From judicial screening to orientation
On tap in the coming week at the Statehouse:
- Judicial screening. The Judicial Merit Selection Commission will hold a public hearing at 9 a.m., Nov. 27, in Blatt 210. The commission will hear public comments on 13 judicial candidates and will hold an executive session. Agenda.
- New House members. There will be a two-day new member orientation for House members starting at 10 a.m. On Nov. 27 and 28 in Blatt 112.
- Other funds. The Joint Other Funds Committee will meet 10 a.m., Nov. 28, in Gressette 105.
- Medical Affairs. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee will meet 11 a.m., Nov. 28, in Gressette 308. On the agenda: An address by Tony Keck, head of the state Department of Health and Human Services, on the Affordable Care Act.
- Family court. The joint Family Court Study Committee will meet 2 p.m., Nov. 28, in 105 Gressette.
- Teachers. The joint Teacher Salary Study Committee will meet 10 a.m., Nov. 29, in Gressette 105.
Harrison, Zucker to be honoredThe Riley Institute at Furman University will have its annual salute to the legislature with the Wilkins Leadership Awards at a 7:30 p.m. Dinner and awards ceremony at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
This year, the Institute will honor retiring state Rep. Jim Harrison (R-Columbia) with its Excellence in Legislative Leadership Award and Charleston businesswoman Anita Zucker, chair and CEO of The Intertech Group, with its Excellence in Civic Leadership Award. More.
The unmitigated gall
Some days, we don't know what planet Gov. Nikki Haley lives in.
On one hand, she raises all sorts of Cain about the federal government interjecting itself in the lives of South Carolina. Two examples of her railing against the feds: Saying the state won't set up a health exchange to enact provisions of the Affordable Care Act; and lambasting the National Labor Relations Board over a case involving Boeing.
But now that Haley and her administration are caught wide-eyed in the Great Hacking of 2012 in which 3.8 million – yes, million – South Carolinians lost private information from state computers due to a foreign hacker, who does Haley try to blame: yep, the federal government.
In a letter that went to the acting head of the Internal Revenue Service this week, Haley went out of her way to shift blame from her administration to the feds. Why? Because this anti-federal government governor said the federal government had not done enough! The key section:
Unbelievable. Seems she wants the best of both worlds – a punching bag for policies that she doesn't support and a security blanket when she's in trouble. Read the full letter.
The real spirit of giving
By Andy Brack, editor and publisherNOV. 23, 2012 – The stories of the men and women who served in World War II come alive in a new book offered by The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.
After the Japanese pounded Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 almost 71 years ago, more than 16 million Americans were in the armed forces. The overwhelming majority served outside of the limelight. They served with honor because it was their duty to do the right thing for the country.
“When they returned to civilian life, they went on to quietly raise families and build a nation that had no equal,” said Mike Couick, president and CEO of the state's organization of 19 electric co-operatives.
Last year on the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, the co-ops partnered with Honor Flight of South Carolina, a Columbia-based group that honors World War II veterans by taking them to the nation's capital to visit major memorials.
The co-ops, which identified some 300 World War II veterans in the towns they serve across the state, became the first organization in South Carolina to adopt a whole flight. On April 11, they took 100 veterans, each matched with a guardian for the day, to Washington on the historic trip. Over the summer, another 100 joined other Honor Flight trips. And in September, the co-ops sponsored another full flight of vets for the ultimate memorial experience.
Each veteran on the maiden April journey is featured in the new book by the co-ops, “Honor Flight: April 11, 2012.” Today, they're in their late 80s or early 90s.
With memories from retired Conway farmer and businessman Aubrey M. Anderson (“If anyone tells you he wasn't scared, he was never there”) to retired Darlington insurance adjuster Johnnie J. Young (“I wouldn't trade any time in my life for the time that I served”), it would be the understatement of the year to say the stories in the book are awe-inspiring.
Former Florence Congressman Ed Young, a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific, flew almost 200 combat missions and “never got hit,” which he attributed to the U.S. having better airplanes.
During the war, South Carolinians went to all corners of the world – to the fighting fields of Europe to far flung islands in the Pacific. They saw service in the Battle of the Bulge, on D-Day in France, on ships attacked by kamikazes and in northern Africa.
Tomie L. Gaines Sr. of Greenville, a medic in a segregated unit in the European theater, visits schools to tell children about the war. “Some of those little kids ask you some questions you just can't answer,” he said in the book. “There's a few thing that, being a medic, I just can't talk about.”
Sumter business leader Charles L. “Flop” Shaw received minor shrapnel wounds in a firefight near Anzio. “Lord knows, you'd never want to do that again,” recalled Shaw. “But let me say this: I'm glad I did my part, and there's no question I'm glad we won.”
The co-op book, available for $29.95 from the organization, also features photos of the veterans, all clad in honorary red jackets, at memorials across Washington, D.C. They told stories and remembered friends who didn't make it. They smiled, snapped pictures, made new friends and quietly reflected. And they inspired their guardians as they explored throughout the day. When they flew home at the end of the day, they got a big, warm reception in Columbia.
It was, as many surely will tell you, a day to remember for a time not to forget.
The co-op's Couick encourages people to buy the book – not necessarily to keep, but to inspire others.
“I wish people would buy the book and donate it to a school,” he said, still awed months later by the April trip. “These stories need to be remembered.”
Now that we're in the holiday time of year saddled between giving thanks and giving to our loved ones, remembering and honoring those who helped make our country great – from World War II vets to those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan – has a new sense of urgency thanks to this book.
Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report. You can reach Brack at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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From jobless rate to Haley, Riley
Unemployment. The state's jobless rate is the lowest it has been in four years. Because the rate went down in 36 other states, it's likely that what's happening at the national level (i.e., not necessarily what's being done by state officials) is the root cause for the good news. Let's hope the economy keeps improving.
Haley. Really, Gov. Haley, really? You're blaming the federal government now for the screw-up that occurred on your watch. Nice spin. Won't work.
Riley. Thumbs down to Charleston Mayor Joe Riley for strong-arming his city council to try to take responsibility for extending Interstate 526. There are people all over the state who don't want to pay for a road that a lot of people in Charleston don't want.
Richland County. The county's election day efforts continue to be marred by controversy. Because the county didn't have enough machines on election day, some state legislators are now calling for the head of the county's election office on a silver platter. About time.