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ISSUE 12.42
Oct. 18, 2013

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

Index

News :
One-stop shop for at-risk children?
Legislative Agenda :
Schools, judges, ethics on tap
Radar Screen :
Educating on education
Commentary :
Shutdown challenges notion of American exceptionalism
Spotlight :
Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology
My Turn :
Finding more effective grassroots advocates
Feedback :
Send your your thoughts
Scorecard :
Up for Charleston; down for Congress
Megaphone :
Safety is an issue
Tally Sheet :
Search for S.C. legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Mather Academy

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UNDERWRITERS

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

No comment

Statehouse Report last week couldn’t get a number on how many health insurance policies were being cancelled by May 2014 by Blue Cross Blue Shield due to the federal Affordable Care Act. Despite asking for a specific number early last Friday, the company wouldn’t return calls or messages by the time of publication later that day. The story had to rely on company spokesman Patti Embry-Tautenhan’s comment that “many” of policies of children under 18 would expire.

About three hours after publication, Embry-Tautenhan sent an email apologizing for missing the deadline. “There was no way I could respond to you in the amount of time that you gave me today as I was in meetings most of the day,” she wrote.   But she still didn’t answer the question.

So we checked back this week and got the equivalent of a “no comment.” Embry-Tautenhan: “We do not release customer numbers in specific market segments.  What I can tell you is that it is a small population of BlueCross BlueShield and BlueChoice members who are affected by this change.” Bottom line: They know the number but won’t reveal it. Wonder why.

MEGAPHONE

Safety is an issue

"I do think students need to have increased confidence that when they go down there, they will be safer."

-- USC President Harris Pastides in a story in which he said Columbia’s Five Points was no longer safe after midnight. A female student was paralyzed by a stray bullet fired over the weekend. Read more here.

TALLY SHEET

Search for 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

Mather Academy

Mather Academy was the vision of Sarah Babcock Mather. She went to Camden in 1867 and opened a school for African American children. The overcrowded school was financed with her money, and Mather sought to establish a larger institution. She purchased twenty-seven acres near Camden to build a school but soon returned to Massachusetts. The school Mather envisioned was founded twenty years later by the New England Southern Conference (NESC) of the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church. As corresponding secretary of the NESC, Mather was able to enlist help in building the school. The conference provided funds for one building, and Fanny O. Browning of Connecticut provided $2,000 for a second structure. In 1887 the Browning Home and Mather Academy opened.

Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy

The school grew slowly in the 1890s. The curriculum expanded to include high-school- level science, mathematics, and language courses. Boys were admitted in 1890, and enrollment passed two hundred by 1900, which included thirty-seven girls boarding at the Browning Home, where they were trained as homemakers. By the early 1900s additional buildings had been constructed and a normal-school curriculum added. Enrollment reached almost four hundred students by 1920. In 1934 Mather Academy became an "A" class high school (one of only four in South Carolina) and a member of the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. Mather's most noteworthy alumnus, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, was in the 1957 graduating class.

Mather merged in 1959 with the struggling Boylan-Haven School of Jacksonville, Florida, and became Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy. The school remained in Camden, but amid declining enrollment and shrinking dollars it fell into disrepair. Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy graduated its last class in 1983, and its buildings were demolished in 1993.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Linda Meggett Brown. 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

One-stop shop for at-risk children?

Bill on way for new approach to help hurting kids

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

OCT. 18, 2013 -- A South Carolina legislator fed up with snafus at the state Department of Social Services plans to introduce legislation soon that seeks to restructure disparate government services for at-risk children into a single agency.

State Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, says the time has come for a one-stop shop that would coordinate services for at-risk children and keep them from slipping through cracks between agencies that operate as independent silos, one agency often not knowing what another is doing.

“The services that children are receiving are so fractured,” she said. “It varies from child to child what those services are, depending on whether that child has a good social worker or not or a parent is educated about the services available.”

Restructuring how the state deals with at-risk children is roundly considered a whopping task. Horne said she knows it will be hard to make changes because so many agencies could be affected. But restructuring into a children’s bureau or Department of Children’s Services will produce better outcomes for kids, she said. And more than likely, it won’t cost a whole bunch of money because of efficiencies realized through economies of scale.

State Sen. Mike Fair, a Greenville Republican who chairs the S.C. Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children, said he agreed services for at-risk children were too fragmented and that it was time to look into consolidating or restructuring how children get government services. But for now, he advocated a slower approach that included a lot of discussion.

“We don’t need to be thinking about creating a new children’s bureau in the next session, but start in that direction by getting a very qualified commission together to advise the General Assembly about how we go about doing that.”

Fractured services

In the perfect system, everyone would work together to help at-risk children, Horne said. But that’s not happening now, she said. 

Fair’s commission lists 17 different agencies that provide care to children. Some examples:

  • The state Department of Social Services operates a child protective services operation as well as child care licensing and food assistance.

  • The Department of Health and Environmental Control oversees immunizations and federal money delivered to pay for prenatal and maternal feeding through the Women, Infants and Children program.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services oversees Medicaid coverage for children who live in families who live in households with income of 200 percent or less than the poverty level.

  • The Department of Mental Health offers counseling for children, adolescents and families.

  • The Department of Education, First Steps, School for the Deaf and Blind, and the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity offer different educational services for children.

But who, Horne asks, works to ensure there is continuity of care -- that children are getting what they need to flourish and survive safely?

“There needs to be someone in charge that says this child is supposed to get this benefit,” Horne said.

Pressure to act may build

While restructuring services for at-risk children may be a new idea for many legislators, there likely will be increasing pressure for them to do something next year. In the spring, lawmakers expect to hear the results of a legislative audit requested by Horne last year and co-signed by 33 Republican colleagues.

The four-page letter sought the audit for “complaints regarding the management and operations of the Department of Social Services.” Among the complaints: the agency bidding process, county office management, federal penalties imposed on the department, compliance with child protective services regulations, employee training, data collection and security, children’s deaths while under jurisdiction or in custody of DSS, child neglect cases and protocols, and more.

DSS, which did not respond to questions for this story, has been increasingly on the front-burner for legislators.

  • On Sept. 13, Statehouse Report reported that S.C. Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) was looking into the agency’s personnel decisions and consulting contracts. More.

  • Earlier this month, a child advocate said during a meeting of the Committee on Children that hundreds of children had died while involved with DSS, according to The State. This year, there have been 47 deaths of children involved with DSS, Horne said.

  • Also this month, The (Columbia) Free Times reported the agency had thousands of child abuse and neglect reports that had been pending for 60 days or more, leading lawmakers like Horne to wonder what abuse was happening to children as cases were on hold. More.

Fair reemphasized that there was merit in having a conversation about what’s happening to South Carolina’s children at state agencies and working to figure out better solutions.

“DSS is a place where trouble comes for solutions,” he said. Later he added, “We need to do the right thing for all of the kids and that’s going to require some lifting and thoughtful action.”

RECENT NEWS STORIES
Legislative Agenda

Schools, judges, ethics on tap

  • Senate Finance Subcommittee: Senators will meet 5:30 p.m. Oct. 23 in Council Chambers at North Charleston City Hall for a special meeting to take public testimony on S. 279, to discuss a tax dedication related to school vouchers.

  • Judicial Merit: The Judicial Merit Selection Commission will hold public hearings 9 a.m. Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 in 105 Gressette Building

  • Ethics: The Senate Select Committee on Ethics will meet 1 p.m. Nov. 6 in 308 Gressette to discuss pending ethics legislation. No agenda is yet available.
Radar Screen

Educating on education

Be on the lookout in coming months for a new South Carolina-based statewide education advocacy group to counter the increasing influence of out-of-state education policy groups seeking to use the Palmetto State as a Petri dish for social experimentation.

Commentary

Shutdown challenges notion of American exceptionalism

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

OCT. 18, 2013 -- A good college friend took his own life this week. He was a groomsman in my wedding. I served as his best man. During the Clinton years after college, we were neighbors. But as often happens, we drifted apart, his family growing up as mine began. In recent years, he battled demons a little bigger than most of us encounter. And now he’s gone.

Yes, it’s sad. More than likely, you’ve experienced a similar, unexpected death, a passing that made you pause and wonder. My friend’s sudden death reminds me how fleeting our time is on earth and that we should use it wisely. 

Often, however, we do not act wisely. If you want evidence, just look to Washington and, to a lesser degree, Columbia.

The recent government shutdown that brought the nation to the brink of defaulting on its debts is a symptom of how America’s place in the world is changing. As Americans, we continue to believe in the notion of “American exceptionalism,” the theory that the United States and its political and civic cultures are qualitatively different from anywhere else. It’s the notion that what we have here in the United States is so good that everyone should want it. 

"It’s as if the whole country has migrated from wearing suits and ties to Dockers and T-shirts."
But the shutdown, expected to cost more than $20 billion and cause fourth-quarter growth to dip, seems to show the hate-government movement is having an impact. Americans are growing tired of duplicitous, ideologically-driven leaders just like people have had for years in scandal-plagued Italy or cash-strapped Greece. More worrisome is the likelihood that the shutdown and associated nonsense from Washington is causing a weariness with the whole notion of American-style democracy as people shake their heads at elected representatives who seem to be able to do nothing other than keep their special Capitol Hill gyms open. 

It’s long accepted that members of Congress have low overall approval ratings from American voters. But voters have generally said they liked their own member of Congress -- so much so that the same nimrods kept getting elected. Now, the scent of a shift is in the air. A new Pew Research Center poll shows almost 40 percent of voters say they don’t want to see their own legislator re-elected because they’re so dissatisfied with what’s happening in Washington. Furthermore, the anti-incumbency fervor is so strong that three in four of those polled say they want most members of Congress defeated in 2014. 

Will this new mood remain? Probably, because Congress only kicked the default can down the road for a few months and didn’t solve any real problems. After Christmas, tea partiers and a hyperactive media will inject new anti-government fervor into what we call the United States of America. And it probably all will devolve into more spitting matches and ubiquitous cable countdown clocks. 

It’s as if the whole country has migrated from wearing suits and ties to Dockers and T-shirts. And the rest of the world sees it. The result? Now there’s talk about something other than the dollar being the world’s standard, solid financial base. There are serious questions about America’s leadership overseas as the Chinese continue to loan us money and now build major projects in neighboring countries. 

Thanks to this shutdown, brought on by the lack of respect for compromise among ultra-conservative extremists, Americans are less confident in their government, which would make our framers ashamed. Perhaps more importantly, we seem to be itching to prove that we’re no longer exceptional.

“We are diminished,” University of South Carolina political scientist Mark Tompkins notes, “both in international perceptions of our capacity as a nation and, in fact, as the tangible and intangible costs of this episode are tallied in coming weeks and months. 

“This is a blow to the story of ‘American exceptionalism.’ Others will be less receptive to the idea that they should look to the U.S. as an exemplar of the way of the future.”

Thanks, tea partiers and wingnuts. Wouldn’t it be better to start being wise and not, as my college friend sadly did, throw away something important?

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

Spotlight

Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost.  In today's issue, we heartily welcome a new underwriter, the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology, which is the Southeast’s premier technical service provider and training facility for industry. SiMT’s mission is to provide customers with strategic training and manufacturing technology solutions that maximize workforce productivity in advanced manufacturing environments. SiMT’s state-of-the-art facilities are located in Florence, S.C., on a 146-acre campus adjacent to Florence-Darlington Technical College.
My Turn

Finding more effective grassroots advocates

By Chip Felkel
Special to Statehouse Report

OCT. 18, 2013 -- In Washington, D.C., the roar of government shutdown/halt-the-budget forces competed for mind- and media-share with the din of keep-government-open/pay-our-bills powers. Not sure who on the Hill actually won, since it is likely this will be repeated again after Congress’ month-long holiday break.

But I can tell you who lost outside the Beltway. In many cases, it was the voices of people, corporations and associations that represent America were not heard. The tens of thousands of scripted phone calls, duplicate emails and form letters sent to representatives in Washington probably went unnoticed … as they have been for years. The era of grassroots advocacy in our nation’s capital has been choked by overwhelming numbers of identical form communications — only 3 percent of congressional staffs see value in these. That’s understandable when you calculate Congress receives more than 100 million emails and snail mail letters each year. That is called clutter. And rarely does clutter do anything but fill trash bins.

It’s time to remember that at the end of the day, policies affect real people, real lives and real businesses. It’s time to put everyday people back in the mix and put a human face on policy.  

The National Journal devoted its annual summit to advocacy in D.C. and recommended best practices that rely on grasstops and grassroots advocacy. Targeted at clearing the clutter, grasstops advocacy increasingly assumes the important role of voicing the issues of our citizens to our nation’s public officials. grasstops advocacy is a sleek, efficient rifle shot, compared to older approaches to communications, and it makes important messages personal.

The National Journal findings included:

  • Advocate profiling: Discovery and deployment processes that efficiently uncover information about individuals’ policy interests, pre-existing relationships with legislators and engagement preferences. The result: Rapid identification and efficient engagement of “ideal” message-carriers for any specific advocacy need.
  • Local advocacy ambassadors: Efficient formation of a distributed network of advocates, many drawn from a company’s or organization’s stakeholders, who can forge new and tighter relationships between key local influencers and public officials. The result: A network of ambassadors serves as an extension of the Capitol office to reach policymakers where they reside. 
  • A more responsive advocacy pool: By determining and selecting only the best, volunteer advocates are more engaged and responsive to requests for advocacy in legislators’ home districts and on visits to the Capitol. The result: High call-to-action responsiveness, increased awareness of the scale and voice of an organization, and advocate retention.

At The National Journal summit, one software solution cited in the best practices discussion was the RAP Index, created by practiced advocates, based in Greenville. The National Journal called the RAP Index “the forerunner of disruptive advocacy.”

The RAP Index’s software uses proprietary survey, profiling, scoring and data analysis technologies to uncover hidden relationships within an organization to micro-target and mobilize advocates to communicate viewpoints on key issues.

The effectiveness of the RAP Index was summarized by its client, the National Association of Independent Business (NFIB):

“It’s not often we come across members who have taken the [RAP Index] survey and indicated an interest in a particular policy issue or engagement activity, but aren’t willing to do something for us,” one NFIB executive said. “We’ve had nothing but good luck. Every time we contact potential advocates, they with respond, ‘Oh, I’m so glad you called me. How can I be helpful?’’’

Here’s the point: Every organization has individuals with relationship with policy makers and many of these individual and many are willing to be get engaged. The importance of doing so is clearly being revealed day in and day out. Everyday people -- your friends your neighbors, your colleagues, your golf or hunting buddy, fellow church-goers -- all have a voice. If organizations truly want to be heard amidst all the clutter, they need to find them a way to engage them.

In addition to being founder of the RAP Index, Chip Felkel is CEO of the Felkel Group, a public affairs and relations firm in Greenville.

Feedback

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Scorecard

Up for Charleston; down for Congress

Charleston. The third time is a charm as the Holy City again was named the top travel destination in the county by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. More.

Jobs. The state ranked fourth in the country in September for creating private sector jobs. Hooray. More.

Solar power. The Post and Courier offered a good look Sunday at who’s pushing and who’s blocking meaningful legislation for more solar power in the state. More.

Ryberg. Some state employees are really rankled that former GOP state Sen. Greg Ryberg of Aiken has landed a plum job as acting chief operating officer of the state Retirement Systems Investment Commission. But others say Ryberg could help restore confidence and calm at the beleaguered agency.  More. 

Congressional delegation. Thumbs down to U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and U.S. Reps. Mark Sanford, Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy, Mick Mulvaney and Tom Rice, all of whom voted to continue the government shutdown and put the United States’ financial system at risk. 

Duplicity. Tim Scott seemed to want to vote for the shutdown -- and against it, telling The New York Times before the vote that he might vote differently in the Senate than he would have as a House member. More.

Oconee Nuclear Station. Most safety violations of any Southeast nuke plant since 2000? Yep. Sad. More.

 

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/.