Parole Alert: Brian Nelson

We at the Blogland are asking our readers to take a few minutes help us keep a convicted double cop killer behind bars and honor the memories of two fallen Lowcountry law enforcement officers.

On November 19, 2002, Patrolman William Bell of the Summerville Police Department and Deputy Gene Wright of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office stopped to assist a stranded motorist on U.S. 17A, in Summerville, South Carolina.

While changing the motorists tire, both officer and deputy were struck by a passing vehicle.

The driver, Brian Nelson, was not supposed to be driving, as he had a medical condition which prohibited him from legally operating a vehicle and a suspended driver’s license. Both William and Gene died at the scene from trauma.

Nelson had to be detained at the scene by good Samaritans who came upon the horrible scene until the arrival of the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.

Nelson was charged and convicted of two counts of reckless homicide, but will be eligible for parole on February 27, 2008. Six years for the lives of these two officers is not enough time served, and that Mr. Nelson, by the virtue of his willful and reckless disregard of the threat he presents to the public, needs to remain behind bars.

How can you help? By visiting on the web and signing a petition to keep him behind bars.

When signing the online petition, be sure to enter this information -
Offender Name: Brian L. Nelson
and SC Inmate #: 00292367

This literally takes only a few minutes to do, and we ask all our readers to take a few minutes to sign, and share this with your friends, family, and co-workers.

Special thanks to Blogland reader Linda Riney for providing us this story lead.

Just desserts for the "Mount Pleasant Ten"

It seems as if Charleston area acting Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is taking some flak from well-financed whiner suburbanites for taking a stand on two high school students sentenced to ten years for armed robbery:

Family and friends of two Mount Pleasant teens incarcerated for armed robbery want to change South Carolina's sentencing laws to keep youths who commit serious crimes from being sent to adult prisons.

Supporters of Sean Shevlino and Mike Anthony are mounting petition drives, wearing T-shirts and starting Web sites to draw attention to what they consider an unjust system that sent the two high school students to prison for 10 years.

Some supporters also have set their sights on defeating 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who prosecuted the case. Wilson faces a June Republican primary against former Deputy Solicitor Blair Jennings.

Shevlino, 17, and Anthony, 19, were among 10 Wando High students arrested in 2006 in the armed robberies of a Food Lion supermarket and a Subway sandwich shop.

Their attorneys resisted Wilson's offer of 10 years in prison on the crimes, but the teens eventually gave in and pleaded guilty last month after their co- defendants acknowledged guilt and agreed to testify against them.

It took a gang of ten to hold up a Food Lion and Subway?!? Somehow, we don't think that's gonna make them sound too big, bad, and intimidating when the lights go out in their cellblocks at night.

People like this usually demand the inner-city hoodlum who sells their kids drugs or holds them up at the mall be shown no mercy, so why should they expect to be treated any differently? If ten years in prison is good enough for the poor kid who holds up a store on Spruill Avenue in North Charleston (who will usually get more than 10 years), it should certainly apply to someone who does it in Mount Pleasant.

While they're out raising money for their t-shirts and websites to tell us how the rules that apply to the rest of us shouldn't apply to them, maybe they can spare a little change to help Doc Norris, a nearby armed robbery victim who took a shotgun blast to the face. He may not be from their part of town, but he could sure use some help:

A bank account established to help the family pay Norris' mounting medical bills grew to more than $4,000 with donations from across the Lowcountry.

Judy Norris said her husband's health remains fragile, but his overall outlook has improved dramatically since last year, when she and other family members wondered if he would live to see Christmas.

Today, Norris eats through a feeding tube. He subsists on seven vanilla-flavored nutrition shakes a day. The steady diet has restored some of his strength as he pushes through the final rounds of chemotherapy.

If the treatments sideline the cancer, MUSC doctors will consider finishing the facial and dental reconstruction.

- Support, gratitude pour in over shooting victim's story, Post & Courier, 5/21/07

Justice is best left served blindly and equitably ... and sometimes coldly too, so as to give others who think that committing violent crimes against society is mere fun and games a little something to think about.

Religion and politics - my Priest sounds off

Some thinking from my priest on his blog, Byzantine Ramblings, where he sounds off on what he believes should be the proper role of clergy in the realm of politics. We certainly find ourselves confronted with these questions with the religious leaders, such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson, who have announced their support for various GOP Presidential candidates:

I would certainly agree that it is highly improper for a religious leader to endorse or oppose particular candidates. Even when such opinions are expressed as personal opinions there remains potential for a perception of an institutional endorsement. What's more, taking such specific public positions risks linking the religious institution to one or the other party or candidate, and thus potentially alienating members of its own flock who might support the other side.

However, it is irrational to suppose that religious institutions and religious leaders should be silent regarding all things political. Indeed, it is impossible. While it would be immoral (if not illegal) for a religious institution to endorse particular candidates or parties, it would be hypocritical for a religion to proclaim certain values and then remain silent in the face of political issues that directly relate to those values. This is decidedly different from supporting or opposing candidates and political parties. To argue otherwise is ipso facto to deny to religion the right to a voice in the public sphere and the right to integrity in what it proclaims.

There's a lot more on this subject over on his blog, so I encourage all of you to go check it out. If you've got something to say, I encourage you to take a minute to go over to his blog and say it.

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Tomorrow, we will celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The Sunday of Orthodoxy is celebrated the first Sunday of Lent. This commemorates the day when the Seventh Ecumenical Council ended the iconoclast controversy and allowed the use of images in worship, when it proclaimed:

We define that the holy icons, whether in color, mosaic, or some other material, should be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on the sacred vessels and liturgical vestments, on the walls, furnishings, and in houses and along the roads, namely the icons of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, that of our Lady the Theotokos, those of the venerable angels and those of all saintly people. Whenever these representations are contemplated, they will cause those who look at them to commemorate and love their prototype. We define also that they should be kissed and that they are an object of veneration and honor (timitiki proskynisis), but not of real worship (latreia), which is reserved for Him Who is the subject of our faith and is proper for the divine nature, ... which is in effect transmitted to the prototype; he who venerates the icon, venerated in it the reality for which it stands.

As some of y'all know, I've done some research on the subject of iconography for graduate school, examining how icons are used to communicate faith and tradition. To read more about the original posting from 2006, click here.

Congrats to our newest state judges

What was expected to be a wide-open slugfest for 18 judicial seats turned into 17 uncontested elections and a close one for a Family Court seat.

We'd like to congratulate all of the new judges, especially the three who were endorsed by the Blogland:
There was a close race between Coreen Khoury and Thomas Sprott, for which Sprott prevailed in an 81-73 vote. We congratulate Judge Sprott and hope that Khoury will try again for the next open seat.

It is interesting to note that those judicial candidates whose qualifications were questioned in Blogland postings proceeded to today's voting: Michael DuPre, Anita Floyd, and Linda Lombard. It was never our intent to question the fitness of these candidates to continue their service as attorneys. We simply insisted that our judges meet the highest standards of the legal profession in order to be entrusted with judgeships.

In those races where we were involved, through our endorsements and critiques, we believe the legislators listened to what we were trying to say, understood our concerns, and did the right thing.

Sometimes, even in South Carolina, the good guys do win.

Stupor Tuesday is over

Ok folks, it looks like Stupor Tuesday is over ... and so is my birthday. It looks like we all survived the day in one piece.

If your name is Joe Daning and you live in Goose Creek, congratulations - you're now a State Representative. You get to work out of town three days a week, for five months a year, and for all that, you will get paid a lousy twelve grand a year.

Does that mean you won?!?

If you're a Huckabee or Romney supporter, it's time to have the guts to admit to yourself that the GOP race is over. Don't feel bad about it - after all, it's not like your guy was a one-state winner, like Walter Mondale. For those of you who don't know who he is, he's the dude on the left.

If you're John McCain, congratuations - you won a healthy delegate lead from coast-to-coast. Now you're all but assured the GOP nomination. Use this opportunity wisely.

If you're a Democrat, yesterday was the one day that could have produced a clear-cut winner ... but didn't. On points, Hillary won the day, but barely.

This morning, the Political Groundhog came out of the hole, looked from California to Massachusetts, saw the delegate count, and predicted six more weeks of Democratic primaries. Good luck, guys. We'll be watching you ... laughing our asses off as you slug your way through two dozen more primaries, caucuses and conventions to figure out who your nominee will be.

Last, but not least of all, if you were me, you got a free dinner from your boss, some birthday cards, some cash, some gift shopping cards and some hugs.

On Stupor Tuesday, it may have been my birthday, but for all you political junkies, there were presents galore. Some good, some bad. Whatever you got, be sure to make the most of them.

Berkeley GOP chair a sore loser?

When Berkeley County GOP Chair Wade Arnette was booed out of the Berkeley Republican Breakfast Club on Saturday, his next step was to do more of what he has been known to do: lie.

It seemed as if he lost no time in attempting to sic the State Ethics Commission on the breakfast club:

“I am calling an ethics investigation,” Arnette said. “We are not going to associate ourselves with that breakfast club.”

The call for an investigation came on the heels of a weeklong war of words between Arnette and breakfast moderator Charles Schuster. It also followed the latest GOP breakfast in Goose Creek, which saw Arnette asked to leave the podium as he addressed the gathering.

It would seem that if Wade Arnette can't control the group, he'll simply smash it. We thought games like this only took place in elementary school.

Arnette seems hell-bent on making the crybaby joke apply on a bi-partsian basis. One should not be surprised that he's turned on Schuster and this club, just as he turned on former County Supervisor Jim Rozier, whose campaigns he once managed.

While Arnette's actions have been of grave concern, even more concerning are reports that the "Breakfastgate" situation goes even higher. Over a dozen individuals have approached us and informed us that they believed state GOP chair Katon Dawson has been guiding Arnette's efforts. We certainly invite him to present his side of the story - and hope he does it soon.

It's my birthday

... so don't expect too much from me today. I'll be off trying to get some work done up in Georgetown and Mount Pleasant. Heck, I was working until midnight on the 4th. But cash, free beer, and heavy metal CDs are always welcome.

Instead of rambling, I'm gonna share a rehash of past birthday postings with y'all ... enjoy:

Go see Pedro at South of the Border & Happy Birthday to me

Happy Birthday to me, Birthday Drama & Today's important Safety message

TV advertising research - PLEASE help a fellow graduate student with her survey!

Carrie is a fellow graduate student. Last semester, I worked with her on a collaborative research project on the use of internet-based issue advocacy videos and the paper that resulted from that has generated considerable interest.

This semester, she is working on a project assessing the impressions made by Super Bowl advertising, which includes a web-based survey. Please take a few minutes to go to:

... and help her out by filling out her survey!

Legislative reception - mark your calendar!

Now that we've got your attention ... for those of you who were invited to Wednesday evening's legislative reception being hosted by Carolinas AGC ... this is a friendly reminder to mark your calendars and set some time aside between 6 and 8 pm attend this event.

The location is awful convenient, and the construction industry is a vital part of our state's economic engine, so come on and join us!

January 2008: The month in review

If you're reading this right now, then you too survived the month of January, one of the most unusual months that we've covered here in the Blogland. Congratulations.

During the month of January, several plagues of locusts descended upon our beloved Palmetto State: Presidential candidates, legislators, and judicial candidates. To top it off, we were treated to the Governor's State of the State address on what would become one of the coldest nights in recent memory (... and that was even before legislators heard the speech).

When it was all said and done, John McCain had entered the month on equal standing with Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney and Thompson. When it was over, McCain was the strong front-runner, while Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama left the state far more focused upon ripping each other to shreds than on winning in November.

Our Inside Interview series rolled out four interviews with South Carolina "insiders", and several of those interviews made at least one of the top ten rankings for the month. Also, a lot of discussion of the upcoming judicial elections made our charts as well as judicial politics entered the blogosphere.

While there are usually a few non-political postings that make the top tens, this month, every freaking Top Ten posting was political this month.

Can't you people think of something else to talk about?!?

Amazingly, our state somehow survived all of this, along with the usual daily grind that is life here in South Carolina. Now, let's take a look back at some of what turned you on in the Blogland:

The ten postings you read the most:

#1) On Shaky Ground: Anita Floyd's judicial candidacy - 1/14
#2) Day of Mourning announced for House Majority Leader Jim Merrill - 1/15
#3) Inside Interview: Phil Bailey - 1/11
#4) Inside Interview: Wesley Donehue - 1/10
#5) Judicial candidate interviews - 1/8
#6) State of the State address receives frigid response - 1/16
#7) They're back: The Blogland's 2008 legislative preview - 1/7
#8) Inside Interview: Shannon Erickson - 1/4
#9) John McCain draws hundreds in Summerville - 1/13
#10) Inside Interview: Nathan Ballentine - 1/2

The ten postings you discussed the most:

#1) On Shaky Ground: Anita Floyd's judicial candidacy - 1/14
#2) They're back: The Blogland's 2008 legislative preview - 1/7
#3) Inside Interview: Wesley Donehue - 1/10
#4) Justice League of America endorsement rocks state judicial race - 1/19
#5) Certain about uncertainty: The present and future of South Carolina's GOP Presidential primary - 1/20
#6) Research finds no link between voting for Obama and racism - 1/24
#7) John McCain draws hundreds in Summerville - 1/13
#8) Inside Interview: Shannon Erickson - 1/4
#9) Who is Earl Capps? - 1/18
#10) Watchdogs and Junkyard Dogs in Myrtle Beach - 1/23

February will be a busy month with my birthday, Valentine's Day (always a great time to pour on the hate around here), the 2008 National Workforce Board conference in Washington, D.C., as well as my ongoing thesis research. Add the approaching Armageddon of the Presidential primaries, judicial votes, legislative primary races, as well as the usual legislative politics ... and you know it's bound to be a busy month around here.

As always, please stay tuned and we'll do our best not to disappoint.

Berkeley coup attempt fails

This write-up is the promised extended report of what transpired at today's Berkeley Breakfast Club meeting ...

As promised, Wade Arnette showed up at this morning's meeting of the Berkeley Republican Breakfast Club to what was one of the largest turnouts in years.

While he succeed in turning 'em out, what he didn't succeed in doing was ... well ... succeeding at his mission - which was to take over the club. When it was over, Schuster continued to wield the gavel, adjourning the meeting as normal - as shown in the photo.

To help save face and keep the event from turning into a free-for-all, Arnette met with Schuster before the meeting, admitted defeat, and was allowed by group Moderator Charles Schuster to give an update about the Ethics Commission of the party.

When the "brief report" turned into a thirty-minute rambling diatribe, the crowd's response became hostile. In fact, most Gong Show losers don't get booed down half as badly as Arnette did.

If one of the possible reasons for the takeover attempt was to keep speakers from criticizing of County Supervisor Dan Davis, who Arnette has long supported, it failed. The meeting went on as scheduled, with the originally-planned speakers, with the exception of Davis, who did not show. Davis, his policies, and his proposals were repeatedly criticized by several of those attendees.

Council members Tim Callanan and Dennis Fish, scheduled by Schuster before Arnette's demands were issued, informed attendees that Davis' proposed raid of property tax rebate money was dead on arrival in County Council. They also criticized numerous upper-level vacancies among county government, high salaries being given to those hired under Davis, and the high costs associated with implementing the name change of the county Water and Sewer Authority.

One of the vistiors was Tim Scott, the conservative Republican Chairman of Charleston County Council, who pointed out to attendees that unlike Davis' plan, Charleston County Council intended to continue to keep its promise to dedicate 100% of the Local Option Sales Tax to property tax rebates.

Some of you may remember Tim Scott was one of the candidates in the recent race for appointment to state Treasurer, finishing in a tie with our own Earl Capps. Local talk is that he may be looking at waging a challenge to RINO House member Tom "Doc" Dantzler in the GOP primary. Should he run, he can expect an endorsement from the Blogland

We want to thank all of our readers who attended today in support of our constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly.

Schuster survives Berkeley County coup attempt


Efforts by Berkeley County Republican Party Chairman Wade Arnette to oust the leader of the Berkeley Republican Breakfast Club and take the group over failed utterly.

Arnette conceded to Schuster and his legal counsel before the meeting and the meeting proceeded as planned with Charles Schuster as moderator.

Details to follow later this afternoon.


Goose Creek lynching update

The Blogland received reports of efforts by Berkeley County GOP Chair Wade Arnette making numerous calls this morning to recruit support for his attempted putsch of the Berkeley Republican Breakfast Club. Failing to recruit support for his planned hijacking, Arnette reported has spent the afternoon calling various GOP activists, claiming the matter had been resolved.

Based upon a phone conversation with Schuster, Arnette's claims are completely false. There has been no resolution or compromise between Arnette and Schuster and the showdown threatened by Arnette is still expected.

However, it sounds like Arnette may be outnumbered by those supporting Schuster and free speech.

As part of our efforts to identify who is involved in Arnette's efforts, as well as to catalog the deceptive and threatening tactics they have employed, we ask anyone who may have received phone calls from Arnette or others to contact Schuster, Wheeler Tillman (his attorney) or the Blogland and let us know what you've been told and who told you.

If you were planning to attend to protest Arnette's planned lynching in the morning, PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE YOUR PLANS TO BE THERE.

We'll see you there ...

Chicago '68 or Goose Creek '08?

According to the Post and Courier, those Republicans who attend the breakfast in search of life, liberty, freedom of speech and assembly ... as well as grits and eggs, will be met by the cops in a manner more like that of 1968 Chicago than modern-era Goose Creek.

We don't know about you, but we're having a little trouble telling the difference between the two, thanks to Berkeley County Republican Party Chairman Josef Stalin ... whoops ... Wade Arnette, who has threatened to sic law enforcement on Charles Schuster, the long-time moderator of the group:

"I might have to have him arrested, or not, I don't know," Arnette said of Schuster on Thursday. "We might have to have a police officer down there. I am absolutely disgusted by this."

Arnette is THAT intimidated by Schuster? If you've ever met Charles, he's about the last person you'd be afraid of, much less call the cops on.

Then why is there such a need to muzzle dissent with arrests and Soviet-style party purges? Well, according to Arnette:

"The purpose of that breakfast is not to get up there and criticize anyone," Arnette said. "If they want it to stay as a Republican breakfast, then they need to follow the rules of the Republican Party."

We'd be interested in knowing what Mr. Arnette defines as the "rules of the Republican Party"? The last time we checked, people in this country have a right to question and criticize public officials, and nowhere in the Republican platform is freedom of speech prohibited.

It is with some irony that we recall seeing Mr. Arnette criticize a number of current and former public officials while attending past breakfast club meetings, including former GOP County Supervisor Jim Rozier and current GOP Governor Mark Sanford. Perhaps he'd be willing to step aside for such heinous violations of his own rules.

To refresh Mr. Arnette's memory, part of the Republican Creed says:

I will never cower before any master, save my God.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid. To think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations; to face the whole world boldly and say, "I am a free American."

That is, except when you're in Wade Arnette's presence. In that case, stay out of his way or he might have you arrested.

The biggest irony is that the place where Arnette will attempt to force his hand is the local American Legion, a place dedicated to those who sacrificed for our liberties, including the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

To use Arnette's words, we're "absolutely disgusted by this".

Arnette claims that he's seeking an opinion from the state Republican Party. We are certainly interested in knowing if Mr. Dawson plans to assist Arnette's efforts to force the entire Berkeley County Republican Party under the control of Arnette's Stalinist faction.

Tomorrow, we'll be there for grits and eggs ... and maybe handcuffs and bond hearings. Maybe we'll end up in jail , but if Charles has the guts to stand up to Comrade Arnette, then the least we can do is stand beside him.

Bill Cotty: Legislative reformer

Those of you who've been long-time fans of the Blogland know that among our favorite legislators is Representative Bill Cotty.

No look at Bill's long and distinguished legislative career would be complete without taking the time to recognize the important role he has taken as a reformer, taking on deeply entrenched special interest groups to reform the state's Constitution. We'd like to look back at one of those crucial moments during Cotty's legislative career:

Thanks to Bill Cotty, the evil grip of the mini-bottle monopoly over our state has been broken. Just one of several great accomplishments of Bill's career, for which we are grateful.