Andy Brack

BRACK: Remembering Pug Ravenel

BRACK: Remembering Pug Ravenel

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher | Pug Ravenel’s intensity on the football field – his zeal to be the best – stretched into the political arena years later when he inspired young men and women who wanted to change how politics worked in the state. His “reformer” spirit guided newcomers like Joe Riley, who became Charleston’s longtime mayor.

Ravenel, who later ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate against Strom Thurmond in 1978 and for Congress two years later, outlined a new path in politics in South Carolina. As one Facebook observer noted, “South Carolina lost so much for not electing him three times.”

We’ll miss Pug’s intensity, his piercing intellect, his openness to new things and his thoughtful energy fueled by ideas and common sense.

by · 03/27/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  Statehouse’s culture of coziness doesn’t automatically mean corruption

BRACK: Statehouse’s culture of coziness doesn’t automatically mean corruption

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher | An ongoing ethics investigation at the Statehouse has elected officials twitchy, looking over their shoulders in attempts to figure out what’s coming. For the second time in two dozen years, there’s a dark pall looming over the legislature.

But if you think everybody who works on the Statehouse grounds is corrupt, you’d be wrong. Most are hard-working, good people trying to make a difference in a place where a culture of coziness can lead some to fall from grace.

Last year, the state Supreme Court gave authority to First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe to continue a state grand jury investigation that started with the downfall of former House Speaker Bobby Harrell in 2014 over misuse of campaign funds.

by · 03/24/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK: How can South Carolina Democrats start winning more?

BRACK: How can South Carolina Democrats start winning more?

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher | With strings of losses in statewide contests over the last few years, you’d think South Carolina Democrats would be down and out. But with President Donald Trump irritating people left and right, there’s a growing enthusiasm that maybe Democrats can take advantage of new cards being dealt them.

To do so, they’re going to have to be disciplined, raise money, create a more appealing message and target sympathetic voters. And, as one longtime insider notes, they’ll have to have some pretty good luck. But the conditions in reliably red South Carolina are bubbling for Democrats at the state level to have a little more success.

by · 03/17/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  State continues to underfund public education

BRACK: State continues to underfund public education

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher| There’s a bunch of money in the proposed House version of the state budget for education, but it’s still not what the law requires.

South Carolina has a funding formula that mandates spending for 2017-18 of a “base student cost” of $2,984 per student. House budget writers, as has been common practice in the legislature since 2010, have reduced the mandated cost to $2,400 per student by “determining” in a budget proviso that they want base spending to be lower. In other words, they get around the law by simply rewriting the mandate year after year. In 2017-18, it means the 721,401 students in K-12 schools will get $421.3 million less than what they are supposed to get by law.

by · 03/10/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  South Carolina needs to stop shooting itself in the foot

BRACK: South Carolina needs to stop shooting itself in the foot

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher | There’s some high-fiving going on in Columbia as state lawmakers are pushing through measures to raise the gas tax and fix the state employees’ pension system.

Unfortunately, these are solutions for problems of the legislature’s own making. Had the General Assembly done its job years ago, legislators wouldn’t have to be raising taxes to fix crumbling, pot-holed roads. They wouldn’t have to be charging taxpayers and state employees more to make up for dumb losses to the state’s pension fund.

Just look at the hullabaloo about raising the state’s fourth-lowest-in-the-nation gas tax of 16.75 cents per gallon by a dime per gallon.

by · 03/03/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  Lawmakers, state residents must deal with opioid abuse now

BRACK: Lawmakers, state residents must deal with opioid abuse now

By Andy Brack, Statehouse Report | If you don’t think abuse of legally-prescribed painkillers is a problem in South Carolina, just keep this number in mind: 61 million.

That’s the number of powerful, synthesized narcotic pills, known as opioids, that medical professionals prescribed in 2014 in just three counties — Charleston, Greenville and Horry.

Opioids include synthesized oxycodone with trade names like OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. These legal, synthesized drugs relieve pain, but produce highs like their vilified cousins, morphine and heroin.

by · 02/24/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  Being proud to be Southern ain’t going away anytime soon

BRACK: Being proud to be Southern ain’t going away anytime soon

By Andy Brack, Statehouse Report | Back in 2009, an Australian friend’s son wanted to learn about the South. He visited in Charleston for a few days. Then we piled into an old Ford Explorer and set off to see the South.

In eight days and 2,277 miles to Arkansas and back, we saw three Confederate flags, met with a former governor of Mississippi, visited a presidential library, trod on a Civil War battlefield, attended a service at a black megachurch, ate lots of good food and listened. By the end of the trip, my then-18-year-old friend came to a conclusion that lots of academics have spent lifetimes trying to understand: “Southern identity is a lot more complicated than it might seem,” he observed.

by · 02/17/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  Where’s the saber-rattling over the ask for a federal bailout?

BRACK: Where’s the saber-rattling over the ask for a federal bailout?

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher | Two questions:

1. What is the state that was offered $11 billion from the federal government to provide better health care for the poorest of its citizens and said no?

2. What is the state that now wants the federal government to provide a $5 billion bailout for roads after not doing enough over the last 30 years to meet their infrastructure obligations?

Answer: South Carolina, also now known as the Hypocrisy State.

by · 02/10/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary