Author Topic: Upcoming municipal election  (Read 1145 times)

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Tom Rubillo

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Upcoming municipal election
« on: July 08, 2021, 02:43:25 PM »
Now that each party has chosen its candidates for mayor and city council, the time has come for each of them to speak clearly and candidly about the most important question council will have to address in the coming weeks and months, namely, the steel mill.  From all appearances it seems as if there really might be a potential buyer in the wings looking to reactivate the mill.  Not only are the cars parked in the headquarters building and adjacent lot for  the mill, but there are others parked in the lot to the union headquarters across the street.  The presence of cars at the union would indicate that discussions are taking place between potential buyers and representatives of experienced workers.   

Be that as it may, there is a hot button political issues that must be honestly addressed by ALL of the candidates.  The mill have been shut down for more than a year, and not because of any labor dispute.  As I understand the situation, that means that the steel mill property is not longer zoned to permit heavy industrial use.  If that is the case, in order to resume production the zoning ordinance would have to be amended again.  The proper procedures to follow would be for (1) the Planning Commission to take up the matter first and, after an appropriate period of public comment and input, make a recommendation to the city council about whether to rezone to allow heavy industrial use of the property or not and then (2) for the city council to meet publicly, discuss the matter and, after receiving public input, vote one way or the other.  Put another way, none of this can be done behind closed doors, in smoke-filled rooms or on the QT. 

There is an important election coming up in November.  An actual majority of voting members on city council (the mayor and three council members) will be chosen.  Just like when Willy Korf came to town in the late 1960's/early 1970 proposing to put the steel mill in the center of town, local elected officials will be called upon to decide whether that is a good idea or not.  Voters have an absolute right to know where each candidate stands on that issue.  They shouldn't be allowed to evade, avoid, or otherwise give mealy mouthed answers.  No matter which side they are on, they must speak clearly and truthfully.  I understand that doing so can be difficult for politicians.  It takes courage.  But they all chose to run for office, so it is quite fair to put them to the test.  That's my two cents worth.

JW

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2021, 03:24:07 PM »
And when the new owner takes over and starts the mill up soon will you sue the city Mr. Rubillio?

forklift driver

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2021, 10:27:44 AM »
I will tell you this much if Tom will take the case I will donate to the cause. Cause the steel mill must go. The corrupt union has cost this town too much over the years.

Tom Rubillo

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2021, 04:51:07 PM »
There apparently are two schools of thought about the zoning ordinance.  Mill owners want to believe that the one year clock on the deadline marking abandonment of heavy industrial operations (the zoning change) did not start to run until February of this year.  That's when Liberty pulled its skeleton maintenance crew from the plant.  Others (myself included) believe that a proper reading of the ordinance (the clock started running when heavy industrial operations ceased--when the mill stopped producing steel.  That was sometime around April of 2020. 

At this point, the only opinion in the City of Georgetown regarding this question is that of the elected official who is ultimately responsible for interpreting and enforcing city ordinances.  Under the city's form of government, that "chief executive" is the "strong mayor.."  Should a majority of the members of council disagree with his interpretation, they can amend the ordinance to confirm to their view of things.  If they want to amend the ordinance, they first have to pass the question on to the Planning Commission for public hearings and a non-binding recommendation.  Once that happens, the matter can go on the council's agenda and, after three readings (with accompanying time for public input), council would vote and a majority rule on the issue.

That's how it works.  Any "informal discussions," individual opinions, suggestions or otherwise are like belly buttons or assholes, namely, everybody has one of their own. 

If there is someone in the wings interested in purchasing the steel mill with the hope of operating profitably in the future, they would be moving forward with actual notice of the history and language of the ordinance and the underlying matters of long-standing public concern.  They cannot claim to be "innocent purchasers for value" who were bamboozled in some way or had a sandbag dropped on them.  This entire question and controversy is a matter of public record and has been for a long time.  Attorneys for Liberty know it.  Attorneys for any prospective purchaser should know it too.  The mayor is certainly aware of it.  Any member of council who can read would know it too.

As far as JW's question is concerned, ya'll know I'm a retired old man who doesn't practice law anymore.  So, no, I'm not going to "sue the city."  In point of fact, the ball ain't event in that court.  Should the mayor interpret that law the way I believe is correct (the clock started ticking when heavy industrial operations ceased in April, 2020), it would be up to Liberty to go to court and "sue the city."  It would then have to persuade the judge that their sweeping the floor and keeping the place tidy was the same as producing steel.  Good luck.

This is a matter of public interest and public concern.  Different people have different points of view.  Some are motivated or influenced by a perception of some personal economic advantage to their position.  Potential employees would like a paycheck.  Nearby property owners don't want soot falling all over their homes and diminishing the value of their property.  Others (myself included) see a brighter economic future for the entire community if the steel mill property and the Port of Georgetown are cleaned up with the help of the EPA's Superfund and then redeveloped in some way that is well reasoned and well planned.  I'd like to see a combined campus housing  environmental programs of Clemson, USC and Coastal.  Others will have different proposals.  Whatever.  Those discussions await the ideas of others and framing of the issues.  For now, though, the mayor holds the  cards.  Once he puts those on the table, the council can either agree or call his hand. 

There's an election coming up.  This is the hottest of hot button issues.  Carol Jayroe (the Republican candidate) should express her views on the subject clearly and in a straightforward way.  So should Mayor Barber.  The voters will then decide.   

PBSIAT

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2021, 04:12:33 PM »
Well two of the republican candidates brought up some good topics and then the machine went to work on them. Kind of like the good old days when Paige the racist Sawyer would criticize the real republicans when they talked about high taxes and waste. The discussion of combining efforts with the county was responded to by the democrats and the local blogger. Shame on Scott Haper for not reporting the truth. The real sad thing is unless you are willing to vote with the democrats like Paige always did you have no chance to get elected in this town.

JW

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2021, 10:19:04 AM »
The Steel Mill will be open again and making steel SOON! And all you mill haters will be crying again. The city council led by Mr. Tupelo Humes will not allow you mill haters to keep the workers our of work.

Tom Rubillo

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2021, 05:31:12 PM »
Anything new?  Campaign season is about to begin.

JW

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2021, 05:26:28 PM »
SOON MR RUBILLIO! SOON! YOU CAN BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR ON THAT ONE. THE MILL HATERS WILL ALL NEED HELP WHEN THE STEEL MILL STARTS MAKING THOSE TURNS AGAIN. SOON!

Tom Rubillo

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2021, 06:43:22 PM »
Not being a "mill hater" but, rather, trained as an attorney, I try as best I can to analyze facts and express opinions based on what seem to be (and are often called by lawyers) "the merits" of each important matter that comes to my attention.  I don't think that, not matter what their ultimate views may be on the subject, that the question of whether the steel mill goes back into operation or not is an important one.  Reopening will restore a significant number of decent paying (but hard, hot and sorta dangerous) jobs and stimulate the local economy at a time when it could use a big boost.  At the same time, past experience have proven and teaches that the noise, decline in air quality, increase in heavy traffic and other environmental impacts will cause a decline in the appearance and value of properties within about a mile radius of the mill once it is running at full steam. The latter problem would become apparent pretty quickly if a new operator fell into the old bad habits of some prior operators and vented highly "toxic" dust created by the electric arc smelting process at night on the mistaken belief that nobody notices. 

Be all that as it may, the legal reality of the situation doesn't change. 

The first decision to be made is whether a new owner takes over by a "stock purchase" or an "asset purchase."  If it buys by a "stock purchase," it assumes both the assets and the liabilities of the former owner.  The up side of that method is that it acquires clear title to all the real estate, buildings and outdated equipment at the mill.  It also, at least arguably, acquires rights to go back into operation under all the air and water quality permits that it needs provided only that they haven't expired.  That's important because it avoids having to upgrade equipment to include very expensive "best available technology."  But the down side of a "stock purchase" is that the buy takes on responsibility for all liabilities, including future costs of environmental cleanup once they stop producing steel.

Now the prospective new buyer can try to avoid its future liability for costs of environmental cleanup (or limit it to problems it produced during its tenure) with an "asset purchase."  Doing things that way gives it title to real estate, buildings and equipment, but doesn't necessary give them rights to rely on old air and water quality permits.  Buyers might well have go get new ones of their own.  If so, DHEC and/or the EPA might require the installation of "best available technology" to reduce air and/or water pollution to legally acceptable levels.  That's a headache that can only be avoided by paying lawyers lots of money to struggle with.  Either way, it will be expensive.

Then, of course, there's the zoning question.  Fundamentally, zoning regulates "uses" of property.  The local ordinance set a  one year time limit on any shutdown (other than for a labor dispute) of the "use" of the property to produce steel.  The production of steel is, of course" a "heavy industrial use."  Once the mill went idle, there was, as I read and understand the law, a one year period to start up again.  After that, the property could not longer be "used" to produce steel.

The mill stopped producing steel in April of 2020.  The property hasn't been "used" for that purpose since.  Cutting grass, ordinary maintenance of machinery and the like doesn't count as a "heavy industrial use."  That's just a fact.  So, as discussed in previous posting, the city (and the voters) have an important say-so in making a decision here.       

But even to go a little further here, there is absolutely no question but that the half of the property stretching from Wood to Cleland Streets hasn't been used for any "heavy industrial" purpose for years now.  In fact, Liberty tore down all the equipment that would be used for making steel on that part of the property.  If I were advising any perspective purchaser, I'd urge them very strongly no to include that part of the property in the deal, whether by "stock purchase" or "asset purchase."  Instead, I'd go the the city's elected officials and urge that they apply to EPA for assistance from the Superfund program to clean up that part of the property for future "mixed" use. 

Now, to be perfectly clear JW, I don't "hate" the mill.  I just think that intelligent discussion and decision making are called for in this situation.  I've tried my best to lay out of the issues as I see them.  Nothing more and nothing less.  I've avoided typing my views in all capital letters because doing that represents the internet equivalent of shouting.  I try not to do that too much so as to not raise my blood pressure too much.  But I also always keep in mind something my father told me many years ago.  When voices started to get raised, he'd remind people that they weren't getting any smarter because they were getting louder or calling names.  The same, I believe, for the use of all capital letters.  No please, in the future, no name called or yelling.  We're all adults here and we all need to act like it.

Tom Rubillo

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2021, 03:55:20 PM »
Call the candidates and ask them what is going on and where they stand on the issue.  They each owe voters an explanation of his or her views.  Don't let any of them hide in the tall grass.  They're supposed to lead, not hide.

PBSIAT

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2021, 06:31:21 PM »
Well two of the republican candidates brought up some good topics and then the machine went to work on them. Kind of like the good old days when Paige the racist Sawyer would criticize the real republicans when they talked about high taxes and waste. The discussion of combining efforts with the county was responded to by the democrats and the local blogger. Shame on Scott Haper for not reporting the truth. The real sad thing is unless you are willing to vote with the democrats like Paige always did you have no chance to get elected in this town.

Mr. Rubillo the final nail has been placed in the coffin. The outburst by Johathan Anger(I know Angner but anger suits him better) has finished off any chance (and there never was any) of Ms. Jayroe or him surviving this election. Tupelo and the Mayor are still laughing at the outburst. We will have a all black city council after this election. And Tueplo will be laughing the loudest.

Tom Rubillo

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Re: Upcoming municipal election
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2021, 06:02:40 PM »
There is a candidates' forum scheduled to take place at Winyah Auditorium in early October.  Folks should attend and ask questions.