Stop power line

I am writing to encourage The Post and Courier to continue to cover the issue of more reliable electric power for Awendaw and McClellanville and to encourage interested citizens to write to: Rural Utilities Service, 84 Coxe Ave., Suite 1E, Asheville, N.C. 28801. We have until July 3 to influence decisions about expanding electric power service to this isolated section of Charleston County.

In McClellanville, we have power lines coming up Highway 17 and others from the west, through the Francis Marion Forest. It is my understanding the Forest Service is loath to have power lines expanded through the woods. That leaves lines coming from the north or the south, the east being dominated by the Atlantic Ocean.

We already have lines coming from the south. My strong preference is to improve those lines. I see no reason to violate the pristine Santee Delta. None at all. I'd rather continue with intermittent service than to have any of the various pathways planned across the Santee Delta be used.

I'd like to know how much support the Rural Utilities Service has heard for the "come across the Delta" plan - besides whatever support Berkeley Electric is voicing. The hearing RUS had at which virtually every person there begged it not to approve the plan to come across the Delta reflects conversations I hear around the village.

We should be investigating wind and solar power, not this crazy plan to dig up and interfere with one of the few remaining natural areas on the East Coast.

Anne Knight Watson

Pinckney Street

McClellanville

King St. renewal

Recently a young friend of mine lamented how tough it was to be in charge of contemporaries at work. My response was, "Sometimes there is a price you pay for being in a leadership position, but the overall good is what you must keep in mind."

I read with interest the June 15 op-ed piece from Mayor Joe Riley and found that his thoughts and mine touched on the same themes.

When I was a youngster the downtown business district was very vibrant with King Street being the focal point. I vividly recall my oldest brother and father shopping at Mike, Sam and Jake's, my mother going to Edward's, Silver's, Woolworth, Belk-Robinson, Kress, Kerrisons or one of the many furniture or appliance stores. I recall grocery shopping at a corner store or the A & P on upper King or the Automatic on Broad Street.

My next brother shopped at Leon's, as did I. Later, I was introduced to Jack Krawcheck, Max's Men's Wear, Berlin's, Richard's, Kessler's, Tanenbaum's, Taylor's and several other clothing stores. Siegling Music House was a must stop on my Saturday visits to the most magical place in my world, the downtown business district.

In a few years, economic conditions and population shifts took place with families moving to the suburbs. Many young people left the area in search of good jobs. When I returned from college, King Street had changed. No longer did it have vibrancy. There were empty stores and many businesses did not attract enough customers.

In the late 1980s or early 1990s upper King Street had a vacancy rate of 40 percent. Action needed to be taken. Charleston Place was the first step. Very few will remember how controversial that was. Today, not many would admit they were against it.

At the same time, the preservation and historic community pushed for a height ordinance for the city. As chairman of that subcommittee, I can assure you it was not a popular idea with the business community. The subcommittee was divided and one vote could have made the difference in passage or failure.

For me, the defining moment came when Saul Krawcheck, a leading business person, stood up and said, "Don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg."

We are lucky that Spoleto is our signature event rather than Mardi Gras. This is one of those times where there might be a price to pay for providing the leadership needed. Together, we should make sure the goose that laid the golden egg lives on. Until another solution is found, I encourage passage of the 12 a.m. ordinance, as I do believe we are in danger of losing the magical place that my grandchildren are now enjoying.

Jimmy Bailey

Lining Court

Charleston

Ethics probe

The Bobby Harrell ethics investigation seems to be well on its way to achieving eternal life. He has been accused of using campaign funds on his private airplane and using his office for the benefit of his pharmaceutical business. SLED was called in to investigate and turned in its report late last year and the attorney general referred it to the state Grand Jury in January.

Let's consider the two alleged ethics violations:

1) One could argue that his expenditures for his plane were legitimate. As speaker of the House he needs to be in Columbia not just when the General Assembly is in session but frequently when it is not. It makes good sense for Harrell to commute via the air. Why any person would object to his use of campaign funds to help defray associated costs is a mystery to me unless those so objecting are grinding political axes.

2) Harrell wrote on his House letterhead to a regulator inquiring about a licensing application. Had he written on a paper towel the person receiving the letter would have known who he is. Twice this year I wrote to government employees in supervisory positions inquiring about tardy responses from their offices. One concerned the processing of a license at the state level and one a building permit at the local level. On each occasion the supervisor acknowledged that the staff should have been more responsive. I find no fault with Harrell writing to a government body addressing a concern.

So why is Bobby Harrell expending so much time, effort and money fighting Attorney General Alan Wilson's state Grand Jury investigation? Any attorney will tell you that the system is so one-sided that a grand jury could indict a ham sandwich. An indictment would be followed by a suspension from office and Harrell would suffer substantial damage no matter what the eventual outcome.

Let's hope that our state's Supreme Court does the right thing and upholds the lower court's ruling. If Harrell's political enemies don't like the present ethics complaint system, then it would be legitimate for them to try changing it. However, in the meantime it is illegitimate to try subverting the existing system.

Walter D. Carr

Ashley River Road

Charleston

The gun problem

The slaughter with guns goes on and on. The politicians wring their hands and do nothing meaningful. The people rail. The pundits pontificate. However, certain state and federal politicians are correct. Without limitation, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the enactment of any law that infringes the right of the people "to keep and bear Arms." Therefore, any and all current restrictions on guns and gun ownership should be immediately and entirely repealed. Any and every person, no matter age, mental instability, infirmity, or shortcoming should be able to carry a gun any time, under any condition, without government restriction.

How, then, does the public in gathering places protect itself? An expansive implementation and use of active and passive guarding, such as present at the nation's airports, is the answer. This would be inconvenient, but the alternative is more slaughter. All places open to the public should have such elaborate guarding.

By way of example, this would include schools, colleges, churches, theaters, restaurants, shopping centers, community centers, multi-unit housing, boat landings, beaches, marinas, stores and shops of all types, playgrounds, parks, office buildings, car lots, gyms, factories, manufacturing facilities, tourist attractions, transportation stations, shipping and port facilities, government buildings and facilities, hotels, and so forth. The expense would be enormous. Who should pay? The taxpayers, of course.

However, the funding for such systems should not come from the general taxpayer funds. Instead of tax free gun days, as in South Carolina, all aspects of the gun industry should be levied a very special gun tax by the state and federal governments, and those discrete tax revenues should be used solely for the establishment of the guard systems necessary to protect the public from the gun wielders. Citizens who are not involved with the gun industry would pay no tax. This taxing system should include taxes on every stage of gun production, transfer, and sale.

This includes, for example, taxes on all raw materials used by the gun industry, taxes on every stage of gun manufacture, taxes on material acquisition and use in gun, ammunition, and equipment manufacture and production; taxes on sales of all guns, ammunition, hardware, targets, equipment, and gear; taxes on gun ranges; taxes on practice facilities; taxes on any and all other aspects and features of the gun industry.

This concept is not without precedent; for example, the trucking industry pays enormous use taxes to the federal government because some heavy trucks damage the public roads. Importantly, this gun taxing procedure would leave intact the multibillion-dollar gun industry (which uses the Second Amendment as both a sword and a shield to protect its profits); the right to bear arms would not be infringed and would remain secure; and the public would have at least some improved measure of protection. Simple, fair, reasonable.

Who could complain?

A. ELLIOTT BARROW, JR.

Barrow Law Firm

Chuck Dawley Boulevard

Mount Pleasant

'A real shame'

The high-rise complex built along Coleman Boulevard is attractive and suits that area, but to continue that concept to the area of Shem Creek is a real shame. It will forever change a landscape that is not only unique but irreplaceable.

Makes me wish that Beaufort's City Council would replace the one in Mount Pleasant. Faced with high-rise development on their waterfront, they opted for a park rather than acquiesce to big dollars from big developers.

Laura S. McMaster

Palm Boulevard

Isle of Palms

Meth lab hazards

Almost weekly (sometimes twice a week) for the past several years, this paper has reported meth lab busts in the Lowcountry. We have gone from fixed venues - homes, hotels and motels - to mobile units - cars, vans and trucks. Just recently a mobile meth lab bust shut down the west bound lanes on I-26 for hours.

These labs are highly toxic and dangerous and cause taxpayers thousands of dollars in clean-up fees because a Hazmat team has to be called in every instance.

What perplexes me most about this situation is that there has been a deafening silence from law enforcement officials and our state legislators concerning this danger to our homes, communities and businesses. Any time a bust takes place, people, through no fault of their own, have to be evacuated from their homes or their businesses until the clean-up is done.

A couple of decades ago, to deter the proliferation of crack cocaine, the federal government and many state governments across the country, including South Carolina, enacted legislation stiffening sentences for those convicted of distributing or possessing crack cocaine.

When are our state legislators going to make a serious statement about punishment for those who are convicted of manufacturing and trafficking methamphetamine, which in my opinion, have proven to be a far greater threat to public safety than someone possessing crack cocaine?

Currently, there are laws on the books in South Carolina to address these concerns, but legislators need to revisit these laws and take action to strengthen them.

With the almost weekly profusion of these labs, it is just a matter of time before some innocent person will be seriously injured or his or her home or business destroyed.

Gerald Mackey

Harborsun Drive

Charleston