Sunday, March 12, 2006
irritate some, ring true for others
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.
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
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
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
"Tough love" has its place. But so does leadership.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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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
look tightfisted. Now he wants to sell the farm to pay off
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.
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,
Mount Pleasant, SC
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
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
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
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political news items from the past week:
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
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.
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
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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