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ISSUE 10.45
Nov. 11, 2011

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

Index

News :
Jailhouse rocks!
Legislative Agenda :
Three on tap
Radar Screen :
Pension cuts a-comin’
Palmetto Politics :
Port fight deepens and widens
Commentary :
Lessons from an election
Spotlight :
ACLU of South Carolina
Feedback :
Write a letter today
Scorecard :
Lotsa downs
Stegelin :
Another option: Not buying
Number of the Week :
$920,500,000.00
Megaphone :
From a bright forecast to a dim view
Encyclopedia :
Thomas Clemson: Education is hope of the South
In our other publications :
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EDITOR'S NOTE

11.11.11

It feels a little odd to be publishing on 11.11.11.  The last time we had this date -- 100 years ago -- the country felt the brunt of the "Great Blue Norther," a quick cold snap where some cities experienced records highs in the 70s while the temperatures plunged to record lows in the teens. Brrr.  Stay warm.

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$920,500,000.00

That’s how much extra in unanticipated tax revenue collections the state has received this year, and could be added to the state budget come the new year when the legislature reconvenes. More.

MEGAPHONE

From a bright forecast to a dim view

“It may be raining outside, but there is sunshine in this room today.”

-- State Board of Economic Advisors member Don Herriott on Thursday, after he and fellow board members voted to include more than $920 million to the coming years’ budgets. More.

* * * *

"I believe there is a complex 'culture of cover-up' that has existed for years at top levels of the SCDOT, including the current administration.”

-- DOT board member Sarah Nuckles this week, complaining that she can never get a “straight” answer from the agency when it comes to its finances. More.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Thomas Clemson: Education is hope of the South

Thomas Green Clemson IV was born in Philadelphia on July 1, 1807, the third of six children of Thomas Green Clemson III, a prosperous merchant, and Elizabeth Baker. He studied at schools in Philadelphia and at the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Norwich, Vermont. Clemson continued his education in Paris, attending lectures at the Sorbonne Royal College and earning a diploma as assayer from the Royal School of Mines in 1831. He worked as a mining engineer in the United States and abroad, and published numerous scientific articles.


Clemson

Clemson married John C. Calhoun’s favorite daughter, Anna Maria, on Nov. 13, 1838, at Calhoun’s Fort Hill plantation near Pendleton. They had four children, two of whom lived to adulthood. In 1844, Calhoun recommended Clemson’s appointment as chargé d’affaires to Belgium, the highest-ranking American diplomat to that country, where he served until 1851. Eventually settling in Maryland, Clemson made a name for himself as a leading agricultural chemist. He also promoted his belief in the value of scientific education and helped organize Maryland Agricultural College (later the University of Maryland).
In 1860, Clemson was appointed superintendent of agricultural affairs, a predecessor of the modern secretary of agriculture. Tensions were flaring between the North and the South, however, and Clemson’s sympathies lay with his wife’s home state. He resigned his federal position in March 1861. Clemson joined the Confederacy in May 1863 and served in the Nitre and Mining Bureau, Trans-Mississippi Department, until June 1865. After parole he joined his family at his mother-in-law’s home in Pendleton.

One of Clemson’s most passionate postwar goals was to establish a college to provide practical education in agriculture and the sciences, as he believed that there would be “no hope for the South short of widespread scientific education.” He continued the cause while serving as vice president and then president of the Pendleton Farmers Society from 1867 to 1869, but he soon became discouraged by the state’s poverty and the lack of support. In addition, Clemson was in continually poor health and grieving over the deaths of his two children, seventeen days apart, in 1871.

The Clemsons took possession of Calhoun’s Fort Hill estate in 1872 and decided to use the property to establish a college. Clemson continued the plan after Anna’s death in 1875, meeting with supporters such as Benjamin Tillman, who had been working toward a similar goal. During the 1880s, in drafts of his will and letters to his attorneys, Clemson worked out his plans for a “high seminary of learning,” which would provide a course of studies “in theoretic and practical instruction in those sciences and arts which bear directly upon agriculture.”

Clemson died on April 6, 1888, and was buried in St. Paul’s Episcopal churchyard in Pendleton. He left 814 acres of land and more than $80,000 in assets to the state of South Carolina for the college he envisioned. The state formally accepted the bequest on December 6, 1889, after a lengthy debate and a court battle on behalf of Clemson’s only grandchild. Clemson’s seven handpicked life trustees and six additional trustees selected by the General Assembly helped bring Clemson Agricultural College (now Clemson University) to its opening day on July 7, 1893.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Susan Giaimo Hiott. 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.)

IN OUR OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Free Charleston publication

If you want to read some good news and views involving Charleston, take a look at CharlestonCurrents.com, our sister publication.  In the most recent two issues, you'll learn about a Charleston chamber music organization, police tips on how to keep your home safe, model trains, a Nov. 15 talk by two Medal of Honor recipients, and much, much more.
 
If you want to get the latest daily news about South Carolina, consider SCClips.com.

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

Jailhouse rocks!

Good fiscal news escaping from state Corrections Department

By Bill Davis, senior editor

NOV. 11, 2011 -- For the first time in years, the state Department of Corrections is operating without a deficit after eradicating more than $7 million in shortfalls this calendar year.

But not every one is excited about the ramifications of the agency’s fiscal improvement – especially fans of sentencing reform.

For the past four years, the department, which oversees and manages the state’s prison system, has run annual deficits. Some years, it was in excess of $10 million annually.

The deficit spending by the agency was a major bone of contention between former Gov. Mark Sanford and his critics in the legislature, both Democrats and Republicans, who didn’t understand why the budget-hawk governor was apparently so lenient in criticizing this agency.

The reasons for this year’s turnaround is multifold, according to staffers at the agency, legislators and observers. They credited not only the General Assembly for returning some of the funding cut from past years’ budgets, but also the stewardship of new director, former Judge William Byars.

Byars, still on a part-time work schedule currently as he continues to recover from a stroke earlier this year, is instituting similar cost-savings measures he implemented during his years directing the state Department of Juvenile Justice.

Byars, reversing past administration practices, consulted with staffers from across the agency for suggestions on how to further reduce costs.

According to the agency, the $7.52 million deficit was reduced through:

  • A 5-day furlough for all “non-security” staff - $1.2 million
  • A 5-day furlough for security staff at or above the rank of lieutenant - $400,000
  • A 1-day furlough for security staff, rank sergeant and below - $425,000
  • A large Workers’ Compensation credit - $1.8 million, and
  • Overall reductions in expenses (medical expenses, vacant FTE’s) - $3.8 million
The cost cutting has been so successful that the agency could enjoy a $40,000 surplus and a year in which no furloughs would be meted out, according to staffers.

Agency spokesman Clark Newsom also said the agency would be spared from swinging budget-cutting axes that had hung over the agency’s neck in recent years, like closing facilities or instituting early release programs for non-violent inmates.

Newsom warned that the agency was far from out of the woods, as it is still roughly $7 million behind in maintenance costs.

Worried whether reform will continue


But state Sen. Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington) said this week that while he welcomed the good fiscal news, he was worried that it could lead to a “slackening” in the political will to institute sentencing reform.

For the past several years, Malloy had led the fight for sentencing reform in the legislature. The law that was passed this year calls for prison beds to be reserved in the future for more dangerous criminals. It also is diverting some non-violent criminals into less expensive alternative sentencing, such as drug courts or intense supervision in the community.

“That we have less criminals incarcerated now than we had several years ago proves that sentencing reform is working,” said Malloy, who pointed out that lower co0nvict populations could have lead to lower costs.

Malloy said he is worried that Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration would not continue to implement the law he shepherded through the legislature, now that the money crisis at the agency was waning.Haley’s office did not respond to multiple requests over two days for comment.

Corrections staffers said this week that while the number of offenders the state has incarcerated has decreased in the long run, it has actually gone up over the past 12 months, and their projections are for no more reductions in demand for prison beds.

Malloy also said he was worried that easing money troubles might embolden supporters of combining Corrections with the state’s Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, which has been heralded as a potential cost-saver.“I just haven’t seen anyone make the [compelling] case for combining the two, for one-stop shopping, as it were,” said Malloy, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Combining the two has been criticized that it could create a conflict of interest for the agency head that may want to reduce the agency’s budget by the unwarranted shifting of prisoners to cheaper parole and probation tracks.

Sen. Mike Fair (R-Greenville), chair of the Corrections and Penology Committee, doesn’t understand why Malloy has blocked combining the two agencies, as he claimed, “it would be the fruit of sentencing reform.”Fair said diverting some offenders, like non-violent drug court veterans, to effective intense community supervision programs could see state costs shrink from $20,000 a year per offender to a mere $7 a day in some circumstances.Newsom and staffers, speaking on behalf of the convalescing Byars, said they were already in talks with PPP -- just in case there was a move to combine the two.

Crystal ball: Expect more good news coming out of South Carolina’s prisons. When Byars is back at full-steam, he will move to more fully implement intense supervision option, just like he did at Juvenile Justice, where he significantly reduced the numbers and costs of the incarcerated.

Bill Davis is editor of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:  bill@statehousereport.com.

RECENT NEWS
Legislative Agenda

Three on tap

Three interesting meetings are on tap next week:

  • Pension. The House Ad Hoc retirement study committee will meet Wednesday at 11 a.m. 521 Blatt. More.

  • Senate Judiciary. A subcommittee will hold a “fiscal fitness” public hearing Wednesday at 6 p.m. in 308 Gressette. More.

  • Sentencing. A Senate-House sentencing reform oversight committee will meet Wednesday at 1 p.m. in 309 Gressette. More.

Radar Screen

Pension cuts a-comin’

We wrote about pensions last week and look what's already happening:  A House subcommittee voted this week to recommend making major changes to the state’s retirement plan, which included increasing the number of years needed to be fully vested.

Those recommendations will likely serve as a template for the legislature when it returns to session in January. The pension plan currently has far less money than it needs to cover all of its future demands.
Palmetto Politics

Port fight deepens and widens

Thursday’s vote by the board of the state Department of Health of Environment Control has increased the amount of criticism flowing at it.

The board voted to allow for a permit that gets the state of Georgia one step closer to deepening a strip of the Savannah River the two states share. A deeper river means a quicker development of a major seaport in that state. That could be a big competitor with the planned port expansion in Charleston Harbor.

Gov. Nikki Haley has said the vote was for regional development. Critics wonder what kind of deal she struck with donors and say DHEC’s vote is a cause for member resignations and a cause for concern for the environment.

Commentary

Lessons from an election

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

NOV. 11, 2011 -- I lost a city council election Tuesday.

It’s OK. I’m glad I tried. More people need to take their shot. 

But being on the other side of the press as a candidate provided an interesting twist to my normal role as a columnist. Over the last 10 years, I’ve been on the giving end of politics -- giving politicians everything from ideas to a hard time about various policy proposals.  Now after taking a beating at the polls, I thought you might find it interesting to learn some of the lessons that politicians experience all of the time during elections.

  • Family first. Win or lose, you realize as the results are scrolling across the screen that your family comes first. They’re there to support you when you do well and to support you when you don’t prevail. If you haven’t thanked your family in awhile for having your back, you might want to hug them a little more.
  • Real friends. In the election process, you learn who your real friends are. There are some people who you think are friends who surprise you by supporting someone else. There are others who you haven’t kept up with in awhile who surprise you by helping a lot. Elections weed out fair-weather friends and focus you on who really matters. Elections also provide campaigns with generous volunteers, who become new friends. And we can all use new friends.
  • Community connection. The process of knocking on hundreds of doors, meeting people in coffee shops and participating in forums exposed me to neighborhoods with which I was unfamiliar. The campaign process deepened my connection throughout the community which makes the West Ashley area of Charleston feel even more like home than ever before. It’s a good feeling to feel more connected in your community.
  • Lesson for children. It was heartening to see my two daughters get involved in the campaign. At ages 8 and 4, they would cheer when they’d see my yard signs and hiss a little when they saw opponents’. They’d tell people, “Vote for Daddy,” and attend meetings with me. More than anything, they were part of the democratic process early, which I hope shapes their sense of civic responsibility. More children need to get away from video games and television to get involved early with what’s happening around their towns.
  • Low turnout is a killer. Only 27 percent of registered voters participated in Tuesday’s election, an abysmal percentage. And since not all people who can vote are even registered, that’s a terrible percentage.   Non-participating adults can learn something from children about civic responsibility. If you don’t participate, you shouldn’t raise Cain about what happens in your community when taxes go up or projects are built in places you don’t want.
  • Stand for something and try. The political process forces candidates to stand for something. (This has never been a problem for any columnist, who essentially is a professional opinion-haver). But if you don’t try to make an impact in your community to make it better -- even if you lose -- how can you look in the mirror any morning? This election convinced me to keep trying harder, not less.

So the election is over and I’m back to doing what I normally do. It was fun and I learned a lot. And as Albany (Ga.) Herald columnist Carlton Fletcher noted this week, we should all be appreciative for everyone who puts their name in the hat, win or lose. It makes our communities stronger. From Fletcher:

“It’s easy enough to criticize those who sit in the seats of power — heck, some of us even get paid to do it.  But sitting in one of those seats and working with others to try and make your community better is a far different and much more challenging thing.  To those who were willing to do so, you have my gratitude ... and my respect.”

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

Spotlight

ACLU of South Carolina

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is the American Civil Liberties Union.  The ACLU of South Carolina’s National Office in Charleston is dedicated to preserving the civil liberties enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Through communications, lobbying and litigation, the ACLU South Carolina’s National Office works to preserve and enhance the rights of all citizens of South Carolina.  Foremost among these rights are freedom of speech and religion, the right to equal treatment under law, and the right to privacy.  More:  http://www.aclusouthcarolina.org/
Feedback

Write a letter today

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

Lotsa downs

Schools. Statewide report cards for public schools improved. Good. And thanks Jim Rex and Inez Tenenbaum. More.

Surplus. It’s great that the state’s tax revenue collections are higher than expected, but now comes the wrangling over how to spend it -- and, the state’s economy is still far from fixed. More.

Environment. Six upstate counties’ drought levels have “upgraded” to severe. More.

Mental health. State cuts have hit 39 percent since 2009. More.

Immigration. Sixteen Latin America and Caribbean nations have asked to join the federal government’s lawsuit against South Carolina’s new illegal immigration law which requires police to check “papers” of those stopped or under arrest. More.

Remembering Frazier. A bow of the head for South Carolina native Smokin’ Joe Frazier, who passed away this week at age 67. Muhammad Ali may have bested him  2-1 in their historic matchups, but we liked his style. Rest in peace.

Stegelin

Another option: Not buying


Also from Stegelin: 11/4 | 10/2810/2110/14 | 10/7

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/.