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ISSUE 12.28
Jul. 12, 2013

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

Index

News :
Hundreds serving in seats with expired terms
Legislative Agenda :
No major meetings scheduled
Commentary :
Give government a good brand
Spotlight :
South Carolina Hospital Association
Feedback :
For state to change, Dems need to be in power
Scorecard :
From peaches to rain (with politics in between)
Stegelin :
The Voting Dead
Megaphone :
Lies, lies and damned lies
Tally Sheet :
Search S.C. legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Old Exchange Building, Charleston

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

900+

That's the number of dead people who did not vote in recent elections, as claimed by proponents of a voter ID bill during 2012 debates over the measure. The bill eventually became law. Truth lost. More.

MEGAPHONE

Lies, lies and damned lies

“What they used were fictitious numbers to promote a regressive piece of legislation. They needed something to grasp ahold of to justify taking steps backward in our voting-rights laws. ... It's apparent that we were lied to, and that's troubling."

-- S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, on bogus claims that dead people voted in recent elections. More.

TALLY SHEET

Search S.C. legislative bills

With the legislature adjourned until next year, the next time bills will be introduced is in late November or early December with pre-filing for the 2014.  For now, you can look at bills filed in 2013 to determine what's so far in the hopper for 2014:

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Old Exchange Building, Charleston

One of the grandest and most significant public buildings constructed in colonial America, the Exchange and Customs House at 122 East Bay was designed by William Rigby Naylor in 1766 and constructed by Peter and John Adam Horlbeck between 1767 and 1771 on the site of the earlier "Court of Guard" and Half-Moon Battery. The original design included a cellar, a first-floor open arcaded piazza, and a large second-floor assembly room. The roof was hipped with a parapet and lead-coated cupola.

During the colonial era, royal governors were greeted at the east portico, the front of the building facing Charleston harbor. On Dec. 3, 1773, a large gathering of Charlestonians met there to protest British tea taxes. While the British occupied Charleston from 1780 to 1782, many prominent citizens were confined in the cellar as political and military prisoners. After 1783 the Exchange became City Hall and was the site of South Carolina's convention to ratify the federal Constitution in 1788. The building also hosted visits to Charleston by George Washington in 1791 and the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825. Later architectural changes included removal of the west stair wings, enclosure of the arcaded piazza, and stuccoing of the Flemish bond exterior. For much of the nineteenth century it served as a post office.

Threatened by demolition, the Exchange became the property of the Rebecca Motte Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1921. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975. Since 1976 the building has been administered by the Old Exchange Building Commission. A renovation undertaken as part of the American bicentennial observance returned the building to use in 1981. The Exchange Building was subsequently operated as a museum dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the history of the Old Exchange, the city of Charleston, and colonial and antebellum America.

-- Excerpted from the entry by John Laurens. 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.

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News

Hundreds serving in seats with expired terms

Report highlights service on state boards, commissions

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

JULY 12, 2013 -- Hundreds of state board members and commissioners are serving in seats with expired terms appointed by everyone from the governor to county legislative delegations, according to an 83-page list published by the S.C. Secretary of State. 

South Carolina law generally allows state board members and commissioners to keep their seats if their terms expire so that governing boards can have continuity until reappointments or new members are appointed. But with hundreds of people serving in terms that expired as long ago as 2004, some wonder what’s going on -- why seats aren’t being filled and the consequences that such inaction is having on governance in the Palmetto State.

A random check by Statehouse Report of the accuracy of the Secretary of State’s list showed some discrepancies between the report’s number of expired seats and what agencies say is reality. In some cases, the report lists slightly fewer or more expired terms than agencies report. In others, the report misses terms of members who have been reappointed to positions by the appropriate official -- either the governor, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the House speaker, a legislative committee chair, a legislative delegation or some other entity.

But for what appears to be the vast majority of positions identified in the report, people are serving in terms that expired years ago.

S.C. Secretary of State Mark Hammond said Thursday that he publishes the list of expired terms on his agency’s Web site to improve accountability and transparency related to service on state boards and commissions. 

“I think these boards and commissions are almost a fourth branch of government with the budget oversight they have,” he said.

By showing which seats have expired, the agency can throw sunlight on board processes to help show citizens where there might be new opportunities to serve, he said. 

“The angle that I’m taking is that a lot of these folks may be serving expired terms because no one has inquired about the positions and no one is seeking to serve,” Hammond said.

While the Secretary of State’s office updates its expired term list twice a year now, Hammond said he hoped there would be a more up-to-date database with a broader array of information by next year. Funding was included in the new budget for the project, which may cost $200,000, he said.

A random look at boards and commissions

Statehouse Report contacted about a dozen state agencies to check the status of seats on governing boards. 

In a few instances, everyone on the board still serves in a seat for which the term has expired. An example: The S.C. Arts Commission, where seven current commissioners are serving with expired terms. The board also has two vacancies. In recent years, Gov. Nikki Haley has tried to eliminate the agency. Another example: The S.C. State Agency of Vocational Rehabilitation Board, where five commissioners serve in expired terms.

At other agencies, only a minority of board members are serving in terms that are current, which led observers to wonder whether some board decisions would be considered legitimate if they were challenged in court.

For example, the S.C. Ethics Commission has nine members, but only one is serving in a term that hasn’t expired. Five are serving in terms that have expired. Three slots are vacant.

“Practically speaking, it begs the question,” said the S.C. Policy Council’s Ashley Landess. “Presumably, the commissioners whose terms are expiring are still serving. However, would there be a legitimate challenge [about their legitimacy] if a ruling came down” that someone didn’t like?

And at some state boards, members have served in expired positions longer than the number of years of a term for the seat. At the S.C. Board of Long Term Health Care, for example, there are four vacant seats and five people serving with expired terms, including the chairman, whose term expired in 2004. (The others on that board are serving in seats that expired in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2011.)

Even more high-profile agencies that are seen as political feathers aren’t immune from having directors who serve in expired terms. The state Public Service Authority, or Santee Cooper, has 12 directors. With two vacancies, there are 10 members making decisions, including four serving in expired terms. And at the state Commission on Higher Education, nine people serve in expired terms and three seats were vacant, which left only three of 12 serving in seats with current appointments, the agency spokesman said.

So what does it all mean?

The large number of people filling board seats indicates a whopping structural dysfunction across state government, critics say.

“This is not administrative housekeeping,” Landess observed. “It would appear that the hard work of governing is taking a back seat.”

Government leaders, she said, don’t appear to be doing their jobs by keeping boards and commissions up to date. Landess, who said she believes state government’s structure needs to be completely overhauled because of corruption, cronyism and its inefficiencies, said it was up to the legislature and governor to do their jobs by filling expired terms or changing how the state governs.

“If this is such a great structure, why can’t you manage it? Our position is that the structure is corrupt and fixable. By their failure to effectively manage it, both the legislature and governor are proving that to be true.”

Former state Sen. Phil Leventis of Sumter said that it hurt state employees’ morale for agencies to be undercut by lack of vigorous leadership by boards and commissions with members serving in expired seats.

“Think of the people who work at these various agencies knowing that there’s no plan to have their governance in the hands of someone who cares,” he said.

Both he and Landess noted that if the governor, who appears to be responsible for the lion’s share of bigger appointments for expired seats, wanted to leave a mark on her values of how to govern, she would put her people on boards and commissions.

The governor’s office did not respond to an inquiry for this story.

Legislative Agenda

No major meetings scheduled

At publication time today, no meetings were listed for next week for the House, Senate or committees.

Commentary

Give government a good brand

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

JULY 12, 2013 -- Government gets a bad rap.

Just about everywhere you turn, it seems people are ragging on government, as if they’ve given much thought to how much positive impact government actually has on their lives.

Let’s take a look at a few obvious things:

  • Internet: Enjoy Facebook, Twitter, Web sites, email? All of those communications functions come via the Internet, which was developed by, yes, the government (or Al Gore if you believe in urban legends.) Does the Internet help you communicate or do business? Thank the government.

  • Military: The Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard -- all provide government protections for the country and keep America strong. Also government: the PX where members of the military and veterans can shop; the Veterans Administration and TRICARE, where they get health care; and pensions they receive for their service.

  • Interstates: The nation’s Interstate highway system allows for comparatively quick travel between major metropolitan areas and is buttressed by the system of federal roads in between. All are paid for by the government.  Without these roads, people wouldn’t be able to connect as easily throughout the country and commerce would be slower.

  • Satellites: Enjoy the Weather Channel, cable TV or Google Maps? Remember it was a government program that launched satellites for weather, communications and mapping. 

The government makes a difference in our daily lives in countless ways, from protecting our food and water supplies to ensuring medical drugs are regulated; to keeping our communities safe thanks to firefighters, first responders and police; and to educating our children so they can be tomorrow’s innovators.

But much of government’s functions have become so commonplace and assumed that today’s Americans forget how hard it was to build their infrastructure and make sure they helped people move from the daily subsistence of living on the farm to modern-day life in which they didn’t have to worry about growing their food, protecting their homes or teaching their children.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a much-heralded new book about using technology to make government more innovative and helpful, observes people now mistrust the government so much that they’re getting less and less involved.

“When ordinary people feel politics is irrelevant, the whole Jeffersonian model of democracy is in peril,” he writes in “Citizenville.” “We’re becoming a government of the elites, the opposite of what our forefathers intended, and the opposite of what has historically made America strong.”

While the book subsequently focuses on how to make government more transparent, accountable and innovative by opening up huge government databases so that people can build technological applications to improve how they interact with government, he makes an observation that could remind us how thankful we ought to be for government, despite the messiness that sometimes comes with it:

“We experience government every single day, directly and indirectly,” Newsom writes. “But because government can’t brand all its projects with its own little Nike swoosh, people don’t realize that fact. Because government doesn’t have an official PR department to help burnish its image, people go about their daily lives oblivious to how enriched they are by it.”

So stop right there. Just why can’t government brand itself consistently to show people everywhere it prevails? Newsom suggests a national “coming out day” for the nation’s 23 million government workers to celebrate government. Fine. But why can’t government start putting a Captain America-like logo (low-tech example above) on every government product, service or program that affects people? Folks in Louisiana have been branding government bridge projects for years.

A branding campaign for America wouldn’t be hard. It would cost virtually nothing. But it could make a big difference to remind us how our lives are better overall through government, regardless of whether you are Democratic or Republican. If we could get people to stop denigrating government all of the time, maybe we could start working together more towards new goals, such as the innovations outlined in Newsom’s outstanding book.

“Government is us,” the former San Francisco mayor writes. “It’s the police officer, soldier, educator, IT worker, secretary, lawyer or engineer who lives next door. Helping people realize that would be a great first step in cutting through the disdain and mistrust people have for government today.”

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

Spotlight

South Carolina Hospital Association

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is the South Carolina Hospital Association, the Palmetto State's foremost advocate on healthcare issues affecting South Carolinians. The mission of SCHA is to support its members in addressing the healthcare needs of South Carolina through advocacy, education, networking and regulatory assistance.

Founded in 1921, the South Carolina Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Columbia, SCHA works with its members to improve access, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all South Carolinians. The state’s hospitals and health care systems employ more than 70,000 persons statewide. SCHA's credo: We are stronger together than apart.

Feedback

For state to change, Dems need to be in power

To the editor:

I have lived in S.C. for nearly 50 years and have seen some of the changes in education and healthcare that you talked about in your column. I also agree with you that other states have gotten better... much better than S.C. in several areas. It takes leadership from the top to make efficient changes in S.C.

Governors West and Riley made great changes in the education systems in the state. West was a leader in building the technical education system that so helped the manufacturing community.  Riley drove public education from the bottom of the barrel to quality changes in teacher education, professional development, pre-school and salaries.  Both of these governors also made great strides in bringing quality healthcare and healthcare education to the poor of our state.

Look at all the governors since then and their results in health and education.  Cannot find too much as they were really interested in manufacturing and spending less of the state's money and instituting person and business income tax reductions.

To move our state up the ladder in education, healthcare and overall wellness, it takes a Democrat as governor. It will take more Democrats in the Legislature. I could continue on with "how to do it," but it is just about finding and then electing the leader to move S.C. citizens up the ladder!

-- Alexander B. Noe, Columbia, S.C.
Send us your letters.  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.Send your letters to: 
Scorecard

From peaches to rain (with politics in between)

Peaches. South Carolina still produces more peaches than the Peach State, Georgia. Hoo-wah. More.

Seatbelts. More than 90 percent of South Carolina drivers are using them ... a new record. More.

Economic indicators. For the fourth straight month, the state’s leading index of economic indicators has improved -- to the highest point since June 2007, according to state officials. More.

Haley. Hats off to Gov. Nikki Haley for discussing the difficult issue of child abuse as it related to an incident involving a child care provider when she was young. More.

Roads. We’re seventh best in the nation for performance and efficiency of roads in an annual highway report. But we’re 48th in fatalities, 37th in urban congestion and 37th in rural pavement conditions. More.

Money. Hats off to Democrat Vincent Sheheen and Republican Nikki Haley who each raised a little over $600,000 in the last quarter for their bids for governor in 2014. But the amount of money to run has gotten out of control. (Cf., U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s $1.4 million haul last quarter).  More.

Business competitiveness. The state does well in business measures like the cost of doing business (8th  best nationally), workforce (9th), and infrastructure and transportation (15th), but when will we learn that if we don’t get our acts together on business friendliness (34th), education (36th) and quality of life (41st), we’re never going to move away from the middle of the pack. More.

GOP. When the GOP was pushing for a photo voter identification law that we believe erects barriers to discourage voting, advocates trotted out allegations that more than 900 dead people voted in recent elections, thus providing “evidence” that reform was needed. This “evidence,” however was completely bogus. A State Law Enforcement Division report showed no one intentionally cast a ballot using the names of dead people. The GOP should apologize for this hoax and be held to a higher standard in the future. More.

Greenberg. We’re saddened by the imminent departure of MUSC President Ray Greenberg, one of the state’s top and brightest public servants. He will leave a vacuum that is tough to fill. More.

T-Rav. Please don’t inflict yourself and your millions of dollars again on the state, Thomas Ravenel. We had enough the first time when you resigned as state treasurer and ended up in prison. More.

Rain. Go away for awhile.

Stegelin

The Voting Dead


RECENT STEGELIN: 7/5 |   6/28 | 6/21 | 6/14

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/.