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ISSUE 12.48
Nov. 29, 2013

12/04 | 11/27 | 11/20 | 11/13


News :
New American Party close to certification in S.C.
Photo :
Red barn, Marlboro County, S.C.
Legislative Agenda :
Several meetings ahead
Commentary :
Who's got the coolest flag? We do!
Spotlight :
Time Warner Cable
Feedback :
Send us your thoughts
Scorecard :
From energy gold to Goldfinch
Number of the Week :
$600 million
Megaphone :
Give us a chance (please)
Tally Sheet :
Pre-filing ahead this week
Encyclopedia :
Camden, S.C.

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$600 million

That's the amount that a new Budget and Control Board report says the state's counties and cities spent over revenues in Fiscal Year 2012. County and municipal advocates dispute the report saying that it included reporting errors and didn't include some revenue sources, such as those from water, sewer and power systems. More.


Give us a chance (please)

"We think we will have excellent opportunities to contrast to the failure of leadership we have had. If people give us a chance, we can change this state for the better."

-- State Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, confirming the party would vet candidates in hopes of avoiding standard bearers who might embarrass it, such as unknown Alvin Greene who won a U.S. Senate primary in 2010. More.


Pre-filing ahead this week

With the legislature adjourned until next year, it's easy to look at bills filed in 2013 to determine what's so far in the hopper for 2014.  Pre-filing of new bills for 2014 for House members and senators is December 3 and 10


Camden, S.C.

Located in the Midlands, Camden boasts more than sixty well-preserved buildings in its historic district that attest to a rich past and to a lifestyle respectful of that heritage. In 1758 Joseph Kershaw, the "father of Camden," established a store on Pinetree Creek, a Wateree tributary.

Located on the path between Charleston and the Catawba Nation, Kershaw's store was a convenient place to collect and process local produce, especially wheat, before it was forwarded to Charleston. Here the village of Pine Tree Hill developed as a milling and trading center. Within a decade the thriving settlement was renamed in honor of Charles Pratt, Lord Camden, a champion of colonial rights, and a formal plan was drawn up to guide development. In 1791 Camden was the second town in the state to be incorporated by the General Assembly.

During the Revolutionary War, British troops under Lord Cornwallis occupied Camden for nearly a year during their campaign to subdue the backcountry. Among those imprisoned by the British in the Camden jail was the young Andrew Jackson. Two major battles were fought near the town: the Battle of Camden on August 15-16, 1780, which saw a disastrous American defeat; and the Battle of Hobkirk Hill on April 25, 1781, in which the victorious British suffered such heavy casualties that they withdrew from Camden a few weeks later.

The evacuating British destroyed much of the town, including its jail, flour mills, and several private homes. But Camden recovered quickly. The Civil War halted economic prosperity as Camden's leading citizenry embraced the Confederate cause. The town experienced invasion twice in 1865, first by a detachment of General William T. Sherman's men in February, then by troops under General Edward E. Potter in April. Public buildings, the depots, and the Wateree bridge were destroyed, as was much private property. The town was garrisoned by Federal troops for nine months after the close of the war.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Camden possessed three railroad lines. Two textile factories at the edge of town attracted workers from impoverished farms. A graded public school system was inaugurated in both white and black schools. The Camden Town Council coordinated programs to vaccinate citizens, pave streets, and expand water and light services. In 1913 the Camden Hospital opened, thanks in part to the Wall Street financier and native son Bernard M. Baruch, whose donation to the project was made in memory of his father, a former Camden physician. In 1915, a Carnegie grant made possible a handsome public library building, which later housed the Camden Archives and Museum.

Another northern invasion, this one consisting of wealthy tourists, began in the 1880s when the area's mild winters lured visitors to Camden as a health retreat and then as a tourist resort and a sports mecca. Three grand hotels and numerous smaller establishments catered to affluent guests. Although the hotel era ended with World War II, its effects lingered. Tourists renovated antebellum homes and became seasonal or permanent residents, thereby helping to preserve the distinctive architecture of Camden. Golf and polo were introduced to entertain tourists. Equestrian interest evolved into a multimillion-dollar industry. The Carolina Cup steeplechase, begun in 1930 at the Springdale Race Course, became an annual spring event. The Colonial Cup, an international steeplechase held in the fall, was inaugurated in 1970 on the same course.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Joan A. Inabinet. 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 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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New American Party close to certification in S.C.

To focus on young voters, congressional elections

By Corey Hutchins, contributing writer

NOV. 29, 2013 -- The centrist American Party, founded by former Democratic state schools chief Jim Rex and one-time Republican gubernatorial hopeful Oscar Lovelace, is close to becoming an official political party in South Carolina.

This weekend, the pair expects to gather the last of the 10,000 signatures needed for the State Elections Commission to declare the party eligible for the 2014 elections.

“We are now in the final stages,” said Lovelace, a country doctor from Prosperity who, as a political novice, peeled away 36 percent of the Republican primary vote from then-incumbent Gov. Mark Sanford in the 2006 race for governor.

American Party volunteers are gathering the last of their signatures this weekend at the Carolina-Clemson football game in Columbia. Last month, party volunteers got about 5,000 signatures at the State Fair alone. That was during the government shutdown, Rex says, which made trying to gain support for a moderate political party an easy pitch.

Lately Rex and Lovelace have been focusing on college campuses around South Carolina, giving presentations about what they feel is a need for a new centrist political organization in an age of hyper-partisanship. The American Party platform includes term limits, legislating and governing from the middle, curtailing the proliferation of career politicians, increasing global competitiveness, and holding its candidates and officeholders accountable for ethical or criminal violations. It comes at a time when an ethics cloud hangs over multiple state Republican and Democratic lawmakers and the recent bust of a GOP Florida congressman on cocaine charges.

As for the government shutdown, Rex says it showed voters the two dominant political parties aren't advocating for the interests of average Americans, but instead working for party activists in their respective bases in gerrymandered congressional districts so they can stay in power.

“For the first time in my lifetime I really see the country getting to a tipping point,” he says, “where the loss of confidence, not just in government, but the loss of confidence in these two dominant parties has reached a level that I've never seen before.”

To combat that, Rex has been traveling to college campuses to preach the American Party's message of moderation. He says millennials have become increasingly receptive to such a message, especially after the government ground to a halt for 16 days in October.

“Because of the loan debts [college students] are incurring and the lack of viable job opportunities for many of them, they're a little bit more tuned in to the fact that things aren't working,” Rex says. “I think they're going to respond. At least that's what we're finding on the campuses that we've begun to work with here in South Carolina.”

When asked what specific policy in the American Party's platform would address student loans, Rex sidestepped it by saying it comes back to the party's support for doing everything to ensure America's economy is globally competitive. Young people, he says, have much more of a global perspective than the preceding generation, and the current two-party system isn't focusing enough on big issues. The American Party, he insists, seeks to put an emphasis on “big issues that matter to them as opposed to being distracted by things like abortion, prayer in school, gay rights — the things politicians use to get elected that really have not much to do with what the average American is dealing with right now.”

Read Andy Brack's June 21 commentary on the American Party
Rex and Lovelace began the formal process of founding their new party over the last year. There are seven other official political parties in South Carolina in addition to the Republican and Democratic parties. They include the Green Party, United Citizens Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, Independence Party, Labor Party and the Working Families Party. In 2010, a political unknown named Morgan Bruce Reeves, who runs a land clearing business in Irmo, was able to get his name on the gubernatorial ballot twice by gaining the nominations of the Green Party and the United Citizens Party. He earned about 60,000 votes statewide without a serious campaign effort.

Rex and Lovelace say they hope to run a slate of American Party candidates up and down the ballot in 2014, but they aren't releasing any names yet. Republicans in South Carolina dominate all nine statewide constitutional offices and a majority of S.C. House and Senate seats, but Democrats hold a majority of county council seats and sheriffs' offices. The state Republican Party recently launched an effort to focus on local offices called “Red to the Roots” in hopes of painting South Carolina even more deeply red.

The American Party is taking a different tack. While it isn't discounting local and state offices, Rex says the party is focusing on recruiting candidates for all seven congressional seats.

“One of the differences people will see with these candidates is that they're interested in public service, not in having a career in politics,” he says. “And that's not what were seeing from either party now.”

Corey Hutchins is a reporter with the Charleston City Paper and new contributor to Statehouse Report.

Red barn, Marlboro County, S.C.

This stereotypical barn off U.S. Highway 15 south of Bennettsville, S.C., continues to shelter equipment used on an adjacent farm.  “I was drawn to the design," said Charleston photographer Michael Kaynard.  "It was quite a fancy design for a barn.” 

Across the rural South, more and more barns are being lost to progress. Bennettsville is the county seat for Marlboro County, where almost 29 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line.  The county had 28,145 residents in 2012, 51 percent of whom were black, according to Census estimatesPhoto by Michael Kaynard.  All rights reserved.  Originally posted on on April 25, 2013.

Legislative Agenda

Several meetings ahead

On tap for the coming week:

  • Procurement: The Procurement Review Committee will meet 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Blatt 110. It also will meet at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

  • Restructuring: The House-Senate conference committee on S. 22, a major restructuring bill, will meet 11 a.m. Tuesday

  • Salaries: The Agency Head Salary Commission meets 3 p.m. Tuesday in Gressette 308.

  • Bond review. The Joint Bond Review Committee meets 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Gressette 308. On the agenda: State infrastructure bank, rural infrastructure, more.

Who's got the coolest flag? We do!

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

NOV. 29, 2013 -- There’s no doubt that South Carolina tops one list: best state flag in the country.

If you take a look at all of the states’ flags, about 30 of them are as dull as dishwater. They feature state seals pasted on a field of color and call that a flag.

A few states took more time and effort. California’s flag features a bear; Wyoming’s has a bison. And Maryland’s flag, which kind of looks like a yellow version of the checkered flag at NASCAR events, has history behind it because its design is based on the heraldic banner of the family of George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore and founder of the state.

For pure graphic design, look to Arizona’s flag, which sports red and yellow rays coming from a center star with a field of blue at the bottom. Neighboring New Mexico’s red sun symbol of the Zia tribe on a field of bright yellow is distinctive, too. Most people also are familiar with the Lone Star State’s red, white and blue flag that Texans proudly wave.

But South Carolina’s iconic blue flag with a palmetto tree and a crescent-shaped object in the upper left corner is arguably the best flag in the country because it is instantly recognizable, has a clean graphic design and is linked inexorably to the two wars that shaped America.

You might wonder why we wrote “crescent-shaped” instead of “moon.” That’s because the shape probably isn’t a moon, but a medieval gorget, a crescent-shaped plate of armor designed to protect the throat. By the 18th century, gorgets mostly were ornamental, but were still well-known symbols of battle.

“The historical view of it was it was a gorget from the Second Carolina Regiment [of the Continental Army], said Revolutionary War historian Carl Borick of the Charleston Museum. “That was what was initially on their flag,” referring to a white gorget with the word “liberty” inscribed on the emblem.

The regiment was instrumental in holding off the British at Fort Moultrie on June 28, 1776, at the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, the first colonial victory of the Revolutionary War.  As many South Carolinians know,  the “Liberty flag” is also known as the “Moultrie flag” after its designer and the fort’s commander, Col. William Moultrie. During the battle as British ships sent waves of cannonballs onto the palmetto log fort, Sergeant William Jasper grabbed the flag when it was shot down and held it aloft to rally the troops to hold fast.

Amateur historian David Shimp of Mount Pleasant, a retired Navy captain and vice president of Maybank Industries in Charleston, argues that it makes sense that the symbol on the Moultrie flag is a gorget. Moultrie, he says, bore great allegience to John Rutledge, then president of South Carolina. Rutledge’s family coat of arms (at left) features three gorgets and the Moultrie flag is a tribute to him.

In January 1861, a palmetto tree was added to the Moultrie flag to symbolize the strength of palmetto logs and, in a likely tip of the hat to state’s secessionary sentiment then, how South Carolinians could be strong again.

By this time, most people assumed that the gorget was a crescent moon, a widely-held belief that continues today.

With apologies to David Letterman, here’s our top 10 list of best state flags:

10. Ohio: The only non-rectangular state flag.

9. Arkansas: It’s to the point.

8. Maryland: Great history, but a little busy-looking.

7. Wyoming: The bison is great, but the state seal detracts.

6. California: The bear looks good.

5. Colorado: The “C” is distinctive and memorable.

4. Arizona: Good graphic design.

3. New Mexico: Some think it’s the best, but the yellow is too bright.

2. Texas: That lone star is recognizable all over.

1. South Carolina.

Finally, we’re at the top of a good list.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse ReportYou can reach Brack at:


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From energy gold to Goldfinch

Continental Tire. Congrats for the first tires to roll off the line at a new $500 million plant in Sumter. More.

Trident Tech. The North Charleston technical college is building a $79 million facility to help train workers for aerospace (i.e., Boeing) jobs. More.

Solar farms. Hats off to SCE&G, which has come into the 21st century finally by embracing renewable energy. After years of poo-pooing renewables, it now has plans to build up to five new solar farms in the Palmetto State. More.

House members. While its good the House Ethics Committee looked this week into separate campaign finance complaints involving to Spartanburg representatives, it's a pity that they have to meet at all.

Goldfinch. Federal prosecutors in Texas have filed misdemeanor charges against state Rep. Stephen Goldfinch (R-Georgetown) for misbranding of stem cells before he was in the House. Goldfinch is a self-described conservative Republican who favors a state buyout of the private Charleston School of Law. His campaign Web site is no longer active. More.

Roofs. It's likely the state's college and university leaders are going to be checking a lot of campus roofs after authorities found meth-making equipment on top of a College of Charleston dorm room. More.



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