Category Archives: Nikki Haley

Looking at the transparency issue from the perspective of those who have had to deal with the media

In reaction to the buzz about the chairman of the Ethics Commission making a rule that the press has to deal with him and him only, Bob McAlister — communications consultant, former director of communications and then chief of staff to Gov. Carroll Campbell — had this to say on Facebook:

This is a case of media hyperventilation. Any organization has the right—indeed the responsibility—to decide who acts as spokesman. There’s nothing here to suggest that the Ethics Commission’s openness and access to reporters will be curtailed. Who better to speak for the agency than the person who runs it? The press has the right to know the truth about an agency; it does not have the right to dictate who gives them the information they seek.

I don’t disagree with Bob at all. If I were running an agency that deals with matters as sensitive as those the Ethics Commission deals with, I would want to make sure the message that went out accurately described the agency’s position. Especially if I was dissatisfied with something someone in the agency had said publicly.

But there’s something I think Bob’s ignoring here: The irregular manner in which this new policy was propagated. The chairman didn’t bring it up for discussion in an open meeting or call for a vote of the commission. He just issued an edict, unilaterally — which makes the whole thing look worse.

Now, giving the chairman the benefit of the doubt, this could just be a kinder, gentler way of dealing with a subordinate whom he views as a loose cannon. That is halfway suggested in the story in the state. I say “halfway,” because first, Chairman James Burns (not to be confused with Jimmy Byrnes) and Executive Director Herb Hayden, were paraphrased as saying this was not a move to silence Cathy Hazelwood, the agency’s deputy director and general counsel, who has been quite free with statements in the past:

Burns and Hayden said the new policy was not an effort to stop Hazelwood, who declined to comment, from speaking to the media…

And then, in the next graf, Hayden is quoted as suggesting the aim IS to silence Hazelwood:

“We don’t want to give the impression that Cathy as the prosecutor is already predisposed to any particular action on any particular case,” Hayden said. “(Y)ou don’t want the prosecutor making a statement that could imply that they’re going to (make a decision) one way or the other. Her role is to evaluate the evidence presented during an investigation.”

Interesting thing about that point: Were this the criminal justice system, the prosecutor is exactly the person I would expect to be free to comment on a case. You would not expect the judge or jurors to comment. Prosecutors, by their very nature, take a position. It is the job of the judge and jury “to evaluate the evidence presented,” and to do so impartially. And in the case of the Ethics Commission, the commission that Burns chairs is the judge and jury.

To move on…

Bob wasn’t the only person to stick up for the new policy.

Later, on the Facebook link to my earlier blog post on the subject, Matt Kennell, president and CEO of City Center Partnership, observed that recent anti-transparency developments “may be pushback to some abuses by the media… from expereince.”

That is a separate issue. That observation popped up on my iPad as I was eating breakfast this morning. Moments earlier, Matt had been sitting at the table behind me, so I turned to ask him to elaborate. But apparently, he was downstairs at his desk by then.

If I were currently an editor or news director in the local MSM, I’d give Matt a call and ask him what the problem was, and clear the air, so that there is less likelihood of a problem next time…

Most effective anti-Haley ad I’ve seen

I missed this yesterday for traveling.

Months after those outrageous anti-Sheheen ads from the Republican Governors Association, its Democratic counterpart has put out the above ad. Here’s the release that goes with it:

NEW TV AD: Nikki Haley Put Her Career Ahead Of Children’s Lives

“Interview” Features Former State Social Services Worker Who Quit So She Didn’t Have To Cook The Books, Put Kids At Risk

 

WASHINGTON, DC—The Democratic Governors Association today launched a new television ad in South Carolina highlighting how Governor Nikki Haley has put her own political career ahead of children’s lives through her mismanagement of the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the subsequent coverups that left children in abusive and, at times, deadly situations. The ad, “Interview,” features Betsy Burton, a former staff attorney at DSS, who resigned rather than cook the books and put more kids at risk.

“Governor Haley has put her own political career ahead of the lives of South Carolina’s most vulnerable children,” said DGA Communications Director Danny Kanner. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time she has tried to cover up her gross incompetence – she withheld the fact that millions of South Carolinians had their personal financial information hacked on her watch and that children had been put at risk from a tuberculosis outbreak in public schools. But with the death of three children, enough is enough. It’s time for Governor Haley to start protecting kids instead of her own political career.”

Watch the ad herehttp://youtu.be/gRXO6f8BxV0

This is the first television ad that the DGA has aired in South Carolina, and is part of a significant six-figure buy. The ad comes far earlier in the cycle than when the DGA ran television ads in 2010. The Sheheen for South Carolina campaign ran a television ad earlier this year highlighting Governor Haley’s tragic handling of the situation at DSS.

Here’s background information on the tragic situation at Governor Haley’s DSS:

 

WLTX: “DSS Dropped The Ball In Hundreds Of Cases”. “When the South Carolina Department of Social Services accepts a case for investigation, state law requires it to begin that investigation within 24 hours. News19 learned about the law, and it’s importance to child safety, after an investigation earlier this year into the death of Robert Guinyard Jr., a Richland County boy who died despite multiple reports of abuse to DSS… Guinyard’s case was not initially referred to a DSS investigator. For cases that are, reports show DSS dropped the ball in hundreds of cases failing to comply with a state law DSS also includes in its policy manual.” [WLTX, 4/24/14]

Post And Courier Editorial: “Covering Up Systemic Problems”. “It is very troubling that Ms. Koller and her staff would obfuscate when circumstances warrant tough scrutiny and deliberate reforms. Children in DSS need the state to protect them, not to use them as twisted statistics. And covering up systemic problems certainly makes reform elusive. How do you repair DSS using misleading numbers?” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]

 

Greenville News Headline, 2012: “Some Children Spending Less Time In Foster Care”. “The state Department of Social Services has stepped up the rate of moving long-term foster children back with their parents or to adoptive families by 50 percent in the past fiscal year, a trend that has drawn both praise and criticism. DSS increased the number of foster children moving into permanent homes from 789 in 2010-11 to 1,184 in the 12-month cycle that ended June 30… Faster movement through the foster care system is part of a national trend, but South Carolina had the second-highest percentage drop in the nation in the number of children in foster care between July 2011 and July 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” [Greenville News, 10/17/12]

  • Haley’s DSS Appointee Had Previously Used “Similar Tactics” – Raising Concerns Over “Stories Of Children Being Sent To Places They Shouldn’t Be Sent In Such A Short Timeframe.” “State DSS Director Lillian Koller, appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2011, used similar tactics when she headed the social services agency in Hawaii and won national acclaim for her efforts. But not everyone is happy with the more rapid flow of neglected and abused kids through the system — particularly those who care for these children in group homes. ‘In theory, what we all want is for children to not be spending their lives in group care, or in foster care for that matter, unless it’s a permanent foster situation,’ said the Rev. John Holler, president of Epworth Children’s Home and member of the board of directors of the South Carolina Association of Children’s Homes and Family Services. ‘But the Department of Social Services is under such pressure to meet numbers because of federal mandates that any provider you talk to you hear the stories of children being sent to places they shouldn’t be sent in such a short timeframe.’” [Greenville News,10/17/12]

 

Koller Emphasized Speed And Statistics From The Beginning Of Her Time With The Agency. “The director of South Carolina’s social services agency wants to speed up the time it takes to find safe, permanent homes for the thousands of abused and neglected children put in the state’s care. It’s a goal the Department of Social Services has struggled to accomplish for years. But six months into office, director Lillian Koller is confident the agency can improve, and she insists it will do so dramatically. She has put her goals into concrete numbers. Koller has charged her agency with placing 50 percent more children now in foster care into a ‘safe, loving home for life,’ either through adoption or reunification with their biological parents. It’s a tall order. Over the last few years, adoptions of foster children have risen by 5 percent. Koller wants to hit the 50 percent goal by next June, and make progress toward it monthly.” [Associated Press, 7/31/11]

January 2014 Senator On DSS Oversight Panel Expressed Concern That Children Were Being Removed And Returned From Homes Too Quickly. “Several South Carolina state senators say they’ll try to make changes at the state Department of Social Services after looking into problems at the agency. ‘It is the whole system. I feel like our system is broken,’ Paige Greene told a special Senate DSS Oversight subcommittee Wednesday. She’s the executive director of Richland County CASA, the guardian ad litum program for abused and neglected children in Richland County… Oversight subcommittee member Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, said in some cases DSS is taking children out of homes too quickly while in other cases putting them back in their homes too quickly. ‘It leads me to question the whole way the management and the implementation and the process is working at all,’ he said.” [CBS – 7 WSPA,1/16/14]

 

Response to Child Death: “Social Services Had Received A Tip About The Child Being In Danger. But The Agency… Waited Seven Weeks To Follow Up.” “Social Services had received a tip about the child being in danger. But the agency said it could not find the child’s parents and waited seven weeks to follow up with the medical professional who issued the warning. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott held a news conference after the child’s death, criticizing Social Services for not telling law enforcement when the agency could not locate Bryson’s parents. In response, Social Services put in place a new policy to call law enforcement within 72 hours if it cannot locate a family.” [The State, 5/13/14]

Post and Courier Editorial: “Troubling” That DSS Oversight Committee Were Told “Misleading Numbers.” The Post and Courier opined, “It is very troubling that Ms. Koller and her staff would obfuscate when circumstances warrant tough scrutiny and deliberate reforms…And covering up systemic problems certainly makes reform elusive. How do you repair DSS using misleading numbers? For example, the Senate’s DSS Oversight Committee was first told that the average worker handled six cases at any time… So pressed at a later hearing on the subject, Ms. Koller conceded that the average was more. Far more.” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]

  • “DSS Leadership Is More Interested In Producing Impressive Numbers Than In Providing Good Services.” “Then there is the issue of secrecy. Several coroners reported to the Oversight Committee that DSS was refusing to cooperate and provide information necessary for them to investigate deaths. DSS clients, including children, are correctly afforded privacy as a rule. But when they die, the rules change. It’s important to diagnose why and how it happened, and to use that information to improve DSS policy and practices… But a number of DSS employees and former employees have complained that the current DSS leadership is more interested in producing impressive numbers than in providing good services.” [Post and Courier, 5/30/14]

 

Worker Assigned To Child Who Died Had Caseload Six Times Higher Than DSS “Average” Shortly After Death. “Workers are required to see all of their children in a month. That means that the case worker with 96 children, working five days a week, has to see an average of 5 kids during a 7.5-hour day in order to meet her goal… DSS officials say they obtained the average of six by dividing the number of cases among workers statewide…  Five-month-old Bryson Webb died in his car seat on April 22, after he stopped breathing. DSS has said the agency repeatedly tried tracking down the boy’s family, who were allegedly living in different locations. But the worker assigned to Bryson’s family had 37 cases on March 2, according to a DSS document. ByMarch 9, the worker had 49 cases.” [Post and Courier, 5/27/14]

I would say it’s the most effective Sheheen ad I’ve seen. But since it’s not actually from the Sheheen campaign, I’ll say it’s the most effective anti-Haley ad I’ve seen…

SC GOP leaders back reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank

South Carolina’s top Republicans are all signing on for reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, breaking with the “conservative” wing of their party in the U.S. House:

Governor Haley, Senators Graham and Scott Support Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization

WASHINGTON – South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott have written to congressional leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate expressing support for the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

“As elected officials from a state where thousands of hardworking families benefit from exports, we urge you to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) before its charter expires this year,” wrote Haley, Graham and Scott.  “As the official export credit agency of the United States, Ex-Im is a vital export finance tool to the businesses in our state – at no cost to American taxpayers.

“Ex-Im allows South Carolina businesses to compete globally on a level playing field.  Without Ex-Im our local businesses would be forced into a global market with foreign competitors that receive extensive support from their own export credit programs.  Allowing Ex-Im to expire will deliberately disadvantage American businesses and lead to increased unemployment.”

#####

This shouldn’t be surprising, for two reasons:

  1. The Ex-Im Bank is hugely important to Boeing, which is in turn hugely important to SC politicos.
  2. The GOP sentiment for shutting it down seems pretty much confined to the extreme wing in the House, and outside advocacy groups. Senate Republicans are broadly supporting reauthorization.

Post and Courier on infrastructure funding

The Charleston paper had a commonsense editorial Sunday on road funding. The thrust, basically, is that pols need to stop tiptoeing around what needs to be done, and what needs to be done is to raise the gas tax. Excerpts:

Gov. Nikki Haley has a plan for highway funding that is long on promise and short on details. So far, the only known fact about the plan itself is that it won’t include a tax hike.

And the road funding plan won’t be announced until January, after the November election. Why not provide all the details now and have the highway issue become a meaningful part of the debate between Gov. Haley and her Democratic challenger, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen?…

So many legislators have signed the “no-tax pledge” that road advocates have been pitching a badly needed gas tax hike as a user fee increase. So far the hardheads in the Legislature haven’t been willing to recognize the dire need for road and bridge improvements….

But calls for SIB reform, or further improvements to DOT governance, shouldn’t obscure the general need for additional road funding. Or the fact that a gas tax increase is the best way for South Carolina to provide it.

If the governor has a better plan, we shouldn’t have to wait until January to hear about it.

All of that said, let me say one thing in the incumbent governor’s defense — maybe, sorta, kinda: Maybe the reason she won’t say what her plan is before the election is that she actually wants to do the responsible thing — raise the gas tax.

Oh, but wait — she said it won’t include a tax increase. So, never mind… I was just reaching here for something to be hopeful about…

Tom Ervin won’t say how HE’D pay for roads, either

Well, we know that Nikki Haley wants to fix SC roads, but doesn’t want to say how she’d pay for it — at least, not until after the election.

Vincent Sheheen at least says he’d issue bonds for pay for part of our infrastructure needs. Beyond that, he’s vague. From his website:

South Carolina is too dependent on the “gas tax” and needs to diversify how it pays for roads and bridges. In addition to the $1 billion Vincent helped secure for road reconstruction in 2013, he believes we should continue using South Carolina’s bonding authority to make long-term infrastructure investments, dedicate more General Fund revenue from surpluses to roads, and look at new revenue sources to help make our roads safe again. All options must be on the table for discussion.

What I’d like to see from Sheheen an elaboration on what he means when he says SC is “too dependent on the ‘gas tax’,” and therefore must go on some grail-like quest for mysterious “new revenue sources.” I suspect what he means is that SC is simply unwilling, politically, to raise our extremely low gas tax. He certainly can’t mean that he thinks it’s too high.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Tom Ervin takes the governor to task for not saying how she’d pay for roads, and then declines to say how he would do it:

Greenville: Independent Republican candidate Tom Ervin issued the following statement:

Governor Haley’s “secret plan” to fund improvements for our roads and bridges is nothing more than a “secret tax increase” and another blatant example of her lack of transparency and accountability.20140525_0138-300x300

Call Governor Haley now at (803) 734-2100 and demand that she disclose the details of her secret funding plan.  When Nikki Haley hides the ball on funding, that’s her political speak for taxpayer’s having to foot the bill.  Haley’s secret plan shouldn’t surprise anyone.  It’s Haley’s lack of leadership that has forced a county-by-county sales tax increase to make up for her failed leadership.  This has resulted in a back door sales tax increase on top of her “secret plan” to raise taxes next year.

And I’m shocked about Governor Haley’s stated approach.  We are a legislative state.  For Haley to say she will “show the General Assembly how to do it” confirms just how irresponsible Haley’s approach is to our serious infrastructure needs.

If South Carolinians want to maintain or roads and bridges and invest in our infrastructure, it’s going to require a change in leadership.  When I am governor, I will work with our elected representatives to build a consensus for long term funding for our crumbling roads and bridges. And I’ll be honest with you up front that all suggested solutions are on the table for debate.  The legislative process is a deliberative process.  We already have a dictator in Washington, D.C.  We don’t need another one in Columbia.

Tell, me — in what way is the governor’s promise to come out with something after the election different, practically speaking, from “When I am governor, I will work with our elected representatives to build a consensus for long term funding?” Yeah, I get that he’s saying he’d respect lawmakers more than the incumbent does. But beyond that, he’s doing the same thing she is — declining to say what he would propose until after the election.

Are we supposed to read “And I’ll be honest with you up front that all suggested solutions are on the table for debate” as some sort of code that the one responsible plan, raising the gas tax, will be part of his plan? Maybe. But why not come out and say it? It’s not like he’d be endangering his chance of getting elected, because that chance does not exist. (When one is tilting at windmills, why not go for broke and propose the right thing, rather than being cagey?)

So, having surveyed the field, one thing I must say in Todd Rutherford’s behalf is that at least he’s proposing something, even though it’s a really bad idea.

Whoa! Did this picture of our gov grab your attention? It did mine…

BrdvSPRCYAA-Bls

Six men came to kill me one time. And the best of ‘em carried this. It’s a Callahan full-bore auto-lock. Customized trigger, double cartridge thorough gauge. It is my very favorite gun.

— Jayne Cobb, on “Firefly”

My first thought was that it must be photoshopped. There’s something unreal about it, from the glint in her eye to the… really unusual weapon she’s holding with such delight.

I found myself reminded of Jayne Cobb showing off Vera. I mean, certainly the governor will give this baby a name…

But The Sun News reports that it’s for real:

AYNOR — Welder Jamieson Woodard leaned against a table a good way beyond the semi-circle of television cameras Monday as S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley got her commemorative, semiautomatic rifle from PTR Industries.

Woodard is part of the contingent of employees who transferred to Horry County when PTR left Connecticut because of restrictive gun laws passed by the state legislature.

The law, written in reaction to the killing of elementary school children and teachers in Newton, Conn., bans the sale of the guns PTR makes.

“Not only did it put us out of work,” Woodard said of the law, “it was the little guys that really got hurt.”

During the ceremony Woodard watched, Haley said she promised PTR that South Carolina would never politicize gun ownership, and those are the kind of words that have helped the company and its employees feel they’ve been received with open arms.

“People here are a lot friendlier than they are up North,” Woodard said…

Jayne with Vera: "It is my very favorite gun."

Jayne with Vera: “It is my very favorite gun.”

Haley vetoes: From First Steps to legislator pay

When I saw that the governor had vetoed First Steps (much beloved of Democrats since it was started by Jim Hodges), my first thought was, Huh. Maybe she DID mean we would “no longer educate children,” The younger ones, anyway.

Democrats are certainly hoping voters will see it that way. They are howling blue murder. Even the normally calm Rep. James Smith — the original sponsor of First Steps — got a bit shrill:

“Governor Haley has once again used her veto pen to stick it to education in South Carolina. First she vetoes $110 million in education funding, then she vetoes funding to keep teachers in the classroom, and now she wants to eliminate the First Steps early childhood education initiative. This governor has never truly supported education in this state and no election year gimmick can change that reality. Today’s veto is just another example of Governor Haley saying one thing and doing another. We look forward to overriding her veto next week and denying her the ability to once again play politics with our children’s future.”

But when I read The State‘s story, I had to admit that I don’t know, personally, how effective First Steps, which supports programs in private preschools, has been. So the governor’s wish to see it studied further before authorizing it for more than a year at a time doesn’t sound so bad. Maybe there’s something I’m missing.

I do find it ironic that she is vetoing something that sends public money to private educators.

Then there’s the matter of the governor’s veto of the pay raise lawmakers voted themselves. She says she isn’t arguing with the pay raise itself; she objects to the way they did it. That’s where I have to disagree with her. She thinks such a thing should be decided by referendum. Well, you know what I think of government by plebiscite. Lawmakers have to face the voters after voting themselves something like this. That’s enough of a check on their fiscal self-interest.

On the whole, the governor is ending the session the way she began it — as a kinder, gentler wielder of the veto pen. For instance, no veto of the Arts Commission. And as The State said, the total “amount cut with this year’s proposed vetoes is by far the smallest since Haley took office in 2011.”

Maybe she really has changed. What do y’all think?

This is why you make sure it fits on Twitter FIRST

I’m feeling bad for Nikki Haley today, because she was trying to do the right thing, and say the right thing, but the medium got in the way.

Below is an image of what appeared in her Twitter feed yesterday morning:

09-nikki-haley-tweet.w1058.h704

The problem, of course, was that she posted on Instagram, and when that autoposted to Twitter, it cut her off in mid-thought. What she actually said was:

South Carolina made history this year by passing education reform. We will no longer educate children based on where they are born. Through reading coaches, technology investments, and expanding charter schools we just confirmed that we want our children to be the future workforce for our growing high tech jobs! #ItIsAGreatDayInSC

And we should all be able to agree with that, even the Democrats who won’t give her credit for actually meaning it. (Well, they might not go for the charter schools part, but the rest of it…)

Here’s the corrected version of her Tweet:

Moral of the story: If you’re going to post to a medium that automatically posts to your Twitter feed, always write it for Twitter, and make sure it fits there first. Otherwise, it’s just too tricky to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

People pay me to tell them stuff like that these days. Consider this a freebie, and don’t ever say I never gave you anything…

Environmentalists beg to differ with Gov. Haley

This just in from Ann Timberlake with the Conservation Voters of South Carolina:

Dear Conservation Voters,

Governor Haley appears to have been misinformed on South Carolina’s ability to meet standards for reducing emissions that threaten our state’s valuable coast.

“This is exactly what we don’t need,” the governor said after addressing a gathering of the S.C. Electric Cooperatives at Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms. “This is exactly what hurts us. You can’t mandate utility companies which, in turn, raises the cost of power. That’s what’s going to keep jobs away. That’s what’s going to keep companies away.” She added that officials in Washington “stay out of the way.”

Governor Haley,  Post & Courier, June 4, 2014

It appears that she has been given incorrect information about South Carolina’s ability to meet carbon pollution standards.

Here are the facts.  Since 2005, South Carolina has reduced its energy carbon emissions by 30% even while growing our economy and our population.  Not only that, our state is already on track to continue those gains as our utilities plan to retire numerous outdated pollution-belching coal plants while also expanding solar power and energy efficiency.

In fact, just last week, Governor Haley signed a bill to unleash the Palmetto State’s vast solar capacity.  That’s progress and it will create many jobs right here at home. South Carolina now has a valuable competitive edge over other states when it comes to meeting proposed carbon pollution standards.  That is something to brag about — not attack. That’s what is going to bring companies here.

For 40 years, vested fossil fuel special interests have tried to scare citizens away from protecting their air and water by saying the sky would fall economically.  But those scare tactics have been repeatedly disproved. In reality, jobs and economic growth have gone hand in hand with cleaner environment.

South Carolina has more to lose from climate change than almost any other state. Our coastal communities are iconic. But they are extremely vulnerable to increased flooding and extreme weather.

We will continue to work with DHEC, our conservation community, energy providers and other stakeholders to map a prosperous way forward that protects the South Carolina we love.

South Carolina is poised to be a twenty-first-century powerhouse.   We can do it and we can do it our way.

Ann Timberlake

Vincent Sheheen’s new Web video

The first thing you’ll notice is the length of this: At 1:44, it’s too long for a TV ad; this was made to distribute on the Web.

Perhaps because it’s as long as it is, it’s more effective than other things I’ve seen from this campaign — the slow march of headlines appearing as you hear Nikki Haley say how proud she is of Lillian Koller has a cumulative effect.

Of course, I still can’t honestly know how many of these horrific tragedies can in any way be laid at the feet of Ms. Koller or anyone else in the agency. Deciding whether children should remain with questionable parents has always been a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t proposition. There were deaths before Ms. Koller joined DSS, and there will be deaths after. If I’m wrong about the latter, I’ll be overjoyed, but I’m speaking from the base of what I’ve seen.

The larger point is about leadership and judgment. Was the governor right to so adamantly defend her director?

It’s perhaps instructive, to Democrats, Republicans and the rest of us, to compare this to the V.A. scandal on the federal level. President Obama stuck by Gen. Shinseki, up until the time he didn’t. And when Shinseki bowed out, the president used almost identical language to what the governor did — he praised the retired general, and said he was merely accepting the resignation so that Shinseki would no longer be a “distraction” from the task of solving the problem.

If there’s a difference, it may lie in tone. No-drama Obama was cool and dispassionate in standing by the general as long as he did. There was none of the this-is-personal touchiness that we get from Nikki Haley, particularly when she takes to her Facebook page.

Somebody pointed something out to me that I hadn’t picked up on — that during the session just ending, the governor’s staff kept her out of the State House for two of the three days a week the Legislature is in town. The purpose being to keep her from interacting with lawmakers in ways that would reflect badly on her in this election year.

I don’t even know if that’s correct or not — I haven’t studied the governor’s schedule. But if it is, it points to the thing as I said above is the key element to consider as voters. The last thing you want is a governor who stays away from the State House when the laws are being made, who doesn’t trust herself enough to stay cool and stay out of trouble. When I said that to the Republican who was making the observation, he smiled slightly and said what we know, that this governor isn’t all that interested in governing.

Which is another problem. But it’s tough to make punchy campaign videos, much less bumper stickers, that point these things out.

Koller 2

43? Ummm… do we have anyone OLDER willing to run?

Just got this from Amy Sheheen, as in, Mrs. Vincent:

Brad,

I know you don’t hear from me much but I just had to write on this special occasion. Today is Vincent’s 43rd birthday, and I was hoping you’d help me wish him a happy birthday!

Birthday

Vincent has had a busy year trying to make South Carolina a better place for everyone. From working hard in the state Senate to giving it his all on the campaign trail, he is fighting for each of us.

Vincent told me that tomorrow is a huge fundraising deadline for the campaign to fight back against the vicious attack ads. Your support means a lot, so I was hoping you would help me make this an extra special birthday by contributing $43 by midnighttonight in honor of his 43 years!

With the campaign season really ramping up, every dollar counts! Vincent has given so much to South Carolina that today, on his birthday, I hope you’ll join me in showing how much we appreciate his passion.

Please join me in surprising Vincent on his big day by contributing $43 (or really whatever you can!)

Thanks for helping make Vincent’s birthday a great one,

Amy

Forty-three? Is that all? Y’all know I think a lot of young Vincent, but is that really enough life experience to be governor of our state? Mind you, the incumbent is even younger than that.

A bit more gravitas would really be nice.

Why don’t more accomplished people run for the highest office in the state? I mean, aside from the fact that the office doesn’t carry with it the power needed to do a proper job.

One more thing: All of you gubernatorial candidates — get offa my lawn!

Doug forms impression of Haley strength, Sheheen weakness

summit

Our own Doug Ross attended IT-ology’s Summit on Information Technology today, and this is his report:

Nikki Haley did the quick welcome speech to the crowd this morning.  Never had seen her before in person…   I was impressed with her energy and her ability to speak without notes.  She laid out what will probably be a theme for the next few months:  a growing economy built on encouragingcompanies to come to South Carolina.    What was more indicative of what’s in store for Vincent Sheheen was when Ed Sellers (Chairman BCBS – you probably knew that) got up after Nikki left and said that Haley and her team (Bobby Hitt and others) were the best administration  he had worked with in 25 years in terms of economic development.   Otis Rawl followed Sellers with more praise for Nikki.    If I were Vincent Sheheen, I’d drop out now… I don’t think he’s going to come as close as last time.
The mayor also spoke briefly and did a good job of selling Columbia as a place to grow technology business.   He was late so he wasn’t in the room when Haley was there.    My cynical self wonders if that was on purpose.

As I’ve said many times, Nikki makes a great first impression, and connects really well with a group of people.

I agree that Vincent’s in trouble, and not only because he’s not as good at connecting with a crowd. Four years ago, the state chamber (Otis Rawl’s organization) backed him, which was extraordinary for a Democrat. I had already seen indications that wasn’t going to happen again. This is another indication of that.

And when a guy like Ed Sellers goes that far in his praise, it’s important. But I suspect he really mostly appreciates Bobby Hitt.

Something is going to have to change for Vincent Sheheen to be as competitive as he was last time around, much less win. The incumbent has positioned herself well for another four years, even without the Year-Of-The-Tea-Party advantage she enjoyed in 2010.

On social media, politics and maturity

Now that I’m an oh-so-sophisticated purveyor and consumer of social media — one of the Twitterati, no less — I find myself embarrassed whenever I look back at a post I wrote in 2006 about Andre Bauer.

The post went like this:

Andre Bauer is coming in for his interview at 4. I’m reviewing a few questions for him between now and then. I’m curious: What would you ask a lieutenant governor who:

  • When stopped speeding down Assembly Street, charged so aggressively at the cop that he felt threatened enough to draw his weapon?

  • When driving 101 mph on a wet highway, got on the police radio frequency to tell the patrolman pursuing him that “SC2″ was “passing through,” and when he was stopped anyway, asked, “Did you not hear me on the radio?”

  • Lying to reporters about that incident, then saying you “forgot” about it when confronted with the evidence?

  • Showed up to negotiate with the Department of Transportation a price for land he owned — with a member of the transportation commission in tow?

  • Has his own Myspace site?

  • Seems almost certain to win the GOP nomination again?

The problem is that penultimate item. It was, for me at the time, sort of shorthand for someone who was too juvenile to play with adults. Of course, I was redeemed somewhat later by the fact that Myspace came to be seen as sadly out of it. But I would have said the same thing about a Facebook page. I just saw it as something kids did.

That was the year — 2006 — that social media came into its own, when serious businesses started seeing that they had to be on FB and, a bit later, Twitter (Twitter wasn’t even launched until several months after I wrote that item). This was also, not coincidentally I think, about the time that the bottom sort of fell out of advertising revenues for newspapers. (The post was written June 7, 2006, and there was a precipitous drop in MSM advertising over the course of that summer.)

By the time I really became a Twitter fiend in 2009, I was pretty embarrassed for having seen social media as not for grownups.

But now… I’m starting to wonder whether maybe I had a point. Not about Twitter. Twitter is the best news-bulletin service I’ve ever seen, among other things. But beyond posting pictures I want to share with friends and family, I continue to harbor doubts about Facebook.

And our governor is the source of a lot of those doubts.

Nikki Haley has shown a marked preference for Facebook over communicating through the MSM. Like many lesser-known people, she sees it as empowering that she doesn’t have to go through editors to say what she’d like.

And yet, time and again, she has demonstrated why everybody needs an editor. A search of “Haley” and “Facebook” on this blog yields:

The other day, Kathryn took exception to my use of the term “Girl Fight” to call attention to the Haley-Shealy contretemps. But did it not strike you as more girlish than womanly, as lacking in a certain dignity? It did me. But then, I’m the guy who made fun of Anton in 2006…

 

Sheheen’s new campaign video: “Failing”

Here’s the TV ad released by the Sheheen campaign today.

Thoughts? My own first reaction is that it looks like Nikki Haley is the incumbent superintendent of education rather than governor. There’s no explanation for why the governor should be held accountable for the performance of schools.

It also seems kind of weird and backwards. Don’t people of Nikki Haley’s wing of the GOP usually bemoan the state of public schools, while SC Democrats stick up for public educators doing the best they can with what they’ve got? I mean, wouldn’t Nikki’s natural reaction be, “Yes, and this is why we need tuition tax credits?” Or another of those old SCRG talking points.

I’m not sure what sort of train of thought this is meant to invoke, beyond “Nikki Haley — bad.” But maybe you see something else…

That’s not the first example I think of, Henry

I was just now looking back at the press release from yesterday announcing Henry McMaster’s entry into the contest for lieutenant governor:

McMaster Files for Lt. Gov.
For Immediate Release                                                                           March 27, 2014
Contact:  Adam Fogle @ 803-394-3006
 
COLUMBIA, SC — Former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster officially filed Thursday as a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor.  In an online video announcement McMaster said, “For this job, experience really does matter.”
 
In addition to serving eight years as Attorney General, McMaster gained national attention when President Ronald Reagan chose him as his first U.S. Attorney.  In that job, McMaster led a crackdown on corruption and drug trafficking.  He later became State Republican Party Chairman and led the SCGOP through a period of historic growth.
 
With a strong record in both the public and private sectors, McMaster said he brings to the race “a unique mix of experience and proven results.”  In announcing his decision to offer as a candidate for Lt. Governor, McMaster issued the following statement:
 

Experience Matters

“The next four years will be critical to our state’s political, economic and cultural future.  I love South Carolina and I want to help create a future of progress and prosperity.
 
“As Lt. Governor, I plan to be a strong voice for conservative reform in State government.  I’ll be ready on day one to preside over the work of the State Senate.  It takes experience in State government and knowledge of the law to do a good job.
 
“After four years of Barack Obama, I think we’ve learned that on-the-job-training is not always a good idea.  For the job of Lt. Governor, qualifications really matter.
 
“I’m also ready to address the growing challenges faced by our state’s seniors and adults with disabilities.  At the present rate, South Carolina’s senior population will double by the year 2030.
 
“I’ve discussed this issue in detail with my friend Glenn McConnell, our current Lt. Governor.  He is making wonderful progress in developing plans and strategies to deal with the aging crisis.  And I am prepared to follow in his footsteps.
 
“Finally, I’m ready to work with Governor Haley and the conservative leaders of the State Legislature to protect taxpayers, grow our economy, create new jobs and build a tomorrow we can all be proud of.
 
“That’s why I’m running as a conservative Republican for Lt. Governor and I ask for your support.”
 
The Republican Primary will be held Tuesday, June 10.  Learn more about Henry McMaster atHenryMcMaster.com.  View the entire video announcement on YouTube.
-30-

Did you catch that non sequitur about the president? “After four years of Barack Obama…” (On his website, by the way, he says somewhat more accurately, “After nearly six years of Barack Obama…)

As criticism of POTUS goes, of course, that’s fairly mild stuff. His inexperience was one of the things that kept me in the John McCain camp in our 2008 endorsement. So, fair observation there.

But hey — what does it have to do with running for lieutenant governor? You’d think he’d compare himself to his opponents for the nomination, not to Republicans’ favorite national whipping boy. (Yeah, I know how this plays in the GOP base. But I have to wonder: Doesn’t anyone in that base ever go, “Hey, wait a minute. What does this have to do with Obama?”)

Here we go again, y’all. I thought Henry was easily the best of the GOP field for governor last time around. But one thing kept me from feeling good about his candidacy: His over-the-top — I mean, “over-the-top” by the standards of reasonable folk; not “over-the-top” by, say, Tea Party standards — attempts to nationalize the campaign. Remember the ad in which he promised to protect us from Obama and his Washington “vultures”?

Speaking of Tea Party standards…

If he were really concerned about on-the-job training, don’t you think the first politician who would come to mind would be someone closer to home — say, our governor, who had three terms as a House backbencher and no known managerial experience before becoming our chief executive?

But Henry would never do that. Henry has been remarkably loyal in his support of the governor ever since she beat him for the nomination in 2010. The State today talked about how Henry is one of three candidates for Gov Lite who have “ties” to the governor. But Henry is the one she owes, the one who has swallowed every ounce of pride to be her cheerleader, and give her countenance among business types and party regulars.

On Haley and Sheheen on the ethics bill

This could be a moment to pause and celebrate something. Not the ethics bill that passed the state Senate yesterday (I’ll let Cindi Scoppe tell you about its inadequacies, as she did in this column and this one), but the fact that both candidates for governor are vocal in calling it inadequate:

COLUMBIA, SC — An update to S.C. ethics laws – more than a year in the making – passed the state Senate on Thursday only to be blasted by Gov. Nikki Haley and her likely Democratic challenger for governor in November, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, as not being good enough.

In particular, the two rivals faulted the proposal for not including an independent body to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers.

“Let’s be clear, what the Senate passed tonight wasn’t ethics reform – it’s an income-disclosure bill, and while that’s a positive step forward, it’s really only a half-step,” Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said….

Unfortunately, there’s a sour note in this duet:

“Some reform is better than no reform, but this bill is pretty close to nothing,” Sheheen said, before turning his criticism toward Haley. “In order to have open and accountable government, we need full income disclosure, an independent body to investigate ethics violations, and to finally put an end to the governor’s continued misuse of the state plane and vehicles for campaign activities.”…

In defending Sheheen from criticism from our own Doug, I’ve said that a challenger needs to define what’s wrong with the incumbent, in order to give the voter reasons for replacing that incumbent.

But Doug has a point, and once again, Sheheen’s criticism of Haley is coming across as grating. I don’t know how much of it is the content, and how much of it is just a matter of this tone not being natural coming from Vincent Sheheen. This drip, drip, drip of talking points about Nikki feels like the work of consultants; it’s just not the way Vincent naturally speaks. He’s a more affable, get-along-with-people kind of guy.

It would be far better if Sheheen said something like this:

It may not always feel like it, especially when the Senate drops the ball this way on a needed reform, but we’re slowly making progress in South Carolina. Both the incumbent governor and I are taking the same position, which is that our state politicians need to be held to a higher ethical standard. When those who would lead this state are unanimous in calling for more ambitious reform, that’s progress; we’ve moved in the right direction. Now, you’ve heard me say in the past that the incumbent governor has through her own lapses helped illustrate why we need ethics reform. I stand by that, and the record stands for itself. If I thought she did everything right, I’d be voting for her instead of running against her. But today, I want to thank the governor for her leadership in trying to make sure lawmakers don’t commit such lapses in the future, and are held accountable if they do. Whatever she’s done in the past, she’s taking the right position on this now. And I will stand squarely beside her and help with the heavy lifting of trying to move us further forward, and pass real ethics reform. And if I am elected to replace her, I hope she will continue to support this effort. Because all of us who understand the problem — and I think both of us do now — need to work together to overcome the inertia of the status quo.

OK, that’s a little wordy — if I were writing a statement for him I’d tighten it up — but that’s the tone I think he should be striking…

Haley looking very Chris Christie today. I just hope she doesn’t put on unhealthy pounds

windbreaker

While typing my last post, I was listening to Nikki Haley’s live presser about the weather. Occasionally, I would glance over, and was struck by how the gov had adopted the standard Chris Christie disaster couture, with the dark blue windbreaker and everything. (Although she added a stylish white turtleneck.)

I’m telling myself this doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean she’s going to stop lanes of I-20 going through Kershaw County just to punish Vincent Sheheen or anything. And so far, it doesn’t look like she’s packing on any unhealthy pounds.

Apparently, this has become the national standard for a governor wanting to show that he or she is in Complete Weather Disaster Command and Control Mode. Like a general getting out of Class A’s and into fatigues — or rather, like what that would have meant decades ago, before generals started going to the office every day in BDUs.

Anyway, it just struck me as an interesting visual. Increasingly, we think in visual symbols rather than words, don’t we?

And are we next going to see Gov. Haley walking alongside President Obama, showing him the devastation wreaked on our state? Probably not… although I see she has sought a federal emergency declaration, which I found ironic…

article-snl-1118

Another ‘Walking Dead’ kind of day in the Southland

atlanta

I had already made the comparison between the recent weather-related apocalypse in Atlanta and “Walking Dead,” but I had somehow missed this post providing photographic evidence.

Whoa. It even includes “survivors” shuffling through the wreckage, in images very like those from everyone’s fave zombie TV show. Check it out. The main visual difference is that in the real-life shots, everything is icy, while it seems like it’s always sweltering summer on “Walking Dead.”

And today, I look out around me, and except for the presence of shuffling undead, this could indeed be the end of all we knew. My iPad just chimed to tell me that “Nearly 52,000 SCE&G customers [are] without power.”

Right now, I’m listening to Nikki Haley’s live briefing. She says T-Rav’s Daddy’s bridge is closed again…

Days such as this remind me of a dream I used to have, decades ago. All you Freudians, prepare to take notes…

I would dream that I was in a house that was seemingly miles from any road or sign of life, with deep, deep snow covering everything. Nothing but whiteness could be seen, for miles and miles of softly undulating, hilly landscape. There were no tracks in the snow. Most of all, there was no sound whatsoever. I was seeing all this not so much from inside the house, as I was seeing the completely snow-bound house set in an all-white background.

The memorable thing about the dream, the thing I wanted to go back to after I awoke, was the utter peacefulness of it. There was nothing to do, and nothing to worry about. Worry and stress was a thing of other times and other places. There was just the snow, and the quiet.

All the Freudians are now going “death wish!” But keep in mind this was in the context of me being a newspaperman. I had to go to work no matter what the weather, and go to great trouble to generate boring weather stories. Sitting tight in a warm house looking at the pretty snow was just not a part of my life.

I think maybe the dream just had to do with wanting a day off like other people. Even though I always scorned those wimps who stayed at home because it was a bit slippery outside, on some level I think I envied them. A perfectly pedestrian impulse. Although I’ll admit there was something mystical, something unearthly, about the peacefulness of that dream.

But I digress…

BfKCdFoCYAAoh-u

 

Haley versus Deal on handling the snowstorm

The S.C. Democratic Party rather joyfully brings attention to this item that describes the back-and-forth between Nikki Haley and the office of her counterpart in Georgia, Nathan Deal.

The piece quotes this from the Charleston Regional Business Journal about Nikki’s complaints in a speech to a civic club about the mess in Atlanta:

Haley, who was in Charleston on Tuesday for a speech to members of the Historic Rotary Club of Charleston, said her brother was stuck on an interstate in Atlanta for 27 hours because of the snow and ice.

“While I was trying to fix South Carolina, I was furious at Georgia for not taking care of that,” she said.

She complimented South Carolina’s Department of TransportationDepartment of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the state’s National Guard, for their work during the storm.

“When you go through a storm, whether it’s a hurricane or winter storm, our team stands ready,” Haley said. “I am very proud of team South Carolina and the way they handled the storm.”…

And then it provides this response from the Georgia governor’s office:

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson offered this when confronted with Haley’s jab:

“To say South Carolina did a better job responding to the storm than Georgia is like saying Tennessee did a better job than Louisiana responding to Hurricane Katrina. We experienced completely different weather events.”

Sheheen celebrates passage of restructuring bill

Vincent Sheheen’s Senate office put this release out today:

Sen. Sheheen’s Leadership Delivers Greater Accountability for South Carolinians
After nearly a decade of work, legislature approves Sen. Sheheen’s bipartisan plan to overhaul state government
Today, the House and the Senate both passed the conference report on S.22, Sen. Sheheen’s government restructuring plan. Sen. Sheheen first introduced this bill in 2007. Sen. Sheheen released this statement:
“For nearly a decade, we’ve worked across the aisle to build a bipartisan coalition around my bill to overhaul state government and increase accountability. Today, South Carolinians have results.
“The conference report passed today requires the legislature to hold regular oversight hearings of state agencies to stop the major failures and cover-ups we’ve seen at the Department of Revenue after the hacking, at DHEC after the tuberculosis outbreak at a public school, and at DSS with the alarming rise of child deaths. This overhaul streamlines day-to-day management in the administration to help reduce costs and, most importantly, stops agencies from running up deficits and then asking taxpayers to pick up the bill.
“South Carolinians have had to wait long enough for the accountability they deserve from Governor Haley and her administration. I urge the Governor to sign my bill immediately.”
###

He’s blowing his own horn here, but he deserves to do so. This was his idea, and he’s worked hard to advance it for years.

That bit at the end about the governor, however, was unnecessary and will look pretty silly when she signs it and celebrates it as her own — and more people will hear her than will understand that this was Sheheen’s reform.

Politics is unfair that way.