Thanks for help

As a spokesman for the Veterans Family and Friends with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) group, I would like to thank the organizations that have helped us grow from a group of eight or nine members in 2012 to a contact list of 40 as of January 2014.

We are a volunteer group of veterans, their families and friends who are dealing with PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Disorder.) We meet Mondays at 7 p.m. at Fellowship of Oakbrook, 1400 Old Trolley Road in Summerville.

Our group costs you nothing, is totally anonymous and is unaffiliated with any organization or institution.

Our group is spiritual in nature, but we are not connected to any sect, denomination or religious organization. We are the only such group in the tri-county area that includes family and friends.

The VA will talk only to our vets; however, they have referred family members to us. We also work to eliminate the stigma associated with these disorders and to educate the community and health care providers about PTSD.

Because of this support we have inspired the formation of similar groups in Texas and Spartanburg.

As we say in our group - "we have an obligation to those who did not return to help those who did."

For more information you can visit http://www.meetup.com/Veterans-Families-Friends-w-Combat-PTSD-Support-Group or call or text to 843.509.0535.

Frank Ruse

Summer Trace Drive

Summerville

Kudos to mayor

Once again, let's give Mayor Joe Riley a standing ovation for his heartfelt and succinct review of the accomplishments, goals and vision that the City of Charleston continues to meet year after year, as highlighted in his recent delivery of the State of the City address.

I am very proud of our Mayor Joe, and very proud of the City of Charleston.

Patricia L. Byrne

Civitas Street

Mount Pleasant

Merger concerns

Several letters in this newspaper have promoted a merger of the College of Charleston and MUSC. Others have outlined negatives and provided compelling arguments as to why a merger represents faulty thinking.

Both schools have done very well in achieving academic respect and success in their distinctly different market segments.

Their faculties and trustees should be applauded for their vision and planning.

But assuming that combining the two institutions with widely diverging missions would create a successful educational experience could be, at best, wishful thinking.

Other than both schools sharing a devotion to providing a great education, I fail to see the synergies between them. Rather than taking the chance that a merger might undermine the continued success of both organizations, wouldn't it make sense to consider another option?

If the need is for more graduate level programs in courses such as engineering and computer science, perhaps masters and doctoral level programs could be created through another Charleston institution that already offers undergraduate degrees in those areas, such as The Citadel.

The possibility of a virtual or online degree program using existing technologies should also be considered. Graduate online degrees would allow mid-career residents throughout the state to enroll.

If the goal is to provide the best possible educational opportunities for the continued economic growth of Lowcountry businesses, I'd say we're two-thirds there with our existing institutions.

Adding a viable third option would seem to be less disruptive, less expensive and perhaps the most likely to succeed.

Barbara Fry

Mobile Street

Mount Pleasant

Terminal motives

Having been in the shipping industry for 45 years, I read with interest the kerfuffle over the proposed new cruise terminal. This issue is getting totally out-of-hand and the more you read of what both sides are saying, the more the issue becomes obscured.

There is more pollution caused by the daily traffic of container and other vessels going in and out of the harbor than that of two or three cruise ships calling at the port on a weekly basis.

In fact, cruise vessels are much cleaner since they burn marine diesel or marine gas oil while entering and leaving port and at the berth, while a commercial vessel burns a dirty, lower-grade fuel oil.

As to the proposal by state Reps. Leon Stavrinakis and Jim Merrill to enable shoreside power to be supplied to a cruise vessel, that really does nothing since a ship does not shut down its engine while in port. It runs at reduced power to enable the tail shaft to turn. Further, you still burn fossil fuel to produce the electric power to the vessel.

It would appear to me that downtown residents of Charleston are suffering from the NIMBY effect. Did they complain in the first half of the 20th century when steamships went in and out of the port burning coal or bunker C fuel oil?

It is time that all sides of this argument sit down and have a substantive discussion as opposed to emotional arguments, which do nothing to resolve the dispute.

Charles Measter

Bent Twig

Seabrook Island

Correct ruling

The Maritime Association of South Carolina (MASC) applauds the S.C. Supreme Court's recent ruling concerning Carnival Cruise Lines and its use of the cruise terminal. The plaintiffs characterized the court's dismissal as being based upon a "technicality."

The court's ruling on standing is hardly a technicality. It's a doctrine with constitutional roots that requires the right party to litigate claims. If the claims are public in nature elected officials, not self-appointed interest groups should deal with them.

Traffic control and tourist regulation are entrusted to the mayor and City Council. They can be voted out if the public is unhappy with their decisions.

The doctrine prevents unelected individuals and special interest groups from usurping public functions - which is exactly what cruise opponents were trying to do.

The State Ports Authority terminals do not belong to downtown neighborhood associations, the Coastal Conservation League or the Preservation Society. They are important assets that should be used for the good of South Carolinians in Charleston and throughout the state.

The plan for redevelopment of Union Pier will give the people of South Carolina a modern, efficient passenger terminal that will add to the overall ambiance and attractiveness of that area as acres of terminal and warehouse space are developed into new commercial and residential uses or restored as open space and wetlands.

With this frivolous suit out of the way against an outstanding corporate community member, let's hope the State Ports Authority can now move ahead with the permitting process and get this long overdue project under way.

Pam Zaresk

Maritime Association of S.C.

Morrison Drive

Charleston

Unfair treatment

I have a family member who owns a home in a not-so-great neighborhood here in Charleston. Unfortunately, she cannot afford to move although she has lived in fear for years due to the high crime in the area.

In addition to fearing for her life she is often the victim of petty harassment, which takes the form of minor theft, persons trespassing on her property, shining laser pointers on the house, etc. She has called the police numerous times over the years reporting various crimes in the area.

Recently, she sent a letter to Charleston County law enforcement asking for assistance in dealing with the harassment issues. A deputy was sent out to interview her. Instead of taking her concerns at her word, the deputy came to the conclusion that she was delusional.

The deputy then called a mental health evaluator who decided to have her involuntarily committed. She spent a week in mental health detention. She also had a shotgun in the house for protection, and it was confiscated.

So the homeowner who reaches out for help ends up being taken from her home in handcuffs, has her property confiscated and suffers loss of reputation and loss of work.

What kind of law enforcement is this? This instance shows a complete breakdown of due process.

Why is a responsible homeowner taken from her residence for asking for help? Why does the taxpayer and homeowner asking for help have to show cause? Why was her shotgun confiscated and not returned?

All of these questions remain to be answered.

David Scott Wiggins

Main Canal Drive

Mount Pleasant

Collective benefits

I would like to respond to the column by Charles Lane titled "Public union's collective flaw." He discusses the "agency fees" that are charged to prevent "freeloader" workers, who are covered by contracts but don't want to pay dues.

I know a lot of people who don't like paying taxes but they do so because they receive benefits from the government (think roads, bridges, military, police, firefighters, public education).

Collective bargaining helps create an economy based on shared prosperity, an economy that works for everyone. The question Mr. Lane asks is, "Is the public sector collective bargaining in the public interest?" He says no. I say yes.

I want teachers who can use their collective bargaining strength to keep class sizes from getting too big and who will fight to get our children the resources they need to learn.

I want nurses to bargain for staffing levels that ensure good patient care. I want firefighters to fight for safety issues such as two-in and two-out. I want aircraft engineers to use their collective bargaining voice to prevent corners from being cut in airplane design. We all depend on the work of others. As we say in the labor movement, work connects us all.

If Mr. Lane is concerned about what we pay for taxes, I suggest he look at all the billions of dollars lost through companies misclassifying employees, the billions of dollars spent on tax incentives for profitable companies to locate to your community, the cost of wars we are fighting, and the private contractors who charge hundreds of dollars for parts that could be bought much cheaper at a store that buys in bulk (collective).

If you live in a development that has a homeowners association and don't pay your dues you could lose your home, if you don't pay your taxes you can go to jail so why should you be able to get the benefits of a union contract without paying your fair share?

Erin McKee

SC AFL-CIO President

Short River Court

Mount Pleasant

Vital service

Every once in a while a politician emerges who acts as if he is subject to term limits, doing the right thing for his constituents without regard to the political implications to his own future. We are fortunate to have Charleston County Councilman Joe Qualey serving in that capacity.

Regarding the public outcry to save the Angel Oak, he is the only politician I've seen with political courage to call out the people who made this necessary. They are Mayor Joe Riley and members of Charleston City Council, individuals who made the outrageous and hugely unpopular decision to zone the area for high density development. After sensing the political fallout of their faux pas, they now try to burnish their "green" credentials with the grand gesture to buy back that property, at a premium price, with taxpayers' money.

Can we expect the same thing to happen with the Rawl property on Johns Island, where the City Planning Commission unanimously said "no" to a huge development on a rural tract only to be overridden by City Council in violation of its own urban growth boundary? Will Mayor Riley reappear on his green horse, saddlebags full of taxpayer's money to save the day again? I hope so, though it shouldn't be necessary.

Harry Polychron

Long Bend Drive

Seabrook Island

Preserve the name

You have got to be kidding. The venerable College of Charleston, founded in 1770, eighth oldest college in the United States and oldest college south of Virginia, whose name evokes prestige and tradition - gets to be called the University of Charleston, George Street Campus.

Please notice that the College of William and Mary is a "cutting edge research university" which bestows numerous graduate degrees and includes a prestigious law school, and does not call itself the University of William and Mary, Jamestown Road Campus.

Joanne H. Alexander

C of C Class of 1975

Parkshore Drive

Charleston