Category Archives: South Carolina

WOW — Bobby Harrell expected to plead guilty!

Here’s another reason to feel better about the direction of our state — a big one.

Bobby Harrell, who so recently went about boasting that he had beaten efforts to bring him down, is now reported to be about to surrender completely. John Monk reports:

Suspended S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell is expected to resign his House seat and plead guilty Thursday to charges of using campaign funds for his personal gain, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Harrell is scheduled to appear at a 10:30 a.m. hearing at the Richland County courthouse, according to a prosecutor’s press release….

Harrell, 58, who faces various charges of criminal misconduct in office, already has had a bond hearing and is free on $18,000 bond.

Harrell was indicted Sept. 10 on nine charges, including illegally using campaign money for personal expenses, filing false campaign disclosure reports and misconduct in office. It was the first time in memory that a sitting South Carolina House speaker has been indicted….

This is big stuff, people. This kind of thing doesn’t happen every century in South Carolina…

OK, sometimes things DO change in SC (maybe)

So yesterday I was being all Cameron Frye and whiny and dissatisfied over my perception (based in long and bitter experience) that try as good people might, things never change for the better in South Carolina. In the public policy arena, I mean.

That was based in the long run by decades of advocating as hard as I can for various reforms and seldom seeing the slightest progress (and in fact, a good bit of movement in the wrong direction on some things, such as tax policy). And in the short term, it was based in the almost-certain knowledge that nothing’s going to happen in the looming election to make things better.

But as I was reading the paper this morning, I got to thinking about reasons I was wrong to have done my Captain Bringdown routine (that’s for those of you who don’t get the Cameron Frye reference).

Let me share three of them:

Adjutant General — One of the things I’ve been pushing for over the course of these decades is cutting down on the absurd number of constitutional officers we elect separately, thereby fragmenting the executive branch of our government into separate governments with their own separate constituencies, and often inconsistent or even conflicting agendas. And the post of adjutant general has long been the most extreme case. It’s outrageous to choose a military leader in a partisan election, and we’re the only state in the union that does it. Finally, we’re going to have a referendum, on Nov. 4, in which we’ll have the opportunity to end this anachronism. There are still some who defend this throwback to the days when amateurism was OK in the military, when officers bought their commissions rather than earning them — Phil Leventis did so in the paper today. But I was very proud to see the chairs of the two political parties, Matt Moore and Jaime Harrison, come together to jointly call for passage of the measure. As they say, it’s not a partisan issue. It’s about whether you want professional, apolitical military leadership — which is what you want if you’re not a banana republic. I can well remember a time when there was no chance of this coming to a vote. Now we have something like consensus — both parties for it, both Nikki Haley and Vincent Sheheen for it, and the current A.G., too. That is broad-based, systemic change for the better, and it shames me for my moaning yesterday. First the lieutenant governor running on a joint ticket with the governor, now this — if it passes.

School funding — Democrats are right to complain that Nikki Haley didn’t show much interest in public education until re-election year, but I was reminded by this debate story today that she DID propose, and get passed, a measure to address the lack of funding equity for poor, rural schools. That doesn’t solve all of our education challenges, not by a long shot, but it’s another move in a direction I’ve been calling for for, well, decades. And I give her props for it.

The advent of the Jay Lucas era — A couple of months ago, it looked like Bobby Harrell was going to remain as speaker, and that there would be no positive movement on ethics reform — in fact, there was a lot of momentum in the wrong direction. Now, he’s out, and replaced by a guy who I’ve only heard good things about, from both Democrats and Republicans — and he appears inclined to push through some long-stymied reforms that were unthinkable earlier this year. That’s change for the better.

So, I just thought I should share those more upbeat thoughts.

Hutto hits Graham, again, for not being ‘downhome’ enough

There’s not much new about it. It’s his usual thing about how he thinks the job of a U.S. senator should be about worrying about everyday conditions on the ground here in South Carolina rather than in the rest of the nation and the world.

Which isn’t my concept of a senator’s role at all. When I hear Hutto say these things, I sometimes wonder whether he ought to quit the South Carolina Senate and run for county council. He seems to be all about the local level.

But don’t go by me. He’s running a populist campaign, and I don’t have a populist bone in my body.

Here’s the release that goes with the ad:

Hutto Begins Statewide TV Blitz

 

Orangeburg, SC – Democratic nominee for US Senate Brad Hutto began running TV advertisements across South Carolina today.

The ad can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhQTgegprZk&feature=youtu.be

The ad contrasts Lindsey Graham’s role as a Washington DC insider, self-promoter and potential Presidential candidate to Brad Hutto’s pledge to be a Senator who will work for South Carolina. In the ad Hutto advocates for a hike in the minimum wage, securing equal pay for women, and protecting financial security for seniors.

At the ad’s conclusion, Hutto says “We need a Senator who cares more about making a difference than making headlines.”

Hutto campaign manager Lachlan McIntosh describes the buy as major. “People will see it and they’ll be talking about it.”

 

###

As you see when you watch the ad, the one new wrinkle in this one is making fun of Graham talking about the presidency, which is certainly fair game. The incumbent was sort of asking for it with that…

Tearing down the Townhouse

Townhouse

Or rather, the hotel formerly known as the Townhouse. It’s called the Clarion these days.

Once, it was the home of the notorious card games that starred Sen. Jack Lindsey and lobbyist Ron Cobb. The old Townhouse became a familiar part of the tales that made up the Lost Trust epic. There were other local houses of accommodation where inappropriate relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists thrived, but the Townhouse seemed to pick up most of that dubious cachet in the imaginations of those of us who followed such things.

But those days are long gone, and it’s been a generation since the establishment was said to be associated with such goings-on. Or even since it was called the Townhouse.

Now, current management is remaking the place yet again, and much of the old structure is being razed to be replaced. They’re making rapid progress. A few yards more, and I’ll have to move my car (the Clarion is right behind ADCO, and I park against one of its walls).

Interesting that this is happening just as the Bobby Harrell era ends, and we have a good chance of the first meaningful ethics reform since that that followed Lost Trust

Showing a noble, inspiring faith in the possibility of politics

Sue and Jim Rex, at the American Party booth at the SC State Fair.

Sue and Jim Rex, at the American Party booth at the SC State Fair.

I went to the fair today, and saw the usual booths for the Democrats and Republicans, and stayed away from them.

But I stopped to chat at the American Party booth, because one of the founders of the party was there — Jim Rex.

Jim invited me to sign the petition to get a recall power onto the ballot — a measure that would allow voters to dump politicians who have broken the law.

I told him no, I don’t hold with recall petitions. I think elections come soon enough. Although I admit that allowing recall only in cases of illegality is a lot less objectionable than the kind they have in California and other places, which allow voters to dump pols between election on a whim if they choose (thereby eliminating even the rare glimpses of political courage that we occasionally see in non-election years).

Then, we segued into a polite argument about term limits, with me getting on a rhetorical high horse and saying I just have more simple faith in politics than he does. I trust the voters to decide for themselves whether they want somebody for one term, two terms, three terms or 20 terms.

I said that if he wanted to do something about cynical incumbents, noncompetitive elections and apathy, then go to work on a federal constitutional amendment that would end the way we apportion districts in this country. THAT is the cause of all the ills he deplores.

Anyway, looking at the picture I took above of the Rexes causes me to check myself — I shouldn’t have said I have more faith in politics.

There is no greater faith in our system than stepping out and starting a new party, and sticking to it and working as hard at it as the Rexes have, along with Oscar Lovelace and others.

Frankly, I find it inspiring, even when I disagree on policy proposals

Joe Wilson says Hamas could attack U.S. with Ebola

Joe Hamas

Today, our own Rep. Joe Wilson is enjoying his biggest splash on social media since his “You lie!” glory days. A sampling:


Here’s a link to video of the congressman setting forth this theory.

Sen. Tim Scott: Ban travel from Ebola-stricken countries

And now, we have this proposal from U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC:

Charleston, SC – U.S. Senator Tim Scott released the following statement regarding travel restrictions from Ebola-stricken nations in West Africa. Senator Scott is a member of both the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees.Scott,Tim

“First and foremost, my heart goes out to those infected with Ebola and their families both in the United States and in West Africa. This is a terrible virus, and one the world must come together to stop.

As infections continue to spread here in the United States, the trust of the American people has been shaken by the administration’s response thus far. It is clear that a temporary travel ban for foreign nationals traveling from Ebola-stricken nations in West Africa should be put in place. The President has the authority to do so, and we have seen that airport screenings and self-reporting simply are not enough.

While both the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health state that patients without a fever are not contagious, recent studies from West Africa show that almost 13 percent of confirmed cases did not present with a fever. Screenings have also only been initiated at five airports, and even at airports travelers’ symptoms can be masked by over-the-counter medications.

This is about the safety of the American people, and nothing more. As the fight against Ebola continues, a temporary travel ban for foreign nationals traveling from the epicenter of the outbreak is a necessity.”

###

I find myself wondering: Did he decide independently to join the voices advocating this, or did Republicans get together and decide that his was the most sympathetic face they had for advancing such a proposal?

I say that in part because, although a number of Republicans have said it, it has tended to be those in tight races, such as Scott Brown and Thom Tillis. Sen. Scott, of course, is in the opposite of a “tight race.”

Did you see last night’s debate? I missed it…

I was traveling back from Memphis and missed last night’s gubernatorial debate. I do have these two releases from the SC Democratic and Republican parties. But somehow, I don’t think I’m getting the full story.

First, the Democrats:

Harrison: Sheheen Clear Winner of Debate As Haley Caught in Multiple Lies

Charleston, SC — SCDP Chairman Jaime Harrison released this statement following tonight’s first gubernatorial debate in Charleston:

“Sen. Sheheen was the clear winner of tonight’s debate. Vincent Sheheen made a compelling case for his plan to bring honest leadership and real accountability to South Carolina. Nikki Haley got caught in multiple lies about her jobs numbers, her record of repeatedly violating our ethics laws, and her failure to lead on roads, education, and helping hardworking families. There is a clear choice this November, and Vincent Sheheen is the only choice for South Carolinians who want a governor they can trust.”

###

Now, the Republicans:

Press Release: SCGOP Chair Moore congratulates Governor Haley on Debate Victory

North Charleston, S.C. – South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore issued the following statement tonight following Governor Haley’s gubernatorial debate victory:

“Tonight’s debate was a resounding victory for Governor Nikki Haley. Governor Haley is the only candidate with a clear, conservative record of results and a positive vision for South Carolina,” said SCGOP Chairman Matt Moore. “Vincent Sheheen’s mud-slinging debate performance, coupled with his full-on embrace of President Obama’s failed policies, shows why his campaign is failing and he’s the wrong choice for South Carolina.”

###

Reading stuff like that is SO dispiriting. Makes me depressed about the whole process, and glad that I missed the debate, if it was anything like those descriptions.

It also reminds me of why I wanted to switch from news to editorial years ago. The “objective news” model holds that if someone tells you the sky is white, you dutifully write that down and then run to somebody else who tells you the sky is black, and you write that down carefully. Then you write a story that reads like this:

Joe Blow today said the sky is white. However, John Jones insisted that it is black.

And you dust your hands and congratulate yourself for having written a balanced story. Trouble is, you haven’t told your readers the truth about the sky, which you can see for yourself. Opinion writing allows you to say that the sky is, indeed, blue.

So how about it? Any opinions about last night’s debate?

Haley, Sheheen SHOULD join together to call for a ‘yes’ vote on adjutant general reform

images (7)

On Nov. 4, South Carolina voters have the chance to put an end to an embarrassing anomaly — we have the power to cease to be the only state in the union that elects its adjutant general, the leader of the state’s National Guard.

The reasons why it’s a horrible idea to have a popularly elected general are many; Cindi Scoppe goes over some of them in her column today. It’s something I’ve never had to think about very hard, because when I was a kid, I lived in a place where it was accepted that that military officers got mixed up in politics.

In fact, it was far from an abstraction to me. We lived in the upstairs of a large house that was owned by a captain in the Ecuadorean Navy. One day, the captain asked if he could borrow our part of the duplex. My parents went out, and my brothers and I went downstairs to stay in the captain’s part of the house, while the captain and an Ecuadorean admiral met upstairs in our home. The next day, the president of the country had been put on a plane to Panama, the admiral was the head of the new military junta running the country, and our landlord was the minister of agriculture.

Actually, given what a disaster el presidente had been, Ecuador was no worse off. But in a country such as hours, with it’s deeply treasured culture of constitutional government and subservience of the military to legal authority, such a development would be catastrophic. Fortunately in our national history, such events have remained the stuff of political fiction such as “Seven Days in May.”

Except in South Carolina, where we require our top general to be a politician first (and really don’t even require him to have any military background at all).

Fortunately, our current adjutant general, Bob Livingston, is a well-qualified officer who also understands that we need to do away with this anomaly. That’s a very good thing, since his predecessors resisted reform, and the Guard followed their lead, and the electorate followed the Guard.

But now we have the opportunity to change the situation. We also have two people running for governor — the incumbent, Nikki Haley, and Sen. Vincent Sheheen — who are both known for advocating this reform (as well as doing away with other unnecessarily elected constitutional officers). In her column today, Cindi put forth a great idea:

Most of all, we need to hear from the most visible advocates of empowering governors to act like governors: Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Vincent Sheheen. This is a signature issue for both of them. It’s not too much to ask them to set aside their bickering for long enough to make a joint appearance — or to cut a TV ad together — asking voters to vote yes for the military meritocracy.

If they’re not willing to put some skin in the game, they’ll have no one but themselves to blame if we keep electing the adjutant general — and all of those other constitutional officers who ought to be appointed.

That would be wonderful on so many levels — including the first level, which is that it would make this long-awaited reform all that much more likely to occure.

Quick: What’s wrong with this electoral map?

Santos map

I mean, aside from it being about a fictional election.

Yes, I’m still obsessing about the absurdity of Democrat Matt Santos winning South Carolina in the seventh season of “The West Wing.” I don’t care that none of y’all were interested enough to comment on it yesterday. I’m interested enough for all of us.

During my workout this morning, in “Election Day Part II,” I learned one more supposed reason why the Democratic presidential nominee won SC (in addition to the two I mentioned yesterday, neither of which was convincing): It was mentioned (by the opposition) that Santos had spent so much time in SC, he could have been living here.

Well, that certainly would have been a departure from what we’re used to seeing — a Democratic presidential nominee actually visiting South Carolina.

But I don’t think it would make the difference. It would take a lot more than that, which is why Democratic presidential nominees don’t come to South Carolina during the general campaign.

I’m with Josh Lyman, who understood that there was something wrong if his guy was losing Vermont, but winning SC. He sort of freaked out about it, and who could blame him? His writers had put him in an impossible situation. Would Aaron Sorkin (who did not write these later episodes) have done that? I don’t think so.

Look at the map above. The Democrat lost California, but won SC? Mind you, there were extraordinary reasons for this. First, it was Vinick‘s home state. Second, Leo’s death was announced with another hour of voting to go in California. OK, fine — but if West Coast voters were balking at Santos because of Leo, then how did he win Oregon and Washington state?

You can see at a glance how SC sticks out like a sore thumb in blue. The Democrat would win Virginia or North Carolina or Florida way before winning here. It just doesn’t add up…

Sorry, but there’s NO WAY Matt Santos won South Carolina

The Santos-Vinick debate.

The Santos-Vinick debate.

This morning while working out, I saw episode 16 of the seventh and last season of “The West Wing,” the one titled, “Election Day Part I.

It’s the one that ended with Leo (my favorite character!) being found in his hotel room. Dead, I’m guessing (this was originally aired several episodes after John Spencer’s actual death). The episode ended with people rushing into the room after Annabeth finds him and calls for help.

So I’m braced for an emotionally wrenching Part II.

Only six episodes left…

But before we move on, I must offer my one criticism of this episode: As someone who has been closely covering SC politics for 27 years, I can tell you that it is utterly incredible that Santos would have won South Carolina.

Nothing happened in this fictional campaign that could possibly have overcome the state’s strong preference for the GOP.

Sure it’s conceivable that one of these days, a Democratic presidential nominee could win this state again. But it would take extraordinary circumstances. It most certainly would not be this candidate, who ran on a platform of public education and healthcare reform.

Speaking for myself and possibly other South Carolina swing voters, I found his obsession with public education — something that is not a legitimate concern of the federal government — quite off-putting. Santos projected himself as a liberal’s liberal. Not someone who is likely to make this red state change its mind.

I’m not sure I would have (as Kate Harper apparently did) voted for Arnie Vinick, but I found him a fairly appealing candidate. I would need to know more about both candidates and their platforms than I got from the show. But I know that Santos, as sympathetically as he was portrayed, still did not gain a lock on my support.

The two explanations offered in passing, over the last few episodes, for South Carolina’s move into the Santos column were:

  1. The nuclear plant accident in California. A couple of episodes back, it is noted that states with nuclear plants were starting to go for Santos, because of his complete opposition to nuclear power (and because Vinick had pushed to get the plant where the accident occurred up and running 25 years earlier). I don’t think SC would abandon its acceptance of nuclear power that easily. I know that I saw nothing in the San Andreo accident to make me decide nuclear power qua nuclear power was unsafe. Then again, maybe I’m not typical.
  2. A greater-than-expected turnout of black voters in SC. This is implied by the fact that halfway through Election Day, as exit poll numbers come in, Stephen Root’s character (a member of the Vinick campaign team) dismisses the SC numbers because the exit poll has “oversampled” black voters. He draws that conclusion because the proportion of black respondents is higher than the proportion of registered voters who are black. What he is apparently missing is that black voters did indeed turn out in higher-than-expected numbers. I have seen nothing to indicate that that would be likely. In fact, an earlier episode showed Santos having a problem with black voters elsewhere in the country, and there’s no explanation of why SC would buck that trend.

Yeah, I know. It’s make-believe. I’m overthinking it.

But I’m just trying to squeeze as much as I can from these last few episodes. So little time left…

 

Time for change: Scoppe column on judicial vote-trading

Did you see the exclusive story in The State the other day to this effect:

State and federal law enforcement officials are questioning S.C. legislators about potential illegal vote swapping in February’s race that re-elected the state’s Supreme Court chief justice, multiple sources have told The State….

Did you find yourself confused in reading it? Did you think to yourself, Don’t lawmakers trade votes all the time, on all sorts of issues? Since when is that illegal?

Well, Cindi Scoppe helps walk you through all that in her column today. She explains that yes, lawmakers routinely swap votes on issues — the General Assembly would get even less done if they did not.

But she also explains how a series of horrific events in 1995 that caused lawmakers to elect less-qualified jurists to the bench led to reform, and the practice was banned — with regard to judicial selection. (And ironically, the reform was passed by a vote-swapping deal between House and Senate conferees.)

Here’s her recap of what happened back then to lead to the reform:

it starts on a sunny spring day in 1995, when the Legislature elected E.C. Burnett to the Supreme Court and Kay Hearn to the Court of Appeals and re-elected Danny Martin to the Circuit Court. Mr. Burnett and Ms. Hearn were qualified for the positions, but analyses by the S.C. Bar and the Legislature’s judicial screening committee showed that they were the least qualified candidates in their hotly contested races. The committee found Mr. Martin didn’t understand the law at all, and the Bar had declared him unfit for the bench.

As senators filed out of the House chamber after the election, then-Sen. Robert Ford bragged about how it all happened: The Legislative Black Caucus pledged 20 votes for Hearn in exchange for Horry County votes for Martin and 18 votes for Burnett in return for four Spartanburg County votes for Martin; another five Spartanburg County legislators agreed not to vote in the Martin race.

“All kind of deals was made,” Sen. Ford told reporters. “I had to sell my soul to 10 devils.”

No one denied the deals, because vote trading always had been a part of judicial elections — whether the votes involved other judicial races or legislation. And why not? Trading votes is a natural part of the legislative process….

As so often during his lamentable lawmaking career, there was the brazen Robert Ford, standing as the poster child of bad government. But of course, he was just the most visible manifestation of something much more widespread. Perhaps we even owe him a debt of gratitude for making the unsavory situation so much more obvious.

That’s all history, but the thing that deserves even more attention is this conclusion:

I supported the current system for a long time, because it was such a huge improvement over what came before. But it never was a good system, because it encourages the sort of logrolling that is alleged to have occurred in the chief justice race, and because it allows one branch of government to control the judiciary.

And if one person rules the House with an iron hand — one person who is not the governor, who is not elected by all the voters of this state, and who is not accountable to the public for his power — it allows that one person to control the judiciary. As felt so disturbingly to be the case as we watched Mr. Harrell’s treatment in our courts in the weeks and months leading up to his indictment this summer on public corruption charges.

That’s sort of new, and sort of not.

I have long held the position that we should switch to a different method of choosing judges, preferably one like the federal system — the governor nominates, and the Senate confirms. That spreads out the power across the other two branches of government, and makes sure that the one individual having extensive say in the matter is one elected by all of the people, not just one House district.

But since the reforms of the 1990s, which did much to inject merit into the current system of election by the General Assembly, I (and the editorial board) acknowledged that the system was much better than it had been, and so we let judicial selection slide to a back burner. We still advocated for change when the subject came up, but we didn’t drive it the way we did so many other issues.

The events of the past year or two — with Bobby Harrell trying to bat the judiciary around like cat with a chew toy, so soon after a dramatic example of his power in choosing justices — mean it’s time to move real, substantive reform to the front rank of priorities.

It’s high time to stop letting the Legislature choose judges, all by its lonesome.

Great day in the mornin’! New Sheheen ad

In “What About Bob?,” Bill Murray famously said,

There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don’t. My ex-wife loves him.

So true. And the same might truthfully be said about the phrase that Gov. Nikki Haley requires Cabinet-agency employees to utter when they answer the phone at work: “It’s a great day in South Carolina!”

There are some of us who find such chipper cheerleading off-putting, and are appalled at the idea that serious people with serious jobs are required to say it, regardless of the context of the call, thousands of times.

There are others who see it as harmless, perhaps even charming.

In any case, Vincent Sheheen has a new TV ad pitched to appeal to those of us in the first group:

NEW TV AD: “Great Day” Uses Haley Catch Phrase to Hit Her on Failures for Families
 “It’s a great day in South Carolina! For Nikki Haley, maybe. But not for South Carolina families.”
Camden, SC – Sheheen for South Carolina today released a new television ad using Nikki Haley’s mandated state catch phrase to shine light on her dishonesty, incompetence and unethical record that has hurt South Carolina’s hardworking families. The spot, “Great Day” will begin airing today as part of a substantial six-figure statewide TV buy. “Great Day” is the sixth television ad Sheheen for South Carolina has run in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
 “Nikki Haley says it’s a great day in South Carolina, but that’s just not true for our hardworking families. Nikki Haley has lied about her jobs numbers, hurt public education, sent our tax dollars to New Jersey, covered-up her worst scandals, and continually refuses to be honest with the people of South Carolina – starting from the moment she and her staff answer the phone,” said Andrew Whalen, Sheheen’s campaign manager. “South Carolinians deserve a governor who cares more about how things are on the ground than about how she can spin it on national television. It’s time for honest leadership and real accountability from a governor South Carolina can trust.”

Here’s supporting material the campaign sent out as part of the release:

Claim Backup
“Hello! It’s a great day in South Carolina.”
Call Nikki Haley’s state government and that’s what you hear.

 

ALT: Call Nikki Haley’s office and that’s what you hear.

But Nikki Haley vetoed teacher pay increases

 

CG: Nikki Haley

CG: Vetoed Teacher Pay

“Gov. Haley Vetoes $10 Million for Teacher Raises,” Robert Kittle, WSAV, 7/06/2012:

Gov. Nikki Haley has vetoed 81 items from South Carolina’s budget, including $10 million for local school districts to give teachers raises.

 

while giving her own staff raises.

 

CG: Gave Her Staff Raises

“Gov. Haley sets premium staff pay,” Jim Davenport, Associated Press, 1/13/2011:

Gov. Nikki Haley will pay her chief of staff $125,000 per year, a salary that eclipses her own pay and is $27,000 more than former Gov. Mark Sanford paid his chief of staff, according to records obtained today by The Associated Press.

 

It’s a great day in South Carolina!
And Haley sent our Medicaid dollars to other states,

 

CG: Nikki Haley

CG: Opposed Medicaid, Depriving Thousands of Healthcare

“SC’s poorest left out if Medicaid expansion turned down,” Joey Holleman, The State, 1/16/2013:

Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer surprised many Monday by saying she would support Medicaid expansion in her state, saying if Arizona turned down the money it would just go to insure citizens of other states. S.C. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, said he hopes Haley will make the same decision, noting South Carolina can accept the expansion money and back out of the program in three years when the federal money runs out.

 

Kaiser Health News, 11/26/2013:

About 1 million people are enrolled in Medicaid in South Carolina. The state estimates nearly 300,000 people are eligible but not enrolled. In its fiscal year ending June 30, the state expects about 130,000 people to enroll, and that number will grow to 162,000 by June 30, 2015.

 

If the state had expanded Medicaid under the health law, it would have extended coverage to another 340,000 people.

denying healthcare to seniors South Carolina’s Office on Aging explains the benefits to seniors 55 and over, but because of Nikki Haley seniors aged 55 to 64 are not covered by Medicaid expansion.

 

South Carolina Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging:

Benefits available to Senior Citizens in South Carolina….

 

Age 55
Automobile insurance credit is mandated for persons who are 55 years of age or older and have successfully completed a driver training course approved by the Department of Public Safety

 

 

and children. By not expanding Medicaid thousands of children who are eligible for coverage are far less likely to receive coverage.  Numerous studies, and the results from states that have expanded coverage have shown that doing so drastically increases the number of children covered.

 

“Administration touts benefits of Medicaid expansion for children,” Ferdous Al-Faruque, The Hill, 7/11/2014:

States that expanded access to Medicaid under ObamaCare greatly increased access to healthcare for the poor, especially for children, according to the Obama administration….

 

The CMS study notes the 26 states and the District of Columbia, which expanded Medicaid, saw 17 percent more people enroll in the Medicaid and CHIP programs.

 

Overall, the agency says 11.4 percent more people enrolled in CHIP and Medicaid by the end of May compared to average enrollment between July and September 2013.

 

“Medicaid Coverage for Parents Under the Affordable Care Act,” Georgetown University Center for Families and Children, June 2012:

Increasing coverage among parents is expected to have a number of positive impacts…. Parent coverage also appears to increase children’s coverage, as studies and state experience have consistently shown that covering parents improves their children’s coverage rates.

 

“Coverage of Parents Helps Children, Too,” Leighton Ku and Matt Broaddus, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 10/20/2006:

Covering low-income parents in programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP increases enrollment by eligible children, with the result that fewer children go uninsured. Studies show that expansions of coverage for low-income parents lead to greater Medicaid or SCHIP participation by eligible children and reduce the percentage of eligible children who remain uninsured. The studies also indicate that covering parents helps eligible low-income children retain their coverage when it comes up for renewal so that fewer children lose insurance at that time, improving the continuity of children’s coverage and reducing the number of periods without insurance.

 

a great day in South Carolina!
And Haley’s Department of Social Services has failed our most vulnerable children.

 

CG: Nikki Haley

CG: DSS Children Abused, Even Killed

“DSS Death: ‘The System Failed Robert’,” Clark Fouraker, WLTX, 2/24/2014:

Despite multiple reports to the South Carolina Department of Social Services, steps were never taken to remove Robert Guinyard Jr. from his home before he died.

 

“They were notified on multiple occasions of abuse with this child,” said Richland County Coroner Gary Watts.

 

“SC senator: DSS must face questions about child abuse deaths,” Adam Beam, The State, 10/3/2013:

Laura Hudson, a member of the state Child Fatality Advisory Committee that reviews suspicious child deaths, said 312 children have died since 2009 while involved in one way or another with Social Services.

 

DSS, child protective services will be audited in light of safety concerns,” Prentiss Findlay, Post and Courier, 11/27/2012:

Reports of children starved to death, sexually abused for months and dying of treatable illness prompted a local legislator Monday to call for an audit of the state Department of Social Services.

 

a great day in South Carolina!
For Nikki Haley, maybe.  But not for South Carolina families.

 

CG: Nikki Haley

CG: Hurting South Carolina

What do you think of it?

So which is it? Is SC economy in the tank, or doing great?

Apparently riffing on a release sent out by the SC Democratic Party, Will Folks writes:

Is it a “great day in South Carolina?”

Not if you live in Cheraw or Bennettsville, S.C.  These two rural towns are reeling after a recent announcement from Bi-Lo – a regional grocery store chain that operates roughly 200 supermarkets in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

According to reporter Mary Edwards of WMBF TV (NBC – Myrtle Beach/ Florence, S.C.), Bi-Lo is shutting down stores in Cheraw and Bennettsville – a move that will leave 130 employees out of work.

The job losses are coming sooner rather than later, too, with the store’s regional public relations manager telling Edwards the stores will be closing prior to November 19 of this year.

Happy Thanksgiving, right?…

Remember Colonial Stores?

Remember Colonial Stores?

As a native of Bennettsville, I can remember when it had a thriving retail environment, with a bustling Main Street and several supermarkets in the downtown area — Winn-Dixie, Colonial (anybody remember Colonial Stores?), an A&P, and later, a Harris Teeter.

Not so much anymore. I haven’t counted the grocery stores lately, but it’s been awhile since downtown has been what it was.

But the view can still look pretty good from Columbia, as Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt writes today in The State — and he has plenty of facts on his side:

By any measure, South Carolina is on a roll. Over the past four years, we have been making major gains — gains that are bringing economic stability and opportunity to communities across the state.bobby_hitt_110111

We’ve celebrated big recruitment wins, including announcements by the world’s top automotive and aerospace companies, boosted opportunities for small businesses and created an environment that encourages existing industry to continue expanding in our state.

The facts are clear: Trend lines show unemployment on the decline while the number of South Carolinians working has risen to historic highs. Our economy is humming, and companies around the world are choosing South Carolina as a place where they can succeed….

That team approach starts at the top, with Gov. Nikki Haley personally invested and fully integrated in what we’re doing, meeting and speaking with prospects or our existing companies. As the CEO of the state, she understands the importance of customer service and a personal touch. In fact, one thing we hear from clients all over the world is that she readily gives them her cell phone number and says to call her with any issues….

So which is it? Is our economy in the dumps, or thriving?

Sheheen tries, unsuccessfully, to goad Haley into debate

Last night, Vincent Sheheen put out this statement:

“Honest leadership means looking people in the eye and defending your record in debates in each region of the state, but Governor Haley refuses to face the tough questions about her abysmal record. Today we notified ETV that, as with the debate proposed by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, I will participate in the debates when Nikki Haley agrees to join us. I encourage the Governor to stop hiding behind staff and TV commercials and agree to debate in the Midlands and Myrtle Beach especially. We all know you can’t trust Nikki Haley to tell the truth, but residents of every region deserve the opportunity to hear directly from their governor about her record and from the gubernatorial candidates about the direction we would take this state.”

The irony here is that Sheheen himself is declining to debate with Ervin, in the absence of the incumbent. So… he’s doing to Ervin what Haley is doing to him.

The governor, who is in a position to spurn Sheheen, does so, on the standard theory that if you’re leading and you’re the incumbent, you don’t give your opponent a forum in which he appears on an equal footing with you.

And if you’re Sheheen, you don’t lower yourself to debate with Ervin alone, because then you look like the members of the Sad Losers Left Out In the Cold Club.

It’s a pecking order thing.

Not that I disagree with Sheheen’s decision. Sheheen and Ervin debating an empty podium makes for an unappealing campaign visual. But when we all know how the electoral math works, it makes Sheheen sound a bit priggish to be using holier-than-thou language such as “We all know you can’t trust Nikki Haley to tell the truth.” But the campaign keeps putting language like that into his mouth, even though it just doesn’t sound like him.

Only one thing will get her to turn out for that debate: Polls that show her losing her lead. Apparently, she’s not seeing any polls like that.

Fearing U.N.’s ‘Agenda 21′ down in Charleston

Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland. And also on the coast. I rode on an elevator with Matt Kennell of City Center Partnership this morning, and he was marveling at the credulity of those in Charleston who believe that “smart growth” is some sort of U.N. plot to undermine the American Way.

Here’s what he was referring to:

Where builders and planners see combining high-density housing, retail and offices as the wave of the future, residents from Mount Pleasant to James Island see problems – crowded schools, lack of parking and an end to small-town lifestyles.

Now, they also have complaints that high-density residential developments, bicycle lanes, mass transit and “sustainable” or “smart” growth are part of a 22-year-old United Nations plot to undermine the American way of life.

“It’s all a part of this Agenda 21,” said Mount Pleasant native Cindy Anderson, referring to the Coleman Boulevard Plan. “They will push us all into these urban centers – that’s the plan.”

Bill Eubanks, the creative director of Urban Edge Studio at Seamon, Whiteside & Associates, who authored Mount Pleasant’s Coleman Boulevard master plan, said he’s heard concerns about Agenda 21, a 351-page document outlining ideas to address poverty, housing and environmental problems, including climate change.

“I have looked into the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory claims and not only do I think they are unfounded, I think they are absolutely ludicrous,” he said. “Worse than that, buying into this ridiculous fear-mongering can stand in the way of both sustainability and smart growth – something our communities really need.”…

Apparently, “Agenda 21″ is to development what “Common Core” is to education standards — some sort of dog-whistle thing that only the conspiracy-sensitive can hear.

Those who fear this supposed agenda say it could lead to people getting out of their cars and riding mass transit. Which, of course, sounds awesome. I don’t know whether the U.N. has a plan for that, but I do. Alas, I don’t think any of us will live to see it where we live…

All is not well in Fringe City: Ravenel, Folks have falling-out

File photo from earlier this year.

File photo from earlier this year.

Erstwhile pals Thomas Ravenel and Will Folks have had a falling-out. Here’s Charleston City Paper‘s version of the tale:

Hours after the Associated Press reported that Ravenel was “reassessing” his indie challenge of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the former state treasurer tried to get in touch with Folks, the ‘founding editor’ of FitsNews.com who appeared on the show as T-Rav’s political advisor.

According to an incident report filed by the sheriff’s office in Lexington County, where Folks lives, after he didn’t answer a phone call from Ravenel Sunday morning, he followed with several “harassing text messages” to Folks around 9:30 Sunday night. The incident was first reported by the Post and Courier, but you can read the full report below.

“Folks stated that he did not want any contact with Ravenel so he did not return his phone call,” the report notes. In one text message last night, Ravenel supposedly promised  “he would have him (Folks) in a trailer within a year.”…

Here’s the incident report. And here’s what Will had to say about it.

City Paper also reported that “In an email to local media, Lexington County Sheriff’s officials say that both parties later told cops that the situation had been resolved.” I’m sure that’s a relief to all…

Meanwhile, I want to know more about the “reassessing his campaign” thing…

Lindsey Graham for president? He’s considering a run

Hey, why not? -- 2007 file photo by Brad Warthen

Hey, why not? — 2007 file photo by Brad Warthen

Which is not the same as saying he thinks he can win. But he might run anyway, according to The Weekly Standard. In a piece headlined, “The Return of the GOP Hawks: Not that they ever really left,” Graham was quoted as speaking of 2016:

In our interview, Graham repeatedly spoke of the challenges that will face the next president because of the mistakes made under Obama. And he suggested that he might just be the one to fix them.

“If I get through my general election, if nobody steps up in the presidential mix, if nobody’s out there talking​—​me and McCain have been talking​—​I may just jump in to get to make these arguments,” Graham said.

I asked Graham about Rubio. Hasn’t he been making many of the arguments you’d be likely to make? Graham wasn’t impressed. “He’s a good guy, but after doing immigration with him—we don’t need another young guy not quite ready,” said Graham. “He’s no Obama by any means, but he’s so afraid of the right, and I’ve let that go.”

McCain likes what he sees in the emerging GOP field, but acknowledges that he’s told Graham to think about running. “I’ve strongly encouraged him to give it a look. I think Lindsey has vast and deep experience on these issues that very few others have…

I freely admit, I did not see this coming.

But after all, why not? Both of the other two of the Three Amigos have run, and both have made it onto national tickets.

That said, it sounds to me like his real purpose is to raise issues. But this is still fascinating…

This, by the way, is the second indication I’ve seen in 24 hours that Graham’s internal polling must be looking really good.

The first was this, last night:

Sheheen’s bold stand is the ONLY way the flag will come down

Vincent Sheheen’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds isn’t some here-today, forgotten-tomorrow campaign gimmick.

It’s a game-changer. But only if he somehow manages to win the election.

Sheheen was paraphrased in The State today as saying that this is an issue best addressed by a governor. Sure, he could have introduced a resolution to have it removed every session, only to have it die in committee, as did Cleveland Sellers’ one such attempt as a freshman House member. One or two lawmakers might be willing to stick their necks out, but there aren’t enough others willing to go along with them to make the effort viable. Knowing that, lawmakers see little point in making enemies over a lost cause — they have other things they want to accomplish.

But a governor has the bully pulpit to raise the issue so it can’t be buried or ignored.

That said, not just any governor would have the political leverage to overcome the General Assembly’s profound inertia on the issue. It would take a governor who campaigned on the issue, and got elected. A governor who does that would have political juice, and moral authority, unlike any we’ve seen in our poor state, which has been so sadly short on political courage for the generation that I’ve covered it.

So that raises the issue, does this move hurt or help Sheheen’s chances of getting elected? I truly don’t know. His chances were slim as it stood, barring something to shake up the equation. And I’d rather see it shaken this way — by Sheheen doing something right and good and visionary and courageous — than by some new scandal or other disaster befalling Nikki Haley.

Some think it’s automatic political death for a governor or gubernatorial candidate to embrace this issue. They’re wrong. They point to what happened to David Beasley, who stirred up the Angry White Men of his party with his abortive, half-hearted attempt to take action on the flag. Yeah, a few more neoConfederates may have voted against him. But Beasley had also alienated those of us on the other side of the issue, by so quickly reversing himself and giving up on the issue when he experienced the white backlash. Even to people who, unlike me, didn’t care about the flag, it made him look weak, wishy-washy and ineffective.

(I had only contempt for his surprised, shocked and weak reaction to the angry calls and letters. I, and to an even greater extent my colleague Warren Bolton — flag defenders got especially angry at a black man who dared to say the same things I was saying — had experienced the same phenomenon every single time we published another editorial or column on the subject. That means we had experienced it hundreds of times since I had joined the editorial board and started writing on the subject in 1994. Beasley couldn’t take a few days of it.)

And there were other reasons for Beasley’s loss.

In Sheheen’s case, not only is this likely to galvanize voters who would likely have supported him anyway — motivating them to get out and vote and urge their friends and neighbors to do so — it elevates him as someone willing to lead among many who might have been on the fence. Say, business leaders. If you’ll recall, the state Chamber backed Sheheen last time, and this time (thanks in large part to the rise of some Haley allies on the Chamber’s board), it went for Nicky. Business people can be favorably impressed by someone who is willing to lead, and to lead us in a direction that sweeps away such atavistic nonsense, such unnecessary barriers to progress, as flying that flag.

People who were dispirited by Sheheen’s lackluster, take-no-chances campaign thus far will be willing to step forward and put out some effort to get him elected.

I believe it’s at best a wash, and could be helpful to his chances.

But win or lose, he’s doing the right thing. And it’s been far too long since we’ve seen anyone who would lead us do that.