Issue 3.23 | Monday, Jan. 24, 2011 | Please help Queensland flood victims
:: Local real estate market up some
:: Use more than one budget tool
BROADUS: Big check
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JAN. 24, 2011 - 2010 was the year we started coming to terms with our nation's sluggish economy - realizing that a speedy recovery is not in the cards but finding hope in the local real estate market activity.
In the first half of 2010, sales were supported by the homebuyer tax credit. Despite predictions for a post-tax-credit fallout, the Charleston market maintained its footing and the region posted year-over-year increases in both sales and prices -- 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
Charleston County made the largest gains in 2010, with a 13 percent increase in sales and 4 percent increase in median price. Berkeley County sales were up nearly 6 percent, while median price increased 2 percent. Dorchester County struggled with 11 percent fewer sales but stability in price, fluctuating just 1 percent.
Locally, indicators were largely positive over the last 12 months, but foreclosures will have an effect on our market in the coming year. Recently, leading foreclosure authority RealtyTrac announced the number of homes seized by banks exceeded 1 million nationwide in 2010. Nevada (9 percent of homes received a filing notice), Arizona (5.7 percent) and Florida (5.5 percent) topped the national foreclosure rankings in 2010, while South Carolina ranked 16th with a 1.61 percent foreclosure rate. In the Lowcountry, 3,094 homes in Charleston County, 1,648 in Berkeley County and 1,413 in Dorchester County reportedly received notice of foreclosure filing.
Foreclosure rates are expected to climb in 2011, with more than 5 million homeowners across the country at least 60 days behind on their mortgage payments -- a statistic that has many industry experts predicting price declines nationally through the second quarter, as more foreclosures come onto the market. The silver lining of a potential price decline is increased affordability. Many buyers have been priced out of the Charleston market, even in post-peak years. Today, there are plenty of opportunities for buyers in every price range.
A prediction of potential price declines should not necessarily deter buyers, however, as there's no way of knowing which areas will be affected by the foreclosure inventory, and at what level. All real estate is local -- down to the neighborhood. Some areas of the Lowcountry are performing incredibly well while others are still working through price corrections -- which is why it's never been more important to work with a Realtor® who can guide you through this complex market.
What's certain is that the days of making a quick return on investment in real estate are over and a return to the sales and price levels of peak years is not on the horizon -- nor should it be. Market recovery should not be measured by a return to the abnormal markets of 2004-2007, but by steady, sustainable growth in sales and prices over a long period of time.
Overall, our market activity is not as strong as it once was, but it's not as bad as it's been, either. We have the challenge of working through the foreclosure inventory ahead of us, but we have plenty of positives to focus on as well -- the arrival of Boeing and its ancillary businesses, development and growth of the Port and the unmatched quality of life in our region, which will undoubtedly continue enticing buyers to make the Lowcountry their home.
JAN. 24, 2011 When you go into battle, you want to go in with a full complement of tools: a gun, bullets, knife, grenade and whatever else you need to get the job done.
You dont want, for example, to have only a knife.
Unfortunately, South Carolina officials are approaching the coming state budget with one main strategy budget cuts. Just like theyve always done.
And thats a shame. It means agencies and programs that significantly help South Carolina from the Arts Commission and SCETV to hospice care and more face an ignoble end due to the budget knife.
It doesnt have to be this way. We could, for example, use more tools than just the knife as done in our sister state, North Carolina.
Over the last 20 years, North Carolina has taken a more blended approach to South Carolinas basic budget strategy of slashing government spending. In general in times of shortfalls, North Carolina has combined cuts with temporary tax increases on income and sales. It raised taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. It also decreased the corporate income tax, phased out the state sales tax on food, got rid of a sales tax holiday and removed some sales tax exemptions.
Contrast this more balanced approach to South Carolina, which has reduced taxes by $600 million over the last five years. Since 2006-07, tax collections in the Palmetto State have dropped $1.42 billion, or 21.3 percent, according to Statehouse sources. About the only tax that has been raised is a 50-cent per pack increase on cigarettes. An appropriately maligned tax swap called Act. 388 took away school operating property taxes for an extra two cents in sales taxes. Instead of being revenue neutral, it has started costing the state in a big way.
What South Carolina officials fail to see is that there are other tools out there temporary or permanent tax increases, consolidation, short-term borrowing and finding efficiencies.
While Gov. Nikki Haley should be lauded for pushing appropriate consolidations to save money and reduce duplication, her wail and cry at her first State of the State address was more of the same: cut to make the budget work. Among the comments in the rhetoric-laced speech were these:
I believe that in order for the public to trust us, as we make decisions that may be seen by some as unfair or even callous, we must be honest with them: this budget year is going to hurt. Translation: Things that I dont like may get chopped out of existence.
State legislators would be wise to reread the long report offered by the Tax Realignment Commission, which suggested removing $600 million in sales tax exemptions, partial restoration of the grocery sales tax and increasing the gas tax by five cents. The folks who produced this solid report on the states antiquated tax structures are no liberal ninnies. Instead, they are as conservative as they get former state Department of Revenue director Burnie Maybank, former GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Wingate and South Carolina Association of Taxpayers President Don Weaver.
All, including Weaver whose group has called in the past for no new taxes, agreed that the states taxing system needed to be reformed, as noted in comments at the end of the TRAC report.
Wingate: Eliminating the patchwork of sales tax exemptions, applying the sales tax to certain services and reducing the sales tax rate to make the changes tax-neutral are all appropriate.
Weaver: This report should also serve as a road map for the General Assembly to consider tax changes in future legislative sessions, including our recommendations on taxing Internet sales, the large reduction in sales tax exemptions, and the possible shift to begin taxing some services.
So heres an idea for lawmakers looking at an $800 million hole this year: Remove the $600 million in special-interest sales tax exemptions. Just this year, keep the revenue to fill the gap. And then over five years, wean the state from the exemption revenue by slowly reducing the sales tax rate. In the end, the state would have a temporary source of unrealized revenue and a more balanced method of dealing with the budget crisis by using more than one tool.
The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is the Charleston RiverDogs. The Lowcountrys leader in sports entertainment, Charleston RiverDogs baseball is an attractive, affordable medium for your group or business. The RiverDogs develop the next major league stars for the 26-time World Champion New York Yankees at one of the finest ballparks in Minor League Baseball -- Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Three short words sum up the every day approach taken by the Charleston RiverDogs front office. The brainchild of club President Mike Veeck, the nine-letter phrase Fun Is Good is meant to be a guideline and daily reminder of how employees should approach their jobs and in turn capture the imagination of the fans to turn them into repeat customers. Call them today at (843) 723-7241 or visit online at: www.RiverDogs.com to find out how to enjoy the 'Dogs and stadium in the off-season.
The Charleston Jazz Orchestra, Charleston's resident big band, opens its 2011 season with Jazz on the Screen, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m., at the band's "House of Swing," the Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St.
Conductor Charlton Singleton returns to the stage with Charleston's finest musicians to present a program featuring songs made famous from film and television. Singleton has pulled together lush, energetic arrangements, some by orchestra members, that are designed to resonate with the listener in a way that excites the old tunes with freshness and flair.
CJO arranger David Heywood will provide an orchestration of "I Dream of Jeannie" that will peel the paint off the room. Other songs from television shows include those from "Taxi," "I Love Lucy" and "Star Trek." Songs from the movies will be themes from "Shaft," "Soul Bossa Nova," "Rocky" and "Naked Gun." Singleton will have the rhythm section rocking, saxophones singing, and brasses blaring.
Adult admission is $30 advance, $40 day of show. Senior tickets, $25 advance, $35 day of show. Student tickets, $20 advance, $30 day of show. Tickets are available online at www.TheJAC.org and at www.etix.com, and in person at the JAC Box Office, 185-C St. Philip St., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by telephone, 843-641-0011.
Dwayne Norman honored by workforce training program
Berkeley County resident Dwayne Norman has been named Outstanding Workforce Investment Act Alumnus by the 2011 S.C. Workforce Development Partnership Symposium.
Norman entered the Workforce Investment Act program at the Trident One Stop Career System in January 2009 after losing his job.
As a young man, Norman enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he sustained injuries to both shoulders, limiting his ability to perform tasks that require heavy lifting or holding his arms over his head for long periods of time. Norman was referred the S.C. Department of Vocational Rehabilitation where he received rehabilitation and support services to overcome this barrier to employment.
An assessment of Norman's skills and interests found that with assisting technology and equipment he could perform the essential functions of a facilities maintenance technician. He had worked in a maintenance-related field in the past, but his experience was limited to carpentry.
was enrolled in the newly created Facilities Maintenance
Norman was interviewed by Darby Development Co., who entered into an on-the-job training agreement to allow him to further his training while earning a sustainable wage. He's still employed by Darby Development and works as one of three facility services technicians for Fairwind and Oakfield apartments, a 356-unit property in North Charleston.
According to his supervisor, Norman is " a dependable member of our staff who has continued to improve and show growth building upon his existing skill set. He is a team player and always willing to help out where needed."
Norman lives is an active member of St. Andrew's Church in Goose Creek and its Men's Prayer Group. He is also playing a role in the church's efforts to open a free medical clinic. Norman provides maintenance services to the church, donating his time and skills as needed.
The Trident One Stop Career System includes one-stop centers in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties that offer a variety of services to help employers and job seekers meet their workforce development needs.
Chocolate sweetens awareness of dropout prevention
Celebrating 20 years, The Chocolate Affair will dazzle guests on Feb. 5 at the Charleston Marriott Crystal Ballroom on Lockwood Boulevard.
This fine tasting event does much more than offer chocolate. The fundraiser highlights one of Charleston and Berkeley County's most troubling issues - the dropout rate of youth in area schools.
The Chocolate Affair gala and auction benefits Communities In Schools of the Charleston Area, a nonprofit organization that surrounds nearly 6,000 at-risk students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. CIS is currently in 16 Title One schools in Charleston and Berkeley Counties.
Worth magazine has twice listed the national Communities In Schools program in its list of the "100 Charities that Will Save the World."
Gourmet catering and fine spirits, including signature chocolate martinis, will be offered. Afterward, guests enjoy a banquet full of the finest chocolate desserts from some of Charleston's top chefs. A dance band and nearly 200 auction items are featured. This year's auction highlights include a Dove Hunting Excursion for four in Argentina, an original metal art piece designed by John Donahue, and a pair of Wannamaker Tickets to the PGA 2012 Tournament at Kiawah Island.
Also available are Tickets to the Tony Awards in New York City, jewelry, vacation packages, restaurant and ticket packages, and original art from Charleston artists.
Tickets are $100 per person or $185 per couple; and the evening starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by calling 740-6793 or by visiting www.thechocolateaffair.net.
Young scientists urged to compete for awards
Alcoa's Mount Holly plant encourages aspiring young scientists across the Lowcountry to apply by March 1 for the American Museum of Natural History's Young Naturalist Awards.
Supported through the Alcoa Foundation, the program was created to promote participation in the sciences and stimulate youth to explore science careers.
For 14 years, the Young Naturalist Awards has encouraged middle and high school students across the U.S. and Canada to independently explore the natural world and pursue in-depth scientific research in the areas of biology, Earth science, ecology and astronomy. Contestants form hypotheses, conduct research, plan experiments, gather data and report their findings in an essay.
"We are extremely proud to support the Young Naturalist Awards, which provides a great opportunity to mold young scientists and recognize them for their scientific work," Mike Rousseau, Alcoa Mount Holly plant manager, said. "This program focuses on education, conservation and sustainability - priority focus areas for Alcoa Inc. and the Alcoa Foundation."
The Mt. Holly plant, a jointly-owned facility operated by Alcoa, has been a part of Goose Creek since 1979. The facility currently employs nearly 600 people and contributes more than $250 million directly to the local economy through payroll, taxes and the purchase of goods and services.
The Alcoa Foundation will help present awards to the 12 winners at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Winners receive a scholarship and a paid trip to the ceremony, where they meet scientists and take a behind-the scenes tour of the museum. Winning contestants' essays will be featured on the museum's Web site.
more about the Young Naturalist Awards, visit www.amnh.org/yna.
Andrew Gordon Magrath was born in Charleston in 1813, the son of the Irish merchant John Magrath and Maria Gordon. After his graduation from South Carolina College in 1831, Magrath briefly attended Harvard Law School, but he acquired most of his legal training in Charleston under the tutelage of James L. Petigru. He was admitted to the bar in 1835. From 1838 to 1841 Magrath represented the city parishes of St. Philip's and St. Michael's in the state House of Representatives. On March 8, 1843, he married Emma D. Mikell of Charleston. The couple had five children. Around 1865 Magrath was married again, this time to Mary Eliza McCord of Columbia. They had no children.
In 1856 Magrath was appointed a federal judge to the District Court of South Carolina, which brought him national attention and controversy. His tenure coincided with increasingly strident calls from some southern nationalists to reopen the African slave trade. Although opposed to the trade personally, Magrath nevertheless handed slave-trade proponents a signal victory in 1860. In a decision associated with the cases surrounding the Echo and the Wanderer, ships seized for illegally transporting African slaves, Magrath stated that the 1820 federal statute on piracy did not apply to the slave trade.
"The African slave trade," he declared, "is not piracy." In rejecting the piracy statute, which carried the death penalty, Magrath's decision took some of the teeth out of federal slave-trade laws and was hailed by proslavery and states' rights advocates. Immediately following the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, Magrath resigned his judgeship. On Nov. 7 he told a crowded Charleston courtroom that the "department of Government, which I believe has best maintained its integrity and preserved its purity, has been suspended." Admirers later claimed that Magrath's resignation was "the first overt act and irrevocable step" toward secession.
A cooperationist earlier in his career, Magrath supported secession by 1860, feeling "an assurance of what will be the action of the State." He sat in the state's Secession Convention and briefly served as the South Carolina secretary of state. In 1862 he was appointed as a Confederate district judge. His decisions generally opposed the concentration of authority by the Confederate government in Richmond.
In December 1864 Magrath was elected governor of South Carolina, the last one chosen by the state legislature. During his brief tenure Magrath was affiliated with other southern governors who criticized the administration of President Jefferson Davis. By 1865 Magrath had become disenchanted with the "moral atrophy" of the southern people. "It is not an unwillingness to oppose the enemy, but a chilling apprehension of the futility of doing so, which affects the people," he wrote at the time.
Following the collapse of the Confederacy, Magrath was arrested on May 25, 1865, and imprisoned at Fort Pulaski, Georgia. Released in December, Magrath returned to Charleston and rebuilt his lucrative law practice. He died in Charleston on April 9, 1893, and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery.
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Big book sales ahead
We are going through major upheaval trying to cull down our home library, which has filled the shelves and is overtaking the floors in spots. Nonetheless, we have marked our calendars for the Charleston Friends of the Library's 2011 Book Sale schedule. Whether you're looking for a good summer read or a gift for Christmas, the Charleston Friends of the Library has a book sale for every season with great bargains and good books. All proceeds benefit the Charleston County Library.
Admission is free to all sales. Special preview events will be held before each sale for members of the Charleston Friends of the Library. To become a member, visit www.charlestonlibraryfriends.org or call (843) 805-6882. Individual membership is $20 annually and will last through December. The Friends of the Library raises money through book sales to help fund Library services, equipment, training, materials and public programming. The Friends collect and sort donated books for resale to raise money.
are playwrights and all computers are lousy actors."
Azalea Society: 6:30 p.m., Jan. 24, Carriage House at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The Rev. John Drayton Chapter of the Azalea Society of America will focus on hybrid azaleas at this month's meeting. The society meets the fourth Monday of each month. For more information call 571-1266.
Women and Power: 6 to 8 p.m., Jan. 25. Why don't more women embrace power? Women traditionally have had a conflicted relationship with power. Learn how to define power as a personal value and how to use it to serve your community, influence decisions and accomplish much more personally and professionally. Jennet Robinson Alterman, executive director, Center for Women. Registration required: $25 C4W Members/$35 Non Members. Light supper by Dish & Design is included in the fee.
Healthy cooking class: 6 p.m., Jan. 25, Whole Foods Market in Mount Pleasant. Already given up on your new years resolution to lose weight? No worries, get back on track with a free healthy cooking class. Join Holistic Chef Ken Immer of gRAWnola and OM cooking for an evening of mindful eating. Combining recipes from his own repertoire and from the Whole Foods Market's "Health Starts Here" initiative, this free class will serve up seasonal and local ingredients. The class will include a Q&A session at the end. More.
(NEW) State of the City Address: 7:30 p.m., Jan. 25, Charleston City Hall, 80 Broad St. Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. will give his annual State of the City Address to City Council and the community and is anticipated to talk about economic development, deepening of the Charleston harbor, restoration projects, the addition of new parks in the city and the future development of the Gaillard Center. The address will be broadcast live on WCIV, Channel 4-ABC.
Hour: 5 p.m., Jan. 27, at Oak Steakhouse. Lowcountry Local
First celebrates Happy Hour.
Business After Hours: 5:30 to 7 p.m., Jan. 27, at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4831 Tanger Outlet Blvd. Hosted by the Charleston Metro Chamber. Cost: $40 non-member, $20 Chamber member. Register.
Knitting for beginners: 6 p.m., Jan. 27, Knit, 87 Wentworth St. Have you always wanted to learn to knit? Join us for a two-hour beginners' class. You will learn how to cast on (put yarn on the needles) and the basic knit stitch. After taking the class, you'll be able to start your first scarf or other knitting project. A starter kit with knitting needles and yarn will be provided that you can take home. Instructor: Faye Slater. Registration required: $25 Center for Women members, $35 for non-members.
(NEW) State of North Charleston Address: 7 p.m., Jan. 27, North Charleston City Hall. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey will give his annual State of the City Address.
Creativity with Anne LeClaire: 6:30 p.m., Jan. 28, 297 East
Bay St. Theologians, poets, artists, writers and philosophers have long
known that in order to create anything, including a deeply fulfilling
life, the first requirement is that we become quiet. It is in this space
of stillness that truths surface, understandings expand, and we discover
in the silence of our hearts answers to living authentically. Begin the
new year by joining Anne in exploring the possibilities of silence and
its connection to creativity and to living not just to survive but to
thrive. Tuition: Evening lecture only, $25 in advance and $35 at the door.
Weekend workshop (includes lecture): $195 by January 5, $250 after. Register
CALENDAR: ONGOING AND SOON
South Carolina Premiere of "Blue": 7:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday matinee, through Jan. 30, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. Charles Randolph-Wright's acclaimed play "Blue" chronicles the life of an affluent and prominent African-American family that runs a funeral home in a rural South Carolina town. The story centers around a relentlessly driven and highly stylish woman, Peggy, who is mesmerized by the music of the great jazz singer Blue Williams. Tickets, $22 to $48, may be purchased online, in person at the theater, or by calling 843-577-7183.
Children's Ballet Series: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Jan. 29, and 3 p.m., Jan. 30, at The CBT Black Box Theatre, 477 King St. Charleston Ballet Theatre's popular Children's Series of family-friendly ballets returns with its second show of the season, "Angelina Ballerina Goes to the Circus." Everyone's favorite ballerina mouse pirouettes onto the stage with a brand new dance adventure that takes her into the colorful world of circus animals and sideshow oddities. Tickets: Adults: $22 Child: $12. Box Office: 477 King Street M-F 10am - 4pm 723.7334 or online.
Conscious Evolution: 6:30 p.m., Feb. 4. What does conscious evolution mean? How can we live it in our relationships and spiritual unfolding, and use it to discover our vocations of destiny? How do we follow the compass of joy: the Law of Attraction to What We Want to Give? Futurist and evolutionary pioneer Barbara Marx Hubbard tells her powerful personal journey of transformation, emphasizing the discovery of life purpose, the evolution of motherhood, a vision of our future, the importance of Evolutionary Spirituality, and the discovery of Regenopause in post-menopausal women. Tuition: evening lecture only, $25 in advance and $35 at the door; weekend workshop (includes lecture): $250 by January 4, $295 after. Register online.
Cuban Exhibit: Feb. 4-March 28, City Gallery at Waterfront Park. An opening reception for Polaridad Complementaria: Recent Works from Cuba, an exhibition that introduces North America to the new generation of influential artists from Cuba, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 4. The exhibit offers more than 40 works of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video and installation art to provide a sense of the serious aesthetic and conceptual concerns that characterizes Cuban art today. The City Gallery, at 34 Prioleau St., is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Window Exhibit: Through Feb 28, 2011, The Meeting Place, 1077 East Montague Ave. North Charleston. In his exhibit, "Sea and Shore," local artist David Springer will present metal sculpture depictions of Lowcountry birds, plants, and wildlife. Window viewing, free parking.
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Shoes for needy
ANN THRASH ARCHIVES
ANDY BRACK ARCHIVES
more budget tools
MARSHA GUERARD ARCHIVES1/3: Spoleto plans
12/27: Hunger, homeless
11/11: Veterans Day
10/21: Charleston: good performer
8/19: How many med schools for SC?
PETER LUCASH: BUSINESS INDIGO
GREG GARVAN: CHARLESTON GREEN
to get out of house