I find the Nov. 16 Post and Courier editorial assessing the Opportunity Zones program rather interesting. You agreed with my assertion that the 2017 Opportunity Zones legislation is well-intended but needs tweaking, and stated my bill “suggested some restrictions that both sides might be able to agree on.”
Your editorial, however, dismisses my efforts to codify those restrictions as political posturing.
I applaud the stated objectives of Opportunity Zones, but I abhor its current implementation. It is downright shameful to allow investors to use the economic status of low-income communities to reap massive tax breaks for locating projects in their communities while denying local residents any benefits that may flow from the projects.
This paper has reported an Opportunity Zones tax credit was used to build luxury apartments with a pet spa, pool and clubhouse in downtown Charleston. Current residents in the area will not benefit, but the developer is using the low-income status to qualify for a massive tax break. Scores of news reports from Miami to Seattle have documented similar scams.
I am proud of my legislation to prevent luxury apartments and yacht clubs from using these tax breaks that are advertised as a huge benefit to the poor.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who authored the 2017 Opportunity Zone legislation, joined me and 24 of our Congressional Black Caucus colleagues calling for program reforms.
The “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude towards legislative efforts is exactly why Washington is lacking in civility. Without necessary changes, Opportunity Zones are just another giveaway to the wealthy.
JAMES E. CLYBURN
U.S. House Majority Whip
Anyone familiar with the stock market knows that fear is a much stronger emotion than greed.
It’s why I don’t give much credibility to the idea that a high flying stock market has much effect on elections. It’s a lose/lose situation for incumbents, who need to find other reasons to get re-elected.
On the other hand, bad economies usually bring about political instability because of the heightened fear.
Also, since over 80% of the market is owned by 10% of households, the effect on elections is diminished even more.
WILLIAM A. JOHNSON
I think a more appropriate headline for the Nov. 17 Post and Courier would have been “Spotlight on Sanford left Sanford little hope.”
Charleston has been called the “Venice of America” due to its Palladian architecture and abundance of water.
It is clear the two cities now share the same flooding crisis. It’s scary to read what is happening in Venice and equally scary to experience what is happening in Charleston concurrently.
An Associated Press article in the Nov. 16 Post and Courier detailed the situation: Venice’s underwater barrier system that was supposed to protect the city still is not operational after more than 16 years of construction and at least 5 billion euros of public funds. It was supposed to be working by 2011.
“It has been a generation of panels and engineers that have been working on it. No one can actually tell if it will actually be operational,” said Mechtild Rossler, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center in Paris.
It’s initial costs were projected at 1.6 billion euros, according to the article.
Dying with dignity
South Carolina has the greatest percentage of deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease than any state in the country. And that number is expected to grow by 35%.
On Oct. 28, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the Dignity in Dying Act, which includes critical elements of the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Act, which extends federal support to families with loved ones below the age of 60 diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Our representative, Joe Cunningham, was a co-sponsor of the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Act.
On Oct. 10, Alice’s Clubhouse, the first medical-model memory care day center in South Carolina, hosted Rep. Cunningham for a roundtable discussion with caregivers of family members with Alzheimer’s/dementia.
Through this forum, Alice’s Clubhouse families were able to share firsthand just how hard it is to be a caregiver: emotionally, physically and financially.
We appreciate Rep. Cunningham visiting Alice’s Clubhouse and participating in the roundtable discussion, and even more appreciate his support for the families of those dealing with Alzheimer’s/dementia.
We look forward to working further with Rep. Cunningham to help support the caregivers.
This is not an issue that recognizes political affiliation or beliefs. Caregivers need all the help they can get.
A letter writer in the Nov. 17 Post and Courier detailed in poignant detail declining services at the VA since 2016.
Unfortunately, the lack of responsiveness by the VA, and almost all other federal agencies, these days is the direct result of President Donald Trump’s fulfillment of his conservative followers’ greatest wish: the dismantlement of the federal government.
Trump uses veterans, those active in the military, first responders, dedicated career officials and the American flag for one purpose only: to glorify himself and stroke his own ego, either by praising or savaging them as the case may be.
Yet between 30% and 40% of Americans think he is the greatest thing ever to happen to America. Pretty sad.
A bridge question
Research tells me that the Ashley River Memorial Bridge was opened in 1926. That was three years before the Grace Memorial Bridge was built in 1929 to span the Cooper River between Charleston and Mount Pleasant. The Grace was torn down after the new Ravenel bridge opened.
So what are you going to do when the SCDOT and others tell us the Ashley River bridge is obsolete and dangerous and must be replaced? Will the state let traffic drive over the new bike bridge until the old one is replaced?
I’ve suggested this before and I’ll do it again: Replace the two existing bridges with a new clear span bridge that handles all the traffic, plus has walking and biking lanes.
Use the existing memorials as part of the new bridge. Think of all the concrete piles that will be removed from the river. And, no more draw bridges.
Betsy Kerrison Parkway