I was surprised that the lead story in the Jan. 20 Post and Courier detailed the sting of a Charleston rickshaw driver who had the temerity of being a hospitable pedaler while taking his client (read undercover police officer) exactly where she asked to go.
My call to David Criscitiello confirmed that he was taking his customer from "Point A" to "Point B" along the Battery, and that he conversed with her about the many historic sites along the way.
He was being polite. He did not charge an extra fee for his transport - the rickshaw drivers bill for time, not mileage, and his client wanted to take a scenic, but not circuitous, route.
I am concerned that public resources were devoted to a long investigation and sting of offending bootleg-tour-giving rickshaw drivers when we are constantly reminded by the City of Charleston that we must embrace tourism, be hospitable to all visitors, and acquiesce to the various inconveniences that come with it to residents.
I assume that the police department could have just as easily sent a warning memo to rickshaw companies, or in this specific instance, issued a warning citation to David Criscitiello rather than fine him a punitive $1,092. Since we have been named the friendliest city in America by numerous travel publications, and Mr. Criscitiello appears to have been a friendly host, it seems that the powers that be could have exercised better discretion in this matter.
To abate this wrong in the friendliest city of America, a few friends and I have created the Beadle Bumble Fund, modeled after the one created by the Richmond News Leader of Richmond, Va., in the 1950s.
We will select various victims of the arbitrary and capricious enforcement of authority that is contrary to the demeanor of our genial city.
We have taken up a collection, and our first donation of $100 will be to Mr. Criscitiello to help defray the costs of the fine levied against him.
We hope that authorities will take note and extend a little more courtesy and discretion to all residents of our city, and in this instance, our city's ambassadors in the tourist trade.
JOHN EDWARD ROBINSON