“Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner?”

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan speaking from the podium in 2004 about a former White House staffer’s critical memoir. McClellan released his own critical memoir last week, upsetting administration officials with his accusations that the White House went out of its way to sell the war and mislead the public. Source: Time

7.5 hours

That’s Thomas Ravenel’s work day in prison. The former state treasurer, convicted earlier this year of handing out cocaine to friends, started serving his 10-month sentence on May 29. Source: The Post and Courier

Tension boils over on “Bitch” Remark

Fallout built last week after the public learned School Board member Arthur Ravenel threatened the job of Superintendent Nancy McGinley, telling her that he’d gotten rid of one bitch (former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson) and he’d get rid of another. Ravenel first denied that he said it, but later admitted to the slur, while claiming that he couldn’t remember the context.

“The facts are well established and documented,” says School Board Chairman Hillary Douglas, who admonished Ravenel during a public meeting last week. “He did this not once, but twice…We do not push individual agendas, nor will we accept the usage of threats or profanities from anyone.

“It sets us back, not forward,” he went on, “and sends the wrong message — especially to women — about the importance of treating everyone with respect.”

The NAACP has called on Gov. Mark Sanford to remove Ravenel from office for his comments. The Charleston County School Board has always been hesitant to change with the times, says Rev. Nelson Rivers.

“You have to drag it kicking and screaming into whatever century you’re in,” he says. “(Ravenel) uses racism and bigotry with syrup, but it all comes out meaning the same.”

Ravenel was not at the school board meeting and spent time in the hospital last week after a bad reaction to medicine. Rev. Joe Darby of the NAACP says that, while he prays for the man’s health, it’s time to push Ravenel out.

“I don’t think there’s a wrong time to do the right thing,” he says. —Greg Hambrick

Like a Good Neighbor, Bobby Harrell Is There

A bill that would have put restrictions on the payday lending industry died in the legislature last week after House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) used the power of his office to send the bill to committee without debate. Supporters of the bill told the Associated Press they would have been able to secure a vote had Harrell not buried the bill. Harrell argued that the new law would not have held up against a judicial challenge. He went on to say that he supports restricting the industry, but doesn’t want to “regulate it out of existence.” —Greg Hambrick

Mayors Get Heated

As the U.S. Senate prepares to debate the Climate Security Act this week (also referred to as the Lieberman-Warner bill), the mayors of Union, Sumter, Columbia, and Charleston gathered for a teleconference last Friday to show their support for the bill, which would limit and decrease U.S. carbon-sourced emissions and promote alternative energy. “The energy and action that local governments and communities have taken around the country shows us the demand and desire of the American public and citizens of South Carolina for the U.S. to address global climate change,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. “Like all great movements, this starts on the local level. We’re not going to be able to expect China, India, and the emerging nations to take seriously their responsibility to deal with climate change if the U.S. is not doing it.” Riley touted efforts in Charleston like City Hall’s geothermal climate control system and the formation of a Green Council. The conference, hosted by the S.C. Wildlife Federation, was partially a move to influence Sen. Lindsay Graham to support the bill, which is expected to be filibustered and currently does not have enough support for an override. —Stratton Lawrence

Fire Promotions Questioned; Sixth Sofa Store Suit; Memorial Plans Made

Ramifications of the June 18, 2007, Sofa Super Store blaze that killed nine firefighters continued last week, as Charleston City Council members called for more involvement in the hiring of a new fire chief to replace Rusty Thomas. The chief announced his plans to resign the day before a report was released that was highly critical of the management of the Sofa Store fire. Those council members were even more incensed upon learning that Thomas had made a host of promotions and transfers weeks before leaving his post at the end of this month. The Post and Courier also reported last week that the city is expected to spend at least $7.5 million on the changes thought necessary to improve the department. Meanwhile, the family of a sixth firefighter filed suit against the store owner and others, claiming negligence. The city is planning a public memorial at 10 a.m. on June 18 at the Gaillard Auditorium to honor the nine firefighters. A ceremony for the family that evening at the site will be closed to the public. —Greg Hambrick

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