S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Sept. 3, 2006
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/06.0903.expired.htm


State swimming in expired positions
By Andy Brack
Publisher
SC Statehouse Report

SEPT. 3, 2006 - - There are 13 pages of vacant, expired or soon-to-be expiring positions on state boards and commissions, according to a list of 103 organizations the Secretary of State's office tracks.

The list, last updated May 8, shows 423 state-appointed positions are considered "expired." Generally, that means an appointee is continuing to serve in the position, but he or she has not been reappointed or stepped down. The list also shows seven vacancies and 28 slots that will expire by the end of the year.

After May 8 and before the Senate adjourned in June, senators confirmed 28 recommendations to bring the number of expired terms to just under 400. Additionally, four recommendations were not acted on by the Senate, according to the Senate clerk's office.

It's not uncommon for some positions to be in limbo. State law says it's OK for appointees to continue to serve in expired terms. But a lot of people are serving in posts to which they have not been reappointed. Most of these positions aren't on the high-profile boards, which tend to be political plums for which campaign supporters clamor. Instead, they're lower-profile positions that often are much harder to fill.

So far, our all-time favorite example is the Cosmetology Advisory Committee State Board, which has five expired positions, including one that goes back to April 1989.

But there are several other more prominent highlights:

  • S.C. Arts Commission: Seven of nine board slots are expired, including two that have been expired for two years.
  • Commission on Human Affairs: Nine of 15 slots are expired, two of which have been expired for three years.
  • State Commission on Higher Education: Before an Aug. 24 announcement of five new appointments, eight members served in expired positions.
  • State Ethics Commission: Two expired positions, including the chairman.
  • State Housing Finance and Development Authority: Six expired positions, including the chairman.
  • State Ports Authority: Three expired positions.

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Several state agency officials say having board members serve despite expired terms doesn't pose major problems because they've got experience. But one admitted it may have a psychological effect: "Some of the board members who have been allowed to stay feel a little in limbo and it has had some effect on their role on the board."

As a wag noted, "You have to question why you should even have terms."

Positions on state boards and commissions - - everything from highly-touted postings on university boards to out-of-spotlight boards like the Prisoner of War Commission or Board of Architectural Examiners - - generally are appointed by the governor, about half of which require Senate confirmation. State lawmakers, either as the General Assembly or by legislative delegation, also make some appointments.

Still, the governor's office gets the ball rolling on most appointments. With an election ahead in November, it's not unexpected for terms to remain expired. But with a bunch of them expired for more than a year, you've got to wonder if the expirations are symptomatic - - a indication of a lack of priority, benign neglect or something else

So we asked the governor's office for some details and a status report about appointments to a dozen selected boards with some expired terms. (It seemed to make sense to ask for info on a few key boards to get a flavor of what was happening since there must have been some unreported appointments since May.) But instead of information about numbers of recommendations or appointments, we got spin.

Said spokesman Joel Sawyer, "There are literally thousands of state and local board and commission appointments the governor is responsible for filling, and that volume is magnified by the turnover we see through term expirations and other natural attrition for these largely volunteer positions. We fill hundreds of those spots each year, and there are any number of board appointments that we're actively working on at any given moment."

Is something ominous going on? Probably not. But 400 or so expired terms certainly makes you wonder what's happening with state government.

Send your comments to Andy Brack at brack@statehousereport.com. His book of commentary, Bugging the Palmettos, is available for $15.00. Click here for more.

Recent commentary

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9/3: Psyched out

Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:

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9/1: SC State helped form public service mission

To the editor:

I would like to thank you for the recognition in reporting the great things our institution has done for years. [Commentary, 8/27] Just think what we could accomplish with the financial support comparable to USC & Clemson. I am a civil engineering graduate of SCSU and went on to study for my Masters in environmental engineering in FAMU/FSU College of Engineering on a NASA fellowship. And just think, DOT offered me $19,000 when I graduated. My NASA stipend was $15,000! This past year I started my own environmental firm to remediate contaminated properties and redevelop them for profitable use. My mission is to bring my concept home to develop property for jobs in SC. That’s the type of public service ideas that is developed with an SCSU education.

-- Jerome D. McQueen, Kennesaw, Ga.

8/31: Thanks for the recognition

To the editor:

As an 89' Alumnus of SC State I would just like to thank you for this awesome write-up about our illustrious university. Be Blessed.

-- Sidney Wearing, Raleigh, NC

8/31: Great article on SC State

To the editor:

Thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful article on my beloved alma mater! We Bulldogs have always known that S.C. State was an exceptional place to go to school, but it's nice to know that we are appreciated nationally. Thank you for spreading the word! GO BULLDOGS!!!!

-- Lisa R. Brown '80, Smyrna, Ga.

8/31: Vote no on property tax cap

To the editor:

Kill the 15% Cap - vote "No" in November. Leave our Tax system in place-requiring everyone to pay their fair and equal share of the cost of government based on fair market value... Don't vote "Yes" and make "inequality" a constitutional mandate - denying the little property owner equal treatment for ever. . The big guys already have a handsome windfall with the tax swap.- Those at the top of the ladder will see their tax bill cut as much as 50% or more.

Let's not shaft the little property owner and saddle them, their children and grand children with the added tax burden- inherent with a 15% Cap- of subsiding wealthy property owners forever-

The 136 lawyer-worded 15% reassessment ballot question is crafted to defy interpretation by the average person. Rather it is designed to confuse the average property owner into voting himself self a tax increase to give windfall tax breaks to the wealthy.

While the average person can be excused for lacking the skills needed to understand the complexities of our property tax system, our elected officials cannot. They have an obligation to understand complex public policy and a responsibility to inform/educate their constituents on such matters - especially something as serious and important as a Constitutional change. A change that is estimated by the state's Chief Economist to adversely effect the majority of taxpayers statewide to the tune of a $372 million tax burden shift from the haves to the have nots..

As a minimum -elected officials should call on their Tax Experts (Assessors and Auditors) to prepare an estimate of the effects of implementing a 15% Cap in their respective counties and release same to the public. The clock is ticking. Let's tell the truth about the Cap.

-- Bob Henderson, North Charleston, S.C.

8/30: SC State has rich heritage

To the editor:

As a proud graduate of S.C. State University, please accept my sincere thanks for the very positive commentary published in Monday's Sumter Daily Item. Although not without problems (and what higher education school isn't?) you are quite correct. The University has a rich heritage and continues to make exemplary marks in many fields of endeavor/ contributions/ services to both our state and our nation.

Thank you for your recognition of its latest rating by The Washington
Monthly.

-- Carolyn Harris Brown '54, Columbia, S.C.

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