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Author Topic: A very important question  (Read 724 times)
JW
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« on: December 16, 2018, 09:27:55 PM »

Before anyone turns the lights out here can I ask a very important question? Anyone know what is going on with dredging the port? Word on Front Street is the money we all paid for dredging with the extra tax put on us all has been spent on other projects? That would seem to be both illegal and unethical. But this is how Georgetown operates.
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forklift driver
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2018, 04:58:48 PM »

You don't get it do you. Mr James E Sanderson Jr said we will get the port dredged cause that is the only way for the mill to survive.  So the port is going to be dredged. Now shut up and watch who really runs this town. Tupelo will get it done.
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Tom Rubillo
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2018, 01:12:50 PM »

The City of Georgetown is something like a giant donut.  While physically located in the center of the city, the Port of Georgetown is not within the city limits.   It is the hole in the donut. This state of affairs leaves the city government standing outside the door of the smoke filled rooms in which the fate of the port is being decided.  At this point, all decision making about that is made by the state Ports Authority, the state Commerce Department, the state Legislature, the Governor, and, to a lesser extent, by county government.  This can change if the Ports Authority were to agree to the annexation of the Port of Georgetown, incorporating into the city limits of the City of Georgetown.  If it were to agree to do that (at the invitation of the City Council), it would receive police and fire protection from the city, be included in future plans for infrastructure improvements (water, sewer) and have its electrical lines maintained by the city's electric department, the latter either by the city purchasing the existing grid from Santee Cooper or as part of some sort of cooperation agreement with Santee Cooper.  In addition to giving City Council a voice in discussions about the future of the port, annexation of the property into the city limits would enable to the city (a) decide what the property should be used for in the future and (b) to zone the property appropriately so that future land uses are compatible with plans for future use of the property as agreed upon by, among others, the elected officials of the city government.  Annexation would also add the the city staff to the cadre of those seeking to develop the property for future beneficial use.   Because of these considerations (and in light of the suggestion that Councilman Tupelo Humes is interested in attempting to influence decisions regarding the future of the port), I suggest that the City Council invite the Ports Authority to agree to annexation and become part of the City of Georgetown.  I drafted a proposed resolution to that end and sent it to Mayor Barber a month or two ago.  I also spoke with Rep. Anderson about it at the city's Christmas party a week or two ago.  I urge others who think that the time has come to (1) give the citizens of the City of Georgetown a voice in decision making about the future of the port by (2) inviting the Ports Authority to agree to annexation so that (3) the city is in a position where it can provide important municipal services directly to the Port and (3) "incentivize" future development by careful planning, zoning and infrastructure improvements -- to do these three things -- to contact the Mayor, Mr. Humes and the other members of City Council, Rep. Anderson, Senator Saab and the members of the Ports Authority about the suggestion.  That, and keep in mind that the property involved here has already been included in an "Economic Opportunity Zone" created by amendments to last year's federal tax break for investors and corporations that was authored by US Senator Tim Scott.  His office can be very helpful in the effort to encourage outside investors to put their money to work here.       

So folks, lets fire up this web site, fire up our friends and neighbors and get this job done. 
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PBSIAT
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2018, 10:02:38 AM »

You guys don't understand what this is about. This town is stuck in the plantation mentality. If the slave master allows outside investors and money here they will lose control. The port will not be dredged, there will not be any new jobs here and the masters will continue to control Georgetown. Mr Rubillo of all people should understand that. He was run out of office because he is a honest man and tried to move Georgetown out of the master's control. What happened to Mr Rubillo? He was attacked and savaged by the local rag and the "leaders " of this backwards town. Merry Christmas Mr Rubillo.
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Tom Rubillo
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2018, 09:44:10 AM »

Just to be clear, I was not "run out of office."  I resigned after I discovered that the city had "invested" half of its reserves -- some 4.5 million of 9 million in savings -- in very high risk collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs), the very sort of packages of shaky mortgage packages that ultimately caused the near collapse of America's economy at the end of the Bush administration.  Municipalities are forbidden by state law from putting local savings or reserves in those sort of investments.  They were illegal investments back then in 1994 and remain illegal investments for municipalities to this day.  I asked whether the city had money in CMOs after (1) it was widely reported that a large County in California (if memory serves me, Orange County) had gone bankrupt after its CMO portfolio had collapsed and (2) then State Treasurer Grady Patterson circulated an advisory to all local governments to be sure they weren't lured in by the slicky boys who were marketing these things actively to small local governments.  They would wine and dine city staff, butter them up with talk about being among those in the know and then sucker staff to invest public money in high risk private mortgage packages. 

When I learned of this outrageously irresponsible and unlawful action by the city staff, I reported it to the City Council and to the public.  By law, City Council controls municipal finances, so it had to act.  The mayor could not unilaterally act. or, at least could not do so without being disrespectful of the division of responsibilities between the executive and legislative branches.  While I certainly understood that I held office under the "strong mayor" form of government and tried as best I could to fulfill the responsibilities of that office, I was not a dictator.  I always understood that.

Several articles about the subject appeared in the Georgetown Times.  I was also interviewed about the subject by the Financial Times, a national publication that is widely read on Wall Street.  The city's credit rating suffered.  I was blamed for that when, it fact, it was the result of the reckless behavior by city staff.

I openly urged the Council to vote to divest the city of these "securities,"pointing to, among other things, the letter from the State Treasurer warning that the city was prohibited from investing in these sorts of junk bonds.  The Council refused after hearing a brief presentation by a newly licensed stock broker reassuring them that the investments were safe and secure.  That presentation had been arranged by a Council member who, for reasons unknown, had become a big defender of the staff members who had gotten the city involved in the mess in the first place.  In his defense of the city staff, that same Council member went so far as to accuse me of conspiring with the State Treasurer to write the warning letter.  He never offered any explanation of where that paranoid conspiracy theory came from.  I had never met (and to this day still have never met) the State Treasurer or anyone working for that office.  To repeat, my attention had been turned to the subject by the then widely reported bankruptcy of a large county in California.

Be all of that as it may, after (unsuccessfully as it ultimately turned out) prodding, urging, campaigning and otherwise trying to get the city out of this precarious and illegal situation, I resigned.  I did not do that because I had been "run out of office."  I did that because lawyers are forbidden to engage or participate in any unlawful activity.  Strict professional ethical rules come into play whenever a lawyer discovers that a "client" is engaged in unlawful activity.  Under those circumstances, the lawyer must (1) explain the law and the nature of the illegality involved, (2) urge the client to cease and desist and, if necessary, show or advise the client how to do so and (3) if the client refuses to stop breaking the law, sever the attorney/client relationship.  I followed that procedure.  When the City Council resisted and ultimately refused to pay attention to my warnings/urgings and order divestment, I left.  The one success achieved during that process was that each of the members of the city staff who had participated in getting the city involved resigned, retired or got jobs elsewhere in the meantime.  When their incoming replacements took over, they got ultimately the city out of this mess.  Several years later I asked one of them about the bottom line and was told that when all was said and done the city had lost about $250,000 in the deal.   

So, while I appreciate the compliment about being an "honest" person and the good holiday wishes contained in the preceding post, (and do not disagree about the persistence of the plantation mentality of some persons of local influence) I want to correct the record here about whether I was "run out of office" or not.  I wasn't.  I simply fulfilled my public and professional responsibilities as best I could given my understanding of them at the time (and now). 

Georgetown has great potential.  The overwhelming majority of its residents are good, decent and honest people who deserve an ever increasing level of prosperity, peace and community harmony.  I believe that one step toward that goal involves annexation of the Port of Georgetown into the city limits so that the present City Council can take its place at the table and discuss the future of the Port.  City Council is now controlled by working folks, not self-appointed "powers that be" or so-called "elites" pulling strings like so many puppeteers.  The mayor and members of the the council are decent folks who have the best interests of their neighbors at heart.  I urge them to take the first step down the path of putting this very important asset -- the Port of the City of Georgetown -- to productive and beneficial use. 
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Marty Tennant
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2018, 11:05:26 AM »

Interesting history that I've heard about in the past, but have never seen explained in such detail. Thanks Tom.

To go back to the original poster's question, part of the 1% sales tax money was suppose to be used for dredging the port.

I don't believe it will ever be used for that, because I don't think the port will ever be dredged. The state and fed money providers are spending big bucks in Charleston, upgrading the ports and the channel for big ships.

They could care less about Georgetown, in my opinion. The way I see it, Georgetown has essentially been abandoned port-wise.

Sel Hemingway addressed the issue of repurposing the dredging funds prior to the last election. He was pretty adamant that they could be used elsewhere, but they would have to be used for some kind of economic development project.

I haven't heard anything since then. I suggest that the local papers look into the issue and come up with something to stir the pot.

My suggestion? Spend the money on flooding mitigation. It is obvious that Front St. floods too much and too easily in the City.

Other suggestions welcomed.

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Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.
JW
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2018, 07:50:55 AM »

Thank you for all the responses and information. Marty-the only flooding mitigation that will work is to reopen the drain canal where the steel mill stands and that ain't gonna happen. Mr Tom-your history is interesting but goes to prove even more this corrupt city will never change. The one thing you failed to tell us is who was the broker that sold the crappy investments to the city? That person made a bundle off the taxpayer and got to keep all that money. Of course they had to pad the pockets of some others along the way cause that's how Georgetown works. So back to the question I asked. Will the port get dredged?
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Tom Rubillo
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2018, 11:57:07 AM »

JW  In partial response to your question, at the present time the political tide seems to be flowing against dredging.  That's because there are more decision makers opposed to dredging at the table where the issue is being discussed than those in favor of dredging.  The only way to reverse this tide is to increase the forces in favor of dredging.  That can be done by including the City of Georgetown among the decision makers.  Right now, because the Port of Georgetown is OUTSIDE of the city limits, neither the residents of the city nor its elected representatives have an effective voice in the decision.   County government has an effective voice, but not the City government.  Sel Hemingway does.  Brendon Barber doesn't.  Ron Charlton does, as do the councilmen from the Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet.  Tupelo Humes, Sheldon Butts, Rudolph Bradley, and company do not.   

If the Port of Georgetown were annexed into the city and became the Port of the City of Georgetown, that could change the mix -- stack the deck; stuff the ballot box; put in the fix -- whichever characterization you prefer but the end result being to help change the direction of the tide.    The members of City Council are almost uniformly in favor of dredging and keeping the port open for industrial, commercial and recreational use.  A majority of County Council want to spend the money collected by way of the special local sales tax for other pet projects that they prefer (or, put more honestly, pander those voters in their individual or single member districts).  So, rather than complain about how "corrupt" local government is and conclude that nothing can be done to change things -- rather than surrender without a fight and crawl into a hole and feel sorry for ourselves -- we can DO SOMETHING to try to change things.  DON'T MOURN.  ORGANIZE as Joe Hill said as he was dying of gunshot wounds inflicted by Pinkerton guards at the front of a union picket line so many years ago.  ORGANIZE. 

A proposed Resolution for the City Council inviting the Port Authority to consent to annexation is sitting on the Mayor's desk.  I mailed it to him a month or more ago.  It explains the benefit to the Ports Authority to doing so (better police and fire protection, infrastructure improvements, building code enforcement and the like.)  Contact the members of City Council and urge them to push annexation forward and get a place at the table.  Dredging is at stake.  DO SOMETHING.   
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Marty Tennant
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2018, 09:22:55 PM »

Hey, if the local folks can persuade Washington and the Army Corps to dredge, all power to them

I just don't see it happening.

Charleston will get the money, not us.

I don't see the economic arguments in favor of the long term dredging of Charleston and Georgetown.

If I were the Port Authority, I'd look down on an offer to be annexed by the City. Leave well enough alone.
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Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.
Tom Rubillo
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2018, 04:49:06 PM »

The problem with leaving "well enough alone" is that the entire facility will continue to decay, becoming an even worse eye sore in the center of town than it has already become.  Doing something -- inviting the Ports Authority to agree to annexation, offering municipal services in exchange -- creates a possible path forward.  If successful, it would also give the city a voice in deciding the port's future, including the use of the 1% sales tax collected within the city that is supposed to be earmarked for dredging.  Right now, nothing is being dredged and the entrance to the Sampit used by commercial fisherman and recreational boaters (including those plying the coastal waterway) is silting up and becoming impassable except at high tide.  The sales tax collected by businesses within the city limits should be used, at the very least, to solve that problem, just as other revenues from that same fund were used to dredge the entry to Murrells Inlet.  So come one.  Let's stop this standard practice and behavior and response of simply throwing up our hands and saying "what's the use."  Do something!!!!  I've made a suggestion.  If you think it isn't feasible, suggest an alternative approach beyond doing nothing.  Doing nothing preserves the status quo.  That's exactly what those almost everyone who posts don't like -- "the establishment" want, is to preserve the status quo.  The "do nothing" "what's the use" response plays exactly into their hands.  Come on.  Fight back.  Stop accepting the notion that you are powerless and the "powers that be" are all powerful.     
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Marty Tennant
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2018, 05:36:05 PM »

Fair enough. I can see the 1% sales tax funds earmarked for dredging being used to solve the local silting problem, but not the main channel all the way out to the ocean.

It is a very long channel and would require constant funding to keep it from silting in.

I just don't see the political will being spent by anyone on this at this time.

I hope the City addresses this issue and resolves it in an intelligent manner.

I think they have leverage on the use of the money, even if there is no annexation.
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Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.
JW
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2018, 09:02:23 PM »

Iím glad to see the activity back in this site. Mr Rubillo makes some good points. One would think since the union has a member in city council they would be pushing to get the port dredged with city council. I asked the question and I have not heard a good answer yet. Has county council already moved the dredging money for other pet projects? Word is they have and the port is doomed.
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PBSIAT
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2019, 11:58:02 AM »

All I can tell you is that is not the story we were all told about you resigning Mr. Rubillo.  I am glad to hear your side of it and have to tell you I believe you side. The Port is done people. Simply done. You think Tupelo getting popped for DUI was out of the blue? Now they have a chip to call on Tupelo to stay quiet. That's how it works in backwards corrupt Georgetown. They have something on everyone. Believe me.
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