During a recent sit down with JIM to discuss the past, present, and future of the City with and without the Mayor, something telling happened. We were forced to briefly put our conversation on hold with Mayor Riley as he changed the batteries powering his hearing aids.
What was telling was not the fact that the 72-year-old needed hearing aids, his employment of hearing aids is well known and has long been a non-issue. What was telling was the way he changed the batteries.
Annoyed in the way a pen without ink prevents one from writing down a spontaneous idea, Riley furiously replaced the batteries and stuffed the devices back in place. When his eyes returned to mine, signaling he was ready to proceed with the interview, it was the annoyance on his face… not at me, but rather at the fact these (necessary) devices cost him valuable time.
Depending on who on James or Johns Island you ask, opinions on Riley vary from Satan to saint. And while the impact of a 10-term Mayor is going to leave both friends and enemies in one’s wake, and Riley’s record, particularly with respect to the City’s impact on the barrier islands has been mixed in my view, I can’t help but laugh off those who argue Charleston taken as a whole would be in better place if the then 32-year-old Democrat had never taken office.