By Warwick Jones
Debate at the Jan. 20 Charleston County Council committee meeting was civil but there was tension underneath.
This was strange because the matter at hand didn’t appear overwhelmingly important. It concerned appointments to Charleston County’s boards and commissions.
Following elections, it is normal that when new and re-elected council members take their seats, they make appointments to boards and commissions.
Ordinances state that each council member is to make an appointment of his or her choosing to the Transportation Advisory Board, the Greenbelt Advisory Board, the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Charleston County Council as a body must ultimately approve each appointment.
Councilman Dickie Schweers and Chairman Teddie E. Pryor Sr. made their choices, which were read out. New council members Joe Qualey and Anna B. Johnson had not yet made their choices but indicated they would before the Jan. 25 county council meeting.
Schweers took up the cudgel and said that he was expected to vote for people he had no knowledge of. Weren’t all potential appointees supposed to fill out application forms?
Council member Colleen Condon supported Schweers and Councilman Vic Rawl then sought a deferral of the vote until the Jan. 25 council meeting.
Pryor was not happy about the deferral and noted that generally there never had been an issue about the appointments by members. Staff also noted that often it did not get names of the appointed until the finance committee meeting, with the inference that application forms could not be completed before the vote.
Councilman J. Elliott Summey supported the assertion by Pryor but probably summarized the position correctly by saying that there was a difference between past practice and what should happen.
He also noted that if he did not agree on an appointment, he would abstain from voting rather than vote against.
And Summey added that he would not support Schweer’s proposed appointment to the Transportation Advisory Board (Schweers recommended John Knott, previously a member of the transportation board, and a principle of the now-defunct Noisette development in North Charleston).
And then Charleston County Council staff took the wind out of the critics’ sails. Staff members revealed that they held completed application forms for all of the appointees of council members Schweers and Pryor, and the others that had been named.
All that remained were the appointments of the new council members, and these were promised by Tuesday night.
Rawl’s call for a deferral of the vote until Tuesday failed. But it was supported by Condon and Schweers. Coincidentally, these three council members did not support Pryor’s election to the chairman position this year.