Posts Tagged ‘American College of the Building Arts’

Charleston, SC’s Mayor Joe Riley Is A Big Supporter Of The Visual Arts

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Let me make a correction to that headline. Mayor Joe Riley of Charleston, SC, is a big supporter of the American School of the Building Arts – period.

In a The Post and Courier article offered on the front page of the July 25, 2009, issue it states that the Mayor would like the City of Charleston to lease part of the Trolley Barn facility on Meeting Street in Charleston to the American School of the Building Arts for $1 a year. Sweet!

It was almost a year ago when the Mayor asked the City of Charleston to make a sweet deal loan to the American School of the Building Arts of $734,500 to save the financially troubled college from having to close its doors. Double sweet!

I made a blog entry about that on Aug. 23, 2008 titled, “What Joe Riley Wants – Joe Gets“. It’s good reading to see how the City of Charleston works. I made the blog entry to show artists in Charleston, who had just met several times to see what could be done about providing affordable space for artists in Charleston, how far the Mayor will go to help someone in the arts. He’ll do just about anything for some and nothing for most.

In this July 25, 2009, article we also learn that the City of Charleston Housing Authority also sold the old city jail facility – which used to be used for visual art exhibits to the American School of the Building Arts for $3 total. Triple sweet!

Why so much support for a college that after five years is yet to be accredited and only turned out 7 students in its first graduation? Well, in my post on Aug. 23, 2008, I explained that Pierre Manigault is chairman of the college’s board of trustees – he is also chairman of the board of Evening Post Publishing, parent company of Charleston.net and The Post and Courier. The students being trained at this college will also be working on Charleston’s historic homes – owned by the who’s who of Charleston. If you plan on being Charleston’s Mayor for life – you need these people.

Four days later on July 29, 2009, The Post and Courier offers as their top editorial of the day that the American School of the Building Arts would be good for Charleston and the neighborhood. Surprise! As usual no individual takes credit for the editorial – the paper just list all four possible contributors at the top of the page and for all we know Pierre Manigault could have written the “opinion” and just handed it to one of the four. It also mentions that the college graduated its first class last spring, but forgot to mention that it was only 7 students. What an impact they will make – if they even stay in Charleston.

The last time I posted a piece on the American School of the Building Arts I got an e-mail and call from its founder on how I was betraying the arts community and how hard the college really had it. What kind of supporter to the arts community could I be to attack such tough deals? I don’t know – maybe one who would like to see some parity sometime. If he wants to call again to tell me how rough he has it – please do. I love a good joke.

Of course another factor involved in these deals is that this sweet lease will bring the American School of the Building Arts back into the boundaries of the City of Charleston. The college has had its main facility housed at the old Navy base in North Charleston, SC – something Mayor Riley couldn’t stand.

So let’s review – $700,000+ loan, one facility for $3 total and another for $1 a year lease for part of a building. I wonder how long it will be before the college asks for money from the city to fix these facilities up for proper use? My guess is not long. If not the city – the US government.

What Joe Riley Wants – Joe Gets

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

In an Aug. 19, 2008, Post and Courier article David Slade explains that the Charleston, SC City Council is considering a $734,500 loan to the American College of the Building Arts – requested by Charleston’s Mayor, Joe Riley.

The article doesn’t really tell us why the college needs the money. It doesn’t tell us the full terms of the loan, but it hints that it’s the kind any of us would die for, but it does tell us why the City Council will probably approve the loan.

Mayor Joe Riley wants it done and Pierre Manigault is chairman of the college’s board of trustees – he is also chairman of the board of Evening Post Publishing, parent company of Charleston.net and The Post and Courier.

The article reports that Manigault said the “school’s survival is not in question but the next six months will be a critical time for the institution.” This was not a direct quote. It’s too bad we’re not told what the problem is at the College, other than a lack of funds.

Here’s just another case of it’s not what you do – it’s who you know.

The article paints a picture of an institution that has been given every break in the world and after four years is not accredited, which makes its students unable to get federal loans and other financial aid, operates in the red, lives off private donations and government grants – and to top it off – has only 55 full-time and part-time students. Out of the Class of 2009, 15 students started the program and only 7 will hopefully graduate this Spring. That’s less than a 50 percent retention rate.

I wonder what the staff to student ratio is at this institution?

This loan represents $13,354.54 per student. That’s quite an investment Charleston’s taxpayers will be making in these students and this college. That’s almost paying the tuition for each student for a year (Tuition is $18,372).

The loan will come from the City’s $18.4 million emergency fund.

I wonder if that money will be missed when Charleston has a real emergency – like another hurricane?

The article offers a historical timeline on the College’s finances and accomplishments since forming in 1998 – nine years after Hurricane Hugo did much damage to historical buildings in Charleston and there was a shortage of skilled craftsmen to do repairs.

Overall it seems like a good thing – having an institution which trains the next generation of skilled craftsmen – for Charleston, South Carolina and the Nation. Much like lots of other good ideas which people would like to get funding for, but it just seems like some get all the breaks and we’re asked to overlook problems which in other cases would be a deal breaker.

I hope the College survives and continues to be an asset for the overall community. I just offer this example up to readers to show – it’s not what you do – it’s who you know, and what Mayor Joe Riley wants – he gets. Anyone trying to accomplish something in Charleston better have the support of the Mayor or they are going to have a very hard road to travel. And I mean real support, not lip service. The Mayor gives lots of lip service to causes that just seem to be spinning in place.

And, as far as the Post and Courier goes, we’ve seen this kind of soft-server reporting on other troubled institutions like the SC Aquarium (continual problems), Spoleto Festival USA (past problems), and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (continual problems). Nothing new there. You offer some facts, conceal others, and present it all with supporting quotes by important people, but never offer an opposing view. They save the real reporting for things which they do not favor.

That’s Charleston.