It's too bad there weren't more state and federal politicians on hand to hear Mayor Joe Riley's inaugural address on Monday.
They might have learned a thing or two.
Riley, at his 10th and final inauguration, sounded very much like a young, idealistic politician rather than a veteran of 36 years at City Hall. He outlined plans for a very busy four years in the city: bringing in manufacturing and technology jobs, finding money for the Crosstown drainage problems and getting the harbor dredged to a depth of 50 feet -- without, of course, any help from Jim DeMint.
He rightly said Charleston should not rest on its considerable laurels, but keep moving forward. And if that means money, a little effort or playing well with others, so be it.
You know, somebody in this state has gotten a lot of attention throwing around the stupid catchphrase "can't is not an option."
Meanwhile, others actually live by it.
The mayor made it clear his last term is about unfinished business.
He's fighting to make the state and feds pony up for the Crosstown, wants to finish I-526 and -- a long-time goal of his -- open up Union Pier, "connecting our city to its water's edge, creating new streets and building sites for people to live and work and to visit."
He proposed some new things -- a literacy initiative among them -- but mainly talked about making Charleston a "Silicon Harbor" and a hub for biotech and science-based jobs, which is smart.
Now these aren't all city-led projects, but Charleston is cooperating with other entities. And that's the point. Part of the reason this city has so much going for it is because Riley and other officials make things happen, rather than try to stop them. And they've done it without raising property taxes in more than a decade.
The results of their work are pretty obvious.
A Great City
Riley talked a lot about what makes a "Great City" and laid out his vision for it.
He took a shot at cruise ship opponents -- hey, it wouldn't be the mayor if he wasn't a little snarky -- by declaring that this a working city, not a gated community. It's a place where at any given moment you might hear "the announcement from the Coast Guard station; or on another part of the peninsula, ships arriving or embarking; fire engines ..."
As he said this, standing on the City Hall podium, a truck rolled through the Four Corners of Law, as if on cue, to illustrate the point. Nice touch, mayor.
Yes, as Riley said, the days of "too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash" are over. All you had to do is look up and down Broad Street Monday afternoon to see that this is one of the most beautiful cities -- vibrant and healthy -- on the East Coast. Sure there are problems, but there are a lot more things right about Charleston than wrong with it.
The mayor is right that there's work to do. But take a moment to look around sometime and see for yourself.
This is already a Great City.
Follow Brian Hicks on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.