Category Archives: South Carolina

College of Charleston play flap draws national attention

Washpost

At this moment, the centerpiece story at the WashPost site is this one:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — More than 750 people packed into a city auditorium here this week for a sold-out production of “Fun Home,” a musical by a New York-based troupe about a woman coming to terms with her closeted gay father’s suicide. The crowd rose in a standing ovation before the show even began.

The emotional reaction was part of a worsening political battle between South Carolina’s public universities and conservative Republican lawmakers, who argue that campus culture should reflect the socially conservative views of the state.

The state’s House of Representatives recently voted to cut $52,000 in funding for the College of Charleston as punishment for assigning students to read “Fun Home,” the graphic novel that formed the basis for the play. House lawmakers endorsed a similar budget cut for the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg for using a different book with gay themes in its reading program.

Republican lawmakers also helped pave the way for the appointment of a controversial GOP state official as the College of Charleston’s next president, sparking campus protests.

The fights serve as a reminder that rapid national shifts on social issues — particularly gay rights — are hardly universal and remain hotly contested across much of the Deep South. The views of people in South Carolina carry particular weight given the state’s early presidential primary, which gives voters here the power to help shape the GOP ticket every four years….

You had probably heard about most of this. I hadn’t heard about the play angle.

It seems like WashPost regards this as a pretty big deal, on account of our early primary. I hadn’t thought of it that way until now.

Remember how, early in 2012, I worried about the way Kulturkampf issues were being used to divide us in that election? Here we go again, y’all — two years early…

Cockfighting and meth — nothing like a traditional Easter weekend

meth

Glancing at the homepage of thestate.com looking for blog fodder just now, I saw the main focal point of the page was a couple of mugshots with the headline,

Sheriff: Two arrested in record setting meth bust in Kershaw County

Then, immediately below that, I saw:

SC deputies arrest nearly 50 in cockfighting bust

Wow. Not exactly an appealing couple of snapshots of life in the Palmetto State. What is this, the Wild West? Actually, that may not be fair to the Wild West…

OK, tell me again how direct, popular election of POTUS would make candidates more interested in SC

The queue at my polling place, November 2008.

The queue at my polling place, November 2008.

I’m directing my question at Bud and others who believe we should abandon the electoral college and choose the president directly, by popular vote.

I read this piece yesterday in The Slatest that tells of another movement to bring that about, or as Slate says in its headline with its usual sober impartiality and self-restraint, “U.S. Takes Small Step Toward Having System of Electing Its President That Actually Makes Sense:”

The best case for passing the law might be this map from the National Popular Vote group, which shows how many 2012 presidential campaign events were held in each state between the party conventions and the election:

screen_shot_20140416_at_3.25.59_pmNational Popular Vote

You’ll notice that the majority of states never saw Romney or Obama at all, because their electoral votes were already foregone conclusions. And when a president can get elected by basically ignoring the specific needs and interests of most of the states in the country, that is, like, pretty messed up.

So here’s, like, my question: How would this make candidates want to spend more time in SC?

I mean, I get why Democrats would like it personally, because it means that their votes would actually count in the general election for the first time in a generation.

But would candidates actually be much more interested in coming here during those few weeks between the conventions and Election Day? When it’s all about the national total, wouldn’t they concentrate most on the heaviest concentrations of population — the Northeast, California, Florida?

Sure, every vote they got here would matter, would count toward the total, whereas now Democrats know there’s no point in trying to win here, and Republicans take us for granted. So time here wouldn’t be wasted from the candidates’ point of view, but would it really be the best use of their time? And wouldn’t they prefer to spend their extensive, but finite, media dollars in New York and Chicago than Columbia? (Or would they only buy national media? I’m not sure what would be more cost-effective for them.)

Maybe the answer is obvious, and my head’s just so full of antihistamines today that I’m not seeing it. So help me out.

 

Cindi Scoppe’s rather devastating column this morning on Bobby Harrell and the SC House

A few days ago, Kirkman Finlay, who is facing re-election to his House seat, started following me on Twitter.Finlay egg

I immediately saw that he could probably use some help with social media. His avatar is still, as Valentine Michael Smith would say, only an egg.

He could probably also use some help explaining to voters his bill, H.4453, which seems designed to help out Speaker Bobby Harrell by making the illegal things he’s been suspected of doing legal.

That bill suddenly started getting acted upon in the House as it became apparent that Harrell’s attempt to secretly toss Attorney General Alan Wilson off his case was doomed to fail.

But that’s just the beginning. You really need to read Cindi Scoppe’s remarkable column today, which tied together a web of House initiatives that seem reminiscent of the way Silvio Berlusconi’s legislative allies kept legislating him out of trouble, by making the illegal legal.

As I said, H.4453 is only the beginning:

Then, in the most audacious move to date, 85 House members last week filed H.5072, which would empower the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct State Grand Jury investigations into the attorney general and other “constitutional officers.” One of the initial sponsors — Wilson campaign attorney and Democratic Rep. James Smith — said that term also covers legislators, which means it would allow the speaker and president pro tempore to stop any attorney general investigations of legislators.

Of course the bill wouldn’t actually accomplish that because our state constitution names the attorney general as “the chief prosecuting officer of the State with authority to supervise the prosecution of all criminal cases in courts of record.” So the sponsors — led by Kris Crawford, against whom Mr. Wilson’s predecessor, Henry McMaster, brought tax-evasion charges in 2010 — also filed H.5073 to remove that language from the constitution.

If that passed, not only would the speaker and president pro tempore be able to stop any attorney general investigations, or initiate investigations into the attorney general, but the Legislature would be free to strip attorneys general of all power. The House unanimously agreed to bypass the committee process for both measures and place them on the calendar for immediate debate, an extraordinary thing to do for anything other than congratulatory resolutions and local legislation.

Let’s recap: I count five attempts in a year by Mr. Harrell’s friends to intimidate the attorney general or else quash first a SLED investigation and now a Grand Jury investigation. Which seems like a lot for someone who insists he hasn’t committed any crimes — or even violated any non-criminal provisions of the ethics law….

Wow, huh? (The boldface emphasis is mine.)

John Monk did good work recently revealing the move to get Wilson secretly tossed off the case. But this masterful column paints a picture of a pattern far more sweeping, and more disturbing, than that. It’s the kind of thing that reminds us why we have a First Amendment.

Good job, Cindi.

They shall fight them on the beaches…

This release from Conservation Voters of South Carolina provides yet another measure of how things don’t change in South Carolina:

Friends,

This is urgent. Last week we asked you to call your Senator, but we still need your help.

A bill before the S.C. Senate this week, S.890, would allow a special exemption to rebuild seawalls on our coast for the first time since 1988.

S. 890 was originally written to implement the recommendations of the DHEC-appointed Blue Ribbon Committee on Shoreline Management, but a small group of beach-front property owners is pressing for an amendment that would exempt their beach—DeBordieu—from laws that apply to every other beach-front property owner in South Carolina.

This exemption would set an awful precedent, rolling back meaningful protections against hardened structures and seawalls. We oppose seawalls because they don’t work, and increase erosion at neighboring beaches and communities along the coast.

Please email or call your Senator and urge them to oppose this special interest exemption and support South Carolina’s precious coastline—and the tourism it supports.

Thank you,

Rebecca Haynes
Director of Government Relations
Conservation Voters of SC

The Beachfront Management Act of 1988 was maybe the first really sweeping pieces of legislation to pass the Legislature after I came to work at The State in 1987 as governmental affairs editor. It was supposed to mandate a retreat from the beach, keeping structures from being built that would both exacerbate erosion and be vulnerable to the surf themselves.

I thought it heralded a new dawn of rational coastal development. Then came Hurricane Hugo the next year, which took out a lot of existing structures along the coast — all of which, it seemed to my inexpert eye, got rebuilt. Which made me think the legislation had been pretty ineffective.

But according to the CVSC, the law was at least effective in preventing the construction of seawalls that help with erosion in one spot, but exacerbate the situation elsewhere. Until now.

So here we are again, 26 years later…

Governor’s school gets national recognition

I’ve had some exposure to our two Governor’s schools — my oldest attended the one for science and math, my youngest the one for the arts — and it’s nice to see them get some national recognition:

Science and Mathematics Governor’s School Named Top-Performing U.S. School by The Washington Post

Tuesday, April 15, 2014, Columbia, SC - The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) has been named one of “America’s Top-Performing Schools with Elite Students” by The Washington Post. GSSM was the only South Carolina school included in the list.

The 23 schools, listed in alphabetical order, were described as “non-neighborhood schools with SAT or ACT averages above the highest averages for neighborhood schools nationally.”

GSSM is a two-year, public, residential high school in Hartsville, SC, specializing in the advanced study of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with a special emphasis on economics and entrepreneurship. GSSM can serve as many as 300 high school juniors and seniors annually from across the state. The current student body represents 96 high schools and 32 counties.

Beyond its distinctive curriculum, GSSM offers unique learning opportunities including the nationally recognized Summer Program for Research Interns (SPRI), the Research Experience Scholars Program (RESP) and January Interim. These innovative programs provide students with mentored, graduate-level internships, study abroad experiences and options to explore non-traditional courses. The School is also educating the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders through theBlueCross BlueShield Economics & Finance Institute and the next generation of creative engineers through the Duke Energy Engineering & Innovation Institute.

While there are 12 specialized, public residential schools across the country, only five were included inThe Washington Post’s list. The average SAT score for GSSM students (1989) is 553 points higher than South Carolina’s average. GSSM students’ average ACT score (30.3) is nearly 10 points higher than the state’s average.

“We appreciate The Washington Post publishing this list, and we are honored to be included among other top achieving schools,” said Dr. Murray Brockman, GSSM president. “We do not participate in the rankings of traditional high schools because we don’t fit the traditional mold. Our courses begin at the AP level, which is where most schools end. GSSM students are selected after a long and rigorous application process. It is not a fair comparison.”

See The Washington Post’s full list here. 
Learn more about GSSM by visiting www.scgssm.org.

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Again we’re reminded that SC can do education right. We just don’t do as well with disadvantaged students who are not the sort who would do well anywhere…

Sheheen’s plan for DSS

Vincent Sheheen and the Democrats have been slinging stones at the governor over the problems in DSS, as you may have noticed.

In this release this morning, Sheheen shifts to saying what he would do differently:

Sheheen Releases Plan of Action for Children & Families

Gubernatorial candidate lays out plan to address problems at DSS that have led to children dying and being kept in danger in order to lower the agency’s numbers

Camden, SC. – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen released his plan of action for children and families in South Carolina to address the crisis at the Department of Social Services (DSS). The plan lays out a course of action to prevent any more children from dying or being put in danger as a result of misplaced priorities, arbitrary quotas, and failed leadership at DSS.

Sen. Sheheen’s plan to protect children includes immediate steps that he will begin work on in the State Senate, and actions he would take as Governor of South Carolina.

In the coming weeks, he will introduce legislation in the Senate to institute whistleblower protections for social workers, sponsor legislation to have coroners send child fatality cases to state law enforcement, and fight for adequate funding to support staff and increase training at DSS during the budget debate. As governor, he will re-focus priorities on child safety, and start by appointing a competent department head who will be transparent and accountable.

This plan of action comes on the heels of Sen. Sheheen’s series of roundtable discussions with women around the state, where voters repeatedly raised the problems at DSS as major concerns and were frustrated with the lack of leadership from the governor’s office on this issue.

View Sen. Sheheen’s plan of action for children and families as well as his other ideas for how to improve leadership and accountability in South Carolina at www.vincentsheheen.com. His book, “The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track” is free and also available online, here.

Leadership for South Carolina’s Children & Families

Right now too many children across South Carolina are growing up without loving homes, and what’s worse – they are being abandoned by the state when they are most in need. Shuttled between foster homes, placed with relatives ill-equipped to handle the challenges of parenting, or sent back to an abusive home without support system to protect them, our state is doing wrong by these children. Why? Because of misplaced priorities and failed leadership at the Department of Social Services under the Haley administration.

Over the past several months, investigations have turned up disturbing reports: Children are dying and being left in dangerous situations as a result of incompetence at the Department of Social Services and the push to lower the agency’s numbers. Children who should be protected after multiple reports of abuse are being ignored and moved out of the system in order to make numbers in a government report look better.

As a prosecutor, Vincent saw what families and victims went through as the result of abuse or crimes and fought to hold abusers accountable. In his private practice he’s seen it even further in the fight to protect children and mothers from abuse. And as the father of three boys in South Carolina, the thought that even one child could be killed as the result of government dysfunction and incompetence is unbearable.

Our state’s children need decisive leadership from the top of state government through the ranks of our state agencies to ensure that child safety is our top priority. The people of South Carolina deserve real accountability from their governor. They deserve a leader who won’t defend a failed appointee who has allowed children to die and be kept in danger in order to meet artificial quotas. It’s time to act.

Vincent’s plan of action:

Re-Focus on Child Safety

  • Double the size of SLED Special Victims Unit, which investigates child fatalities.
  • Ensure that allegations of abuse and neglect are investigated by DSS within 24 hours.
  • Improve & increase training for DSS staff to ensure cases aren’t being ignored
  • Expand services and programs for children in foster care: support mentoring programs for children aging out of foster care and transitional housing options for young adults.
  • Build support for in-state adoptions through public service announcements, partnerships with non-profits to increase community awareness.

Increase Accountability

  • Institute whistleblower protections for social workers at DSS.
  • Appoint a qualified leader to head DSS, who will increase transparency and prioritize child safety.
  • Require a full audit of DSS to get the real numbers of children and families in need, and the actual caseload statistics at DSS.
  • Treat cases being handed off to consultants or partner organizations as open cases at DSS and set benchmarks for checking in on progress.
  • Increase consistency in law so that coroners are sending child fatality cases to SLED.
  • Utilize public-private partnerships so that when services can be better provided by a non-profit or faith-based entity, they are allowed to partner with the government to do so.
  • Improve training and resources for foster and adoptive parents to keep kids placed in safe and loving homes.

View this document online, here.

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The Republican take on the same education bill

Sen. Peeler, in a 'man of action' photo from his website.

Sen. Peeler, in a ‘man of action’ photo from his website.

OK, now Sen. Harvey Peeler has put out a release touting his portion of the combined bill that included Vincent Sheheen’s 4K expansion proposal:

Read to Succeed legislation clears Senate

PEELER PLAN WOULD ENSURE EARLY READING PROFICIENCY

Columbia, SC – April 10, 2014 – The state Senate today passed on third reading the Read to Succeed bill, a plan introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler to help ensure South Carolina’s children are reading on grade level.

Read to Succeed is the first substantive piece of education reform passed by either chamber of the General Assembly in several years, and is premised upon the idea that proficient reading is the foundation of all future learning in school. Peeler’s plan recognizes this, and starts by ending social promotion for third graders who are not yet reading on grade level.

“There’s a reason that the old song about the three R’s puts reading first,” Peeler said. “Children across the state are making it way too far in our school system without having this building block for success in place. It’s time we fix that, so we’re not setting these kids up for failure later in their educational journey.”

Peeler also noted, “I want to specifically thank Governor Haley for efforts to support and promote this initiative. The Governor’s Executive Budget funded $29.5 million for reading coaches, which was a tremendous catalyst to get things clicking this year. By providing a dedicated funding source, she brought focus to the Read to Succeed proposal, and led the House to adopt it in its budget.”

Among the bill’s provisions:

• beginning in 2017-2018 – a 3rd grader not reading on a 3rd grade level will be retained

• there will be a state reading plan and a district reading plan (to be approved by the State Department of Education)

• beginning with school year 2014-2015, provides a readiness assessment for 4K and 5K, as teachers need to know how far along a child is when they first come to school

• gives school districts flexibility to provide summer reading camps, with a minimum of 6 weeks, 4 days per week, and 4 hours per day

• transportation to summer reading camps will be provided at no cost to the parents

• districts who have trouble finding summer reading camp teachers will be allowed to work with other districts – or contact for services

• if a child has been found to need the summer reading camp — at any grade level —  there will be no cost

The legislation also creates a statutory phase-in of a statewide 4-year-old Kindergarten program, which will be implemented based upon availability of funding.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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This is confusing, having these two proposals jammed into one bill. But maybe having the Republican leader’s strong advocacy will help both proposals in the House. Maybe. I haven’t followed this closely enough to know…

Congratulations to Stephen Colbert!

Well, it’s official — South Carolina’s own Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman. From the CBS release:

     The CBS Television Network today announced that Stephen Colbert, the host, writer and executive producer of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “The Colbert Report,” will succeed David Letterman as the host of THE LATE SHOW, effective when Mr. Letterman retires from the broadcast. The five-year agreement between CBS and Colbert was announced by Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation, and Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment.

Letterman, the legendary, critically acclaimed host of the CBS late night series for 21 years, announced his retirement on his April 3 broadcast. Colbert’s premiere date as host of THE LATE SHOW will be announced after Mr. Letterman determines a timetable for his final broadcasts in 2015.

Specific creative elements, as well as the producers and the location for the Colbert-hosted LATE SHOW, will be determined and announced at a later date….

Colbert has released a statement:

“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career. I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. … I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

Does it seem to anyone else like this decision was made awfully quickly? Seems to me that when generational changes have occurred at The Tonight Show, for instance, the selection process has taken months.

Will this more-or-less snap decision pay off? I hope Colbert succeeds in this job. I wouldn’t have pictured him in it before the rumors started last week, so I’m a little concerned on that point. But he’s a smart and talented guy who thinks well on his feet, and I’m optimistic.

Bright blesses Graham’s heart — I’m glad Southern courtliness still survives to that extent

bless heart

Had to smile at the latest release from Lee Bright. As nasty as things get in politics these days, it’s nice to see that even a Tea Party guy (and you know how angry they can be) can express himself with civility, Southern style.

Yes, it’s a condescending expression, but it’s a sweet condescending expression. And that counts for something.

As for the content of the release — well, I didn’t read it. I saw it was another of those “Obamacare, yadda-yadda” things that those folks are forever churning out…

Sheheen’s kindergarten initiative moves ahead

Here’s the Sheheen press release:

Sheheen Bipartisan Leadership Moves 4k Forward for At-Risk Kids

 

Columbia, SC – Today, Sen. Sheheen’s seven-year-long effort to implement universal 4-year-old kindergarten took yet another step forward as the Senate passed a bill to further expand coverage to all at-risk children in South Carolina.

 

“Early childhood education is key to improving the quality of education for our students, and I am proud that we’re taking this next important step forward,” said Sen. Sheheen. “We know that the earlier you invest in a child’s education, the better equipped that child is for success and the more bang for the buck the taxpayers get — that’s a recipe for success for South Carolina. We can make great changes for the people of South Carolina, all it takes is leadership and hard work to get things done.”

 

In a win for bipartisan leadership, Democrats and Republicans supported Sen. Sheheen’s proposal to expand 4-year-old kindergarten once again today. Last year, Senator Sheheen worked across party lines last year to expand pre-kindergarten programs to 17 additional counties around the state, helping an estimated 8,400 more 4-year-olds gain access to kindergarten this year.

 

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And here’s the news story.

This is kind of a big deal. I was sort of surprised it didn’t get bigger play. The paper led with meaningless Kulturkampf “referenda” on the Republican and Democratic primary ballots, and this was relegated to halfway down the page on the Metro front.

Of course, it has a long way to go to become law — and to get funded. So there’s that to justify the paper’s not getting excited…

4K

 

Graham grills Moniz on MOX

Lindsey Graham put out this video so voters could see him being tough, curt, and impatient with a member of the Obama administration on a matter of concern to South Carolina.

But the main thing I came away from it with was, Have you gotten a load of this Moniz guy? What century does he think this is?

He and Richland County Councilman Jim Manning should form a club or something…

Moniz_official_portrait_standing

‘Our pollster’ making SC biotech connections for SC in Poland

I’m jealous of people who get to travel for their work. Yeah, I know people like Doug and Silence will talk about what a grind it is, but I’m envious nonetheless. My trip to England three years ago was my first time out of the country in many years. In my newspaper job I used to bop up to Washington occasionally, or to a conference somewhere else in the country now and then, but never abroad.

And I enjoy travel. It doesn’t just broaden the mind; it stimulates it, generating thoughts that wouldn’t occur running on the usual, everyday fuel.

So today I’m feeling jealous of my good friend Emerson Smith, who tells me from his berth on the Queen Mary II somewhere in the South China Sea (I think — there’s no telling where he is at a given moment) that next month he’ll be back in Poland — another place I’ve never been.

036104e

International Man of Mystery Emerson Smith

He’s one of two people who will be representing South Carolina at the BioForum 2014 (cebioforum.com) in Lodz, Poland on May 28-29, 2014, Emerson and Brad Goodwin from CharlestonPharma, speaking on how biotech companies in central Europe can create joint ventures in the U.S. and South Carolina.

“South Carolina is well known for having international companies from Germany, Belgium, France, Japan, China and other countries,” writes Emerson via email. “Most of these companies are large manufacturers. What we need to attract, in addition, are small biotech companies from Europe, which includes western Europe as well as central Europe, which can grow in South Carolina. Central Europe is historically known for its scholarship and science. Copernicus is from Krakow, Poland. South Carolina’s SCRA and SC Launch are always looking for opportunities to attract biotech companies from abroad and provide seed funding as well as assistance in dealing with state and federal commercial laws.”

Emerson is CEO and president of Metromark Research here in Columbia. He is also a sociologist, as he used to point out to us when we called him “our pollster” in the newspaper, which bugged him. He used to do our South Carolina Poll back when I was governmental affairs editor at The State. We did quite a bit of polling in those days. And while he didn’t like being called a “pollster,” he was a good one. His horse-race polls — the only kind where you get a real-world check on your accuracy — were always dead-on. Even multi-candidate primaries, which were notoriously hard to call.

So now, our pollster is working to grow the biotech sector in SC. Good for him. Even if I’m jealous that he gets to be an International Man of Mystery while doing it.

Could a South Carolinian replace Letterman?

One of these South Carolinians could replace Letterman. It's not the one with the Van Gogh tie...

One of these South Carolinians could replace Letterman. It’s not the one with the Van Gogh tie…

I guess I could have put Colbert’s name in the headline, but I just wanted to relish for a moment the counterintuitive notion of one of us replacing the man who was described in one of my favorite books, Gene Sculatti’s Catalog of Cool, as “Jack Paar on mescaline.” (Or was it “Johnny Carson on mescaline?” I’ll have to look it up when I get home, as Google Books has no preview.)

How did I miss this news the end of last week?

According the Mashable, Stephen Colbert is indeed at the front of the line:

Stephen Colbert is CBS’ top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he’s willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable.

Colbert has not had any formal contract discussions with CBS, and no agreement is in place, but sources tell Mashable that he first engaged with network executives while Letterman was still mulling the timing of his retirement. Though CBS has had conversations with other candidates, including Colbert’s Comedy Central counterpart Jon Stewart, individuals with knowledge of the situation say Colbert is currently the front-and-center candidate….

Colbert is the one at left in the photo above…

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…

Some good news out of the Legislature — UNANIMOUS passage of ‘Emma’s Law’

Emma's

It took an unspeakable tragedy involving a particularly sympathetic victim, and a huge public lobbying effort, but on Wednesday the House acted unanimously to pass “Emma’s Law,” which requires people found to have driven with a blood-alcohol level of .15 or more to blow into an ignition interlock device in order to start a car in the future.

(A small quibble from a crusty old editor: I had to skim down to the 19th paragraph of the news story this morning to be reminded what the law does. I suppose that’s a testament to how compelling the human-interest angle is, but still. That was kind of key. Sorry, John, but I had to say something.)

For those of us who get weary of the Legislature’s fecklessness when it comes to getting commonsense legislation passed, this should be gratifying. The public will was clear, and for once the usual excuses not to act fell away. It would be wonderful to see more such action on other things South Carolina needs.

Wouldn’t it be great to see other no-brainer legislation — such as Medicaid expansion, which would have cost SC nothing for three years, and only 10 percent of the total cost thereafter — pass this way, without all the partisan nonsense stopping it dead? Think of all the Emmas who would have received potentially life-saving healthcare — a measure that would come in time, rather than far too late.

But if you’re against Medicaid expansion, I’m sure you can think of other things that should pass this easily, but don’t. You know I have a list; many of you do, too.

That said, let’s celebrate this victory for good sense and public safety stewardship. Let’s celebrate the victory we have.

Gregory shocker: Who throws it all away for 100 grand?

Gregory's former office.

Gregory’s former office, on Tuesday evening…

This morning at the Capital City Club, which sits 25 stories up from Columbia’s economic development office, the regulars were all abuzz with the news that one of their number, Wayne Gregory, was in the county jail on embezzlement charges.

You know how shocked everyone was at his club when Winthorpe was arrested in “Trading Places?” It was like that, only not funny. There was a good deal of breathless talk about “one of our number” and so forth.

It had only been a few months since Gregory, 36, had replaced a longtime regular, Jim Gambrell, but we had started getting used to seeing him around. I had not had a chance to get to know him, but I knew who he was, and figured we’d cross paths at some point. Maybe not, now.

As I said in a comment yesterday (yeah, this whole post consists mostly of stuff I said before, but I thought this was worth a separate post):

Here’s what I want to know… Who risks it all for 100 grand? Who — among people who have good jobs (and his base pay was $110,000) — risks prison for a year’s pay, essentially?

Assuming I were someone who would steal, I’d be the sort of thief who would abscond with something more like $100 million. And that’s borderline… I mean, even if one has no morals, one should have a sense of proportion. A year’s pay just wouldn’t be worth it, aside from moral considerations.

Maybe it’s because, as a journalist, I’ve been in a lot of jails and prisons. I’m telling you, people, you don’t want to go there.

One last point: I’ve seen a lot of comments about “Here we go again” with our poorly run city. Well, yes and no. The one thing that distinguished this from some of the other recent messes is that the city immediately fired Gregory. In the long, painful separations of police chiefs, city managers and the like in recent years, we seldom saw such a moment of clarity and decision.

Of course, as Kathryn pointed out yesterday, Gregory had been charged with a crime. And I suppose that draws a bright line that has been missing in other situations. But in any case, the quick action makes this instance quite different.

Conservation voters want you to know they’re all for the solar bill

This release came in a little while ago:

Friends,

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared the path for the state legislature to give us the sun with solar energy legislation.

The vote was 19-1 in favor, which is unheard of for a piece of legislation like this and a testament to the hard work of our negotiators and a resolve by all the stakeholders to find consensus. As for the sole vote against, we can only assume that the legislator had his judgment temporarily blocked by the bright glare of the sun.

Because the legislation is currently under attack by solar industry groups from out of state, we want to be clear: we wholeheartedly support this bill. We hope this is the beginning of a new era in energy independence for South Carolinians.

Thank you for being a supporter of solar in South Carolina. We still need your help to push this legislation through the Senate and House and to Governor Haley’s desk. The Senate takes its first vote on S.536 this week. Learn more about this issue and contact your elected officials to encourage them to vote YES. To contact your legislator click HERE and just type in your address.

Once S.536 gets through the Senate it moves to the House, so let’s keep up the “heat” to assure that South Carolina’s brightest days are ahead.

Thank you for all you do.

Sincerely

Shawn Drury
Field Director, CVSC

I thought it interesting that the out-of-state industry group is headed by Barry Goldwater. Junior. If he manages to pose a problem to passage of the bill, maybe CVSC could do an advocacy ad featuring a little girl and a daisy

The new ‘American Party’s’ slate of candidates for 2014

I talked with Oscar Lovelace over the weekend, and he was pretty pumped that the new party he and Jim Rex have started is now fielding its first candidates. Here’s a release about that that the American Party sent out this afternoon:

The American Party is proud and excited to introduce our four candidates for office this year!

 

Jill Bossi - candidate for U.S. Senate (Tim Scott’s unexpired term seat).
Ed Murray - candidate for Superintendent of Education.
Emile DeFelice - candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture.
Donna McGreevy - candidate for State House (District 74 – Columbia).

 

These four outstanding candidates will carry the American Party’s banner into the November General Election.

 

We would like to introduce them over the next few days beginning with Jill Bossi….

JILL BOSSI ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY

 FOR U.S. SENATE

American Party candidate seeks to end political gridlock  

 

 

(Tega Cay, SC)…Saying “enough is enough, it’s time to put an end to the political extremism and gridlock in Washington”, Jill Bossi today announced her candidacy for the United States Senate.

 

Bossi, who served as the former Vice President of the American Red Cross, has never run for office and is seeking the Senate seat now held by Tim Scott who was appointed to that position early last year.jill bossi logo composite

 

“The politicians in Washington haven’t passed a budget for our country in over six years and they haven’t provided a balanced budget since 2001. This is not the way to run a business or a family…let alone a country. Something has to change”, said Bossi.

 

Bossi chose to run as an American Party candidate because she believes in the Party’s core principles; Putting an end to career politicians by passing term limits; Governing more from the center instead of the political extremes; Holding elected officials accountable to higher ethical standards and greater transparency; And increasing the economic global competitiveness of our state and nation.

 

“Many have forgotten that our Founding Fathers created a government ‘Of the people, by the people, and for the people’. I want to end the stalemate and make government work again for our country. By putting ‘America First’ over party and politics, we can begin solving problems instead of creating them”, said Bossi.

 

Bossi also said her priorities include…focusing on finding smarter solutions to jump start our economy and putting Americans back to work, passing comprehensive tax reform for individuals and companies by simplifying the tax code, and making healthcare more affordable without invasive government regulations. 

 

As the former Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer for The American Red Cross. Mrs. Bossi was responsible for managing all Supply Chain and Travel related services for the organization. While at The American Red Cross, Mrs. Bossi redesigned the supply chain, implemented new policies and procedures, streamlined the purchase of goods and services by the organization across the Red Cross’ entire footprint in the United States and its seven territories. These changes resulted in millions of dollars in savings for the Red Cross; enabling better stewardship of donor dollars.

 

Prior to her work for the Red Cross, Mrs. Bossi was the Senior Vice President and Sourcing Executive for Global Commercial Banking and Global Wealth Management at Bank of America. While at Bank of America Mrs. Bossi was instrumental in the redesign of the entire supply chain management function for the Bank.

 

During her career, Mrs. Bossi has also served as Vice President of Strategic Sourcing for Experian North America, one of the three largest credit-reporting agencies in the U.S., as Director of G&A Procurement for Verizon Wireless. Mrs. Bossi has held senior supply management roles with companies as diverse as Packard Bell NEC, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lorimar Studios and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios. She holds a BS in Business Management and has been published in many supply chain journals and publications.

 

Jill and her husband Richard have been married for 16 years, live in Tega Cay, SC and together they have four children and four grandchildren. Jill attends Grace Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill.

 

 

Visit Jill’s website at: www.bossi4senate.com.

So congratulations to the new party. Although I’m a little disappointed that they’re not fielding candidates in the races where partisanship is most insidious. I would have liked to see them putting someone up to oppose Jim Clyburn and Joe Wilson. Those are two examples of the “safe districts” partisans draw for themselves and their friends (the Republicans who draw the districts are happy to create the super-Democratic district for Clyburn, because that enables them to draw six very safe GOP districts — that is to say, one super-black district yields six super-white ones).

Not that a challenger would have had much of a chance. It just would have been nice to see.

Oscar told me they came very close to putting up an opponent for Wilson in the 2nd, but it just didn’t happen…