September 30, 2005

The Supreme Court's Decision on Taking Property for Public Use

September 25, 2005 - College of Charleston professor and Director of the Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Institute for Urban Affairs and Policy Studies, Andy Felts, spoke to the Rotary about the recent Supreme Court decision of Kelo versus the City of New London, Connecticut. In this case, private waterfront property was taken by the city for the greater public use, i.e. the ability to generate greater tax revenue. While this case seems on the surface to be rather shocking to many people, Felts told straight out that he did not think it was a "big deal" as there is considerable precedence to support it and the court loves to uphold precedence. The key sentence in the decision states that "without exception the public good has been broadly defined", with deference being given to legislative judgment.

In 1984 the Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, and in 1954 Berman v. Parker, the court held that taking of property for economic development qualified as a valid public use under both the Federal and the State Constitutions.

A more complex issue according to Felts is the partial taking of resources. He noted that both the State and Federal governments have mandated legislation which costs local communities thousands of dollars to comply with new regulations yet have given the locals no funds with which to do it. Many communities, like New London, have declining tax revenues and no means to fund the mandates, thus new creative avenues have had to be found.

The key solution, according to Felts rests with the state legislature to fix the problems. He anticipates that the South Carolina legislature will soon prohibit the use of property tax for the schools, to be replaced with an additional 2.5% sales tax [property tax would still continue for other local services such as trash removal, libraries, etc.] The problem with this "solution" is what the communities can do if the economy fails.

Traditionally, the state has made it very difficult for cities to annex ground, the reason being that the legislature is primarily rural oriented. The tough stance that exists is meant to stifle the growth of the cities.

In the question period members raised the issue of the recent receipt of tax bills in Charleston which have caused taxes to double and triple in some cases. A series of "speeches" rather than questions quickly showed that the Rotary members gathered were as puzzled and frustrated over the whole issue of taxation as is any other gathering.

Submitted by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

September 23, 2005

Everybody Did Something: Charleston Remembers World War II

September 21, 2005 - Rotarians received a very interesting presentation on the exhibit, "Everybody Did Something: Charleston Remembers World War II", at the Charleston Museum. Carl Borick, the Assistant Director of the Museum, gave great insight into the origin and his research for the Exhibit. Most importantly, the presentation showed the contributions of Lowcountry residences to the war effort and why they are remembered as "the greatest generation."

The Exhibit commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II and presents a compelling look at the war in the South Carolina Lowcountry from many facets. It focuses on the experiences of our citizens who served in the armed forces here and abroad and gives unique insight on those unsung heroes who kept the home fires burning.

The Exhibit commemorates not just those who were active in the conflict, but also the volunteers, hospital workers, and even the children who collected money to support the war effort. It contains many interesting artifacts and images that create a nostalgic look at the contributions these Lowcountry people made to our freedom and the impact the war had on everyone's life.

Charleston was not only a great shipyard providing repairs, but also an embarkation point for thousands of military personnel. There were also two active military hospitals that were very instrumental in caring for the injured when they returned. Its medical personnel saw firsthand the horrors of war.

Our military personnel were not the only people coming here from the war zone. Charleston housed German prisoners of war. Its first prisoners were the crew of U Boat #352. Many others from the North African Theater were housed here.

The Exhibit celebrates the spirit that banded the city and county together to defeat a common enemy. It celebrates not just the contributions, but also the individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice. A number of our own Rotary Group were recognized for their contributions and service during World War II.

The Exhibit is open through February 6, 2006. Take the opportunity to go to see it and pay tribute to those who made our freedom possible today.

Submitted by Wayne Outlaw, Keyway Committee

September 18, 2005

David deNotarius, Author/ Motivational Speaker

September 1 3, 2005- David DeNotarius is a nationally known motivational speaker, a radio personality, a consultant to the state of New Jersey, an author, and a world-class athlete. David is also blind. His many life accomplishments and awards attest to his positive outlook and his determination to live life to the fullest.

David is in Charleston to help the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation create excitement about their November 5th James Island Connector Run. The purpose of the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation is to make a difference in our community by working to develop concepts, resources, and ideas that affect the way we look at individuals with disabilities. David opened his talk by encouraging all Rotarians to get involved with the James Island Connector Run.

David grew up with consistent messages about how he was limited in his abilities because of his blindness. Nevertheless, and with the help of his family, David learned that it was up to him to decide what he wanted to do and then just figure out how to do it. He has used that approach as a guide for living and the template which enables him to face challenges head on and to overcome every obstacle life presents.

There are statistics indicating that 70%- 85% of people with disabilities are not employed and that almost 20% of the population has some type of disability. These numbers are significant in that they represent a huge pool of untapped talent, and in David's mind education is the key. In his book and his speeches, David spreads the message that we must all begin to focus on an individual's potential instead of the limitations and constraints placed on them because of a disability. Further, we must reach out to help those individuals by encouraging them to focus on what they can, instead of what they cannot do.

David reminded Rotarians that we are all blessed and that we all face challenges. David's approach to life and his inspirational message reminds us to see potential in challenges and to remember to always try to "turn a mess into a message and a test into a testimony" when facing obstacles.

For information about the James Island Connector Run Weekend, please go to

September 9, 2005

Governor Ramsey Sets the Challenge
The Spirit of Rotary International

September 6, 2005- John Ramsey, District 7770 Governor, received his broad education at The Citadel, West Point, University of Miami and Georgetown University. He honed his skills in management in the U.S. Postal Service as a Postmaster in Summerville and a regional manager in South Carolina. Today he heads the vibrant South Carolina district of Rotary International.

Focusing on Rotary International he told us that our organization is the oldest of its kind in the world. The excitement was evident as 43,000 Rotarians from worldwide gathered in Chicago for the 2005 convention.

Looking to history for his message he told of Sgt. York of World War I fame who ranked his Rotary membership pin as equal to his Medal of Honor. The 32,000 Rotary clubs world wide demonstrate the Spirit of Rotary. This spirit focuses on three truths of what Rotary members contribute:
1. Networking and professional contacts which are essential to friendship which is critical to life.
2. High ethical standards with an emphasis beyond self.
3. Promotion of international understanding to promote world peace.

Focusing on Rotary International he told us that a committee is currently at work to expand Rotary to China; another committee is focusing on re-establishing Rotary in Cuba, remembering that in 1959 the Havana club was world famous; a third is dedicated to spread a culture of free enterprise and education throughout the Atlantic World.

The Spirit of Rotary can be summed up by a recent Wall Street Journal speaking of Rotary's work in fighting polio which stated that Rotary "is the most effective private health effort ever; Rotary deserves the Nobel Peace prize."

Submitted by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

September 2, 2005

What's Going on at Commerce?
Ombudsman gives insight into one of best years ever

August 30, 2005 - Rotarians received an update on what our state is doing to attract and retain business and industry from Chuck Bundy, Small Business Ombudsman in the Business Solutions Division of the South Carolina Department of Commerce (DOC). The Business Solutions Division provides resources and people to assist South Carolina's existing businesses through its five program areas: Entrepreneurship and Small Business Services, Business Financing and Equity, Recycling Market Development, International Trade, and the SC Film Commission.

Bundy assured the group that there are "things going on at Commerce". The state appears to be coming out of a downturn in recent years, and DOC's economic development efforts are "stronger than ever." Although DOC measures its effectiveness by the number of new jobs and new investment, Bundy's department plays a crucial role in another form of job creation, which is expansion.

Bundy claims that job creation (new projects only) in the state has been the highest it has been in 13 years. We can directly observe this here in the Lowcountry with the location of such projects as the Vought-Alenia plant near the airport and other industries that have located or expanded in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. This is a testament to what Bundy calls the "team sport" efforts of local economic development officials in the region.

Currently DOC has 280 active projects in its pipeline--the most we have seen in a long time. These projects span a multitude of industries to try and diversify South Carolina's economy and locate quality industries that meet the target industries identified by state and local economic development plans. These industries would help raise South Carolina's per capita income and put our state on a path to a knowledge- and service-based economy.

Current marketing efforts are focused on clusters, which are industries and suppliers that co-locate geographically based on the ability to share resources and increase productivity. Clusters that have been identified by the State as important to recruit include Biotech, Aerospace, Automotive, Plastics and Composites, and Advanced Textiles (which still has a strong presence in South Carolina). Industries in these clusters have already been proven to be successful, with probably the best example being BMW in the Upstate. Bundy said the Charleston region is "right in step" with state priorities for recruitment with similar clusters being pursued.

Bundy claims that DOC is also very active in recruitment abroad, and has opened offices in Shanghai and Tokyo, and also participates in trade shows that offer opportunity of recruiting specific industries or clusters, such as the Philadelphia Biotech trade show. Bundy works with other DOC divisions to make the environment more competitive for existing industry. For example, the Rural and Community Development Division works with smaller rural communities across the state to ensure they are competitive as well. This division runs the Certified Sites Program, which prepares and qualifies land to be used for industrial development. This ensures communities have available product and gives them the resources to compete with larger communities.

As for Bundy's own department, Governor Sanford and Secretary Faith have placed emphasis on small businesses, which account for a significant part of South Carolina's economy. According to Bundy, there are currently 92,000 firms with less than 50 employees, and an additional 200,000 self-employed proprietorships (one person companies). Business Solutions has helped these businesses identify resources and programs to help them be productive, and possibly expand, which benefits us all.

Submitted by Amy Riley, Keyway Editor