S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.0819.lameduck.htm


Lame duck Sanford missed opportunities
By Andy Brack, Publisher

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.


Sanford

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.

FEEDBACK POLICY

We encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to something in SC Statehouse Report, please send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. One submission allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:

feedback@statehousereport.com

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 worst governors.

Sanford got re-elected after playing nicer during his fourth year in office and backing away from an unpopular voucher-based education plan.

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 his shell.

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 brack@statehousereport.com.

Recent commentary


Esau Jenkins helps start citizenship schools

Civil 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 Johns Island.


Class at a Citizenship School
(Image from Highlander Center)

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.

WEEKLY EXCERPTS

S.C. 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

lighter side
Roving Rove

Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:

feedback
8/13: 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.

8/13: Americans 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.

7/30: Queensland has enterprising spirit, Sandra Plock, Sumter, SC
7/12:
Domestic violence laws may be used wrongly, Marty Hicks, Mount Pleasant, SC
6/26: Brack is inconsistent, Bill Rentiers III, Lexington, SC
6/14: East Edisto would be boon to ACE Basin, Maggie Ridge, Hollywood, SC
6/12: Protect large tracts, Benjamin Lennon, Short Hills, NJ

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.


How you can subscribe to the full edition of the report

The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge. There's a new limited paid version for individuals that costs about $30 per month. More on subscribing.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get:

  • Hot news -- an early peek on something really big that will happen at the Statehouse. We continually beat other news organizations in finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.
  • Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's floor agenda
  • Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's really going on in the General Assembly
  • Palmetto Politics -- Tidbits from the world of South Carolina politics.
  • McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.
  • Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language
  • Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major political/policy events for the week.
  • Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.
  • Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find illuminating.

To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com

credits

South Carolina Statehouse Report

Publisher: Andy Brack
Editor: Bill Davis | Assistant Editor: Betsy Brack
Phone: 843.670.3996

Subscription or sponsorship Inquiries: info@statehousereport.com

Have an event for the SC Statehouse Report calendar? E-mail details to: news@statehousereport.com or fax to above number.

For additional information, including subscription prices, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.



Just a quick note to let you know how you missed out this week. If you were a subscriber to the paid edition of Statehouse Report, you would have received the information below on Friday AND you would have gotten other special features:

  • NUMBER OF THE WEEK: $81 million
  • NEWS: Insurance Department works on coastal crisis
  • AGENDA: Dog days
  • RADAR SCREEN: Insurance audit
  • PALMETTO POLITICS: Time wounds all heels
  • FEEDBACK: Recent feedback
  • SCORECARD: Who's up and down for the last week
  • MEGAPHONE: My hacks, not yours

For more information, contact us today about our affordable paid subscriptions for businesses and organizations that need the inside scoop at the Statehouse.


SC works on insurance crisis along coast
By Bill Davis, editor
From the paid-subscriber issue of Statehouse Report

AUG. 17, 2007 -- A move by the state this year to make sure homeowners along the South Carolina coast could get property insurance seems to be working, according to state officials.

  • If you subscribed to the full edition of Statehouse Report, you'd get more information on this and much more. Contact us today to learn more.

AVAILABLE NOW: Furman University's Don Gordon has great things to say about Andy Brack's book of commentaries, "Bugging the Palmettos." Click here to learn more and buy the book -- only $15.00!

Visit Statehouse Report

 

 

 

Copyright 2007, Statehouse Report LLC, which is affiliated with The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.
Reproduction is prohibited without express permission of the publisher. For additional information, including subscription prices, go to
http://www.statehousereport.com/.

Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. No republication is allowed.