Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Last minute budget amendment takes direct aim at North Charleston over rail issue

The following is a response from North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey regarding Senator Larry Grooms’ last minute budget amendment directed at North Charleston over the ongoing rail issue.
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Last night, less than an hour before passing the Senate version of the State Budget, which had been debated for five weeks, Senator Larry Grooms added an amendment to punish the City of North Charleston if legal actions against the State are not halted.  Specifically, the amendment demands that the City return funds received from the State of South Carolina if a lawsuit is filed in federal court against the State. 
Last week, North Charleston sent a Notice and Draft Complaint to the Federal government and several State agencies highlighting likely violations of federal environmental laws by the State of South Carolina as a result of a planned intermodal yard on the northern end of the former Navy Base.  The proposed yard and northern rail access are in clear violation of a 2002 Memorandum of Understanding between the City of North Charleston and the State of South Carolina. 
The City seeks to challenge the State in Court, where disputes are supposed to be settled. Senator Grooms’ threat seeks to stop the City from protecting the rights of North Charleston citizens by cutting funding to the City.  His actions go against the fundamental right to challenge government action and call into question the very Constitution that this Country and State were founded upon. 
This amendment and the State’s efforts to dishonor the 2002 Memorandum of Understanding are clear, yet disappointing efforts to damage the quality of life of the citizens of North Charleston. 
These bully tactics will not deter the City of North Charleston from fighting for the rights of its citizens.  I insist that the State of South Carolina do what it morally obligated itself to do and keep its promises. 
R. Keith Summey, Mayor
City of North Charleston
The amendment passed the Senate 25-12 and can be viewed from the South Carolina General Assembly’s website: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/php/amendments.php?PAGE=PREVIOUS&DATEKEY=981&chamber=S

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Here is a breakdown of which Senators voted for and against the amendment:

The Senate proceeded to Sect. 86 and 86A, Part 1A and Part 1B, Aid to Subdivisions.
The "ayes" and "nays" were demanded and taken, resulting as follows:

Ayes 25; Nays 12
AYES
Alexander                 Campbell                  Courson
Cromer Davis Elliott
Fair Gregory Grooms
Hayes Hutto Knotts
Leatherman Lourie Martin, Larry
McGill Nicholson O'Dell
Peeler Rankin Reese
Ryberg Setzler Thomas
Williams
Total--25
NAYS
Bright                    Bryant                    Ford
Land Leventis Malloy
Martin, Shane Massey McConnell
Pinckney Scott Sheheen

Total--12
Section 86 and Section 86A, Part 1A and Part 1B was adopted.

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