Category Archives: Nikki Haley

First, Vincent, you need a huge SC flag


Normally, I don’t go in for the big stage props in politics. I still recall the time, in a barn at the agricultural experiment station outside Jackson, TN, in the late ’70s (or was it early ’80s?), when some national political figure stood to make a speech in front of two symmetrically-stacked ziggurats of hay and a tractor. I also remember how hot it was, and how the runnels of sweat rolled off the beautiful young network camerawoman standing on a platform just above me, her thin garments saturated and clinging to her…

But that’s beside the point. The point is that I don’t usually go in for the big, fakey stage props in politics. I thought the hay and the tractor were kinda cheesy. It was the first of many experiences I would have with such cheesiness.

That said, Vincent Sheheen has little choice now. He must find a really, really big South Carolina state flag and launch his campaign standing in front of it. The opening handed him by his opponent is just too inviting.

With her announcement yesterday, Nikki Haley made it clear that if you thought she was running a cookie-cutter, national, ideological campaign with no bearing upon South Carolina at all back in 2010, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

First, she stands in front of a U.S. flag that must have been bought second-hand from the people who filmed “Patton.” (The State said it was “tennis court-sized.” I think maybe they were playing doubles.) Then, she stood not with South Carolinians, not with people who have anything at all to say about South Carolina or who care a fig about South Carolina, but with Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin (which the New York Daily News calls her “blue-shirted band of merry men.”)

Oh, wait, Tim Scott was there — you know, the guy she elevated to the Senate, and who therefore owes her big-time.

The other governors were there to back her up as she said things such as this:

“When it came to Obamacare, we didn’t just say ‘no.’ We said ‘never.’ We are not expanding Medicaid just because President Obama thinks we should.”

Because, you know, that’s what it’s all about — fighting the big, national ideological fight. By the way, to fully understand that second sentence, you put a comma after Medicaid. Because the reason she’s saying “no” to expanding Medicaid is, of course, “just because President Obama thinks we should.”

Maybe the governor should talk with her former employers over at Lexington Medical Center about the jobs that will be lost there because of her standing in the way of Medicaid expansion. Not to mention the impact on South Carolinians’ health. But she’s not going to do that, and not only because she didn’t leave her old job under the best of terms. She’s not going to do that because she doesn’t care about the impact on South Carolina. It’s all about the national, ideological fight.

Which is something that Vincent Sheheen should seize on as a way to contrast himself to the current governor. He’s done that already, of course. He just needs to drive the point home a bit more firmly.

The big SC flag would be a good start. Not necessarily tennis court-sized. Just big enough to make the point — tastefully, which would be a nice change in and of itself.


Democrats react to Haley announcement with both barrels

Locally, and nationally, Democrats rushed to heap scorn upon Gov. Nikki Haley as she announced her re-election campaign today. From the Vincent Sheheen campaign:

Dear Brad, Today in Greenville Nikki Haley will take the stage with governors from three other states as she officially announces her re-election campaign.  She’s bringing in people from outside of South Carolina because it’s hard to find three people who actually live and work in the Palmetto State who think she deserves a second term.

But those three governors are bringing with them thousands of dollars from out-of-state interests for Haley’s campaign….

And from the Democratic National Committee:

Later today, Governors Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry will descend on South Carolina in an effort to boost the reelection chances of their embattled colleague, Governor Nikki Haley. In the wake of their 2012 electoral losses, Republicans have looked to their Governors for leadership, calling them in their Autopsy Report “America’s reformers in chief” and claiming they “point the way forward” for the party. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When you look at the records of Haley, Jindal, Walker and Perry you can see that not only are these Republican Governors failing to “point the way forward,” they’re taking their states backward, pursuing the same far-right policies that cost Republicans the White House in 2012.

Gov. Haley’s policies have failed hardworking families over and over; during her tenure as Governor, South Carolina is one of the hardest states in the country to earn a living in, is one of the hardest places in the country to live the American dream of economic mobility, and has an unemployment rate higher than 36 other states.

And the colleagues that Haley is bringing in on her behalf are doing no better for their states. Bobby Jindal is currently the least popular Republican Governor in the country. Under Scott Walker, job growth in Wisconsin has lagged behind the nation. And over Rick Perry’s three terms as Governor the unemployment rate has gone up….

Something I wondered about was her decision to launch in the Upstate — rather than, say, in her home county of Lexington. Maybe she felt the need to go someplace where a) people don’t know her as well, and b) they’ll vote for a Republican no matter who it is.

Haley’s reckless CON madness gets madder by the minute

When we last looked at the matter, Nikki Haley had vetoed funding for the certificate of need process that state law requires before new health facilities can be built and operate — leaving DHEC with an unfunded mandate, and SC hospitals in limbo on major plans.

Her action exhibited a blithe destructiveness across a wide spectrum, from public health policy through economic development.

And the stupid House failed to override her.

Today, it all got crazier:

S.C. hospitals, nursing homes and physicians can go ahead with plans for expansion or adding services without state approval after a program was not funded next year.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will suspend the Certificate of Need program on Monday, agency director Catherine Templeton said in a letter.

The state House upheld a veto by Gov. Nikki Haley over $1.7 million in funding for the program this week.

“DHEC has no independent authority to expend state funds for Certificate of Need, and therefore, the veto completely suspends the program for the upcoming fiscal year,” Templeton said.

The agency will not take action against any work done while the program is suspended unless told to do so by the General Assembly, Templeton said…

Wow. So… hospitals are just supposed to go ahead with multi-million-dollar projects without going through the approval process that the law still requires, funding or no funding, and not worry about any future legal ramifications? Really?

Then this afternoon, this release came out:

Chairman Brian White and Representative Murrell Smith of the House Ways and Means Committee Issue a Statement Regarding  Governor Haley’s Certificate of Need (CON) Veto



(Columbia, SC) – On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the South Carolina House of Representatives sustained Governor Haley’s budget veto number twenty by a vote of 56-65.  The effect of this veto reduced general fund support for the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Certificate of Need (CON) Program by over $1.4 million.


“The House of Representatives did not intend to eliminate the CON Program or its statutory requirements.  In fact, the House believes there are a number of ways for the CON Program to retain its function and purpose. The Governor has the sole power to appoint DHEC’s governing board and is ultimately charged with enforcing the CON law. If the Governor and the agency director wish to unilaterally discontinue the program, as they have indicated, then that is a decision that lies exclusively within the executive branch and one which may be contrary to law but is certainly contrary to the will and intent of the House of Representatives.”



# # #

OK, that release is really badly worded, especially that last sentence. But what the lawmakers appear to be saying is that even though they went along with cutting the funding, they had NOT meant for DHEC to ignore the law — they had meant for it to find the money somewhere to continue the program. Which, of course, was grossly irresponsible on the part of lawmakers — they should have overridden. One of the least defensible dodges of irresponsible legislators is the old “Oh, find the money somewhere” gag. When, you know, they’re the ones who decide what gets funded and what doesn’t.

This is some bad craziness, people. I would think that Ms. Templeton were doing this outrageous thing as a protest of the governor’s irresponsibility, if she weren’t like, you know, the gov’s protege.

The only thing I can think of to fix this problem is the same thing that Joel Lourie is suggesting — that the General Assembly should go back into session to fix the problem and appropriate the funding for the program.

It’s a lot of trouble to go to, but this is a serious matter. One knowledgeable observer (which means, “someone who understands the world a lot better than our governor does”) said to me today, “I suspect there’s going to be a very interesting lawsuit here.”

Hey, more than just one. I can see hospitals suing each other, subcontractors suing contractors when work is started then halted, just a free-for-all.

This is amazing.

Haley still fighting the Lexington County battles of yesteryear — while hurting the Lexington of today

I found it interesting that Nikki Haley, whose former employment by Lexington Medical Center raised ethical questions from many, once again vetoed funding for the operation of the Certificate of Need program.

If you’ll recall, several years back, when Lexington Medical was fighting to get a certificate to do open-heart surgery, the CON process was the bête noire of Lexington County politicians. The state bureaucrats had let Palmetto Health start an open-heart program, so why were they picking on Lexington County?

That issue is now behind them, after a deal struck by Providence and Lexington that allowed Lexington one of the Catholic hospital’s certificates. So folks in her old district by no means benefit from her defunding the program.

In fact, they wouldn’t have back in the day, I suppose — since this action doesn’t obviate the legal requirement for a CON; it just prevents the state from having the means to process one.

And today, this veto — unfortunately sustained by the House — positively harms her former employer, since Lexington is awaiting a CON for a $7.9 million expansion of its radiation-treatment facility.

So no one can accuse the governor from playing hometown favorites with this veto. No, her sin in this case looks to be mere blind, foolish, destructive ideology.

Ethics, schmethics — what on Earth is really going on?

First, the good news is that maybe, just maybe, ethics reform did NOT die in the SC Senate yesterday.

And, on the whole, that’s a good thing. Because while the bill is far from perfect, it’s better than no ethics reform at all.

Vincent Sheheen and Wes Hayes made the bipartisan case for ethics reform in an op-ed today. It was more in the vein of why we need reform, period, than why we need this particular bill. For more of a breakdown on the good and bad qualities of both the House and Senate bills, see this piece by Cindi Scoppe from Sunday before last. After discussing inadequacies in the Senate bill, it concluded:

The good news is that there’s still a chance to add the missing provisions to the bill and shore up the shortcomings, and at least give us a fighting chance of a strong bill coming out of the final conference committee. But there’s a lot of work to be done. And the clock is ticking.

Oh, if only senators were as conscientious as Cindi, and I, and most sensible people, would like them to be.

Rather than worrying about whether the ethics bill had everything in it that it should have, half of the Senate (which is all it took) engaged yesterday in a bipartisan effort to kill such legislation altogether.

I had a terrible time figuring out why they were doing this, from the story in the paper this morning. This was not the reporter’s fault. The problem was that the senators had no reasons that made sense.

The Republicans of the Tea Party wing who voted against putting the bill on special order had a stated reason. But it was just “reason” as motive, not “reason” as logic. It was, in fact, completely batty. They said they didn’t want to spend the time on ethics reform because they wanted to spend it on their 1830s-style bill to nullify Obamacare. Really.

A big reason the bill WAS put on special order today, reversing yesterday’s vote, was because the more sensible Republicans agreed to go along with the demand that the nullification bill be considered, too. Again, really.

But at least there was a certain clarity to the Republicans’ lunacy. Here are the stated Democratic “reasons”:

State Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, said there is no urgency in passing the bill, adding its passage by the GOP-controlled House, only four weeks ago, left the Senate with too little time to consider ethics reform.

State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said Democrats still have concerns about the proposal that need to be worked out, including the composition of the committee that would oversee ethics complaints against lawmakers. Hutto held up getting to the ethics bill Wednesday by debating a bill that would direct money left over from the state’s budget year that ends June 30 to different projects.

Hutto criticized Haley and other lawmakers for saying that protecting taxpayers against the theft of their personal information — such as the hacking incident that happened last year at the state Department of Revenue — was a top priority when little, he said, has been done to address the problem…

Also, they don’t like the way Nikki Haley spells her name. And they don’t like to put bills on special order on days of the week that start with “W.” OK, I made those last two up, but they make about as much sense, in terms of relevance.

This caused me to dream up reasons. I thought that maybe this was some of the Democrats’ way of hurting Nikki Haley and helping Vincent Sheheen, whether he wants such help or not. (Sheheen was one of the four Democrats voting for special order yesterday.) The idea being to block Nikki Haley’s bid to get credit for ethics reform (in spite of, or perhaps because of, being a poster child for why we need ethics reform), while Vincent’s out there voting for it and writing op-eds in favor of it.

But that theory is a little over-elaborate. It requires voters to blame Nikki for something Democrats did. And even if that worked, they’d have to kill the bill next year, too.

I’m afraid the more likely explanation is simply that these guys are opposed to ethics reform. That’s the Occam’s razor version, and probably the right one.

Anyway, today’s action offers reform a chance this year. We’ll see.

Nikki Haley could have saved herself (much of) this grief

The SC Democratic Party sent out this release a few minutes ago:

Nikki Haley’s Terrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Week

After three days of condemnation, Haley finally drops white supremacist co-chair


It’s been a rough week for Governor Nikki Haley and her reelection campaign. But that’s what happens when you appoint, and then spend three days defending, a white supremacist co-chair to your campaign. Let’s recap:


One week ago, reports first surfaced that Nikki Haley had appointed a leader of a white nationalist group as a co-chair of her reelection campaign.


Southern Poverty Law Center: SC Governor Names White Nationalist to Reelection Committee. “Garcia-Quintana is a lifetime member and current board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which is listed as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The CCC is the linear descendant of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South, and has evolved into a crudely racist organization.” [SPLC, 5/22/13]


Two days later, amid calls for her to dismiss the white supremacist co-chair, Governor Haley and her team stood by him even as he doubled-down on his divisive rhetoric.


Haley rebuffs Dem demands that she dismiss controversial advisor. “Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election campaign has no plans to remove a controversial volunteer who S.C. Democrats and others say has ties to white supremacist groups…. ‘Is it racist to be proud of your own heritage? Is it racist to want to keep your own heritage pure?’ Garcia-Quintana said.” [The State, 5/24/13]


Nikki Haley: No Plans to Remove Controversial Volunteer. “Over the past week, several media outlets have reported that one of the volunteers for Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election has been active in groups linked to right-wing extremism. On Friday, Haley’s political director Tim Pearson told Patch Haley has no plans to ask the volunteer, Roan Garcia-Quintana, to step down from the team of 170-plus volunteers.” [Patch, 5/24/13]


Over the weekend, Haley’s team launched political attacks and pointed the finger at others, while still defending their appointment.


Garcia-Quintana said he had “no plans to step aside and has not been asked to.” “Garcia-Quintana, a Mauldin resident, said he has no plans to step aside and has not been asked to. Even if he were, he said he would still volunteer on behalf of Haley. Earlier this week, Garcia-Quintana was linked to an organization that advocates for purification of races. He did not back off those views when he spoke to Patch on Saturday.” [Patch, 5/25/13]


Finally, on Sunday night before Memorial Day, Haley’s campaign finally asked Mr. Garcia-Quintana to resign, claiming ignorance on his beliefs (which they had just spent three days excusing).


Volunteer exits Haley campaign group after accusations of racism. “Haley’s campaign had been criticized by civil-rights groups and Democrats for the role played by Garcia-Quintana, who they said has ties to a white nationalist group. The campaign initially stood by Garcia-Quintana. But Sunday the campaign said it requested his resignation, which was offered and accepted, because it was “previously unaware” of some of Garcia-Quintana’s comments.” [The State, 5/26/13]


Post & Courier: “Flip-flop much?” “Pearson’s about-face was classic. On Friday, he said: ‘There’s nothing racial about this Cuban-American’s participation in the political process, nor his support for the first Indian-American governor and the first African-American U.S. senator in South Carolina history.’ Two days later, he said: ‘There is no place for racially divisive rhetoric in the politics or governance of South Carolina. While we appreciate the support Roan has provided, we were previously unaware of some of the statements he had made, statements which do not well represent the views of the governor.’ Flip-flop much?” [Post and Courier,5/29/13]


Now, editorial boards and columnists around the state are weighing in and asking the same question as South Carolinians: why did Governor Haley and her team spend three days defending a white supremacist and refusing to disavow his beliefs?


Post & Courier: Haley’s call right, but was reason? “Hold the hypocrisy. The cynical view here is that Haley used the holiday weekend to distance herself some from unnecessary controversy. Self-preservation is nothing new from the governor’s office. But maybe Haley actually didn’t want to associate with a guy who holds intolerant views, which would bode well for her political maturity. Or maybe she just realized it would have looked hypocritical to get indignant about Jake Knotts’ ‘raghead’ comment and then ignore this.” [Post and Courier, 5/29/13]


Rock Hill Herald: Haley dumps volunteer. “Gov. Nikki Haley did the right thing in dismissing one of the co-chairs of her grass-roots political organization because of his ties to a white nationalist group. The only surprise is that it took her three days to do so.” [Rock Hill Herald, 5/28/13]


It really has been a terrible, no-good, very-bad week for Nikki Haley.


But sadly for South Carolinians who continue to struggle with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, some of the worst public schools in the nation, and roads and bridges on the verge of crumbling, Governor Haley’s failure to lead is no surprise.

What I liked about it best was the headline that SCDP Communications Director Kristin Sosanie put on it: “Nikki Haley’s Terrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Week.”

Somehow, evoking children’s literature seems apropos, given the intellectual level on which we conduct politics in SC.

Other than that, the release is garden-variety, partisan, kick-’em-while-they’re-down stuff.

The governor could have saved herself some of this grief had she just not played the usual game. Her team treated complaints about this “Confederate Cuban” in a manner consistent with the standard playbook that SC Democrats and Republicans take off the national shelf: If the other side criticizes you, dismiss it, and criticize the other side for criticizing you — because that’s just the way those awful people on the other side are…

A small amount of due diligence — an hour or two spent looking into this guy before saying anything, then going ahead and getting rid of him on the first day, explaining that you just hadn’t known — would have left her looking better. It also would have been extraordinary, given, as I said, the level on which we conduct our politics in South Carolina.

She could have had a “Terrible, No-Good, Very-Bad” afternoon, rather than “Terrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Week” week. Or weekend, anyway…

Sheheen releases tax returns, urges Haley to do likewise

Again, Vincent Sheheen is challenging Ms. Transparency to live up to the reputation that she seems to want to have:

Sheheen releases tax returns, calls for transparency from all SC leaders
Senator calls for leaders to “walk the walk” on transparency and ethics reform
Camden, SC – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen released his 2011 and 2012 tax returns. These returns join the ten years of tax returns that Sen. Sheheen released during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, and statements of income disclosure from his time in the Senate that have all been disclosed previously. Sen. Sheheen has led bipartisan efforts to include full income disclosure in ethics reform in the state legislature as part of his career-long fight to restructure and reform the inefficient and corrupt government in South Carolina.
“Without ethical leaders, we won’t have ethical government. I have chosen to release 12 years of tax returns because it’s not enough to say one thing and do another on ethics and leadership. We have to walk the walk,” said Sen. Sheheen. “I call on other leaders in our state to release their returns as well. Governor Haley especially should release her most recent tax returns, as well as the ten years prior that she refused to disclose during the last campaign. South Carolinians deserve full disclosure and transparency, not just more political rhetoric absent results.”
Sheheen for South Carolina will make copies of Sen. Sheheen’s 2011 and 2012 tax returns available to the media for review at 915 Lady Street in Columbia from Tuesday, May 28th at 1:00pm through Friday, May 31st at 6:00pm. Please contact to set up a time.

I just had one question for the Sheheen campaign, though — why not just put it all online, or otherwise make the returns available electronically? As a PDF, or whatever. Seems like that would make the point more… pointedly.

Anyway, The State has gone ahead and looked at them, and reported:

COLUMBIA — S.C. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen made $535,000 in 2011 and 2012, according to federal and state income tax filings released Tuesday.

Sheheen, a state senator from Kershaw County, earned almost all of his income from his Camden law practice.

He paid $131,360 in taxes and donated $21,580 to charity over the past two tax years.

The 42-year-old father of three made $310,273 in 2011 with an taxable income of $282,258. He earned $224,920 last year with a taxable income of $198,218…

The State‘s Andy Shain also reports:

Gov. Nikki Haley will release her returns for 2012 next week, her office said…

Lourie, Rutherford ask Haley to ditch alleged white supremacist

This came in today:

Columbia, SC – Today Senator Joel Lourie and House Democratic Leader Rep. Todd Rutherford called on Governor Haley today to immediately remove and condemn Roan Garcia Quintana, a white supremacist, from her campaign committee. The letter below was sent to Governor Haley via email earlier this afternoon.


Dear Governor Haley,

South Carolina is a place that has faced serious challenges and come together in the past to create a stronger society. But when our leaders embrace those who use the most hurtful and divisive rhetoric, it takes us ten steps backwards and unnecessarily divides the state.



This week, the public has become aware of the statements, affiliations and belief in white nationalism that one of your top supporters has engaged in throughout his life. You chose Mr. Roan Garcia Quintana as one of your top supporters and placed him on your reelection grassroots steering committee – which is extremely concerning for all who want South Carolina to attract businesses, grow and move forward.

Mr. Quintana is currently the executive director of the anti-immigration organization Americans Have Had Enough. More disturbingly, he has been identified in numerous reports as a current board member and former director of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have labeled as a hate group.

Additionally, as we are sure you are aware Governor, in 1999 CCC distributed mock advertisements encouraging people to visit our state because, “South Carolina Now Has Whiter Beaches.” The CCC’s newsletter, Citizens Informer has also been used to advocate against “race-mixing,” the superiority of the white race, and the dangers of immigration to America.

This type of leadership is the opposite of what South Carolina needs. We urge you to strongly rebuke his statements and explain why you thought it appropriate to align yourself with him and his extreme beliefs.

South Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and this kind of divisive outlook will only deter businesses and start ups from coming to our state.

South Carolina is losing the majority of our educated young people to other states in the region, and this kind of backwards thinking will only drive them and their talent further away.

We have a lot of work to do in South Carolina and we cannot move forward if you continue to support the hateful, divisive rhetoric and work of people like Mr. Quintana.

The people and businesses of South Carolina deserve an explanation for why this individual was placed on your grassroots steering committee. We strongly request that you remove this individual from the position of leadership you have bestowed upon him, renounce and condemn his views and the views of the organizations he associates with, and apologize for elevating him to a position of note within your re-election campaign.

The people of South Carolina look forward to your response.


Rep. Todd Rutherford

Sen. Joel Lourie


Here’s some background on what they’re talking about:

One of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R) picks for her reelection committee in February has now been accused of being a white supremacist, Raw Story reported Wednesday.

Haley, who is actively preparing for her2014 reelection campaign, named tea party activist Roan Garcia-Quintana as one of the 164 co-chairs of her campaign’s steering committee in February.

According to a report titled “SC Governor Names White Nationalist To Reelection Committee” and published on Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Garcia-Quintana serves on the board of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is listed by the SPLC as a white nationalist hate group. The group is, according to the SPLC, a linear descendant of White Citizens Councils, which was founded in the 1950s to combat school desegregation….

Dueling videos, opening shots in 2014 campaign

James Smith’s comments about Nikki Haley and “corruption” should also be taken within the context of the above ad from the Democratic Governor’s Association.

Meanwhile, with the video below, Haley supporters show that they want to run against Barack Obama again. But at least this ad mentions Sheheen, which is something.

How do the ads strike me? As I indicated earlier, I’m a little leery of the word “corruption.” Yeah, Nikki Haley has a serious transparency problem, she’s not very good at paying her taxes on time, and that $40k she got from Wilbur Smith when she was in the House raises a questions that have not yet been answered. But “corruption” is a word I tend to use for something more overt, more red-handed. Early in my career, back in Tennessee, I saw out-and-out corruption — Gov. Ray Blanton selling pardons. He went to prison for it. Maybe that made me overly fussy. The things the DGA are citing here are real problems, and they provide us with plenty of reason not to vote for Nikki Haley; I’m just quibbling over the word.

The Sheheen/Obamacare ad is just disgraceful. But then, so is the governor’s position of refusing to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, so I see it entirely in that context. For me, her position is indefensible, so the ad is as well. Then there’s that additional ugliness of playing to the fact that “Obama” is the boogeyman to so many white voters in South Carolina. “Obamacare” is used as an incantation, with the operative ingredient being “Obama,” not the “care.” The issue is secondary to the fact that that awful Obama person is associated with it.

James Smith gets way harsh on Nikki Haley

From Rep. James Smith’s Facebook page:

If SC had seen genuine ethics reform previously and had an ethics committee with any teeth, Nikki Haley would likely have been forced out of the House and never would have made it to the Governor’s office. Her actions and the culture of corruption continue to bring shame on SC and the people of our state deserve better.

Coming from such a nice, easygoing, mild-talking guy as James Smith, that is way harsh. Especially that last sentence.

That’s the kind of stuff his neighbor Mia McLeod would say. We can see this, I suppose, as a heating-up of rhetoric as James’ friend Vincent Sheheen prepares to take on the governor. But I think it’s also a measure of the degree to which James, mild-mannered as he is, is fed up.

Anyway, for context, here’s this morning’s story in The State about the ethics bill.

Sheheen decries decriminalization of ethics violations

Got this release a few minutes ago from Vincent Sheheen:

Sheheen on Ethics Reform: GOP efforts & Governor’s back-seat approach the “good-old-boys-and-girls network at its worst”

Columbia – Today, state Representatives Beth Bernstein and James Smith stood up to call for real ethics reform and urged Governor Haley for leadership instead of hiding behind yet another bureaucratic commission while her followers do the dirty work of decriminalizing some of the most common ethics violations – many of which she was accused of herself. State Senator Vincent Sheheen released this statement:

“I thank Representatives Bernstein and Smith for joining me in the revolt against the status quo and the efforts to move South Carolina forward by returning common sense and ethics to our leadership. The Republican effort at ‘ethics reform’ is the good-old-boys–and-girls network in politics at its worst. We need real leadership to clean up the government, not just a study or report while members of the Governor’s own party decrease the punishment on ethics violations that she has been charged with.

“For too long, South Carolina has struggled to meet its potential under the guidance of leaders who get detoured by putting their self-interest before the interests of the people.  We need to change the way we do business and leave the politics of ideology and personal ambition behind to get the state back on track.”


I just wish he wouldn’t use that overworked “good ol’ boys” construction. That got tired back when Carroll Campbell was using it. I don’t think anybody really knows what it means, aside from having a rough impression that it’s bad.

Here’s a column I wrote musing about the phrase years ago…

And here’s a column Cindi Scoppe wrote on this “ethics” legislation. An excerpt:

After failing for more than half the session even to introduce their proposal on legislators’ top to-do item, House leaders rolled out a place-holder bill on April 11 that contained nothing but the bill title. They scheduled a subcommittee meeting for the next legislative day, last Tuesday, where House Republican Leader Bruce Bannister, who chairs the Constitutional Law Subcommittee, handed members of his panel a summary and a 100-page amendment that would become the bill.

Panel members discussed the items on the summary — decriminalization was not on the list — made some changes and approved the bill before they had a chance to read it. (It took me nearly three hours to do what I consider a cursory reading.) The process repeated the next day in the full Judiciary Committee, whose members also made changes without having time to read the bill. The text of the bill wasn’t posted online until Thursday evening, seven hours after the committee formally reported it to the House.

Although it’s common for the amended version of a bill not to be available until the next step in the process, I can’t recall a bill ever making it to full committee, much less the full House, before some version was available.

The process was so confusing that Rep. James Smith, a Democrat who serves on the subcommittee, told me Thursday morning that the bill increased penalties for the worst ethics violations. The next day, he called to say he was outraged to discover he was wrong — and to promise to lead a fight to restore them. GOP Rep. Rick Quinn, who also serves on the subcommittee, emailed me an amendment he planned to offer that would do what both men had thought the bill did — increase the current criminal penalties…

Yeah, I had spoken with James, last Tuesday night I think it was, when he was fresh from the meeting alluded to above, and he thought it was a good bill. It’s a good thing that he recognized his mistake…

Haley poll results: Up or down? No, statistically the same…

First, I saw this release from the state Democratic Party:

Columbia – Today, Winthrop University released its latest public polling data showing that once again, the majority of South Carolinians do not approve of the job Governor Nikki Haley is doing. The Governor made meager gains from within her Republican base but continues to turn off moderates in South Carolina with her politics before people approach that is standing in the way of creating 44,000 jobs by expanding health care, and is costing South Carolina’s taxpayers millions of dollars as a result of the corruption and dysfunction in the state government. The poll also contained bad news for the governor who got elected on a Tea Party wave and consistently chooses to put Tea-Party politics ahead of sound policy – the approval rating for the Tea Party continues to wan with only a quarter of respondents approving of the Governor’s Tea Party movement.

Then, I went back and looked at the news story, which said the opposite:


COLUMBIA — A pair of major 2014 candidates in South Carolina watched opinions about them go in different directions in a new poll released Wednesday.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s job approval is rising among voters — especially those in her Republican party, while U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham saw his support within the GOP falter over the past two months, according to a new Winthrop University poll…

So was she down or up? Well, while both reports were technically true, the reality is that statistically speaking, the level of support for Haley is the same as it’s been. The reported shift is within the margin of error:

Haley’s approval rating among South Carolinians rose to 43.5 percent, up a percentage point from two months ago.

The first-term Republican scores 45 percent among registered voters — also up a percentage point and the fourth straight gain in the past year of Winthrop polls.

More than one in three does not like the governor’s performance in office.

But Haley’s popularity among Republicans rose two percentage points to 69 percent since February — a high in two years of Winthrop polls…

The poll’s margin of error among registered voters was 3.5 percent.

Also… while Haley was “up” and Graham was “down,” Graham is still doing better than the governor is among all voters — although again, the difference between them is less than the margin of error:

His approval among registered voters dropped four percentage points to 44 percent in the past two months and slid among all South Carolinians two percentage points to 45 percent…

The most significant change for Graham was among Republicans, dropping “57.5 percent from 71.6 percent in February.”

Oh, by the way, though — if you think Graham’s numbers are bad, Tim Scott has a 38-percent approval rating among all voters, and 54 percent among Republicans.

So, let’s try to keep everything in perspective.

I heartily disagree with Mia on food stamps and junk food

Here’s the latest from Mia McLeod:

 Dear Governor,

Seriously? Can you just “SNAP” and in an instant, delete certain foods from some South Carolinians’ grocery lists?

Sure, obesity is a genuine, significant health concern for too many people in this state. But that’s not why you’ve made a recent “SNAP” decision. You know it. We know it. And soon, citizens across this state will know it too.
Contrary to South Carolina’s definition, “SNAP” doesn’t mean “Simply Nonchalant About the Poor.” It’s actually a federal program, fully funded by the USDA. Now, isn’t it ironic that our state’s most notorious critics of “BIG” government, are arrogantly hypocritical enough to assume the despicable role of “BIG Brother” when it’s politically expedient?Mia leopard jacket

As asinine as this latest stunt is, it’s even more offensive. Targeting a segment of the population in furtherance of your own political agenda is one thing. Refusing to allow federally-funded healthcare for hard-working South Carolinians while in the same breath, expressing concern about obesity and its impact on their health and well-being, is another.

You don’t want the federal government telling us whether to accept or how to spend our federal tax dollars when a state match or financial investment is required. But yet, you wanna dictate which foods we can buy with SNAP, a fully-funded federal program that doesn’t even require state funds?

The list of qualifying items that can be purchased with SNAP is very straight-forward. As with any program, there’s always room for improvement. But last time we checked, you were able to make nutritional decisions for your family without our intrusion or input. We’re just wondering why you think we need yours.

And since your cronies are traveling the state at our expense, trying to convince us that this is about obesity prevention, perhaps we’ll remember your “heartfelt” concern on our next nonemergency trip to the ER…if we can even find and get to a hospital that’s still open and accessible.

With all due respect, Governor, when it comes to obesity, it’s not the foods that we’re able to buy on SNAP that are making us fat. Perhaps it’s your empty rhetoric that’s making us sick.

If you really cared about this state’s obesity rates or us, you’d do what is well within your purview and power to ensure that we have access to quality, affordable health care, just like you do.

You’d realize that some of us would love to eat the same fresh and organic foods that your family enjoys, but because of “food deserts” across this state, many of us are without the means or access. If you’re genuinely concerned about addressing obesity, you could start by addressing that.

If only we could “SNAP” back from the regressive, debilitating tactics of centuries past, we’d all feel much better. So while South Carolina continues to reek of ignorance, intolerance and insanity, many of our best and brightest continue to leave this state in search of parity, inclusion and meaningful opportunities.

But unlike obesity and other chronic conditions, many never return. Neighboring states too often become the benefactors of our most creative minds and talented contributors. And we’re left with a weaker South Carolina.

So as you continue to cater to your political base by serving folks like us up on a party platter, the only thing that seems to be getting fatter is your reelection campaign account.

At some point, obesity may no longer be an issue for South Carolina. Under your “leadership,” our state is gradually becoming so malnourished on so many levels, it may not be strong enough to “SNAP” out of it.

But you still can, Governor, before it’s too late.

p.s. – South Carolina’s forgotten citizens (a.k.a. – your “other” constituents) may not be members of the Tea Party. But in number, we’re “the real majority.”

She really doesn’t like the idea, does she?

Well, I do. Still. So I guess I’m playing the “despicable role of Big Brother.”

Yes, there are reasons to be concerned about people who live in “food deserts.” I don’t dismiss that, and I can’t say for certain that the stores that now sell junk food in those communities would shift and sell healthier stuff if that’s all their poor patrons could buy. I think that might happen, but I don’t have the full faith in markets that some do.

So that should be thoroughly studied and taken into account before a final decision is made. But I most certainly do not agree with those who have a philosophical, rather than practical, objection to insisting that tax money not be used to buy foods that ruin the health of the poor.

The populists will call this patriarchal, but we are indeed in a position for taking responsibility for people when we undertake to feed them. We are culpable for providing people with the means of poisoning themselves when we could adopt a policy that prevents it.

When we discussed this previously, my old friend and respected colleague Burl Burlingame noted, “when the government wants to experiment, they do so first on the poor.” That may seem a particularly devastating argument against this change. But I submit that we have been running the experiment for half a century now, and the results are in: Paying for junk food kills poor people. It’s time we stop it, and do what we practically can to have a positive, rather than an actively negative, effect on people’s health.

I particularly liked this Sheheen quote about Haley, Sanford

I thought this was good in The State‘s story about Vincent Sheheen running against Nikki Haley again. It quotes him as saying:

“The current administration and previous distraction have presented the same ideas and done the same things. It’s not just (about) Republican control, it’s this ideology of self-promotion and extremism that both Sanford and Haley have brought to the table that has occupied South Carolina’s government for 12 years.”

How very true. What he’s doing there is tapping into what so many Republicans (that is to say, the ones who’ve dealt with them) don’t much like about Nikki or Mark Sanford, either. They didn’t like that everything Mark Sanford did (from “look at me” stunts like bringing the pigs into the State House to his appearing on national FoxNews 46 times while fighting against stimulus funding) was about Mark Sanford, not about South Carolina or its Republican Party. If anything, Nikki Haley has taken that me-me-me approach to new depths.

So that was a highly relevant thing to take note of. I also like the reference to the Sanford administration as the “previous distraction.” It has the same tone of genteel disdain that I hear when South Carolinians speak of the 1860-65 conflict as “the recent unpleasantness.”

I hope to see more such perspicacity from young Mr. Sheheen this time around…

Cindi Scoppe’s righteous rant this morning

Cindi had a column this morning on the new post of cybersecurity chief that the Legislature is adding to the state payroll (maybe the title could be, “Officer in Charge of Closing the Barn Door after the Horses have Run Off”) — or rather, on the outrageous fact that they want this person to be immune from firing by the governor.

As she correctly points out, we have too many state employees like that already — people who don’t really “work for” anyone, since no one can fire them.

There is zero reason to make this particular person independent — unlike, say, the attorney general or the inspector general. Arguments can be made for those. Not for this new post.

Cindi and I have been fighting the Legislature’s aversion to accountability for a lot of years now. So she can be forgiven for winding up into a bit of a rant at the end:

Frankly, I’m willing to trust that politics will keep the governor in line on this one. It’s tough enough for a governor to have to explain that 6.4 million individuals’ and businesses’ Social Security numbers and bank records were hacked because her agency director either didn’t know about or ignored concerns from his own IT people. She certainly doesn’t want to have to explain that we had another breach because she fired the state cybersecurity chief, or cowed him into backing off basic protections.

Truth be told, I’d be more concerned that a governor wouldn’t be aggressive enough if a cybersecurity chief gets out of control.

As much as some legislators are fond of saying that no price is too high to secure our personal information, the fact is that there is always, always more that can be done to provide security, be it for our computer networks or our cities or our businesses or our homes. The fact is that some prices are indeed too high, and it’s the job of our Legislature and our governor, or whoever a cybersecurity director reports to, to balance the risk against the cost, in money and in time.

If you’re going to give union-style job protections to the cybersecurity chief, then why not give them to the governor’s lobbyists — since she might not like it if they tell her that legislators don’t like her? Or to the prison director — since she might not like it if he tells her how much it’s going to cost to keep the prisons safe?

In fact, why not just go back to the way we did things when I moved to South Carolina, when the governor couldn’t fire the directors of any state agencies? When those directors reported to part-time board members who, even if the governor could appoint them, couldn’t be fired.

For that matter, if S.C. governors are that untrustworthy, maybe we ought to go back to the old system whereby the Legislature elected the governor. After all, what’s the point of bothering voters with the matter of electing a governor if the governor has no power to carry out the agenda those voters elected her to carry out?

Or maybe, just maybe, we could decide that government officials should be held accountable for their actions. Maybe we could decide that it’s better to trust that a governor won’t abuse her power over powerful officials than it is to risk that those officials will either get too comfortable in their jobs or else let their power go to their heads, and be less aggressive, or more aggressive, than they ought to be, because they don’t have a boss — and they know they’ve got a job for life.

Amen to all that.

Mia McLeod on Medicaid expansion in SC

Speaking of people who sort of seem like they’re running for higher office, here’s the latest missive from Mia McLeod:

Well…ladies & gentlemen, it’s time to “weigh-in.” And unlike her Republican counterparts in New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, New Mexico, North Dakota and Michigan, your Governor is once again “flexing” her Tea Party muscles and refusing to support healthcare coverage for uninsured South Carolinians.Mia_leopard_jacket_1_217670

So what separates her from a growing list of anti-Obama Governors who have recently decided to expand Medicaid in other states? Common sense and compassion, for starters.
And if South Carolina refuses to expand healthcare coverage, here’s a glimpse of the impact on hard-working folks like you:

Higher medical costs – as the uninsured forego preventive care and are forced to seek medical care in the emergency room, hospitals will be forced to shift those costs to insured individuals and employers.
Less independence – as our seniors, veterans and disabled citizens forfeit access to home health and other medical care, it’ll be extremely difficult for them to lead independent lives.
Fewer options – as our state refuses federal funding to the tune of 100% for the first 3 years, neighboring states will gladly accept and use our federal tax dollars to cover their uninsured.
Poor quality of life – as hard-working folks forfeit medical care they need to live longer, healthier lives, our state misses opportunities to be more proactive, productive and economically sound.

But this is South Carolina. Obviously, expanding Medicaid makes sense, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Republican Governors (in other states, of course) are saying…

“No mother or father should despair over whether or not they can afford — or access — the health care their child needs. Quality health care services must be accessible and affordable for all — not just those in certain zip codes or tax brackets,” said outspoken Obamacare critic and Florida Governor, Rick Scott, as he reflected on the death of his mother and her struggle to raise five children with little money, while worrying constantly about having family health coverage.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer also made national headlines when she supported Medicaid expansion, acknowledging that it would lessen the impact of uncompensated care that drives up medical costs to hospitals and taxpayers.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said, “Let me be clear, I’m no fan of the Affordable Care Act…” but it’s “now the law of the land,” acknowledging that rejecting it would mean that New Jersey’s tax dollars will be spent elsewhere.

While Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval was the first Republican governor to officially embrace Medicaid expansion, his decision seemed to be based primarily upon the recognition that it wouldn’t be wise to forego an infusion of federal dollars into his state’s economy.

The same is true for South Carolina. Are you listening, Governor Haley? (Oops! rhetorical question…)

Expanding healthcare coverage to people who can’t otherwise afford it should be a no-brainer. States can opt-in or out at anytime, “risk-free” for the first 3 years. That’s an offer Republican Governors across the nation believe is too good to refuse, because while expanding healthcare coverage is voluntary, picking up the tab for the uninsured, isn’t.

Our Governor has said that SC can’t afford to expand Medicaid. With 100% federal funding for the first 3 years and 90% thereafter, how can we afford not to? It creates over 40,000 jobs, covers over 250,000 uninsured South Carolinians, infuses our state’s economy and improves our quality of life and health.

So while she focuses on restricting foods purchased using federally funded programs like WIC and SNAP (in the name of obesity prevention) or “disease” designations for obesity, here’s an idea…

Let’s expand healthcare coverage so that South Carolinians who struggle with obesity and other medical conditions can get quality, affordable healthcare that focuses on prevention and treatment to help them live longer, healthier, more productive lives.

This isn’t a partisan issue. We all want the strongest military, the best schools, quality, affordable health care, meaningful job opportunities and the ability to live, work and age with dignity. Part of government’s role is to help ensure that every citizen has access to healthcare because a healthier population is a huge, proactive step towards a stronger workforce and business community, improved quality of life and more vibrant economy.

South Carolina is only as strong as its weakest. If our state’s leaders lack the collective compassion and courage to expand healthcare coverage to “the least of these,” the biggest losers won’t just be the uninsured. South Carolinians, insured and uninsured, will pay the ultimate price. Our state will be the biggest loser. But wait…isn’t that what we’ve been since we elected her 3 years ago?

Governor Haley was elected to represent all of us. The sooner she and her party’s leaders “swallow that pill,” the healthier we’ll all be…

From SCDP: A roundup of objections to Haley’s Medicaid stance

There seems to be a new communications director over at the SC Democratic Party – Kristin Sosanie — and she put out a release today that is somewhat more substantive and detailed than the emotional, nyah-nyah stuff we usually get from political parties.

I found it interesting, and relevant, enough to pass on in its entirety:

March 7, 2013


To: Interested Parties

From: Kristin Sosanie, SCDP Communications Director

RE: Governor Haley at odds with rising tide of public opinion on Medicaid expansion


As the debate over Medicaid expansion continues, support for bringing tax dollars back home is echoing around South Carolina and Governor Haley is on the defensive trying desperately to explain her choice to put partisanship ahead of the best interests of the people of the state.



Let’s review: In the past week alone, members of the public, hospital leaders, businesses, state leaders and editorial boards have all spoken out in support of the expansion:


Survey finds majority in SC support Medicaid expansion. “More than half of older adults in the state disagree with Gov. Nikki Haley’s plan to turn down Medicaid expansion, according to a survey by the AARP. The survey found that 54 percent of the respondents support expanding Medicaid to cover low-income adults.” [The State, 03/06/13]


Head of S.C. hospital group says politics blocking Medicaid expansion. “There is a lot of ideology and politics in this debate — it is not just a financial question,” said Thornton Kirby, the state hospital association’s president and chief executive officer. He said South Carolina and other Republican-leaning states “don’t want anything to do” with a federal health-care reform initiative championed by President Barack Obama. [Independent Mail, 03/04/13]


Charleston Chamber to Gov. Haley: accept Medicaid expansion. “There are two options,” said Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the local Chamber. “South Carolina can accept the Medicaid expansion and receive 90 percent of costs from the federal government, or reject the plan and absorb 100 percent of the costs and lose revenue from Washington, D.C.” [The Examiner, 03/07/13]


Editorial: Expanding Medicaid in SC. “The only conceivable reason to reject the expansion of Medicaid would be to make a hollow political statement in opposition to Obamacare. But that is political grandstanding at the cost of losing billions of federal dollars to other states and denying health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured South Carolinians. And that, we think, would be impossible to justify.” [Rock Hill Herald, 03/02/13]


Sheheen: SC lawmakers should put ideology aside, accept Medicaid expansion money. “I call on Gov. (Nikki) Haley and every Democrat and every Republican to heed the example of other states and provide leadership that will mean more tax dollars in South Carolina that belong to South Carolinians,” the Camden Democrat said. [Associated Press, 03/07/13]


Also remember: Governor Haley is out on a ledge as Republican governors around the country (many of whom have been staunch opponents of Obamacare) have put partisanship aside and decided to act in the best interests of the people of their states by opting-in:


Florida Governor Rick Scott: “I Cannot In Good Conscience Deny Floridians That Needed Access To Health Care.” “‘While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost, I cannot in good conscience deny Floridians that needed access to health care,’ Mr. Scott said at a news conference. ‘We will support a three-year expansion of the Medicaid program under the new health care law as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost during that time.’” [New York Times, 2/20/13]


Ohio Governor John Kasich: “Ohio Taxpayer Dollars Are Coming Back To Ohio.” “Kasich has said his proposed Medicaid expansion would save the state $235 million over the next two years, free about $100 million in local funds for mental-health and addiction services, and ‘Ohio taxpayer dollars are coming back to Ohio to support a significant need we have which is the insurance, the health coverage of poor, working Ohioans.’” [Columbus Dispatch, 2/12/13]


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “We Are Putting People First” – Not Expanding Medicaid Would Send Taxpayer Dollars Elsewhere. “‘[R]efusing these federal dollars would not mean that they wouldn’t be spent. It just means that they will be used to expand health-care access in New York, Connecticut, Ohio or somewhere else. … It’s simple. We’re putting people first.’” [NPR, Political Junkie, 3/4/13]


Finally: Governor Haley’s chief points of opposition have been debunked by researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, who found that the economic benefit of bringing taxpayers’ dollars back in-state would create 44,000 jobs in South Carolina.


Medicaid Expansion in South Carolina: The economic impact of the ACA. “By 2020, the total annual economic impact of the increase in federal funding due to the ACA Medicaid expansion on the state of South Carolina will total approximately $3.3 billion in economic output, $1.5 billion in labor income, and support nearly 44,000 new jobs for South Carolinians. Approximately one – third of these jobs (15,000) are projected to occur outside of the health care industry due to the economic multiplier effect.” [USC Moore School of Business Report December 2012, accessed 03/07/13]


So, in the face of such widespread support, two questions remain: How long will Governor Haley continue to make decisions based on ideology? And what will she say to South Carolinians who lose their jobs because of her Tea Party allegiance?

AARP poll: SC grownups favor Medicaid expansion

I say “grownups” because all the respondents were over 45. It was the first word that came to mind. I’ll allow that there may be some grownups out there younger than 45. Anyway, here’s a report from the Charleston paper on the poll:

Most South Carolina adults interviewed for a new poll think the state government should expand Medicaid eligibility to include more low-income residents.

The poll was commissioned by AARP, a group in favor of expanding Medicaid in South Carolina under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A statement about the poll was published Tuesday on AARP’s website, but the full results have not been released.

It found that 54 percent of 800 adults polled in February favor Medicaid expansion and 57 percent disagree with Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to decline federal money to accomplish that. All of the adults included in the survey were 45 and older.

South Carolina has a choice to opt out of the expansion because the state would eventually need to pay for part of it — 10 percent of the costs by 2020. The federal government would fully fund Medicaid expansion for three years and at a minimum of 90 percent after that…

Maybe when Nikki Haley gets to be 45, she’ll develop a more sensible approach to this, too. It’s possible. I don’t know what the excuse of the GOP majority in the Legislature might be.

By the way, AARP is lobbying in 40 states (including SC) for Medicaid expansion. But that should come as no surprise, since AARP has a lot of grownups in it…

Under fire, Gen. Turner quits state employment agency

This broke at about midday today:

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP, WLTX) – The director of South Carolina’s unemployment agency has resigned, effective March 1.GeneralTurner2

Department of Employment and Workforce Director Abraham Turner turned in a hand-written resignation letter to the governor Friday.

In the letter, Turner says he’s resigning for personal reasons. His resignation follows questions from legislators stemming from the agency’s decision to eliminate one-on-one help for people seeking benefits in 17 rural offices statewide…

It first came to my attention because of this emailed comment from state Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland:

“Governor Haley has allowed her agency, SC DEW, to become an absolute embarrassment. In the last two weeks the governor’s agency has made news because of crippling layoffs, massive pay raises, lavish taxpayer funded beach retreats, the closing of seventeen unemployment centers in rural counties, and now the resignation of the Executive Director. Governor Haley must regain control of her agency before it is too late. Millions of South Carolinians depend on this agency to be functional and effective. As it stands today, it is the opposite.”

But not only Democrats have been complaining about how the agency has been run under the retired general. As reports:

The employment agency’s woes have become a subject of almost daily criticism in the Legislature.

State Sen. Ken Bryant, R-Anderson, took to the floor Thursday to blast what he said were outlandish raises — some of more than 50 percent — recently given some agency employees. Bryant also said the agency was claiming victory for lowering jobless benefits improperly paid to $50 million from $90 million.

Other senators joined in a bipartisan display of frustration.

At one point, Bryant and Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, exchanged criticisms of the agency, with Setzler, a moderate Democrat, and Bryant, a Tea Party Republican, both ripping the agency and its leadership, citing recent cuts in its staffing and the raises, the closing of rural offices and an oceanside management retreat…

‘This is why art is important!!!’


Consider this picture a gentle protest against our governor again putting the state Arts Commission in the crosshairs.

Here, of course, is the problem with her repeated efforts to do this agency in: It’s not, near as I can tell (and maybe I’ve just missed the stories explaining this), because she thinks there is a better, more efficient way to accomplish the agency’s mission.

It’s because — and please, I’d love to be shown how I’m off-base on this — she wants to be seen by her base as attacking government-funded arts, period. Which I know some of my readers will applaud. Others will not. (Doug will likely argue that we shouldn’t fund the arts when roads, prisons, etc., go unfunded. I will reply that we can adequately fund all those things and give the arts a boost as well. Just because we haven’t doesn’t mean that we can’t.)

My headline, by the way, was the text that accompanied the above photo, which I saw when my wife shared it on Facebook. For a split-second, I thought it might be one of my granddaughters, because that’s just the sort of thing they would do. But the hair was wrong.

The picture, and the message, seem to have originated with Marymount Manhattan College’s Department of Theatre Arts.