“It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality.”

That’s the announcement of a meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Source: TIME.com

Scarborough Wants Revote

With the last ballots cast and still more than 200 votes short of re-election, Rep. Wallace Scarborough (R-James Island) has filed a legal challenge to the S.C. House District 115 race. Democrat Anne Peterson Hutto won the election Nov. 4, but Scarborough argues in court filings that there were more than enough voters who moved prior to the election without changing their voter registration to call the whole thing off and start over.

The bulk of his argument is that several hundred voters either moved out of the district or out of their precinct, thus invalidating their vote when using a standard ballot. He also argues that there was one polling place with 27 more votes than signatures on the voter list. Hutto Campaign Manager Mike Meehan notes that there was no evidence provided to support any of the claims.

“Wallace Scarborough has baselessly accused hundreds of James Island and Folly Beach residents of committing a crime, simply so he can undo an election whose outcome he dislikes,” Meehan says.

“In so doing, Wallace Scarborough sends the message that he cares more about his own interests than what’s best for the people of James Island and Folly Beach.” —Greg Hambrick

$4 million

That’s the money awarded to local house flipper Richard Davis of Trademark Properties for his work on A&E’s Flip This House, in which he introduced the Charleston vernacular and the Palmetto Bug to viewers too lazy to peel up their own shag carpet. Source: The Post and Courier

Locals Rally in Defense of Gay Equality

Charleston’s gays and lesbians, and their supporters, rallied last weekend as part of a global protest of anti-gay policies.

In California, 52 percent of voters revoked marriage rights for the state’s gays and lesbians on Nov. 4. Three other anti-gay measures were successful in other parts of the country.

While disappointing, the measures have galvanized the gay community to action, most notably through the more than 300 rallies at 1:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 15.

The Charleston event began at Liberty Square with participants marching to City Hall. The scene stopped traffic on East Bay Street, and elsewhere, as hundreds carried signs and called for equality.

South Carolina successfully added a ban on gay marriage to the state’s Constitution (even though it was already illegal), and garnered national attention for the recent backlash to a state-sponsored ad that encouraged gay tourists to visit South Carolina. —Greg Hambrick

$750 million

That’s the estimated cost for a new 300-acre development planned for U.S. 78 in North Charleston. The project is a partnership between Germany’s Weber Automotive and the Weiser company, the creators of the Centre Pointe project. The developers expect it to be a “live, work, play” community with a mix of residential, retail, business, and civic buildings.

Midnight Eco-Attack

Having shrugged off international treaties on greenhouse gas emissions, issued 35,000 new permits for drilling on federal lands, and scoffed at the Endangered Species Act, George W. Bush is already regarded by many as the worst president on environmental issues in the nation’s history. But what he may accomplish in his last days in office is perhaps the scariest stuff yet. Just as Clinton went out with a flurry of eco-protections (the roadless rule in national forests, cleaner standards for drinking water, and reducing tolerance for lead in paint), Bush’s team is working hard to pass “midnight regulations” quickly enough to make reversing the executive orders difficult for President-elect Obama. In addition to policies that give law enforcement the freedom to collect “intelligence” on non-criminals they deem “suspicious” and undercutting workplace safety rules, Bush has his crosshairs set firmly on the environment as he leaves office. Here are some proposed law changes:

• Eliminating the Stream Buffer Zone, allowing coal mining operations using mountaintop removal to dump blasted rock and dirt directly into rivers and streams.

• Eliminating a required permit to allow runoff from factory farms into waterways, bypassing the Clean Water Act. Approved by the Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 31.

• Exempting factory farms from reporting air emissions from animal waste, a major source of greenhouse gas pollution.

• Allowing federal agencies to approve infrastructure projects, mining, and logging without consulting the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service, which enforce the Endangered Species Act.

• Removing restrictions governing power plants near national parks and wilderness areas.

• Transferring ocean management decisions from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to advisory groups that represent fishing interests.

• Opening two million acres of western land to leasing for oil shale mining, a major greenhouse gas source.

• Reclassifying more chemical hazardous wastes as fuels, allowing them to be burned.

• Providing no new requirements for oil refineries to control toxic emissions.

• Changing the New Source Review program to reduce the number of factories and power plants subject to pollution control requirements.

An estimated 90 new regulations are in the works, but Obama may have an ace in the hole with the Congressional Review Act of 1996. A clause states that any regulation finalized in the last 60 days of congressional adjournment is considered to be final on the 15th day of a new Congress — next February. That would allow the Democrat-controlled Congress to repeal the new laws. But Clinton only managed to repeal 9 percent of Bush I’s regulations, and Bush II only negated three percent of Clinton’s. It could be a dim January for Mother Earth. Keep tabs at ombwatch.org. —Stratton Lawrence

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