Saturday, September 30, 2006

Campaign Coverage, Where Art Thou?

I don't think it's too early to complain about the Newsless Courier's lack of coverage of local and state elections.

Fairly soon I expect I'll see comments in the paper about voter apathy. Well, why not? Who knows his or her local candidates? Who knows where they stand on ANY issues? What ever happened to the Charleston County school board race? Is it possible that our congressmen are up for reelection as they are in the rest of the country?

The P & C seems to be doing its level best to minimize coverage and/or stick it on the back pages of the paper. Why shouldn't Scarborough's character be questioned over his behavior? Why would accusations about Ravenel the younger be buried in the back pages?

They don't want you to take an interest in the elections.

Where are our intrepid reporters? Assigned to shootings, wrecks, and fires, I guess.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Charleston, 1691: Prickly Pear???

Check out the article on newly-discovered letters and maps of Charleston circa 1686 to 1691 found in a library in Aberdeen:

What you can't see in the web story is that one of the drawings of flora enclosed with the letter is CLEARLY prickly pear cactus in bloom.

Cactus in Charleston? Native to Charleston??? That's a new one on me. I thought it thrived in the desert. Okay, I know we have sandy soil, but this is hardly a dry climate now, and I can't believe it was in the seventeenth century either.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gridlock in 2013: Navy Base Port or Not!

Which do YOU think is more important to Charleston and the Lowcountry: that the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion is going to close down or that "even if a cargo terminal isn't built at the former Navy base in North Charleston" in 2013 (that's seven years from now) "sections of I26 will come to a standstill during peak traffic."
This a dozen years sooner than the previous estimate, yet the news is buried in the largely-ignored (for good reasons) Business section of today's paper (that's 9B) while a large picture and headlines concerning the Myrtle Beach Pavilion were splashed all over the front page of Sunday's paper.

DOES the paper have a responsibility to educate and inform the public?

It won't happen this way.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thanks, Bob!

Hats off to Bob Henderson, whose Letter to the Editor in today's Newsless Courier calls the paper to task: he asks, "Does not the press have a [. . . ] responsibility to investigate and inform" the public [in regard to the 15 percent reassessment cap question on the November ballot]?" See below:

Of course, he assumes that the paper's reporters are capable of sorting out the financial impact of the question if it passes. Anyone who has read an article in the Newsless Courier that had a financial angle is probably a doubter in that regard.

Nevertheless, Henderson points out that passage of this initiative "will require poor owners to forever subsidize wealthy owners." I suspect he's right, but why would the editors of this paper care? They ARE the wealthy owners!

I'm waiting for the P & C to disprove his statements and/or release the results of a cap impact study. But, let's face it--Henderson and I have a loooong wait.

The last mention of the cap was in an article on June 18th. We're coming up on three months of ignoring the 300-pound gorilla.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Help! My Child Is Being Held Prisoner in a Failing School

Local school districts must be cavorting with glee--they (or Berkeley County, that is) have discovered a loophole in the No Child Left Behind law that will allow them to keep children prisoners in failing schools for at least a year. See today's Newsless Courier for details:

Isn't it great? As Chester Floyd, Berkeley County Superintendent is quoted as saying, "We thought that we were required to offer choice, and it had to be for all students at low-performing schools, no matter whether the students had attended that school in the past or not." Now, according to an alternative interpretation discovered in a "national publication," students may be required to attend the failing school for a year BEFORE being allowed to transfer.

Now, that's what I call interpreting the law in the best interests of the students!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Is There a Pattern Here?

Random (or, perhaps, not so random) thoughts regarding last week's "news" from the Newsless Courier. Maybe this could be a quiz for readers who believe that the paper actually reports news of the Lowcountry.

  1. Whatever happened to the Wando High School students who were charged with multiple crimes?
  2. What was the "good" news about the PACT scores?
  3. Why is the Myrtle Beach Pavilion so important to the Lowcountry that it garners the front page of the Sunday paper?

Answers: 1. (a) suspended pending outcome of explusion hearing; (b) expelled; (c) sent to Burke to beef up their football team; (d) not important enough to report.

Okay, for those of you breathlessly waiting to hear how the recommended expulsions of the Wando football players and their cronies in crime came out--I hope you're able to hold your breath for a long time. The answer is (d).

In typical Newsless Courier fashion we first have raging headlines; then we have silence. . . . Oh, I'm sorry! We must be sensitive to the needs of adolescents. Forget those who had guns held in their faces.

2. (a) the majority of elementary and middle schools have now raised their scores to more than half scoring above basic; (b) the majority have now raised their scores to less than half scoring above basic; (d) the majority have now lowered their scores to more than half scoring below basic; (e) no analysis beyond basic score reporting; crunch the numbers yourself, if you're so d---d curious!

Then, the "good" news about PACT scores? Yes???? I suppose it is that those students who were in schools where the majority of students passed the test in the past continued to be in schools where the majority of students passed in the past.

Consistency of results. That would be (e).

I'm afraid that's the best I can do in the way of "good" news. Certainly, it isn't great news for parents of students in failing schools, but who cares about them anyway? They don't care, right? They expect their schools to be that way; in fact, they deserve for their schools to fail, right? Pity the well-brought-up child at Alice Birney or Brentwood Middle who's been told that teachers and administrators (in this very school district) believe that using obscenities is part of his or her culture. 'Nuff said on that.

3. (a) all Charlestonians spent their childhoods there; (b) all Charlestonians wish they had spent their childhoods there; (c) Myrtle Beach has moved closer to the Lowcountry than it used to be; (d) Myrtle Beach is full of ex-Charlestonians who just couldn't take the trashy ways of Charleston any more; (e) it's a favorite vacation spot of the editors.

As for Myrtle Beach, please! Isn't that where people from New Jersey and Pennsylvania come when they get tired of Atlantic City? Some of us are old enough to remember that it was the place to go for illegal high-roller gambling and expensive call girls in the good old days. It was NOT a magnet for Charlestonians (unless they had such proclivities). Shagging at the beach was at FOLLY, for all of you interlopers. Why should we care what happens to their Pavilion? Put it in the Business section, if you must. There's little enough there! The answer must be (e).

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Copycat Crimes from Wando

We have come a long way from "Win one for the Gipper." But at least Notre Dame and NC State haven't lost their minds yet. The same cannot be said for recruiters at Alabama and Ohio State!

Now the question remains, will these Wando football players meet the same fate as their counterparts from "an academically acclaimed school that draws its students from upscale neighborhoods" in Maryland?

Let's see--the equivalent would be that they be allowed to finish out this year at home & then next year they could go to Burke wearing "ankle bracelets," where students who been expelled from other schools have been enrolling on a regular basis, and Burke's football team could be revived like that of Wheaton High School. Check out this article & then compare it to the Newsless Courier's below!

NOTE: Red for emphasis.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 08, 2006 7:27 AM
Hatching robbery game planPolice say Wando High students huddled at house to plot their strategy
The Post and Courier
MOUNT PLEASANT - On the night of Aug. 26, a group of Wando High School football players assembled at one student's house to map out strategy.
But it wasn't an upcoming game that was on their minds. Rather, the group hatched plans to rob a Food Lion supermarket at gunpoint and then divvy up the profits, police said.
Investigators say the plot came to light Tuesday as police began to round up members of the group in connection with the Food Lion holdup, a subsequent car theft and a Labor Day robbery at a Subway restaurant. Detectives have arrested 10 students and a Wando graduate, seized evidence from the crimes and recovered some of the stolen cash.
But investigators have yet to answer what is perhaps the central question in the episode: Why would a bunch of suburban teens from predominantly middle-class families participate in crimes that threaten to derail their futures?
"They have not told us why," Mount Pleasant Police Lt. Amy McCarthy said. "We don't have a reason at this point."
Talk of the arrests swirled around Wando on Thursday, the eve of the football team's game with regional rival Summerville High School. Seven members of the Wando Warriors, including their star quarterback, were among those arrested. All are now banned from participating in school sports and activities.
Some students suggested that the initial robbery was planned to aid a friend who had been booted from his house for hosting a party. But police said that doesn't make sense, as those involved reportedly split the meager proceeds of the heist. Others suggested the crimes were just a way for thrill-seeking kids to get their kicks.
If so, it wouldn't be the first time. In 2000, police arrested eight Wando students and graduates in connection with a vandalism spree at the school and a string of burglaries at local businesses.
Von Bakanik, a sociology professor at the College of Charleston, said the recent holdups appear to be a "coming-of-age phenomenon gone terribly awry."
Bakanik said teens often engage in risky behavior for thrills and to assert their independence. Girls tend to rebel sexually or romantically, while boys often act out through property damage and theft, she said.
"Boys who come from middle- and upper-class homes don't need to steal for monetary reasons," she said. "They are stealing for other motivations, mostly to feel powerful or to feel the excitement of doing something illicit."
Fred Medway, a psychology professor at the University of South Carolina, said there is an element of peer pressure as well. Teens involved in a team or group are often more likely to follow the lead of friends headed down the wrong path, he said.
"They are either trying to impress the other kids and show some bravado, or a couple of them are already doing something and it lowers the inhibitions of others," he said. "On a team, it may be a way to get additional respect, especially if you are not as competent or not a star player."
Three of those charged were starters for the Warriors, including Michael Dawley, 16, the team's quarterback and a grandson of the late Chuck Dawley, a former Mount Pleasant police chief and former Charleston County sheriff.
Dawley is accused of participating in the Food Lion robbery with students Patrick Brown, 17; Sean Shevlino, 16; Michael Anthony, 17; Jackie Washington, 18; Christopher Cousins, 16; Samuel Perez, 16; Graham Stolte, 16; Vincent Weiner, 17; and Max Hartwell, 16. Brown, Washington, Weiner, Stolte, Hartwell and Perez also play for the Warriors.
Several of the students provided police with written statements implicating themselves and others in the crimes. Police said the group held a planning session at Hartwell's house before robbing the store with a pellet gun.
Shevlino confronted employees and grabbed the loot while the rest of the teens served as lookouts, according to arrest affidavits. They had inside information about the store, as Cousins worked there, police said.
Shevlino and Anthony also are charged with robbing a Subway restaurant at gunpoint on Monday and stealing a $35,000 BMW on Sunday with the help of Wando graduate Sean Deaton, 17, police said.
The exact amount of money taken in each robbery remained unclear Thursday night.
Anthony, Deaton and Weiner were still being held at the Charleston County jail late Thursday; Brown and Washington were released on bail during the day, according to jail officials. The others had been released from the county's juvenile detention facility, according to an official there.
Charleston County School District officials are still evaluating the case and have not decided whether to suspend any of the students from school, district spokesman Jerry Adams said.
Christine Weiner of Awendaw, mother of Vincent Weiner, called the charge against her son "emotionally devastating." She said the facts of the case are being twisted and she thinks the boys "are getting raked over the coals."
"I think that the football team shouldn't turn their back on them," she said. "Everybody makes mistakes in their lives. Let's try not to ruin their lives over this horrible event."

Several friends left messages of support for the suspects on their pages at Several in the group maintain a presence on the popular Web site, sharing thoughts with friends on football, partying, girls and other typical teenage pursuits.
Fellow students said the suspects are just that - typical teens.
"They can be rowdy, and they do like to party, and sometimes their fun gets out of hand," student Bri Greer said. "But all in all, they're really cool people."
Junior Lindsey Dworschak, 16, said she doesn't condone such crimes, but the suspects remain friends and "I won't bash them." She chalked up the episode to peer pressure and a football mentality that pushes players to be "big and bad."
"A lot of them are football players and you have to fit in this crowd or whatever," she said.
Senior Justin Buckley, 17, said he doubts anyone involved put much thought into the gravity of what they were doing.
"It probably started out something like - it would be funny if we actually did it," he said.
Staff writers Lucia Walinchus and Prentiss Findlay also contributed to this report. Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or
This article was printed via the web on 9/9/2006 9:44:48 AM . This articleappeared in The Post and Courier and updated online at on Friday, September 08, 2006.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Shock and Awe, Newsless-Courier Style

Why is it? Here we are in the "holy city," with a church practically on every corner, and yet the Faith and Values section of the Newsless Courier must be written and edited by those who haven't a clue what goes on in said buildings.

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (as the Church of England) pre-existed any version of the Charleston newspaper. The colony's official religion was Church of England. After the Revolution, Charleston continued to be rife with Episcopalians. Still today within the Lowcountry the parishes of this diocese are burgeoning with new members, unlike many other Episcopal dioceses in America. So, one would think that the local paper would actually know a few characteristics of the faith. WRONG.

The headline writer (and, for all I know, copy editor and reporter--that is, Michael Gartland, who is in charge of this section of the paper) thinks it news that the Episcopal Diocese of S.C. selects its own bishop. Gasp! Gasp! Presumably they all think the bishops for Episcopal dioceses in the United States are selected by the Pope? Or maybe the Archbishop of Canterbury? If they know he exists, that is. It's another Idiocy of the Day!

Isn't this pathetic? Here we are in the South, where people actually do still go to the religious services of their choice on a regular basis. But we must endure a Faith and Values section (even the name of it is atrocious) written by agnostic ignorami.

Further, in that section, Gartland (I'm presuming he's still in charge of it after this ridiculous "discovery") selects the most asinine and insulting articles off the wire to include for our edification every Sunday. So, today, we also have a story about how parents need to select "Sunday school" classes carefully so that their children will not run into a (Catholic) sanctuary and yell out, seeing a depiction of Christ crucified on the cross, "Wow! What happened to that guy?" Golly, how embarrassing. No mention in any part of the article of belief on the part of parents or children.

See, you need to select your children's church as you would your country club or private school so their ignorance won't embarrass you.

That story didn't have to find space in the P & C. Gartland had plenty of stories about believers out there to select from. So why print this one? To insult believers?

Could it be that he thinks the Faith and Values section is eagerly-sought-out reading for atheists? Probably so.