Open Thread for Bastille Day — Friday, July 14, 2017

No, I don't have any stories about Bastille Day, but here's a picture.

No, I don’t have any stories about Bastille Day, but here’s a picture.

I think I’ll lead off with a change of pace, paying attention to the kinds of stories I normally pass over — if only as a way to cite more local stories:

  1. SC man left children home alone with no power to visit girlfriend, police say — Yeah, another Parents Who Do Awful Things To Kids story. This one’s actually relatively mild compared to the horror stories I’ve turned my head away from lately (because they’re so painful to read). Are these kinds of things proliferating, or are police just intervening more?
  2. Kershaw sheriff slams ‘bleeding heart’ judge — I’m going to recuse myself on this one, since Judge Allison Lee goes to my church and all. Besides, I don’t know enough about her work on the bench to pass judgment; I just know she’s been criticized this way before.
  3. Across Beaufort County, monkeys once terrorized dogs, rode mules — This is just here as Odd Headline of the Day. You don’t actually have to go read the story to appreciate that.
  4. Ex-Soviet counter-intelligence officer says he attended Trump Jr meeting — Next thing you know, we’ll learn that Stalin was at the meeting. With Mata Hari. And Ernst Blofeld.
  5. New Health Bill on Knife’s Edge as Republican Support Wavers — Heads up: While we’re distracted with all of the above, Senate Republicans are still trying to pass their “No Healthcare For You!” bill. They haven’t succeeded yet, thank God.
Yoo-hoo, Trump Jr.! Sorry I couldn't be at the meeting! Turns out I'm dead...

Yoo-hoo, Trump Jr.! Sorry I couldn’t be at the meeting! Turns out I’m dead…

17 thoughts on “Open Thread for Bastille Day — Friday, July 14, 2017

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, and to be frank: I don’t celebrate Bastille Day myself. First, y’all know I’m not a pitchforks-and-torches kind of guy; not my thing. And, in case you haven’t heard, that revolution turned pretty nasty…

    Reply
    1. bud

      First, y’all know I’m not a pitchforks-and-torches kind of guy; not my thing.

      Agree. You’re more of an agent orange, cluster bombs kinda guy.

      Reply
  2. Doug Ross

    Once again, Ron Aiken at Quorum has revealed another story about unethical behavior in Richland County.

    http://quorumcolumbia.org/2017/07/14/county-quietly-hired-fired-unqualified-procurement-director/

    “Hoping to convince a judge it was taking allegations of unethical practices and failures to provide aggrieved parties legal remedy in the Shop Road procurement process, Richland County took drastic — and potentially illegal — action to create the appearance of responsibility where none existed.

    Needing to put somebody, anybody, in the position of procurement director that had been vacant since May 2016 before the hearing in front of former S.C. Supreme Court Justice Jean Toal opened on April 4, the County did something no ethical human resource professional or administrator would allow.

    With no qualified candidates for the position, the County called in an applicant for a position in another department, Chris Younts, and surprised him with an offer to become director of procurement, which meant a huge increase in pay, prestige and responsibility over the position he was seeking, despite Younts having no experience in the procurement arena and having never applied for the job to begin with.”

    The story goes on to explain that the hire was a complete sham arranged by Adminstrator Gerald Seals.

    “County Quietly Hired, Fired Unqualified Procurement Director
    in LOCAL GOV. on 14/07/17

    Ahead Of Important Court Date, County Had To Show It Had Found A Director
    By RON AIKEN

    Hoping to convince a judge it was taking allegations of unethical practices and failures to provide aggrieved parties legal remedy in the Shop Road procurement process, Richland County took drastic — and potentially illegal — action to create the appearance of responsibility where none existed.

    Needing to put somebody, anybody, in the position of procurement director that had been vacant since May 2016 before the hearing in front of former S.C. Supreme Court Justice Jean Toal opened on April 4, the County did something no ethical human resource professional or administrator would allow.

    With no qualified candidates for the position, the County called in an applicant for a position in another department, Chris Younts, and surprised him with an offer to become director of procurement, which meant a huge increase in pay, prestige and responsibility over the position he was seeking, despite Younts having no experience in the procurement arena and having never applied for the job to begin with.”

    “Younts’ first day started off like that of any other new employee. “Mr Driggers showed me around and started introducing me to a few people,” Younts said. “That was going great, I’m enjoying myself, then just before lunch I get an email saying to meet (Driggers) up at the (County) Administrator’s office to meet some other directors, sort of a regular weekly meeting type of thing. I said ‘Sure.’” That’s when his day — and his life –changed drastically, almost indescribably so, he says, and for the worse. “I go into (Administrator Gerald) Seals’ office and there’s people all over sitting in chairs,” said Yount, who said the attendees at the meeting were County Attorney Larry Smith, Human Resource Director Dwight Hanna, Brenda Parnell and Assistant County Administrator Sandra Yudice. “There was one chair up in front and (Seals) motioned me to come up and sit down with everyone else behind me,” Younts said. “He says, “Mr. Younts, I’m going to be real honest with you. I don’t see you being here for very long.I said, “Really? Why is that?” He said, “Well, first of all you just don’t look like you’ve got the credentials to be here, and I don’t see you being here for very long. However, I’m going to give you a chance. I’m going to give you 30 days to prove me wrong.””

    It’s too bad you have to pay to read the stories. Suffice to say that Younts tried to do his job during that 30 day period but was stopped by Seals at every step. When he figured out that he was being used as a pawn, he wrote up a resignation letter and kept it in his pocket. On the 30th day, Seals came in to fire him but Younts dropped the resignation letter on him first.

    Younts was only hired for one reason:

    “While the hire was a waste of public dollars and employee time and unnecessarily increased taxpayer’s liability exposure, it was a success in the one — and likely only — aim behind the hire in the first place: Toal was fooled. At the April 4 hearing, a transcript of which Quorum has obtained, Toal argues strongly that Richardson Construction (the firm protesting the award) does not have a valid legal remedy because by ordinance, a procurement director is the first platform of appeal. The procurement director and only the procurement director may make that assessment. Without one, there’s no way to start the appeal process” At this point attorney for the County Ned Nicholson is able to play his hand, to the surprise of the entire Richardson team. “Your Honor, I can tell the Court on behalf of the County there is a procurement director for the County named Curt — Chris Younts, Y-O-U-N-T-S. Director of Procurement.””

    This is how Richland County works (or doesn’t work). Corrupt everywhere across every department. But let’s focus on Trump’s handshakes some more.

    Reply
  3. Bryan Caskey

    RE: #2: A quote from that piece caught my attention:

    “On June 8, Bush-Robinson went before Lee on all of his pending charges in Kershaw County. A plea had been negotiated between the prosecutor and his attorney that would have imprisoned Bush-Robinson for least four years and as many as eight years, Matthews said.

    But Bush-Robinson’s attorney, George Reedy of Camden, read a statement that brought Lee to tears, according to the deputy who was in the courtroom, Matthews said. “

    Camden is a pretty small town close to here, and I know a lot of the lawyers over there. There’s no lawyer named George Reedy. In fact, I double-checked the SC Bar directory to confirm. There’s actually no lawyer with the last name of Reedy in the entire bar.

    There’s a George Speedy, who I know does criminal defense in Camden, and he’s who I assume they are trying to reference. Sort of reminds me of this scene from My Cousin Vinny:

    Reply
    1. Mark Stewart

      The thing about Sheriff Matthews is simply that he long ago lost credibility as a sworn officer of the law.

      He is an amusing grandstander, for sure. And unfortunately he may have a point. But flaunting it in public like this is not the way to handle such an issue. South Carolina does have better ways… which I know he knows. If he is taking this public tack because all other avenues of protest have been exhausted; then I would give him the benefit of the doubt – and thank him for his willingness to go to the mat over something worth staking a career over. If not, then will he ever learn? I hope this just isn’t an ego spat. That would just be senseless ugliness.

      Unfortunately seems more likely it’s Matthews grandstanding… hope I’m wrong on that.

      Reply
  4. bud

    I was in the Dollar General a while ago and this headline caught my eye (in the Lexington County Chronicle)

    Expert: SCE&G Knew Plants Not Needed
    Jerry Bellune•Thu, Jul 13, 2017
    Could SCANA’s lobbying, actions be considered fraud?

    “S.C. Electric & Gas’s decision to shut down its troubled nuclear construction may be easier.
    It will not need the power it projected it would need in the future, an expert says.
    The latest research shows SCE&G’s power projections far exceeded reality, economist Mark Cooper said.”

    http://lexingtonchronicle.com/expert-sceg-knew-plants-not-needed-p40294-550.htm

    Has this been in a larger media outfit yet? Hooray for small, local papers. Yes, Santee Cooper is involved but this is mostly about a private company ripping off it’s customers to make a few people a bit wealthier.

    Reply
    1. Mark Stewart

      No, Bud, I think the opposite. You should look more to Santee Cooper, I think.

      Two things nobody saw coming; the massive supply increase in US natural gas and the bankruptcy of the designer of the nuclear plants (who midstream also bought the contractor). It was a perfect storm.

      Here is the analysis that should be done; take all the old coal-fired plants in SC offline and then see if the new nuclear reactors are warranted. Just saying future supply exceeds demand isn’t a rigorously argued point of fact.

      Anyway; the first thing that ought to come of this is that Santee Cooper ought to be privatized. Then you can go on about how the PSC is not properly exercising governmental oversight over the power generating industry.

      Reply
      1. bud

        Not sure I follow. SCE&G was the majority owner of this project. These plants should never have been allowed to be constructed on the backs of SCE&G customers. The risk should have been born by the stockholders. Executive salaries should be based on the success of their decisions. This was an enormously bad decision. So what if no one saw the cheap gas phenomenon coming. They put all their eggs in this one white elephant of a basket and it failed. And many people predicted it would be a boondoggle. The point of the article is that the SCE&G executives overstated future electric needs. Why didn’t they choose a wind/solar approach? A bad business decision was made and the customers paid. Either we have a capitalist system or we don’t. When one company is able to inoculate itself from bad business decisions and it’s owners/executives still come out way ahead the entire concept of capitalism is nullified. I say stop dividends, cut salaries until the customers are paid back, with interest.

        Reply
        1. Mark Stewart

          Bud, do you understand what Santee a Cooper is? Who it is?

          You should be demanding your tax dollars back. Making SCANA 55% owner of the reactors was just politics. That’s clear, no?

          What this was is a failure of the socialist state. That’s right; right here in “conservative” ‘ol SC… No objective, apolitical and knowledgeable oversight leads to epic waste every time. Just ask Doug.

          Reply
          1. bud

            Come on Mark, that’s ridiculous. The SCANA stockholders and executives are off the hook. That’s what’s important. If this is a socialist thing then there should be no problem having them reimburse the customers. THEY were the ones who had no risk.

            Reply
            1. Mark Stewart

              I talk about Santee Cooper and you flip back to SCANA. You do understand which organization is fundamentally a problem for everyone in the state of SC, correct?

              I haven’t checked SCANA’s 5-year stock price valuation chart, but I would bet a Ben Franklin it is down.

              Reply
              1. Mark Stewart

                It’s down ~14% over last 12 months; but is up over last 5 yrs. I wouldn’t bet in favor of that holding, however, given the facts unfolding.

                Reply
                1. Richard

                  Some of you spend WAY too much time worrying about stuff you have absolutely no control over.

  5. Doug Ross

    I wish Senator McCain a speedy recovery from the surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. I hope he uses that recovery time to discuss with his family and his staff the proper way to resign from office very soon so that it can be filled by someone in better condition to do the job over the next six years…. the conversation he SHOULD have had last year.

    Reply

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