Sunday, July 24, 2005
Dems see tarnish
on Sanford's bulletproof image
SC Statehouse Report
24, 2005 - - For three years, Gov. Mark Sanford has been the
Despite some public relations blunders with pigs and horses,
and a continuing spat with members of the Republican-controlled
General Assembly, Sanford has kept a popular profile with
voters across the state.
While he has accomplished little over the last three legislative
sessions (no real restructuring; no real income tax cut; no
school vouchers), hes still popular. But there are signs
that the image is tarnishing, Democrats say.
Some recent events play into the hands of Democrats as potential
hard-hitting negative ads in the coming 2006 re-election campaign:
Credit rating loss. Now that the state has lost its
sought-after AAA credit rating from one Wall Street firm,
Democrats see a vulnerability on economic issues for the governor.
While Sanford and lawmakers pointed fingers at each other,
the Standard and Poors credit rating agency pointed
to the states recent lackluster record on job creation
and its record of having one of the nations top unemployment
rates. Governors often want to take credit for creating jobs,
but when they fall into this trap, they have to take blame
too when things go awry.
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Free trips. Recent news shows the governor took $6,000
in free trips from private interests as 27 lawmakers and constitutional
officers accepted almost $50,000 in free travel. Such cozying
up to corporate bigwigs could cause problems for Sanford and
others. In other state election campaigns, free trips and
perks have led to populist negative ads that were very effective
Santee Cooper report. While the governor and his team
is poo-pooing a Senate subcommittees report on the state
electric utility, voters surely will be reminded by Democrats
that the report was authored by members of Sanfords
own party. It will be used as an example of internal meddling.
Furthermore, Sanford got caught between different versions
of the truth by saying that he didnt order a look into
privatizing the utility when records show his office and appointees
to the Santee Cooper board did just that.
Education. The governors big agenda item, using
public funds to pay tax credits to people to send their kids
to private schools (a fancy end-run that really is a school
voucher proposal) died a very public death this year. While
it likely will come up next year, Democrats will use the issue
to hammer Sanford over what theyll characterize as his
commitment to using public funds to pay for private education
instead of supporting public education outright. Again, an
effective ad can be made to put Sanford in a bad light.
People expect their governor to move the state forward,
to make education better and to create jobs, State Democratic
Party Executive Director Lachlan McIntosh said. Sanford
didnt seem to get that memo.
And while Democrats are putting issue bullets in their belt
to use against the governor next November, Sanford still has
the advantage - - millions of dollars in cached campaign cash
as Democrats struggle to raise money even on a good day.
But maybe the governor, who hasnt seemed eager to get
into the media spotlight lately, has gotten the message that
he needs to work on his image. Just last week, his temperamental
press secretary, Will Folks, announced he was resigning to
go to the private sector where he hoped to be instrumental
in helping his boss get re-elected.
More likely, Folks has been dispatched by the governor to
start using some of that big pile of campaign cash to work
on the image, a job that is much easier and more flexible
when youre not on the public payroll.
7/24: Full disclosure
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Looking for math and common sense
To the editor:
Is anyone exploring the link between birth control (or lack
of) and poverty? Is it possible for one to move out of poverty
if the number of children they bear is limited?
Is anyone exploring the link between parenting skills and
poverty? Are the children of poor parents with good parenting
skills more likely to move out of poverty than the children
of poor parents with poor parenting skills?
Whatever happened to simple math and common sense?
-- Paula Richardson, Britton's Neck, S.C.
7/17: Lowered credit rating is red
To the editor:
Well, the chickens have comeback to roost. Yes, in the early
90's the Wall Street Journal classed South Carolina among
those states who had an "Embarrassment Of Riches."
That classification meant a state whose on hand revenue and
taxing system showed a budget surplus but one of the worst
education systems in the country along with a near starvation
of domestic needs. On the positive side, the state, then,
was reported to have a AAA Credit Rating.
Then came the supposed new look and the state joined many
other states. It began competing for jobs by offering migrant
corporations or big businesses tax incentives and other types
of business largess to establish in South Carolina. As a result,
SC has paid dearly for added jobs. The hope was that the state's
economy would improve, but taxes exploded while services to
its residents crumbled.
In spite of this outcome, big business taxes aren't rising
in South Carolina, they are falling, placing this impoverished
and undereducated state in a fiscal vise. To draw jobs and
spur its economy, South Carolina, according to statistics,
became the fiercest aggressor in the interstate jobs war that
has swept the country. Although the state has added several
thousand jobs, its population has exploded as well as its
school children. Having hollowed its tax base to attract corporations,
South Carolina is struggling to afford the resulting boom.
Darla Moore, a Wall Street financier and state native stated
that "If something isn't done, they're going to be beyond
the point of recovery."
The recent lowering of the states credit rating from AAA
to AA is just the beginning. It must stop slashing, by several
billion dollars, taxes for an elite class of movable businesses
as it has been doing for the past 16 years. If such action
is not taken and taken soon, the state should expect even
greater budget deficits. If tax trends are not drastically
changed in this regard, improvements in life quality for its
residents and improvements in the quality and variety of school
district services will continue to suffer and that is the
bottom line. The lower credit rating is just a warning sign.
-- Bob Logan, Little River, SC
should focus on real problems, Donna Crile, Myrtle
to do more about poverty, Earl Capps, Ladson,
school would help on St. Helena Island, Tom
Hatfield, Hilton Head Island, SC
program addresses Pee Dee poverty, Tammy Pawloski,
Professor of Education, Francis Marion University, Florence,
approach on prosperity, Laura Morris, Mount
can we let poverty happen, Nancy Kolman, Pawley's Island,
residents need equal representation, Gene Deragon,
Jasper working together, Rep. Bill Herbkersman,
tax system needs to change, Hedy Williams, Beaufort,
won't go away,
Jerry Ausband, Garden City Beach, SC
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report
with other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
service has one master, not two:
"While all of this has
been going on, some members of the Santee Cooper board
(i.e., Gov. Sanford's appointees) have become increasingly
activist in nature. Charges are flying that board members
are micromanaging on everything from corporate contributions
and power contracts to working intimately on a privatization
"Santee Cooper's struggles should
serve as a reminder to members of state governing boards
that public service requires them to carry out two duties.
First, there's a "duty of care," which calls
for board members to ensure an organization is running
effectively and efficiently. (This gives an entrée
for meddling.) But board service also carries a "duty
of loyalty," which means members must serve the
interests of the organization over interests of anyone
else, such as a governor."
In The Post and Courier
Cooper directors, governor blamed in report.
"A bipartisan panel of five state senators was
scheduled to release a report this morning saying Santee
Cooper board members repeatedly and recklessly mismanaged
the state-owned utility for more than two years, capping
a months-long investigation that included 22 hours of
hearings and about 10,000 pages of e-mails and documents.
"The statement, written by Sen.
Luke Rankin, said bullying by a few rogue board members
jeopardized the power company's stellar credit rating
and could have been costly for taxpayers and the utility's
customers and bondholders. The report also said those
directors deflated morale at the utility while pursuing
a political agenda for Gov. Mark Sanford, who appointed
them to their posts."
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Westmoreland, Hawkins. South Carolina lost two titans
of public service over the past week with the deaths of General
William Westmoreland, remembered as an officer and a gentleman,
and federal Judge Falcon Hawkins, a consummate judge. Both
were good men; both will be missed.
Senate. The bipartisan state Senate subcommittee that
looked into shenanigans at Santee Cooper did its job in pointing
to the governor and his minions for interfering with the agency's
The State. After being scooped in May by the Columbia
Free-Times about Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer being
paid a whale of a lot of money for 1/10 of an acre by the
SC Department of Transportation, Columbia's daily newspaper
waited for the Greenville
News to scoop them on the story June 20 before running
a big front-page headline Saturday.
Sanford, lawmakers. Gov. Mark Sanford accepted $6,000
in free travel last year; free trips by 27 state lawmakers
totaled $27,000. While this saves the state money, it might
be better to cut ties to corporate bigwigs so the state doesn't
owe them anything. More: The
Fair. If knuckle-dragging were an Olympic contest,
SC might be a medalist with such antics as Sen. Mike Fair's
evolution bill, which was proposed as this year's session
closed More: Associated
Mack. Rep. David Mack, chair of the Legislative Black
Caucus, shouldn't be defending Charleston City Councilman
Kwadjo Campbell, who has been indicted on corruption charges.
There's no "conspiracy" to get Campbell.
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