South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office has issued an opinion about the constitutionality of the Heritage Act, the 20-year-old law that prevents the removal of historic monuments and the names of historic figures from public buildings and other places. The law has been thrust back into the spotlight in the wake of recent protests against racial injustice, as citizens reconsider monuments to historical figures who had a troublesome history with race. The attorney general’s opinion finds that the law, enacted in 2000, is constitutional. However, it also asserts that it should not take a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the General Assembly to change the law, or to alter a monument or building name. “The supermajority to win approval no longer applies, the opinion found,” The Post and Courier reports. “Lawmakers must change the state Constitution to keep the two-thirds requirement. Any future proposals to remove monuments or rename buildings should need only a majority vote in the General Assembly.” House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford was pleased with the majority vote portion of the opinion. “While I continue to disagree with [the act], at least [Wilson] has answered the question that has dogged many a General Assembly that, ‘No, to take down racist symbols does not require a two-thirds vote,’” Rutherford told The Post and Courier.
Two incumbents fall in Richland County Council runoffs
It was a rough night for a pair of Richland County Council incumbents in the June 23 Democratic election primaries. In County Council’s District 7, educator and businesswoman Gretchen Barron easily dispatched incumbent Gwen Kennedy. Barron had 72 percent of the vote, to Kennedy’s 28 percent. Meanwhile, in Lower Richland’s County Council District 10, challenger Cheryl English, a county library board member, turned back incumbent Dalhi Myers. English had 63 percent of the vote, to Myers’ 37 percent. In County Council District 9, incumbent Calvin “Chip” Jackson emerged victorious over Jonnieka Farr, a business analyst with the state. Jackson had 54 percent of the vote to Farr’s 46 percent. And in County Council District 8, attorney Overture Walker bested businessman and South Carolina State University trustee Hamilton Grant. Walker picked up 59 percent of the vote to Grant’s 41 percent. Walker will now face Republican Gary Dennis in November. The current holder of the District 8 seat, Democratic Councilman Jim Manning, did not seek re-election this year.
Esthetics institute set to move into Tapp’s building on Columbia’s Main Street
They’ve got some skin (care) in the game. The Southeastern Esthetics Institute, the esthetics and cosmetology school that currently operates out of several suites in the Vista, will be consolidating its operations at the historic Tapp’s building on the 1600 block of Columbia’s Main Street. The institute will occupy 27,000 square feet in the Main Street building, including the main floor and the basement. The Tapp’s building has had a number of uses through the years. Most recently, it was home to the vibrant Tapp’s Arts Center. The arts center exited the location in November 2019, and moved to Five Points, where it operates as Tapp’s Outpost. Courtney Sykes, the esthetics institute’s chief administrative officer, tells Free Times that work to renovate the space will begin in coming months, and she’s hopeful for a spring 2021 opening. Matt Kennell, who leads the downtown property owners’ group City Center Partnership, says he thinks the institute will be a good addition to the Main Street District, which has continued to evolve in the last decade. “It’s a big deal,” Kennell says, calling the Tapp’s building one of the “historic gems” of the district.