S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Jan. 2, 2005
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/05.0102.morris.htm


COMMENTARY
Find other ways to honor public servants
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

JAN. 2, 2005 - - It's almost gotten to the point that you can't drive anywhere without seeing a road, interchange, bridge or some other piece of public infrastructure named after a public official.

There are at least 20 buildings, gyms, schools, statues and streets named after the late Sen. Strom Thurmond. Retiring Sen. Fritz Hollings, who made it a practice to try not to have things named for him while he was in office, still has six major namesakes, including the recently renamed ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

And then there's the Earle E. Morris Jr. Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Center in Columbia and the Earle E. Morris Jr. Highway in Pickens County.

Thirty years ago when Morris was a public official, the General Assembly named S.C. Highway 153 in his native Pickens County to honor his public service. He served as a state senator, followed by statewide positions as lieutenant governor and comptroller general.


Earle E. Morris Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Center, Columbia

After he left state service, he became chairman of Carolina Investors in Pickens. In November, Morris was sentenced to 44 months in prison for his role in the collapse of the Upstate bank-like financial institution which once had holdings of $278 million. Thousands lost their savings when the company went bankrupt. Following bankruptcy proceedings, most of the mom-and-pop investors were able to recover about 15 cents on the dollar.

Currently, State Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, is talking with business owners along the Morris Highway to learn whether they want to change the name. Why? Because they'll likely have to spend thousands of dollars to change stationery, envelopes, business cards and the like.

Regardless, state lawmakers should strip Morris's name from the road, as well as the building named for him in Columbia. To keep the name on each dishonors the state.

ALSO THIS WEEK

McLEMORE'S WORLD: Resolutions in stone

SUBSCRIPTION INFO

FEEDBACK POLICY

We encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to something in SC Statehouse Report, please send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. One submission allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:

feedback@statehousereport.com

In fact, state lawmakers seriously should examine the too-common practice of naming public infrastructure for incumbent public officials and just-retired ones. We suggest buildings, highways and the like only be named to honor people after they've passed away.

But the people who make these decisions, politicians, likely won't want to do this. That's because they seem to want to see their names emblazoned upon signage honoring their public service. It's almost become mandatory for state officials to expect some kind of naming honor.

Still, it's just not a good idea. Naming things for public officials runs the continuing risk of embarrassing the state and taxpayers, as in the Morris case. Certainly those who named the road and center for him couldn't foresee his conviction. But their good intentions have come back to haunt the people of Pickens County. Imagine if you had lost your life savings in the Carolina Investors debacle and were reminded of it every day as you drove down a state road.

It's far safer to wait and honor public servants in some other way while they're living. For example, if there were a great wail to do something public, people could take up a collection and erect a statue or have a portrait painted of the official.

Instead of having those in the old boys' (and girls') club of politics pat their peers on the backs by naming something after them, perhaps the people who gave these folks the power in the first place - - voters and taxpayers - - should be trusted to write thank-you letters instead.


RECENT COMMENTARY

McLEMORE'S WORLD
1/2: Resolutions in stone

The latest from cartoonist Bill McLemore:


LEARN MORE DAILY

The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.


SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION
How you can subscribe to the full edition of the report

The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::

Hot issue -- an early peek at weekly commentary on something really big. Last year, we continually beat other news organizations in finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.

Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's floor agenda

Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's really going on in the General Assembly

McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.

Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language

Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major political/policy events for the week.

Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.

Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find illuminating.

To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com

 

Learn more about Statehouse Report

  Copyright 2005, Statehouse Report LLC, which is affiliated with The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.
Retransmission or reproduction of more than one copy is prohibited without express permission of the publisher. For additional information, including subscription prices, go to
http://www.statehousereport.com/.