Sustained Outrage

Keith Peoples update

Friday night at 10:45, Charleston mayoral assistant Rod Blackstone e-mailed me a statement on behalf of Mayor Danny Jones and Police Chief Brent Webster (pictured below). The statement came in response to the acquittal of Keith Peoples less than an hour before. Peoples is a Charleston police corporal who was accused of double dipping.

Since the e-mail came too late to make it into the article I wrote for Saturday’s paper (deadlines, Rod, deadlines!), I thought I’d post the statement here:

Danny Jones“The investigation into double-dipping by members of the Charleston Police Department began when the former Police Chief discovered that Officer James Nowling had been paid for the same hours on at least two payrolls, including the Charleston Police Department.  An investigation produced evidence that Officer Nowling had been paid by Charleston taxpayers for 1700 hours for which he was on the clock for at least one other employer — and at times two others — for the exact same hours.  He made allegations that such double-dipping was rampant in the Charleston Police Department.  So in November 2006, we asked the Kanawha County prosecuting attorney to investigate whether that was indeed the case or not.  As a result of that investigation, a jury found Mr. Nowling guilty, and three other officers pleaded guilty.

brentwebster.jpg“When Officer Keith Peoples was indicted by a grand jury last year, he was placed on paid administrative leave and has not lost a single day’s wages while this case progressed. We accept tonight’s verdict and note the brilliant legal representation provided by former Assistant United States Attorney Dwayne Tinsley for the defense.  We expect Officer Peoples to be back on the job at the earliest available opportunity.  We trust this puts an end to the investigation of double-dipping within the Charleston Police Department, and we are glad to put this matter behind us.”

I hope to have more to report on double dipping soon. But in the meantime, I just ran into Peoples and Dwane Tinsley on Virginia Street, on their way back from City Hall. Peoples, still smiling from Friday, was carrying his service belt and other professional effects in a cardboard box. He said he had been cleared by Webster to go back to work.

Charleston’s zoning board (officially the Board of Zoning Appeals) meets Thursday morning, May 28.

Just two items on the agenda this time, but one could be a bit contentious.

Architects for Shane Holmes, DDS, are asking relief from parking requirements for a building Holmes hopes to build for his orthodontist business on Oakwood Road.

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Your city government in action, pt. 10

The Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, or CURA, will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday morning (May 20). As the agenda shows, the CURA board will receive an update on some of the renovations planned for Haddad Riverfront Park.

CURA has put up $500,000 to build a new entrance into the seating area from Kanawha Boulevard, and to do some streetscape-style improvements to the Boulevard and sidewalk in front of the park. The city, through a separate federal earmark, is building a canopy over the amphitheater and an overlook at the foot of Court Street.

Several neighborhood projects are also up for consideration:

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Charleston City Council meets Monday evening, as it does twice each month, rain or shine.

Mayor Danny Jones presides over these meetings, from the raised platform at the far end of the formal council chambers on the third floor of City Hall. Whether you like Danny or not, he rules the meetings with a certain style.

But council meetings can be a little dull, as most items on the agenda are voted upon with little or no discussion, let alone actual debate.

To see the wheels of city government really turn, plan to arrive an hour earlier, at 6 p.m., for the meeting of what my colleague Rusty Marks likes to call the powerful Finance Committee.

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Your city government in action, pt. 7

Charleston’s Municipal Planning Commission has just two items on the agenda for its meeting on Wednesday, May 6.

The first is somewhat interesting. A group of investors led by accountant Larry Pack that bought the old SportMart warehouse in the East End a couple years ago wants to lease the building to an auto detailing business. To do this, they need to get a zoning change for the property. (I wrote about this project in the Gazette today.)

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Your city government in action, pt. 6

Charleston City Council’s Committee on Parks & Recreation will hold one of its occasional meetings on Monday.

As its name suggests, this group considers issues related to the city’s parks and recreational  facilities — managed by a department headed by John Charnock.

The agenda for Monday lists just two items. The second, related to a lease for the East End Community Resource Center, might be interesting judging by a discussion at a recent meeting of council’s Finance Committee.

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Your city government in action, pt.5

Yet another quasi-city agency, the Charleston Sanitary Board, also plans to meet Thursday.

I say quasi-city because, as its manager Larry Roller often points out, the sanitary board independent of city government, although Mayor Danny Jones is the board chairman. The group runs the sewage treatment plant in North Charleston, along with the sewage collection system, paid for by the monthly sanitary fee residents and business owners pay.

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Charleston’s zoning board (officially known as the Board of Zoning Appeals) meets at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, as they do twice each month — assuming there is business at hand.

There is just one item this time, according to the agenda.  A property owner in Kanawha City is requesting two setback variances in order to build an addition to his home at 5511 Virginia Ave.

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Your city government in action, pt.3

This should actually be part 4 or 5, as I did not post advance agendas of Monday’s City Council and Finance Committee meetings as planned. Normally these agendas appear on the city’s Web site at least four days in advance, but I couldn’t find them until sometime Monday afternoon. The woman who works in the City Clerk’s office who puts these online assured me she did so last Thursday as usual, so maybe the cyber gremlins were at work.

At any rate, council’s Committee on Public Safety has scheduled what its chairman says will be a brief meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. It’s in the Mayor’s Conference Room, on the second floor of City Hall right beside, as you might guess, Mayor Danny Jones‘ office.

I’ve never attended one of their meetings, so I can’t say exactly what they do except to consider bills and other matters related to safety, and then send bills on to full council for approval. There’s just one item on the agenda Thursday, related to a pedestrian walkway under Interstate 64/77 at Piedmont Road near Laidley Field.

I’m told the walkway, built by the state to allow access to homes across the Interstate, is little used these days and a safety hazard. Some folks want to ask the state to close it.

If you care, now’s the time to speak up.

Your city government in action, part 2

Charleston City Council’s Streets and Traffic Committee will hold one of its occasional meetings at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. As its name indicates, this group handles issues related to the city’s street system. It considers bills that are commonly introduced by ward council members, often at the urging of neighborhood residents, and then sends them on to full council for final approval.

Typical bills change the speed limit or set parking rules on individual streets.

In the broad scheme of things, these bills are probably not of great interest, which is why the committee doesn’t get a lot of publicity. But if a bill proposes a change on your street, you might be very interested.

According to the agenda, the committee will consider four bills on Wednesday. If you’d like to listen in, or express your opinion, come to the meeting. It’s in the AV (audio-visual) room on the third floor of City Hall.