Send your feedback:
feedback@statehousereport.com

ISSUE 11.35
Aug. 31, 2012

RECENT ISSUES:
12/05 | 11/28 | 11/21 | 11/14

Index

News :
Who’s minding the store?
Palmetto Politics :
Voter ID and ego
Commentary :
Do not buy this anti-South rant for any reason
Spotlight :
Municipal Association of South Carolina
My Turn :
S.C. Dems head to Charlotte
Feedback :
Got a comment about South Carolina?
Scorecard :
Thumbs up for soulmates, down for Clemmons
Stegelin :
Clemmonstrator
Number of the Week :
$15,000,000.00
Megaphone :
Not from Bartles & Jaymes
Tally Sheet :
Find legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Richard Harvey Cain

© 2002 - 2014, Statehouse Report LLC. All Rights Reserved. South Carolina Statehouse Report is published weekly.

News tips or calendar info?
E-mail
the editor.

Phone: 843.670.3996

Send
General e-mail

Credits.

UNDERWRITERS

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES

powered by

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$15,000,000.00

That’s how much short the state’s end-of-fiscal-year surplus came up short of projections, causing some programs to be cut. More.

MEGAPHONE

Not from Bartles & Jaymes

“Amen, Ed. Thank you for your support of voter ID.”

-- State Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach), one of the main House authors of voter ID measures in the House, responding to this email message from a supporter: “All you’d have to do is announce that South Carolina legislation was giving a hundred dollar bill away if you came down with a voter ID card, and you would see how fast they got voter ID cards with their picture. It would be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon.” This week, in federal court during testimony on the state’s controversial voter ID law, Clemmons denied he was a racist and said he regretted his response. More.

TALLY SHEET

Find legislative bills

This year's legislative session may be over, but you can still find information about bills and new laws online through the links below.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Richard Harvey Cain

Richard Harvey Cain was born a free person of color in Greenbriar County, Virginia, on April 12, 1825. He grew to maturity in Ohio, where he attended Wilberforce University. Beginning in the late 1840s, Cain served as an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister. By the late 1850s he was an active abolitionist and worked with famous activists such as Frederick Douglass and Martin Delaney.

During the Civil War, Cain was pastor of a church in Brooklyn, New York. In May 1865, to his great delight, he was transferred to South Carolina as superintendent of AME missions for the state. Cain was responsible for building Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, which is considered the state’s most historic AME congregation. By 1866 its membership had grown to more than two thousand. Cain approached his responsibilities with considerable zeal, organizing churches throughout the countryside. Contemporaries credited him with much of the church’s success in the immediate post–Civil War era.

Cain was also motivated by a deeply held black nationalist ideology and sought every opportunity to give black Carolinians greater control over their lives. In 1866 he bought the South Carolina Leader newspaper, becoming perhaps the first African American newspaper editor in South Carolina. After Cain changed its name to the Missionary Record, the paper covered religion, literature, and politics, becoming an important voice for black Carolinians.

From his earliest days in South Carolina, Cain was involved in politics. He was an honorary delegate to the November 1865 Colored Peoples Convention in Charleston, which was one of the earliest forums where black Carolinians demanded equal civil and political rights. In 1867 he helped organize the state Republican Party, and he later served as party chairman for Charleston County.

As a delegate to the 1868 constitutional convention, Cain was an outspoken advocate of universal male suffrage. He worked hard to promote landownership among the landless. He opposed the convention’s call for a debt moratorium, instead believing that planter indebtedness would force sales to the working class. Cain was an architect of the South Carolina Land Commission, designed to help small farmers purchase land, and later served on that commission.

Cain also purchased land north of Charleston, which he resold to freedmen. The settlement evolved into the black town of Lincolnville. Cain served in the S.C. Senate from 1868 to 1870 and was twice elected to Congress, serving from 1873 to 1875 and from 1877 to 1879. In state politics he was considered a reformer who frequently railed against corruption within Republican ranks. While he was in Congress, his most public efforts were on behalf of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, the country’s first federal public accommodations law.

The demise of Reconstruction in South Carolina took Cain’s career in new directions. In 1877 he encouraged some black Carolinians to seek their fortune in Africa and supported the Liberian Exodus movement. In 1880 he was among the first three men elected bishops in the AME Church from the South, and he was given responsibility for Louisiana and Texas. In Texas he served as founder and president of Paul Quinn College in Waco. Cain moved to Washington, D.C., in 1884 and died there on Jan. 18, 1887.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Bernard E. Powers Jr. 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.)

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.

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE

Subscriptions to Statehouse Report are now free. Click here to subscribe.

YOUR COMMENTARY SOUGHT

Every week in our new My Turn section, we seek guest commentaries on issues of public and policy importance to South Carolina. If you're interested, click here to learn more.

OPPORTUNITY

Become an underwriter

Statehouse Report is an underwriter-supported legislative forecast with new added features that provide more information about what’s going to happen at the SC General Assembly and in state government.

Organizations and companies that underwrite the publication receive a host of exciting benefits through branding, information spotlights and more.

To learn more about our exciting transformation and how your organization or business can benefit, click here. Or give us a holler on the phone at: 843.670.3996.

Statehouse Report -- making it easier to learn more about state politics and policy.

News

Who’s minding the store?

Statehouse press corps shrinking

By Bill Davis, senior editor

AUG. 31, 2012 -- South Carolinians today have to look harder than ever before to find out what their state government is up to, thanks to a modern media that puts infotainment on a pedestal.

In the 1990 S.C. Legislative Manual, there were a total of 61 print, radio and television reporters credentialed to cover the General Assembly.

According to the current-year online version, now there are 26 total – 11 print and 15 from radio and television. That’s down four reporters from 2010, even.

And with Associated Press correspondent Jim Davenport -- the well-regarded, seasoned newsman of the current Statehouse press corps -- out on medical leave since January, not only does the quantity of reporters seem to be shrinking, but so is the quality.

So. Who’s minding the store?

Past blast

“It was a lot more competitive when everybody was covering the Statehouse,” said Sid Gaulden, one of those 61 from two decades ago who now works as the spokesman for the state’s Department of Public Safety.

Not everyone on the 1990 list was at the Statehouse everyday of the legislative session, according to Gaulden. “But we even had the UPI back in those days.”

Gaulden said the shrinking numbers are a representation of the current state of media in this country where the amount of space, time and resources spent on hard news is retreating.

“Look at the front page of The State newspaper: you used to have lots of local stories,” Gaulden said. “But now, you’re lucky to get any local stories anywhere.” He went on to ask, rhetorically, what radio stations, AM or otherwise, have in-house news desks that do anything beyond “rip-and-read” coverage.

Several of the reporters covering the Statehouse for major papers and news outlets declined to comment  for this story.  But they agreed it was "spot on" to describe Statehouse reportage in South Carolina as declining in quality and quantity.

“If I knew what needed to be changed, or how to do it, I would have already won that Powerball lottery,” chortled Gaulden.

A little information

Winthrop political scientist Scott Huffmon said The Palmetto State “so needs” the level of coverage it had enjoyed in the past. “And it’s not just the numbers of reporters have gone down … it’s the quality, too.”

Huffmon bemoaned a modern journalism phenomenon in which he sees in-depth investigative reporting being swapped for blips on Twitter.

“The illusion of having enough information is actually more dangerous than not having any information at all,” said Huffmon. He added that scant media coverage would lead the electorate to assume nothing was wrong and that there was nothing to worry about.

Evidence of that paradigm is on display, according to one longtime Statehouse insider. For example, in the old days, Statehouse staffers often would provide several tables for reporters and risers for TV cameras. These days, it’s lucky if a few reporters show up to fill seats at just one table.

New breed

S.C. Press Association 2011 Journalist of the Year Corey Hutchins covers state government full-time for the Free Times, an alternative weekly newspaper in Columbia.

Hutchins said he worried that reporters working for “mainstream” media outlets might not be getting paid enough to care about what’s happening to state coverage.

Hutchins, for one, doesn’t buy into bigger outlets claiming that cutbacks in Statehouse coverage are a result of dwindling resources and ad revenue. “They’ve already decided how their coverage is going to be allocated.”

Eric Ward, a former Free Times reporter who now works for The Nerve, an online outlet published by the conservative S.C. Policy Council, said that a good analogy for the difference in coverage these days compared to “olden” times would be zone versus man-to-man defense.

“I think, right now, we’re not seeing the level of coverage from two decades ago … the numbers say it all,” said Ward.

While online coverage of state government is evolving, Ward said he didn’t know whether small cadres of hyper-informed reporters could fill the void completely.

“The media is so fragmented compared to the 1990s that it’s hard to foresee Statehouse coverage ever getting back to that level,” said Ward. “We try to do it with The Nerve, but media is so fragmented with the mainstream blurring the line more between entertainment and news.”

While computers and increased transparency may have made the modern reporter’s job easier, Ward worried there was a danger “in conditioning what we do into bite-sized nuggets.”

Ward, defending his site’s neutrality, said audiences have become more segmented and “people gravitate to what they want to hear, which is easier these days, because you can,” thanks to the Internet.

Crystal ball: What will be the media paradigm for cogent Statehouse coverage in the future? No one knows, but look for more slimming down and more specialization as newspapers continue to jettison … err … trim through attrition some of the most experience and knowledgeable (read: expensive) writers and look more pool coverage. Then, there will be a Lost Trust or a Watergate, and, after much flailing, it will make news sense to hire better reporters. But will they still be there?

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

Palmetto Politics

Voter ID and ego

South Carolina’s voter ID law, which would require all state residents to provide some sort of photo identification before being allowed to vote here, came under cross examination this week in federal court.

Because of the state’s history of disenfranchising black voters, any change to state voting laws has to be cleared by the federal government. Late last year, the federal Justice Department rejected the bill. The state has since sued, bringing the matter to court. A federal court on Thursday struck down a similar Texas state law, ruling that it was discriminatory to minorities.

Earlier this week in the South Carolina trial, detractors of the bill were emboldened when one of the main authors of the state’s bill, state Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Isle of Palms), admitted under cross examination that none of the issues that led him to begin work on the voter ID bill would be addressed by photo identification. 

It may have gotten worse for supporters of voter ID in South Carolina after it was revealed that one of the main authors of the House version of the bill, state Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach) wrote a supportive “Amen” email response to a supporter who had written him to say that if there were an $100 prize for those getting appropriate identification, it “would be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon.” Clemmons has vigorously denied being a racist. More.

The federal tribunal is expected to rule later this fall close to the November elections, which may scuttle the law’s implementation. 

Commentary

Do not buy this anti-South rant for any reason

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

AUG. 31, 2012 -- If you come to the South with a bad attitude and want to find clichés, you’ll find them.

As Oregon travel writer Chuck Thompson relates in his new South-hating book, the South still has some rednecks, tacky trailer parks, racists, government-haters, religious zealots, fat people and guys who look cloned from the movie “Deliverance.” But so do Vermont, Kansas, Utah, Alaska and just about anywhere you look across America.

Come to think about it, it’s probably not too hard for anyone visiting Oregon to find salmon-wrestling lumberjacks who wear cowboy hats. Or maybe someone who looks like Thompson’s book jacket mug shot -- an effete, coffee-drinking, wannabe hipster who dreams lazily of spending more time on a skateboard while decked out in the latest fleece sweater.

Thompson has particular disdain for South Carolina, which he calls the “most dysfunctional state in the union ... renowned for producing politicians as slimy as the inside of a pumpkin.” Then he sashays forward a predictable list of disgraced figures from Thomas Ravenel to Mark Sanford. And then, almost on cue, he paints everyone here as a racist.   

Yep, this Thompson guy has a problem. He’s a regional bigot. His irresponsible screed, “Better Off Without ‘em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession,” willfully ignores how today’s South is a far different place than the “Dukes of Hazzard” cliché he sought.

At more than 75 million people, the South is home to a fourth of the nation’s population. People are moving here in droves -- not because of the backwardness that Thompson imagines, but because of the great quality of life in dynamic places like Charleston, Durham, Birmingham, Orlando and Atlanta, just to name a few.

Sure, we still have historic problems with education, poverty and obesity. But we’re still struggling Civil War-induced stagnation that the North didn’t have to deal with for four generations. While other areas of the country industrialized, much of the South had to wait until after World War II. 

In the years since, we’ve significantly transformed an agrarian economy into a manufacturing powerhouse where more cars are produced than any other region of the country. In South Carolina, we’ve now got BMW and Boeing, neither of which would have moved here if the state were as bad as Thompson imagines. In fact, think of top Fortune 500 companies and where they’re headquartered -- Wal-Mart (#2), Bank of America (13), Home Depot (35), UPS (52), Lowe’s (54), Coca-Cola (59), FedEx (70). Answer: All in the South. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, the offensive Thompson criticizes Southerners for its growth when he notes, “the modern political South is more accurately described as a captive tool of corporate ideology. Regional politics reflect this reality with an unwavering drive to confirm the conviction that the industrialization of the South is not only sacred, but attainable only though cheap land and laws that maintain a perpetually impoverished lower class from which to draw it.”

Boy, this guy is at least a generation behind. BMW, which has built more than 2 million cars in South Carolina, didn’t need cheap land when it moved here. It came here for a skilled work force, not a poor one, to build complex machines. It wanted a place where people take pride in their work. (It should be noted, though, it didn’t hurt that unions aren’t strong here.)

Fortunately, Thompson’s venom is being panned by critics. “If there are good things to be discovered about the South,” Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times, “this book has no use for them. Nashville’s music? Not mentioned. Contemporary Southern literature? Mr. Thompson thanks the publisher of the journal Oxford American in his acknowledgements. But his actual text sticks to the ignoramus theory.” [Check out the review by S.C.'s Barton Swaim here in The Wall Street Journal.]

Thompson’s anti-South rant is embarrassing. It spews a lot of disconnected facts and venom but is surprisingly shallow on any real intellectual level of trying to comprehend the South of today. Do we still have work to do? Absolutely. But things have changed dramatically, a concept which the dilettante Thompson only gives lip service to because his wacky see-the-world-my-way beer goggles are in the way.

Bottom line: Do not buy this book.   In fact, throw away this column or remove it from your computer's cache so you don’t have to think about Thompson’s tirade ever again.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report.  You can reach Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com.

Spotlight

Municipal Association 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 Municipal Association of South Carolina. Formed in 1939, the association represents and serves the state's 270 incorporated municipalities. The Association is dedicated to the principle of its founding members: to offer the services, programs and products that will give municipal officials the knowledge, experience and tools for enabling the most efficient and effective operation of their municipalities in the complex world of municipal government. Learn more: MASC.
My Turn

S.C. Dems head to Charlotte

By Brady Quirk-Garvan
Reprinted with permission

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last week, we previewed the Republican Party convention in Tampa through its blog so this week we’re doing the same for the Democrats. Posts from the Dems are written by Charleston resident Brady Quirk-Garvan, who has worked on 15 campaigns and now works with one of the nation’s premier socially responsible investing firms. Check out the S.C. Democratic Party’s blog here.

AUG. 30, 2012 -- A week from today we will all be getting ready for President Obama’s big speech before 70,000 supporters in Charlotte. I’m excited to be attending this not only because it will be a historic evening, not only because I’m excited to hear what Barack Obama’s vision is for this country for the next four years, but also because it will highlight some major differences between the Democrats and Republicans. Here are the two big reasons that stand out to me:

Let’s all admit it, Romney is boring guy. On his best day, there is no way Romney could draw that kind of crowd to hear him speak. President Obama inspired us all with his bold vision in 2008. Now after four years of hard work, keeping his promises and vowing to continue to fight for the middle class, another wave of people are gearing up to listen to our president and be inspired to go out and volunteer in the remaining few weeks before the election.

Real transparency and open government. While people like Gov. [Nikki] Haley and Mitt Romney say “transparency” a lot, we all know it’s empty rhetoric aimed at winning over the tea-party crazies. Romney is spending his week in Tampa raking in secret money from donors and try to stay as far away from the media as possible. President Obama has laid out clear policy changes he wants to make in his second term. He is committed to true transparency and open government. While Romney will accept his nomination in front of a small crowd of die-hard Republican donors and delegates, President Obama is inviting tens of thousands of people to experience the nomination in person

While I’m personally excited to be heading up to Charlotte in a few days, I’m also glad this will help highlight the difference for all Americans who are watching on TV.

8/22: Offensive statements -- While it’s not exactly convention-related, it’s been a rocky week for the GOP as they made offensive statements that continue to highlight the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Today in The State newspaper, SCDP’s own Amanda Loveday wrote a great op-ed that made those differences quite clear:

"If you are a woman, or have a daughter or a granddaughter, and you want her to be treated like she is equal to any man who walks this earth, then you should be a Democrat. If you want women to be treated with dignity and respect in the American economy, then you should be a Democrat. And if you are a Republican woman who is tired of seeing the ever-growing obsession by a male-dominated government that wants to control our bodies and our health-care decisions, you’ll always have a home in the Democratic Party." More.

8/15: S.C. delegate profiled -- South Carolina is already making waves at the upcoming Democratic Convention! Yesterday the official Convention blog highlighted one of South Carolina’s own delegates.

Lauren Bilton, 22, will represent South Carolina as a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Charlotte’s first convention won’t be Lauren’s first, however. The young Democrat from Columbia, South Carolina was one of the youngest female delegates at the 2008 convention in Denver. What a great honor for S.C. and for Lauren! You can read the entire write-up by clicking here

8/7: Online welcome -- During the actual convention (Sept 3-6) the blog will be updated several times a day with posts from within the convention hall as well as the other events surrounding the convention. If you’ve got thoughts, comments, or suggestions for posts feel free to leave a comment!

Four years ago I was watching our future President address the nation on TV and wished I could be there in person. I couldn’t be more excited and honored to be going to Charlotte, N.C. as a delegate representing South Carolina this fall.  I graduated from the College of Charleston in May of 2008 and knew that Barack Obama had to be our next President. After some deliberating I packed up my life at the end of June and spent the next six months as a field organizer for the Obama campaign in southern Ohio. The hours were long and the work was far from glamorous but it all paid off in the end when we elected President Obama.  As I sat in a community center in Chillicothe, Ohio, back in 2008, I promised myself that I would work hard to be at the next convention. I returned to Charleston after the election and became even more involved with political process and four years later I’m excited for this opportunity.

Feedback

Got a comment about South Carolina?

Drop us a line.  We love hearing from our readers and encourage you to share your opinions.  But you've got to provide us with contact information so we can verify your letters. Letters to the editor 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.  Please
include your name and contact information.

Scorecard

Thumbs up for soulmates, down for Clemmons

Foreclosures. The numbers of homes foreclosed upon have dropped statewide this fiscal quarter. More.

Soulmates. Former Gov. Mark Sanford confirmed that he and Maria Belen Chapur are engaged to be married. Huzzah! More.

Profile. Gov. Nikki Haley’s prime-time speech at the RNC in Tampa this week wasn’t given the airtime or media attention that it was expected to garner, with several of the news networks jumping to other packages during her delivery.

Conservation. Want to know who in the legislature has been naughty or nice to the environment in 2011 and 2012, according to the Conservation Voters of South Carolina? Look here.

Speedtraps. South Carolina has more than any other state. Blecch. More.

Arts Commission. After a pitched battle in the legislature to save the S.C. Arts Commission from the governor’s veto pen, a drop in surplus funds kills $500,000 for its grants. More.

Clemmons.  Some soap for your mouth, maybe?
Stegelin

Clemmonstrator


Also from Stegelin: 8/24 8/17 8/10 |  8/3
credits

Statehouse Report

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

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2014 , 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/.