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Eugene Platt, Charleston (SC) Greens fight Interstate expansion

In a letter published in the Charleston Post and Courier, Green Party spokesperson Eugene Platt called for an end to plans to extend Interstate 526 onto Johns and James Islands.

Platt, an elected member of the James Island Public Service District Commission, pointed to a resolution against the proposed extension passed unanimously by the Town of James Island Council on April 7 as evidence that the communities most impacted by this proposed road are united in their opposition to the project.

April 20, 2009

By Eugene Platt
Reprinted from the Post and Courier

The Town of James Island Council on April 7 voted unanimously to oppose the extension of I-526. In doing so, it aligned itself with the James Island Public Service District Commission, which on several previous occasions had taken similar positions. Thus, both governmental bodies composed exclusively of, and elected by, residents of James Island have made clear the majority sentiment of our community.

All the arguments for and against the extension of I-526 have been well publicized. There is no need to repeat them here. Let it suffice to say, if the American tradition of representative democracy is honored in this instance, then the April 7 vote should eventually prove to be a watershed event, a turning point in a long, arduous, often frustrating struggle to preserve what precious little is left of our heritage.

One of the 10 key values the Green Party endorses is the concept of “grassroots democracy.” (See Accordingly, we salute both the James Island Town Council and Public Service District Commission, as well as all the citizens who made their preferences, both pro and con, known to their elected representatives. The people have spoken; long live the people.

Charleston Green Party
Member, James Island PSD
Gilmore Court

About Post Author

Gregg Jocoy

I'm gonna be 51 in August. Married for 28 years. Two wonderful daughters, two wonderful grand daughters. Microbusiness owner, committed Green, and eternal optimist.


  1. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood May 12, 2009

    Stand up for the poor? They get virtually free bus service (about a dollar or so) and we pay for it. The other side talked about standing up for the poor, which is why we’re in this mess.

    There is no ball or court right now. We fought this several times over the past decade. Talking about it now would just be viewed as sour grapes. Everyone knows that the busses are empty, but they accept it.

    Yes, they are talking about light rail. That will start to heat up soon, which will give us a platform to go after them on both the failed bus system and any proposed rail system they want to add. It will help us a lot if CARTA — the organization that runs the busses — is the agency that tries to start a rail system.

    The newspaper prints two or three letters a day. They rarely publish our stuff. Local radio and TV are a better method of fighting this — but only once the fight begins.

    But I never said that I’d given up. The secret to winning a battle is to not waste ammunition firing while the enemy is still in the woods. Wait for them to cross the field and you’ve got a better chance of tricking them into a Picket’s charge. (For those not familiar, Picket lost just over 10,000 men in a single hour on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg by marching right up the center directly toward the Union army’s cannons and the rifles of thousands of soldiers.)

    That’s what happened in 2000 when we waited until the last month before the election and then spent $11,000 on radio and print advertising, while volunteers made thousands of phone calls. We defeated the tax.

    No reason to start fighting right now, but there will be soon.

  2. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson May 9, 2009

    @ 13 Stewart writes; “There isn’t anything to fight right now.” You mean no one can write letters to the editor on this issue, or start a letter writing campaign to the legislators, or distribute literature to libraries, or send out news releases? How many articles does the local newspaper publish on mass transit, or how many reports do the TV and radio newscasters do?

    This is an opportunity to stand up for the poor, to help cut auto emmissions, save tax dollars, reduce road congestion and maybe make the LP look a bit better simply by opening the market or at least fighting for an open market.

    What’s not to our advantage here? The ball is in our court.

  3. Bryan Bryan May 9, 2009

    Stewart…You haven’t seen anything yet…wait until Charleston decides that “light rail”, on the backs of tax payers, will solve all your problems…

  4. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood May 9, 2009

    I was referring to the local problem in Charleston. I spent quite a number of years fighting this. I organised the opposition campaign to the one cent local option tax in 2000. We defeated it 55/45.

    When the issue came up again in 2004, it was one-half cent The one cent option that had been added in 1991 was generating $34 million per year by 2003. Using that data, they sold the public on the idea that an additional one-half cent would raise an additional $51 million per year, rather than the $17 million that it MIGHT raise, if the economy continued at the same pace.

    Of course we tried to make the point that whether it raised a dollar or a million dollars, it was coming out of our pockets. That worked in 2000, but not in 2004.

    Even though some of us fought it, all the mayors in the county and the democratic and republican parties backed it. It passed. They committed literally billions of dollars based on an oppressive tax increase that will not generate the amount they claim.

    There isn’t anything to fight right now. They beat us, and they (the government) are spending money running a bus system that has very few riders, bad routes that do not server the public, and that does not operate overnight.

    They’ll be back in a few years for more money to solve the “short fall” and we’ll fight them. Maybe people will understand simple math this time and not believe them. Maybe they’ll finally understand that they are paying the tax. But they’ll probably remain sheep and vote the way the overlords tell them.

    If this were a commercial venture it would be bankrupt. Government run transportation does not work — especially in Charleston.

  5. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson May 8, 2009

    Curitiba’s system is by no means a Libertarian one, but it is a hell of a lot closer than the system we have in the U.S. The piece below is from the Urban Habitat. Enjoy

    “The popularity of Curitiba’s BRT has effected a modal shift from automobile travel to bus travel. Based on 1991 traveler survey results, it was estimated that the introduction of the BRT had caused a reduction of about 27 million auto trips per year, saving about 27 million liters of fuel annually. In particular, 28 percent of BRT riders previously traveled by car. Compared to eight other Brazilian cities of its size, Curitiba uses about 30 percent less fuel per capita, resulting in one of the lowest rates of ambient air pollution in the country. Today about 1,100 buses make 12,500 trips every day, serving more than 1.3 million passengers—50 times the number from 20 years ago. Eighty percent of travelers use the express or direct bus services. Best of all, Curitibanos spend only about 10 percent of their income on travel—much below the national average.”

    I also suggest getting a copy of the book “Curb Rights”. It’s a good one to read on this issue. Adrian Moore of Reason was one of the authors.

  6. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson May 8, 2009

    lg I am aware of the work that suggest that, but there are other factors involved. In most American cities it is against the law, or very difficult to overcome the legal barriers to ownership in the urban transit marketplace.

    There are cities, such as Curitiba, Brazil where private companies are running the mass transit business. BTW Curitiba’s mass transit system is one of the world’s best. I urge you to search it out on the web.

    Stockholm, Helsinki and Copehagen have contracted their systems out. And most of the bus systems in England are private.

    In the U.S our government run system has many negative consequences for the poor, elderly, especially elderly women and part-time working mothers.

    This issue could be an important one for the LP if we wished.

  7. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson May 8, 2009

    Stewart I have no idea if you are writing about the local problem or the national one in your first paragraph becaue you don’t say. I guess I could mosey over to the apta website and dig up the figures for your area if I was inclined to do so.

    You have just stated every reason for getting involved with this issue. Corruption being a big one.

    Do we just stand up to the little problems?

    We should be working with the Greens on this issue. We can show that improving the transit opportunities people have may slow the growth of road congestion, reduce harmful emmissions, hel the poor and save tax dollars. Care to try?

  8. libertariangirl libertariangirl May 8, 2009

    Typical , here in as Vegas we’ve proven it’s cheaper to buy every person who uses the bus a car than it is to operate the mass transit system

  9. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood May 8, 2009

    The mass transit market is one of the biggest slush funds you could imagine. The ridership of busses AVERAGES 2.1 people per trip (including the driver) and the cost exceeds $6k/year/rider.

    Although I ran the campaign against it, an extra 1/2 cent was added to the sales tax in 2004 to pay for them to use eminent domain to take 39 acres for a “modal transport hub” and other atrocities.

    My guess is that if the government run system didn’t knock you off, the taxi union would get you if you tried to enter the market.

    Charleston has one of the most corrupt systems in the country. Nope. Can’t even play their game in this town.

  10. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson May 7, 2009

    Stewart have you looked at opening the mass transit market to private owners? has anyone asked what it takes to enter the mass transit market there and relieve the congestion by providing more alternatives?

    I’ve got a flier on such and as the Chair of the committee responsible for brochures you might consider the issue to be one that needs to be developed by the LP. This is what I have been trying to sell to you these last few months. We can beat these people at their own game.


  11. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood May 7, 2009

    I have to use 526 nearly every day. It can be a two mile long parking lot if you try to use the portion in West Ashley near the Citadel Mall where it ends.

    They’ll build the road. The population has grown five-fold in the past 20 years. Something has to give. Neighborhoods are spread out. They build new neighborhoods out of the woods behind older ones, adding to the traffic on roads not designed correctly in the first place.

    Then the city takes over maintenance of roads that started out as private developments, forcing the rest of us to pay for their mistakes!

    According to legend, Mayor Riley ran on a platform of fixing the roads in his second term, fourth term, fifth term and seventh term. He’s in number nine, having served for 34 years. Still hasn’t fixed the roads. He’s taxed us for them plenty of times over, but still hasn’t fixed them.

  12. libertariangirl libertariangirl May 7, 2009

    sounds like Stewart knows what he’s talkng about .

  13. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood May 7, 2009

    In a perfect world, no. But there are several facts to consider:

    First, they already stole the money.

    Second, they already condemned everyone’s property that was in the way on our side of the river, kicked them out of their homes and businesses, and tore them down. The road ends with the last section blocked off past the last usable exit in West Ashley.

    If they do NOT build this road, then the same government that already stole land where the road would be built will continue to slowly steal houses along other roads in West Ashley to make them wider so that the people on Johns Island can continue to ruin our part of town instead of their’s.

    The people on John’s Island don’t consider the fact that they condemned and evicted people in West Ashley over a decade ago for this road. I guess that our loss — made so that they could live on that stupid island — isn’t important.

    No one wins in this. We’ve already suffered enough for them. Either build the road or get rid of the bridges they have now so that we don’t have to deal with their traffic.

    I don’t believe that Platt actually represents the opinion of very many people. He certainly doesn’t represent the tens of thousands of people in West Ashley who want them to finish the road and get rid of the traffic. 526 literally becomes a parking lot every afternoon where it ends.

    Johns Island and James Island are the ones who’ve been holding West Ashley at gun point. I don’t agree with Platt’s position. So there are communities that will be effected? To repeat what I said above, West Ashley has already been affected and continues to be effected! Why should we suffer more for them?

  14. Rocky Eades Rocky Eades May 7, 2009

    So Stewart, are you suggesting that the government steal taxpayers’ dollars at the point of a gun in order to build this road?

  15. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood May 7, 2009

    These are the same people that complain about traffic on the two roads (with bridges) to get off of Johns Island, as well as the traffic on James Island and its two bridges off of the island.

    If you want to get to James Island or Johns Island from West Ashley you have to wade through traffic. 526 is a horseshoe that ends on James Island on one side and in West Ashley about 1/4 mile from the water. If it were finished, our traffic here in West Ashley would be much lighter.

    If you had a good slingshot, you could probably hit Johns Island from West Ashley, but it is about a 12 mile trip by road.

    Representative democracy should include those of us who live in West Ashley that have to put up with extra traffic in OUR part of town because the people who live on James Island and Johns Island have to clog OUR streets with THEIR cars instead of using a road that they don’t want to have built!

    They don’t seem to mind causing us traffic problems. What happened to our representation?

    If things were really fair, we’d be able to privatize the roads and bridges over to their island and charge them a toll for coming into our part of town since we’re forced to pay city taxes to fix the potholes that their cars help to create!!!

    (Yes, just said that last part to rile up the socialists)

  16. Green Ferret Green Ferret May 7, 2009

    Thanks for another good post about local Greens making a difference.
    One thing – shouldn’t this be categorized as “Green Party”?

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