For more than 20 years, I’ve taken every opportunity to apprise South Carolinians of just how amazingly fouled-up their system of government is. Whenever something that touches on the fact is in the news, I try to tell people. And while I was editorial page editor, the editorial board did so as well.
And the two remaining associate editors continue to do so, as Cindi Scoppe did in today’s column. An excerpt:
BY S.C. standards, the byzantine arrangement that produced perhaps the worst election debacle in modern state history — an inexperienced elections director hand-picked by state legislators who thought they reserved unto themselves the exclusive ability to fire her but in fact did not, and might or might not have given that authority to a commission that they also hand-picked and can’t fire, and an elections office over which the county council has absolutely no control but must fund at a level set by an almost certainly unconstitutional state law — is practically a governmental best practice.
After all, there are only 46 of these legislative delegation-controlled/uncontrolled election commissions, each one covers an entire county, and they don’t meddle in anybody else’s business.
For a truly remarkable example of legislative meddling gone mad, consider South Carolina’s special-purpose districts, each of which provides a single service, mostly to tiny segments of the population, most of which are operated by people who are at least two steps removed from even the theoretical possibility of accountability to the public, some of which have been disguised to make voters think they have some say, when they actually don’t.
They are the tail that wags our legislative dog: These legislative creations are among the most potent political forces at the State House, capable of stymieing an array of reforms that would make local government more efficient and effective and accountable to the public. Which they do.
Did I mention that there are more than 500 of these independent fiefdoms? Which means that, when you add them to all the counties and cities and towns and school districts, we have 900 local governments in South Carolina? Talk about fragmentation…
You should read the rest of it. Cindi, and I, have pointed these facts out many times in the past. And we keep hoping that one day, people will pay enough attention to demand change.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?…