S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, March 12, 2006
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/06.0312.gov.htm

Sanford's words irritate some, ring true for others
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

MARCH 12, 2006 - - Maybe it's his "I know best," in-your-face style. Or maybe it's how he sometimes seems to talk before he thinks.

But as always, Gov. Mark Sanford's words irritate some and ring true for others. The latest episode stems from the state's recent 2006 Rural Summit, a gathering of 300 rural community leaders last week in North Charleston.

At the meeting, the governor told leaders in hurting rural communities from which thousands have fled over the years that there was no magic fix for their problems, according to The Post and Courier.

"It is important to recognize that there's no savior from without," the governor said. "At the end of the day, rural South Carolina will help rural South Carolina."

Considering the millions in state aid that go to metropolitan communities in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville for research, higher education, economic development and more, Sanford's words seemed a little harsh and condescending at first blush - - particularly when you consider the paltry amounts rural communities get from the state.

But two mayors said the governor's "tough love" for rural areas didn't offend them.

Orangeburg Mayor Paul A. Miller said the governor's words may have seemed insensitive, but they generally were on target.

"You can't do anything without infrastructure and some of those little places don't have the wherewithal to get the results for the infrastructure they need," he said.

Bishopville Mayor Thomas Alexander agreed. "The cities and small communities of this state are going to have to get together to get something to happen. … Whether we get state aid or don't get state aid, we're not going to sit here to wait for something; we're going to make something happen."

Sanford's political rivals for the November election weren't quite as impressed with the governor's words to rural communities.


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State Sen. Tommy Moore, D-Clearwater, said he'd push for a Rural Infrastructure Bank to help smaller communities.

"After dismantling the Department of Commerce, Sanford now tells our rural communities that there is no hope for them. He's right there's no hope for them - - with him as Governor. I live in a rural community and I see every day how Mark Sanford has neglected average working South Carolinians. Rural communities can rest assured, when I'm governor, I will never give up on them and I will fight to bring good jobs to all areas of the state."

Republican challenger Oscar Lovelace similarly questioned Sanford's leadership over the last four years.

"As a rural family doctor, I've felt the lack of support for rural South Carolina," he said. "What's sorely needed is a governor who is in touch with the people. He [Sanford] holds no promise for South Carolina, period."

Florence Mayor Frank Willis, who is vying against Moore for the Democratic nod to challenge Sanford, could not be reached for comment.

In a statement, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer reiterated the governor told rural leaders there was "no silver bullet for economic development, whether it's for rural or metropolitan South Carolina. In order for rural South Carolina to thrive, it needs to play to its strengths - - like quality of life, entrepreneurship and agribusiness."

As the November elections approach, Sanford is feeling more heat for his performance over the last three years.

Critics harp on the state's high unemployment rate - - rated fourth highest in the country just this week - - and the thousands of good jobs that have vanished. They complain about how state government doesn't seem to respond to economic realities across the state. And they highlight the governor's continuing fractious relationship with the General Assembly, which is led by his own party.

Sanford's surely not going to change his style at this point. But he might want to think about being less confrontational - - with lawmakers, the public and how he talks about rural South Carolina.

"Tough love" has its place. But so does leadership.

lighter side

3/12: Arming America

Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:

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.


3/9: Selling national forest land is bad idea

To the editor:

Thanks for your intelligent and timely commentary "Big Dumb Idea:
Selling National Forest Land." Bush makes tax and spend liberals
look tightfisted. Now he wants to sell the farm to pay off the deficit.

Your essay prompted me to write my US senators and representative.
To date, I've only heard back from one -- Jim DeMint -- and he does not
seem opposed to Bush's idea.

-- Den Latham, Hartsville, S.C.

3/8: Good time for Clean Indoor Air bills

To the editor:

The timing could not be better for the legislature to have "real" clean indoor bills in each chamber. With Dr. Lovelace running against Governor Sanford, we may not have as quality an opportunity for serious discussion of a comprehensive statewide smoke-free work place act for years to come. As you know, current SC bill, H-3795, addresses only restaurants while S-351 seeks to ban teacher smoking in schools. It makes absolutely no sense to tackle indoor air an occupation at a time.

Below is a draft SC Smoke-Free Work and Public Place Act modeled after Washington State's voter Initiative 901 which passed in November (also attached). I've reduced the distance from exterior doors, windows and ventilation intakes which smoking is permitted from 25 ft to 15 ft, and dispensed with the need for hundreds of thousands of new "No Smoking" signs as the act would cover ALL public and work places and the signs are overkill.

-- John R. Polito, Nicotine Cessation Educator, Editor, www.WhyQuit.com, Mount Pleasant, SC

3/8: Family court needs juries

To the editor:

I am writing to you because my children and I are a victim of the family court. ... Your reform [Commentary, 3/5] would not help. I have been on T. V. and the newspapers with my story. ... So you see it happens to good parents, the parent without the money. So I would say to you, the only thing that would help is a jury. The only way you or any one can help is to have a jury to decide our children's future. These Judges are too biased to one Lawyer. And for the Guardians (OH MY), they are biased too.

-- Cindy Leonard, Hilton Head Island, SC

3/6: More needed on family court reform

To the editor:

I applaud our state legislators' overdue effort to reform our overworked family court system. [Commentary, 3/5] Perhaps this is an indirect acknowledgment that our state (family law) legal judicial process has failed to provide the standard of care that exist in other states.

What do we tell those that have endured the emotional and financial abuse dish out by our over worked family/state court? Sorry SouthCarolina doesn't have it together right now you'll just have to suffer the consequences, have a nice life.

My personal experiences suggest that caseload has little to do with common sense and making informed and correct rulings. We must go back to the judicial selection process for that.

I know this sounds like sour grapes, but I would advise Senator Ritchie and Chief Justice Toal to include plaintiff and defendants' experiences when it comes to address family court reform. If you rely totally on the legislative/legal community you'll likely get contaminated and biased result.

Let's be honest the family court system is designed around independence with little or no accountability to fairly meet the (cost effective) needs of the people it is suppose to correctly serve.

I hope these five new major changes improve our family court system. I would recommend to our legislative panel that we have plaintiff and defendant sign the court orders (QDRO) as well since these are often isolated independent decisions by our overworked attorneys and judge(s) and often errors and mistakes can be detected better by the people most familiar with the case, (the people it affects!).

-- Terry R. Housley, Wedgefield, SC

Recent feedback:


Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political news items from the past week:

Thumbs up

Hazing: Coastal Carolina University has acted to assure that fraternities and sororities on its campus - as have other universities in recent years in our state - get a heads up. Pi Kappa Alpha has been suspended for seven years, and Phi Sigma Sigma sorority activities suspended though this semester for their roles in hazing and drinking that left two students hospitalized. Two other Greek groups are also being investigated for their roles, if any. See, kids, adults are right sometimes.

Taxes stay cut: The special Senate subcommittee on school financing promised last week that current property tax exemptions would stay in place whether any tax swaps or changes in property taxation take place or not. For those who receive over-65 exemptions, that is particularly good news.

In the middle

Hog-Dog: It was a good thing for the state when legislators banned any betting contests in which dogs harm or kill other animals and a great thing when legislators added criminal prosecution and property seizure for such betting and events. It couldn't get any better unless the Senate Judiciary Committee, busy as it is this time of year, moves that legislation along like a greyhound.

Thumbs down

State legislators. Legislators who received any part of the billboard industry's $339,000 political donations and who also voted to pass and then to override Gov. Sanford's veto of a billboard deregulation law deserve to have their pictures printed on the billboards of their district so voters can see what they have done. Communities are all but unable under this law to beauty their locales by having the signage removed.

Referee needed: Between a couple of legislative leaders and a couple of lobbyists, the General Assembly may need to hire a boxing or wrestling referee. The two legislators had to be restrained on the floor of the House a few weeks ago, and, last week, two lobbyists got into a tussle at a House reception and ended up knocking down a legislator who had double hip replacement surgery nine months. 1-2-3 …

SC House GOP. Instead of promoting openness and transparency in government, House GOP leaders have asked for an attorney general's opinion to help push their position that caucus meetings should be closed.

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