Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007
duck Sanford missed opportunities
AUG. 19, 2007 - - If there was ever any doubt that South
Carolina's governor would be a lame duck in his second term,
there isn't much now.
A Wednesday vote by the state Budget and Control Board, chaired
by Gov. Mark Sanford, showed the legislature again controls
this administrative agency that oversees much of state government.
In that vote, the members of the board with legislative experience
rehired a former executive director who left in January when
it looked like Sanford for the first time would gain the upper
hand at the agency. That dynamic had become a possibility
after last year's election of kindred reformer Thomas Ravenel
as state treasurer.
But following Ravenel's drug indictment and recent resignation,
the General Assembly elected one of its own, Converse Chellis
of Summerville, to fill in as state treasurer, which gave
him a seat on the budget board. Instead of welcoming the nomination
of Chellis and trying to get his support for a reform agenda,
Sanford backed another candidate who didn't have a chance.
Thus, by again poking legislators in the eyes due to what
seems to be a genetic predisposition for being a maverick,
control of the budget board slipped away from the governor
like an eel.
It's all a high-level soap opera that's been played out in
public. And it shows the governor, for all of his reform-minded
zeal, remains relatively weak while the General Assembly carries
most of the power cards.
What may be most frustrating to many voters, however, is
how Sanford has squandered multiple chances to make the changes
he wanted in the state by continuing to antagonize state lawmakers
in his own political party which runs things.
In many ways, Sanford inherited a perfect opportunity to
make real changes in state government when he took office
in January 2003. Not only did he have a Republican General
Assembly, he had popular support to show creative leadership
(remember the bumper stickers - Sanford: Leadership?). He
had different ideas that connected with many voters, who saw
the Hollywood handsome governor as a new kind of populist.
Sanford pushed for more control of state spending. He promoted
new accountability measures. He had big-time budget hearings
to showcase problems. In short, he did a lot of things to
highlight a desire for new ways of doing things.
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But things started going South pretty quickly when Gov. "My
Way or the Highway" Sanford started grandstanding about
legislative leaders instead of working with them. First he
carried a pair of piglets named Pork and Barrel to the Statehouse
lobby to protest legislative spending. The next year, it was
a mule-driven carriage outside the Statehouse to showcase
the legislature's slow-changing ways. After three years in
office, Time magazine named him one of the nation's three
Sanford got re-elected after playing nicer during his fourth
year in office and backing away from an unpopular voucher-based
Then Ravenel got elected and took away a budget board seat
from Democrat Grady Patterson, who tended to vote on board
matters with Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman and House
Ways and Means Chairman Dan Cooper. And Sanford came out of
When Budget and Control Board Executive Director Frank Fusco
resigned in January because of the shift in power, Sanford
got the board to make his chief of staff, Henry White, to
be the new director. Then he got long-time supporter Chad
Walldorf to chair a committee to take a look at how to save
money at the budget board. The committee in July unveiled
a report which claimed millions of dollars could be saved
by making more than 60 changes.
Then the Ravenel shoe dropped. Chellis became the anointed
candidate. White resigned an hour before his election. And
then the budget board had to name another administrative leader.
The two candidates? Fusco and Walldorf. The winner? Fusco,
the fellow with the backing of legislators.
In politics, turnabout is fair play. That's what's happened
with the Budget and Control Board. But the effects of this
political drama will have longer, more lasting impacts for
a governor who had a chance to make a real difference, but
now probably won't.
You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of
SC Statehouse Report, at email@example.com.
helps start citizenship schools
rights activist Esau Jenkins, born in 1910 on Johns Island,
bused his children and others to public schools in Charleston
when he saw the injustices that affected black children on
During the daily commutes, Jenkins stressed to adults the
importance of voting and taught them to recite passages from
the state constitution (a requirement to vote in South Carolina
during that time.)
In 1948, Jenkins founded the Progressive Club to educate
Sea Island residents. At the suggestion of Septima Clark,
Jenkins attended a workshop at the Highlander Folk School
in Monteagle, Tenn., in August 1954.
Statehouse Report has partnered with USC
Press to provide readers with an interesting weekly
historical excerpt about the state. Each excerpt, which
is used with permission and not for republication, is
taken from The
South Carolina Encyclopedia, a 1,077-page book
published in 2006 with entries by almost 600 contributors
and edited by noted historian Walter Edgar. We hope
you enjoy this new feature.
Jenkins, Clark and Bernice Robinson collaborated with Highlander
to establish a "citizenship school" on Johns Island.
The school was designed to teach adult African Americans to
read so that they could register to vote. The first school
was a success and the schools soon spread to the other Sea
Islands. The success of the first schools in the Sea Islands
led Highlander to create others across the South, where tens
of thousands of African Americans learned to read and became
registered to vote.
Jenkins continued to work on issues of civil rights and social
justice. Shortly before his death in 1972, he was appointed
to the state advisory committee for the U.S. Commission on
Civil Rights. He was inducted into the S.C. Black Hall of
Fame in June 2003.
-- Entry by Herb Frazier, The
South Carolina Encyclopedia
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
Australia is tip of iceberg
To Statehouse Report:
Australia is just the tip of the iceberg. (Commentary,
8/12) I have traveled throughout western Europe for
nearly 40 years and there is not now a country in Western
Europe that does not have a higher standard of living than
do we. Their homes, cars, work environment, social support
structures, highways and mass transit systems, schools, medical
care (and the list goes on) are better than our own.
I recently was on a cruise with a man who became ill while
in the Orient. He was taken to a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand,
with considerable trepidation regarding the care he might
find. He returned singing their praises. He arrived at the
emergency room and was seen almost immediately. Within two
hours he had been seen by a physician who spoke excellent
English, had a blood work up and a CAT scan, was diagnosed
and given medication -- all within two hours. Within two days,
he was feeling much better and by the end of the week was
fully recovered. The total expense for this hospital visit
was less than $200!! And this in a part of the world we generally
think of as "Third World."
If one does much traveling these days, it is painfully obvious
that we no longer provide the standard of living enjoyed by
many other countries of the world. Like you, I would not wish
to live anywhere else than in the US but that doesn't mean
we shouldn't learn from what other countries are doing because
many times, they are doing things much better than are we.
-- John P. Ford, Sumter, S.C.
have grown apathetic
To Statehouse Report:
Many Americans have grown apathetic and even lazy about what
we have; the system has changed into more of an "everybody
wants something for nothing." The Australians DO NOT
have a welfare system where they pay you not to work. Did
you see how many were on welfare like ours in Queensland?
They do not have all the give me programs. If you like to
eat you work. That is why you made the comment "If there's
deep poverty, it's hard to find." The people worked in
this country until President Johnson and the Legislature gave
the people a reason not to work. They said they created "THE
GREAT SOCIETY," but they created the greatest welfare
program in the world. That is why people don't work. They
say" GIM ME-GIM ME-GIM ME."and "YOU OWE ME".
-- David Whetsell, Lexington, S.C.
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