Send your feedback:
feedback@statehousereport.com

ISSUE 11.40
Oct. 05, 2012

RECENT ISSUES:
9/12 | 9/05 | 8/29 | 8/22

Index

News :
Taking a shot
Legislative Agenda :
On tap next week
Radar Screen :
Voter I.D. probably D.E.A.D
Palmetto Politics :
Race card misplayed, yet accurate
Commentary :
Haley can't ignore her options
Spotlight :
Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina
My Turn :
State Guard provides valuable service to S.C.
Feedback :
What's your point of view?
Scorecard :
Two up, one down
Stegelin :
Hey -- watch those hands!
Megaphone :
All aboard the "Whatever" Express ...
Tally Sheet :
Find legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Mcentire Air National Guard Station

© 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

47%

No, that’s not the percentage of American “victims” (thanks, Mitt), but the percentage of state public school teens who don’t pass a tough standardized end-of-course test on U.S. history and the Constitution, whatever that is. I mean, duh. More.

MEGAPHONE

All aboard the "Whatever" Express ...

"What I will tell you is the consultants and the people that I talk to want to keep the trains moving. … But they also understand I have the right to make that decision."

-- Gov. Nikki Haley, deflecting questions about whether she will run for reelection after her chief of staff announced this week he was leaving to head up a political consulting firm primarily bent on getting her reelected. 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

Mcentire Air National Guard Station

McEntire Air National Guard Station is a 2,400-acre airbase in Richland County near Eastover. It is the home of the South Carolina Air National Guard. The airfield, originally called the Congaree Army Airport, was activated on January 31, 1943.

Since World War II it has undergone numerous renovations and name changes as military aviation has evolved. In 1944 the field was transferred to the U.S. Navy and became the Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Facility. The Marines used the base as a fighter pilot training facility until November 1945.

On December 9, 1946, the base became the home of the South Carolina Air National Guard and was renamed Congaree Air Base. The base was transferred to the South Carolina Air National Guard on November 8, 1955.

In 1960 the air installation was briefly renamed the Congaree Air National Guard Base, but on October 16, 1961, its name was changed to McEntire Air National Guard Base to honor Brigadier General Barnie B. McEntire, the South Carolina Air National Guard’s first commander, who had been killed in an air accident in May 1961. During takeoff from Olmstead Air Force Base, the engine on his F-104 Starfighter failed. McEntire managed to guide his jet away from a heavily occupied area of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before crashing the fighter on an island in the Susquehanna River.

The base was renamed McEntire Air National Guard Station on October 1, 1995.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Steven D. Smith. 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

Taking a shot

Program aims to uplift students, state

By Bill Davis, senior editor

OCT. 5, 2012 -- With about one in four South Carolina high school students failing to graduate on time, a nationwide program has such good graduation rates for seriously at-risk kids that it is being hailed as a new solution.

Jobs for American Graduates, the program, strives to get nine out of every 10 South Carolina participants out of high school and into a job or higher education.

It seems to be working.

Last year in its sixth year here, the program’s participants had a high school graduation rate of 93 percent. Currently, there are 25 “JAG” chapters across the state, mostly in high schools. Each chapter has about 40 students involved in each school, said Elaine Midkiff, the state's JAG coordinator at the Department of Employment and Workforce.

Some of the kids that the program helped along the way have a story that would make most people crumble, such as the boy last year who wrote in the program’s newsletter about his father being an abusive drinker who abandoned the family.

Unable to escape the cycle of despair, the boy began “partying” and was eventually charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent of distributing it on campus.

His life is back on track thanks to JAG, he wrote.

Clay Cohen, an advisor who works with the program in Chesnee, has seen the small victories bloom into better lives.

What happens through the JAG program is that especially troubled kids, such as those who have criminal records or both parents in jail, start caring about their future. And they end up with better horizons by getting better job interviewing skills, entering a traditional four-year college, gaining a spot in the military or beginning a career in nursing.

Cohen said he was heartened by how successful graduates returned every year to share their success stories, and help inspire and motivate younger versions of themselves.

Part of an overall push

Gov. Nikki Haley lately has been praising the success of a welfare-to-workplace program in the state Department of Social Services, one of her cabinet agencies.

Haley and DSS head Linda Koller announced recently at a press conference that more than 12,000 South Carolinians had “transitioned” from welfare to work since the beginning of the year – twice the rate from two years ago.

JAG, like the DSS program, seems to be part of a patchwork of effort meant to help the state, and more importantly, its residents get back on their feet.

Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter) a member of the Education and Finance committees in the Senate, praised the efforts, saying that while not every program works, it was like a favorite Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Like Cohen, Leventis said the JAG program was too young to provide widespread effects for the state, but he was impressed by its start.

“Statistically speaking, it is so very important for a young person to graduate from high school,” said Leventis, who added he hoped people across the state would apply the same zeal to helping at-risk kids as they do to supporting their schools’ sports teams.

Leventis, who will retire from the Senate at the end of this year after three decades in public office, said the important thing to remember with any program like welfare-to-work, JAG or teen drug prevention is that the work will have to be replicated every few years and “that whatever worked this year won’t necessarily work in five years from now.”

“There’s no silver bullet,” he said.

Silver bullet needed

Sue Berkowitz, one of the biggest advocates of the poor in the state as the head of the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center, also praised the various efforts gaining traction to help those slipping between the cracks across the state.

But, she said a bigger question might be looming for these and similar efforts: Are they acting as Band-aids or as ladders?

Berkowitz was dismissive about Haley and Koller’s claims, saying most of the jobs gained were 30 hours a week or less and didn’t deliver a living wage or insurance.

With nursing jobs capable of delivering $50,000 yearly salaries, Berkowitz said she hoped programs like JAG pointed kids in the direction of breaking cycles of poverty and hard times.

She pointed to a statistic -- that 28 percent of children in South Carolina live in poverty -- as proof of the state’s real enthusiasm about helping the downtrodden.

Crystal ball: These programs jobs won’t be getting easier any time soon. While the nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent – the first time below 8 percent since January of 2009 – South Carolina’s rate has remained stagnant at about 9.6 percent in August. But, it gives kids a shot.

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

Legislative Agenda

On tap next week

  • Education. The state Education Oversight Committee will meet Monday at 1 p.m. in 433 Blatt. Agenda.
Radar Screen

Voter I.D. probably D.E.A.D

Another recent spate of court cases across the country has once again delayed, derailed and decapitated efforts similar to South Carolina’s law requiring minorities, the elderly and students -- err, “voters” -- to provide positive photo identification before being allowed into the ballot box. This means days are probably darkening for voter I.D in South Carolina, at least for the 2012 General Election.

Palmetto Politics

Race card misplayed, yet accurate

Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston), the civil rights veteran who constantly finds himself at the center of racially charged issues, complained this week that there was only one person of color appointed to the state Public Employees Benefit Authority.

PEBA helps manage the state’s insurance and retirement systems.

Ford’s complaint was that despite the state being roughly 30 percent African American, only one black was appointed to the board, and that was done by Gov. Nikki Haley, the state’s first minority and female governor.

Problem is, all of Haley’s appointees are whiter than a bowl of grits.

Ford was right, though; only one member is black:  Audie Penn, according to PEBA staffers. Penn was appointed to the authority’s board by House Ways and Means chairman Brian White (R-Anderson). Ironic?

Ethics, ethics, ethics

Now, thanks to efforts in the legislature, there are four different groups of politicians looking into state legislative reform. It was announced this week that House Republicans and Democrats are putting together panels to look into the issue, and a bipartisan committee is being formed in the Senate. This could be a whole lot of foxes watching the henhouse, or something good may emerge. Just like tax reform?

Commentary

Haley can't ignore her options

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

OCT. 5, 2012 -- Gov. Nikki Haley inked a deal for a memoir less than six months after taking office. The book, a masterful exercise in self-promotion, came out nine months later.

Now after less than two years in office, the seemingly blindly ambitious Haley hints she might not seek re-election in 2014 and that she’ll make a decision by next summer. 

“I just don’t know how y’all can expect me or (Haley’s husband) Michael to know that kind of decision when we haven’t even hit the second anniversary,” Haley told The Post and Courier this month. “What I will tell you is the consultants and the people that I talk to want to keep the trains moving.  But they also understand I have the right to make that decision.”

It certainly sounds like she’s weighing different options beyond the governor’s mansion already, despite telling The New York Times in April that she wasn’t a planner:

“I didn’t know I was going to run for the State House. I didn’t know I was going to run for governor. I don’t know what’s next, and I love not thinking about it because the doors open at a certain time. If you had told us [Michael and I] 10 years ago that elected office would be in our life, we would have both laughed. I don’t think past today.”

One thing that good politicians do -- and Haley is a good politician -- is that they keep their doors open. Perhaps that’s why, in part, her closest advisor, former campaign manager Tim Pearson, left the state payroll as chief of staff more than two years before the gubernatorial election. But if he were going to run a statewide gubernatorial election, two years is way more prep time than campaign operatives generally say is needed to get a campaign off the ground. [Wags suggest that Haley’s campaign mode never has ended, so such ramp-up time for a 2014 gubernatorial bid is even more suggestive.]

Furthermore, a political organization that has raised $550,000 from four individuals recently came to light. The Movement Fund, a 527 organization or super-PAC, has close ties to Haley’s political operation. Even though such an organization cannot coordinate with Haley, it could provide resources to fuel ambitions beyond the confines of the Palmetto State.

So what’s going on? More than likely, Haley, who says she doesn’t plan, is doing just that. To quench a growing thirst for the national spotlight, she is weighing options as she skips from Columbia to cities across the country as a campaign surrogate for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Among the possibilities:

U.S. Senate, 2014. The tea-party-backed Haley could be considering a primary bid against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who faced political problems from the very conservative branch of his party two years ago. We’re told it’s unlikely Haley would challenge Graham, but who knows? This kind of scenario has played out in South Carolina before when former Gov. Fritz Hollings ran against U.S. Sen. Olin Johnson in 1962.   Hollings lost, but ran and won four years later in a special election after Johnson died in office.

U.S. Senate, 2016. If Haley ran and lost to Graham, she’d be the favorite to run for what is expected to be an open Senate seat two years later. In the interim, she could join Fox TV as a commentator and make national speeches (and a lot of money). 

Executive branch. If Haley’s buddy Romney wins in November, she might be offered a top executive branch post, either as head of an agency or as a key ambassador, that would build her profile and give her a reason to leave South Carolina for the bigger spotlight she so enjoys. 

Going for gold. Or the governor might just want to give up the governorship and head over to Fox to make the money, a la Sarah Palin, in preparation for ... a bid for the White House. Stranger things have happened.

If you’ll remember, “Can’t Is Not an Option” for Haley [her book’s title]. But today, there’s no way that she cannot be considering  other options these days for her own political future.

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

Spotlight

Electric Cooperatives 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 Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. More South Carolinians use power from electric cooperatives than from any other power source. South Carolina’s 20 independent, consumer-owned cooperatives deliver electricity in all 46 counties to more than 1.5 million citizens. As member-owned organizations, cooperatives recognize their responsibility to provide power that is affordable, reliably delivered and responsibly produced. More at www.ecsc.org or www.livinginsc.coop.
My Turn

State Guard provides valuable service to S.C.

OCT. 5, 2012 -- The Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” Scouts are taught to always remain ready and prepared for duty.

That’s wonderful preparation for anyone when it comes to dealing with the curve balls that life throws at us every now and then. This kind of preparation was very evident of the S.C. State Guard during two emergencies the guard responded to a few years ago.

The first occurred in January 2005 in the small Aiken County mill town of Graniteville.

Many South Carolinians might remember it all too well. In predawn darkness, a fast-moving freight train hauling 270 tons of liquid chlorine, along with other hazardous chemicals, slammed into a train parked on the same track adjacent to an operating textile mill.

The crash tore open a liquid chlorine container car, causing the lethal substance to spew out and mix with the air in a poisonous gas cloud.

Nine people died in the tragedy, and 5,400 folks were separated from their homes in the aftermath.

Graniteville has come a long way since the accident, which was caused by a track switching device mistakenly left in the wrong position, but the community still feels the effects of the disaster.

When this accident unfolded, a few State Guard members were among the first emergency responders on the scene. They helped law enforcement quickly evacuate the town and maintain a perimeter around the lethal accident site. For several days other State Guardsmen volunteered to operate a coordinated communications system for the many local, state and federal agencies involved in Graniteville’s massive recovery effort.

Less than 18 months later in June 2006, the State Guard quickly responded again when a mill fire wreaked havoc on another small town -- Great Falls, bordering the Catawba River in Chester County.

Chemicals stored in the Great Falls mill building, which housed a plastics company and a furniture business at the time, seeped into the fortress-like structure, causing the fire to burn for more than a week. Because firefighters initially were unable to get through the thick stone walls to the source of the fire, dense plumes of hazardous smoke forced many Great Falls residents to evacuate.

State Guard members responded to the situation within hours, assisting with the evacuation and bringing in their loaded communications trailer, which provided ground-level directional support for National Guard helicopters to dump water on the blaze.

The State Guard also had the only qualified person on-scene to operate a hazardous materials bulldozer, which eventually punched holes in the mill walls to provide firefighters access to the flames inside.

Both crises demonstrate the phenomenally important role of the S.C. State Guard in serving as an all-volunteer state defense force to assist communities in the event of natural disasters and other emergencies.

Yet you often don’t hear about State Guardsmen in media accounts of such events. But as commander of the State Guard, I can tell you firsthand that our members are not in it for the recognition.

Indeed, our main concern is the safety and well-being of our fellow South Carolinians.

As it happens, many of you who no doubt plan to visit the State Fair in Columbia this year have an opportunity to learn more about the State Guard and meet some of our members.

Amid the flashing lights, wafting scents and ringing sounds of the fair, State Guard members will man a booth in the Ruff Building during the 12-day run of the festivities (Oct. 10 to Oct. 21).

We invite you to stop by and visit. And, if you’re interested, consider joining our ranks.

The State Guard presents an opportunity for South Carolinians -- men and women, young and old -- to serve their fellow citizens in uniform. Prior military service is not required for membership. Except for a few weight and age limits, we are open to all law-abiding residents of our state who are dedicated to service.

And while the duties are unpaid, the rewards are invaluable.

Richard Eckstrom is comptroller general for the state of South Carolina.

Feedback

What's your point of view?

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

Two up, one down

Finally! Boeing will finally hand-over to Air India the first-ever 787 built in South Carolina, which will be flown away on Saturday, after a series of delays. More.

Crossover. South Carolina native and Charleston-area resident Darius Rucker, frontman of the frat-rock pop band Hootie and the Blowfish, became just the third black inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. More.

FOIA. State agencies may be charging waaay too much for producing forms and records meant to be publicly available. More.
Stegelin

Hey -- watch those hands!


Also from Stegelin: 9/28 | 9/21 | 9/14 | 9/7
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/.