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ISSUE 10.24
Jun. 17, 2011

RECENT ISSUES:
12/04 | 11/27 | 11/20 | 11/13

Index

News :
Top cop swap
Legislative Agenda :
Act Two ahead
Radar Screen :
Quick work
Palmetto Politics :
Soft landing -- not!
Commentary :
State needs persevering investment to do better
My Turn :
Can the GOP be right and win, too?
Feedback :
Lovely tribute to West
Scorecard :
Four ups, two downs
Stegelin :
Coming in for a landing
Number of the Week :
$222,000,000.00
Megaphone :
So how's the tea party feel about this?
Encyclopedia :
Peaches: State fruit's ripe for the picking
In our other publications :
Dip into Charleston Currents

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Next week's issue

Next week's issue will be published on Saturday, June 25, to accommodate travel schedules.  We appreciate your patience.  We also encourage you to write a letter to the editor to showcase your views on the news. 

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$222,000,000.00

That’s how big of an annual deficit the state Department of Health and Human Services now will be allowed to carry, thanks to a unanimous vote this week by the state Budget and Control Board. Gov. Nikki Haley voted for the deficit and pushed successfully earlier this year for Medicaid reimbursement rates to be dropped.  More.

MEGAPHONE

So how's the tea party feel about this?

“It happened prior to me and it will never happen again.”

-- Gov. Nikki Haley, commenting on the state Budget and Control Board voting unanimously this week to allow the state agency which oversees Medicaid to run a $222 million deficit. Haley, as a member of the board, voted to allow the overage. More.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Peaches: State fruit's ripe for the picking

South Carolina's state fruit, the peach (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is a temperate-zone stone fruit that is grown widely around the world. Peaches originated in China, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. From China, peaches migrated to ancient Persia and then to Europe. In the 1600s the Spaniards introduced peaches to North America. By the early 1700s there were several prominent accounts of peach cultivation in South Carolina. The native Indians cultivated peaches and preserved them by drying and pressing them into cakes. Henry William Ravenel of Aiken is credited as the first commercial grower to ship peaches outside the state in the 1850s.

At the start of the twenty-first century, peaches were the most widely grown commercial fruit crop in South Carolina, comprising more than seventeen thousand acres in the state and with an estimated annual farm value of between $30 million and $40 million. Peaches have been grown in three primary regions proceeding from the mountains to the coast: the Piedmont, "The Ridge" region between Columbia and Augusta, and the coastal plains. South Carolina ranks as the number-two peach producer in the United States, after California. In 1984 the peach was designated by the General Assembly as the state fruit of South Carolina.

More than forty commercial varieties of peaches are grown in South Carolina. In a normal year more than two hundred million pounds of peaches are harvested in the state. The peach harvest season begins in early May and ends in late September. The vast majority of the commercially grown South Carolina peaches are destined for fresh markets up the eastern seaboard of the United States. Local roadside markets are the second major outlet for fresh peaches. Some peaches are grown specifically for processing into baby food and other value-added processed products.

Most peach trees in South Carolina's commercial orchards actually begin in Tennessee nurseries. First a seedling rootstock is grown, and then a desirable fruiting cultivar is grafted onto that seedling. Trees are then dug bare-root and shipped to South Carolina for planting during the winter. Peach trees begin bearing fruit during their third year after planting, and peach orchards will remain in production for roughly fifteen years. A mature tree that is well cared for can produce up to eight bushels of fruit and may use up to forty gallons of water per day near harvest.

Peach cultivation in South Carolina can be very profitable, but several factors may negatively impact year-to-year profitability. Some of these include adverse environmental conditions (warm winters, spring freezes, hail, drought), pests and disease (peach tree short life, oak root rot disease), and economic factors (labor costs, urban encroachment). To diminish the impact of some of these factors, growers are utilizing newer technologies such as microsprinkler irrigation, integrated pest management, wind machines, and resistant rootstocks. In addition, they are constantly planting newer, high-quality varieties to expand their marketing opportunities.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Desmond R. Layne. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)

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Dip into Charleston Currents

You can learn a lot of what's going on in the Charleston area by checking out Charleston Currents, a sister publication published every Monday and Thursday.  In recent offerings:

PALMETTO PRIORITIES

Palmetto Priorities Statehouse Report encourages state leaders to develop and implement Palmetto Priorities involving several issues to make the state better a better place. Click the link to learn more about our suggestions for bipartisan policy objectives.

Here is a summary of our Palmetto Priorities:

CORRECTIONS: Reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2020.

EDUCATION: Cut the state's dropout rate in half by 2020.

ELECTIONS: Increase voter registration to 75 percent by 2015.

ENVIRONMENT: Adopt a state energy policy that requires energy producers to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

ETHICS: Overhaul state ethics laws.

HEALTH CARE: Ensure affordable and accessible health care.

JOBS: Develop a Cabinet-level post to add, retain 10,000 small business jobs per year.

POLITICS: Have a vigorous two- or multi-party political system of governance.

ROADS: Strengthen all bridges and upgrade state roads by 2015.

SAFETY: Cut the state's violent crime rate by one-third by 2016.

TAX REFORM: Remove outdated special interest sales tax exemptions as part of an overall reform of the state's tax structure to be completed by 2014.

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News

Top cop swap

Keel outlines priorities as new pick to head of SLED


JUNE 17, 2011 -- Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to nominate Mark Keel, currently the head of the state’s highway patrol, to be the next leader of the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) could mean a major change in the focus of S.C. law enforcement focus.

For the past three years, Reggie Lloyd has been the director at SLED, having beaten out Keel for the position under Gov. Mark Sanford’s tenure. Lloyd informed Haley soon after her election that he would be leaving the office before the end of his term in January 2012.

There are marked differences between the two men, as obvious as the difference between a wingtip and a gumshoe.

Lloyd, a former state circuit judge, served as a heralded federal prosecutor with a background in combating white-collar crime.  Lloyd pushed SLED to tackle statewide issues like gangs and drugs and white-collar crime. Lloyd was also the division’s first-ever black director, as well as its first leader taken from outside its ranks.

His leadership came under intense criticism two years ago when he announced SLED investigators found no wrongdoing by Sanford related to his trips to South America, during which he visited an extramarital girlfriend.

Lloyd had also drawn criticism for the amount of money spent on refurbishing his offices, the purchase of new division vehicles and other expenditures during a time of statewide cutbacks.

Lloyd could not reached by press time for comment.

Keel, on the other hand, is an old-school cop, and has promised a more blue-collar approach to running SLED.

For the past three years, Keel has had to work hard to rebuild the reputation of the state Department of Public Safety, which, at the time, had become a national punch line.

Videos abounded on television screens three years ago of state highway patrolmen beating motorists, chasing down fleeing on-foot suspects in cruisers and hitting them with the vehicles. There were accusations that, under the previous DPS regime, the good ol’ boy network was protecting certain officers.

Under Keel, things changed rapidly after he set up a “zero tolerance” policy for allegedly wayward patrolmen. “I told everybody: 'Lie, and you’re fired; get a DUI, and I won’t wait for a trial, you’re fired,'” said Keel.

Approach to the new job

Interviewed this week following Haley’s selection, Keel spoke extensively about how he would approach a job that he, in some ways, trained for during the 29 years he worked in the division.

Keel, who still has to be approved by the state Senate, seemed to be careful not to criticize Lloyd, for whom he expressed respect. He also was equally careful not answer questions about whether the department broadened its mission under Lloyd's watch. But Keel said he would return the department’s focus to its “legislative” constraints.

Keel said the original law creating the division’s intention was to limit SLED to providing “support” of local law enforcement, not being lead-dog on hot issues. He said his priority would be to provide manpower, technology and expertise to departments calling for help.

“Especially in rural areas, where they are less likely to have the resources,” said Keel. “That way, people in those areas will have just as much chance as protection and law enforcement as residents in metro areas, like those living in Charleston, Richland or Greenville counties.”

Unlike three years ago when Sanford tapped the then-SLED interim director Keel to run DPS, Keel is coming in to run a SLED largely devoid of scandal. But Haley said she still liked the idea of his steady hand guiding SLED. She praised his “leadership, pride, fairness and trust.”

Keel said his first move would be to communicate his plan to the staff. People, he noted, are simply more likely to go along with a plan if they know what it is.

Crystal ball: If Mark Keel is a gumshoe and Reggie Lloyd was a wingtip, then the biggest question may be, is Keel sophisticated enough to handle the white-collar crime Lloyd was known for investigating and prosecuting. “Either a guy stole something or he didn’t,” said Keel.

Bill Davis, editor of Statehouse Report, can be reached at:  editor@statehousereport.com.
Legislative Agenda

Act Two ahead

The General Assembly will meet beginning Tuesday for the second of a scheduled three-week special session to continue work on the state budget (they're close), federal redistricting (see below) and gubernatorial vetoes. It's still unclear whether the legislature will deal now or in January with stalled pieces of Gov. Nikki Haley’s stalled legislative agenda, like restructuring and the creation of a Department of Administration. 
  • Redistricting. There will be a state Senate public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday in 308 Gressette, followed by a redistricting subcommittee a 10 a.m. Tuesday in 308 Gressette, followed by a 3 p.m. Tuesday full Judiciary Committee meeting in 308 Gressette. More:  www.redistricting.scsenate.gov.
Radar Screen

Quick work

Look for the bottleneck in the General Assembly to ease next week, as the House and Senate have finished their respective plans for redrawing boundaries for their own seats. This paves the way for the fight over creating the new 7th congressional district and how it will ripple out over the rest of the districts. Word out of both chambers was that “we’re close” on finalizing a budget deal that would incorporate an increase of $210 million in extra revenues: Some want the majority for schools, others for paying down unemployment debt. The exact number will emerge quickly next week.

Palmetto Politics

Soft landing -- not!

This was a big week for the battle to keep Boeing’s expansion dreams in North Charleston a reality. First, the mega-company asked for the federal labor lawsuit against it be thrown out. Then it announced demand for new planes would soon top $4 trillion. Then a Congressional panel was to hold a hearing in North Charleston. And finally, both sides seemed to be ready to hunker down for a long, protracted fight.

Redistricting plans nudge forward

Just-completed redistricting plans for the S.C. House and S.C. Senate reportedly have members of both parties in each chamber happy, by and large.

Both chambers are expected to present their joint plans for redrawing federal districts within South Carolina for federal approval. There has been some grumbling from members of both chambers, with state Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian promising to sue for “laughable” portions of the statewide plans. Next week will see the plans for federal districts to be revealed, including the new 7th congressional district.

The wisdom of the Haley?

A source deeply involved in the goings-on in Columbia, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this week that Gov. Nikki Haley scored a political coup by demanding, albeit unsuccessfully, that the legislature return a week earlier for a special session to deal with her unmet campaign demands of restructuring.

What looked like an irresponsible gambit has, according to the well-placed source, turned into a big win for Haley. Consider that the legislature is returning for a three-week extra session to deal with its biggest annual agenda item, the budget. And, consider that the legislature is returning to deal with its biggest agenda item of the decade, redistricting. And what has everyone been talking about? Haley.

The source said Haley put herself in a win-win position: If the legislature caved to her demand, she wins; if it didn’t, she gets to push the budget and redistricting out of the spotlight, and bash the legislature for being against restructuring and change.

Commentary

State needs persevering investment to do better

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

JUNE 17, 2011 -- After another week of things devolving into petty politics, perhaps it's time to think a little about Aesop's fable of the crow and the pitcher.

Seems that a crow, dying of thirst, spied a pitcher. He flew to it with great delight in hope of finding water. But when he reached the pitcher, there was so little water in it that he couldn't get to it. He tried to knock it over. He thrust his beak into the pitcher. But he had no luck in getting to the water to quench his thirst. And boy, was he thirsty.

Then the crow had a new thought. He collected some pebbles and dropped in one, then another and another. Eventually as the stones displaced the air in the pitcher, the water rose so the crow could drink deeply, saving his life.

The moral of the story is that by persevering with little step after little step, the crow was able to reach his goal.

Unfortunately in these hyper-partisan times overburdened with soundbites and stunts, perseverance gets the short end of the stick. Today's politicians tend to shy away from long-term programs that make investments year after year to get to big goals. Instead, political expediency rules the roost.

Want proof? Consider we're still among the bottom of most of the lists that are bad to be at the bottom of. We're still not educating our children, particularly young ones, as we should. Dropout levels remain high. People in South Carolina tend to be in poorer health than those in non-Southern states. Poverty, infant mortality, violent crime and other measures are out of whack.

If we want to do better on any of these measures, South Carolina has to make a sustained commitment to excellence and follow through like the crow. Two examples illustrate how perseverance pays off. 

First turn to North Carolina. In the 1950s, some of Tarheel state's numbers, particularly on poverty and education, were as bad as -- if not worse -- than South Carolina's. But an inspirational leader, Terry Sanford, mustered the political muscle to invest big in public education, particularly at the university level. And a group of business, political and academic leaders worked together to create a research and development park that blended the resources of universities with the corporate sector. The result? Research Triangle Park, now the home to more than 170 global companies. 

How did it happen? North Carolina's leaders dreamed, adopted a shared vision and persevered to make it happen.

A second example comes from the world of politics. Following Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the idealism of John F. Kennedy, Great Society naysayers concocted a political vision espousing government was bad for America. With the Watergate scandal injecting cynicism in a country still smarting from the clashes of the 1960s, the political environment was ripe for the message by Ronald Reagan that "government is the problem." In the years that followed, many politicians blindly adopted the mantra that the only way to get what's needed in America was to cut taxes, cut more taxes and cut more taxes -- to, in fact, cut government so much that conservative tax-hater Grover Norquist could "drown it in a bathtub."

The moral is that conservatives adopted a once-controversial political vision, but kept plugging away at it for years until that vision became the vision of the majority. 

But in 2011, a vision to continue to cut taxes more is becoming ridiculous. With South Carolina having the dubious distinction of taking in the lowest amount of taxes per capita according to the Tax Foundation, we don't have much fat to cut. We're cutting into the bone.

Our state's leaders need to comprehend that South Carolina needs transformational change to survive. To persist in cuts on top of cuts will lead us to becoming a third-world state.

The root of the word "fable" is Latin and means "story." The word "fabulous" has the same root. If we want South Carolina's future story to be fabulous, we've got to become the crow and work hard to shrug off the hangovers of the past.  Invest perseveringly. Dum spiro spero.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report and can be reached at: brack@statehousereport.com.

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My Turn

Can the GOP be right and win, too?

By Chip Felkel
Special to Statehouse Report

JUNE 17, 2011 -- Romney, Pawlenty, Bachman, Gingrich, Cain, Paul and soon Huntsman, all will be seeking your vote in next year’s presidential primary.  As you make up your mind remember this: Republicans must nominate someone who, in the general election, will appeal well beyond the boundaries of GOP precinct meetings, county and state conventions and those crazy Iowa caucuses. 

We won’t win back the White House by nominating someone who only appeals to their brand of Republicanism. It won’t work. In the 2010 elections, 37 percent of those casting ballots referred to themselves as Republicans, 37 percent called themselves Democrats. The GOP must find a way to capture the majority of that 26 percent who steadfastly cling to the label of Independent. Nominating someone who only appeals to the hard-core activist won’t add up to success. This is the hard, cold reality. The GOP activists have got to get over being right and get on with being successful. How? For starters, by recognizing and accepting that the American system of government was not established on an all or nothing principle. Are we spending too much? Yes. Can we cut spending? Absolutely. Do we need to address entitlements quickly? We better. Should we take a hard look at our use of our military, and decide if injecting democracy in places where it is truly a foreign concept is really worth the cost in lives and dollars when we are swimming in debt. Probably ought to be addressed.

The goal of the 2012 GOP Primary is to nominate someone as the party’s standard bearer who can wage a successful race against the incumbent, President Obama. So far, the activists seem drawn very strongly to people who, in all frankness, don’t have a shot. It is not all about social issues, though they are very important. It is not all about spending, though this too is critical. It is not all about immigration, though it must be addressed. It is about leadership. It is about success and, so far,  GOP activists seem to care less about winning than they do about being right. And people, we really need to win.

We need someone direct, not just blunt. Someone with proven success. Someone who will to take tough, unpopular positions and actually lead. We need substance on policy matters and not just personality. We need someone who will speak the truth, even when it offends those in his or her own party. And we need someone who will stand up to those who erroneously tout the “my way or the highway” attitude and remind them that this country was never set up to work that way. Just who in the field can do these things? Or who will? The process will be long, stretching out into mid-June before a clear nominee emerges. Who among them can not only navigate the pitfalls of technology driven primary politics? Who, if nominated can right this ship by appealing to those key independents and win in the fall? First, though the GOP has to decide if it really wants to win.

Chip Felkel is the CEO of Felkel Group, a public affairs and communications consulting firm based in Greenville.

Feedback

Lovely tribute to West

To Statehouse Report:

I just read your comments about Gov. West (and the bio info) and really appreciate your taking time to write of him this way. I know Phil Grose from S.C. Executive Institute days, so I’m sure it is a wonderful book.

FYI, Winthrop now hosts the John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy, and we’re working with the West family to keep those values alive in a new generation of leaders. (Mrs. West is an active Winthrop alumna, and we named one of our newest building for her a few years back.) Here are a couple of links that will tell you more, in case of further interest:

-- Rebecca Masters, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC

 Those pesky dangling modifiers

To Statehouse Report:

[NOTE: A reader who didn't wish to be identified pointed out a grammatical error in last week's commentary. We have since corrected the error. Thanks for the keen eyes.]

I read your column faithfully, and I find that more often than not I agree with what you say. To me you seem the epitome of a reasonable, tolerant, and civil man. I especially liked your piece on late Gov. John C. West. Every once in a while, not too often these days sadly, a gifted man, one extremely intelligent and talented, enters public service. West was an example of such a man. One senses he, instead of being your usual venal and solipsistic politician, was a man of integrity and character.

I always find your articles well written, cogent and coherent, your prose limpid and ordered. In short, it’s always a pleasure to read your work. Though you stand firm on your positions, you are never shrill and strident. The West piece, for instance, showed your skill in working quotations from the book into your own work. I found the essay seamless. It takes a lot of talent and practice to accomplish such a feat. Good job. ...

I want to mention, however, an error you made in your piece on Gov. West. I have made the same error many times. Anyone who writes has made it. I am sure you know what a “dangling modifier” is. Some call this grammatical error a “dangling participle.” A participle, as you probably remember from your school days, is a verbal phrase used as an adjective. It must, like a single adjective, be attached to the noun or pronoun it is describing. It’s one of those mistakes that are easy to make, to miss when one vets one’s own work.

You write, “When an infant, West’s father died in a Kershaw County fire trying to rescue others.” Now obviously West’s father as an infant did no such thing. You meant to say that when Gov. West was an infant, his father died trying to save others.  We all know what you meant, but it’s not what you said.

-- Name withheld

No cause for celebration

To Statehouse Report:

June 17 marks 40 years of a failed ‘war’ on drugs launched by President Nixon in 1971.  And what have we gotten for the $1 trillion taxpayers have spent on this misguided initiative?  Some 2.3 million of our Americans behind bars, at a cost of $70 billion a year to incarcerate them, and the U.S. shamefully leads the world in per capita prison population,  25 percent of whom are offenders locked up for drug offenses.  Communities of color have been decimated – African-Americans are incarcerated for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of whites despite using drugs at a lower rate.  In her book “The New Jim Crow,” law professor Michelle Alexander shows that African Americans are dramatically more likely to be arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated than other Americans engaged in the same violations of drug laws.  Congress recently took action to reform the notorious crack/powder mandatory minimum drug laws, but much more needs to be done.

In South Carolina, we are still waiting to see positive results from the sentencing reform legislation passed a year ago:  reducing the prison population; treating addiction as a health problem, not a crime; stopping the practice of jailing women who couldn’t beat their addiction while pregnant.  Prohibition is a failed policy that is a political choice, not a scientific one.  We should treat addiction as a health problem, not a crime. 

-- Victoria Middleton, Executive Director, ACLU SC, Charleston, SC

Want to vent a little?   Send us a letter.  Letters are published weekly. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. We generally publish all comments about South Carolina politics or policy issues, unless they are libelous or unnecessarily inflammatory. One submission is allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Comments are limited to 250 words or less.
Scorecard

Four ups, two downs

Golf. Megabank RBC has taken over as the title sponsor of The Heritage PGA golf tournament in Hilton Head, with Boeing as the local presenting sponsor, in a five-year sponsorship deal. Hats off to Gov. Nikki Haley for her hard work.

Baseball. The USC men’s baseball team is going for a repeat shot at the NCAA crown starting this weekend.

BEA. The Board of Economic Advisors said May saw an $117 million increase in state tax revenues. More. 

Getting along. It seems that, unlike in years past, both the legislature and the governor are handing out vetoes and overrides in a more measured, friendly manner. Gone, it seems, mostly are the recriminations of the past, as each side restates their position without much fanfare. Good job, all of you. Now, just try to keep it up.

Home sales. It could get worse, and probably will. More.

‘Freedom.’ Libertarian South Carolina is in the middle of pack, freedom-wise, among other states. More.

Stegelin

Coming in for a landing


Also from Stegelin: 6/10 | 6/3 | 5/27 | 5/20
credits

Statehouse Report

Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2018 , Statehouse Report LLC. Statehouse Report is published every Friday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.
Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with this interesting weekly historical excerpt about the state. Republication is not allowed. For additional information about Statehouse Report, including information on underwriting, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.