squarely on Interstate 526 supporters. Condon can't think of anyone else so mean.
“That's just how intense this has gotten,” Condon says.
That's an understatement.
Right now, being on County Council is not all it's cracked up to be. These nine folks are under constant pressure from supporters and opponents of a plan to finish the bypass, tying West Ashley to downtown Charleston.
They are being lobbied by Johns Island residents, city officials, environmentalists and even political parties — all of which think they know best.
And it's only going to get worse.
The normal rules and alliances of local politics don't apply here.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is one of the road's biggest proponents: Democrat. Condon is squarely against it: again, Democrat.
Nix 526, the anti-road group that met Monday night and decided to keep the pressure on county council: mixed bag.
Elliott Summey, County Council's vice chairman, is also pushing for the road: Republican. And council members Dickie Schweers and Joe Qualey are dead set against it: Republicans.
Schweers recently got an email from the county Republican Party's executive committee, announcing its support for finishing 526. Hint, hint.
Schweers was not impressed.
“I've always said I don't think it's the fiscally responsible thing to do.”
The city's gambit is that the County Council, sick of dealing with this albatross and facing the possibility of a default that will hurt their credit rating, will turn the project over just to get rid of it.
But it's not that simple.
Sick and tired
If Riley gets his hands on 526, it's as good as built. So the only option the Nix 526 types have is to stop the county from giving it to Riley.
Schweers is lucky — no one is wasting time lobbying him. Same for Qualey and Condon. Council Chairman Teddie Pryor supports the road, along with Summey and Vic Rawl. No one is trying to change their minds.
But Herb Sass, Anna Johnson and Henry Darby are bombarded with this every day, and frankly, are sick of it.
They don't like to talk about it, but this is what's happening: The phone calls never stop, their colleagues pester them weekly, and they've been threatened with primary opposition in their next election.
The arguments for and against the road are starting to run together. Will building the road promote growth on Johns Island, or is the growth already there and this is the only way to avoid a catastrophic bottleneck? Both are probably true.
Only one thing is for sure: County Council's December vote on what to do with 526 can't get here fast enough.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com or read his blog at blog.postandcourier.com/brians-blog.