South Carolina Statehouse Report logo


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:



12/20: Good on the yo-yo factor

To the editor:

Very good commentary (12/19, Commentary) on the "yo-yo" factor of state policy. CONSISTENCY is important, especially in the basic and essential functions of state government. Could the same concept apply to the management of the state's public service authorities, including Santee Cooper and the SPA, (he asked rhetorically)?

-- Name withheld upon request, Summerville, S.C.

12/20: Shifting priorities commentary rings true

This so true (12/19, Commentary). As a retired government worker I can testify to what these ups and downs do to literally paralyze an agency. When a downsizing occurs, employees turn their total attention to "who's next" since the firings are based on seniority. I was one of those who stayed during a downsizing and waited for two years for the agency to recover some sense of forward motion!

Unless you've been in bureaucracy, you have no idea what these ups and downs do to morale, and overall effectiveness of an agency.

-- Dwight Fee, Murrells Inlet

12/3: Filibuster actually promotes gridlock

To the editor:

I disagree with your recent commentary (Commentary, 11/28) that the filibuster encourages compromise. Lately it's used to intentionally gridlock the Senate so some bill, usually not the one under consideration but one further down the line, won't be voted on before the session expires. I'm all for reasoned discourse, but this is ridiculous.

I agree with you that the legislature, particularly the Senate, has done remarkable little since Sanford was elected. My guess is they don't like him and fear fundamental reform. They see him as an outsider with wild ideas who never served in the State Legislature. I see him as an outsider with good ideals uncorrupted by service in the State Legislature.

The Senate needs to get out of his way and help him accomplish real reform. If they don't, voters won' t think he's a failure; they'll think the Senators are obstructionists!

-- Shell Suber, Columbia, S.C.

12/1: Districts should get bus contracts

To the editor:

I read recently that our state government is considering privatization of school bus services in an attempt to improve the budget. Based on their past record regarding the awarding of contracts for various services and products to contributors, cronies and even themselves, I would hate to see the sort of contract that might result following such legislative action.

As ours is the only state which assumes full responsibility for these vehicles and their upkeep, and they are acknowledged to often be outdated and sometimes dangerous, perhaps that itself is a clue that something does need to be changed, however. I would suggest that granting our state's school districts the autonomy from legislative interference in their budgets and daily operation found elsewhere, a workable equal funding plan based on enrollment and then the giving of bus responsibility to the districts would be a better proposal to consider.

-- Jon R. Heckerman, Garden City Beach

11/30: Private education should get tax credit

To the editor:

I have just read your article in the Business Journal (Commentary, 11/14) and I am puzzled by your logic on the subject of vouchers. Please tell me why for the 12 years my kids are not sitting in a public school, I shouldn't get a credit for educating them somewhere else? If they aren't sitting in a public school they aren't costing the school system any money. Every parent of a public school student recieves [sic] money from the state for their kids education in the form of that education. The amount of money the goverment pays for each public school student is far more than the $4,000.00 credit that we would get. This means that the school system would still recieving part of my kids funding even if we recieved a voucher from the state. (Keep in mind it's not the "state's money", it's our tax money that we paid in.)

So my family would get a credit for only 12 years and we still pay to fund public education until we retire. This only seems logical to me. I am a general contractor. Using your logic, If I choose to use a certian electrical firm, I am taking money away from all of that electrical contractors competitors thus treating them unfairly. You don't take into account that I chose contractor A over the others because I am looking for a better quality job.

Competition works to spur improvement in every other business in the world. What logical reason can you provide that excludes education from this universal truth. Please give me a reason to see your side of this or why my side is wrong. I am a businessman and I deal with logic, not emotion. Your rich getting richer line is nothing more than class baiting. We pay more taxes and usually contribute more to society than "the poor" so calling a voucher program "subsidizing private education" is an incorrect term in my opinion. Even with a voucher you are still keeping part of my kids state education money in the public system for free.

-- Name withheld upon request, Wando, S.C.

11/28: Brack's right on voucher plan's impact

To the editor:

I agree with your previous State House Report concerning an effort by the naysayers of our Public School system to privatize it (Commentary, 11/14). Especially those who want to get their foot in the door by taking some public funds for private education as our Governor is proposing with his "Let The Parents Choose" vote getting program.

This program, along with other similar programs is, in my opinion, simply a sneaky way of resegregation our school system. The Public School system is certainly not perfect but it does not warrant privatization, be it partially or otherwise.

The run-up to such privatizing efforts was, in my view, triggered by the Bush Administrations underfunded "No Child Left Behind" program. A program that all public school systems are struggling with. That program accentuates the negative instead of enumerating the positives of Public education.

Again, if the truth were known, talk about using public funds for private education only tends to refuel the resentment many folks had at the dawn of School Integration. Private funds should only go towards Private services and Public funds to Public services. It's the American way. All Public School Systems should continue to work to improve but that does not include carving out the funds needed to do so simply to please some who don't like the mix their darlings have to face in the classrooms.

The 'Separate But Equal' Public School System once used in the South did not work and neither will the Governor's vote getting attempt to take public education back the days before the Civil Rights movement. Senator Graham is correct in coming out against Sanford's proposal.

-- Bob Logan, Horry County

11/16: Give public schools a fair fight

To the editor:

I can not believe the lack of EQUALITY in the voucher fight. They day they give a public school $4,000.00 to educate a child would be the happiest of my life! How come parents get $4,000.00 in tax breaks to send a kid to a private school while the public schools get less than $2000.00 per pupil to try to do the same job? At least give us a fair fight!

-- Dr. Janet Roberts, public school educator, Chapin, S.C.

11/15: Governor is wrong on vouchers

To the editor:

I just finished reading your commentary on school vouchers in today's Sumter Item. Even though I don't have time to elaborate on all the points of the commentary, I felt compel to write and THANK you for making such a strong and timely case for us parents with kids in public schools as well as for citizens who appreciate the value of public education and the role it plays in the well being of our society. As PTA president of an elementary school here in Sumter I will ask all of our membership to please read your commentary. You touched all the salient points and I hope parents as well as concerned citizens will let our politicians know that the Governor is wrong on this one. Again, thank you.

-- W. Harrison Brown, PTA President, Millwood Elementary School, Sumter, S.C.

11/15: Current education model doesn't work

To the editor:

Vouchers, Private School, reduced state funding, blah, blah, blah, etc., does not influence the quality of education in any given State or district.

Public Education , S.C.E.A., N.E.A., and yes S.C.S.B.A, and the Democratic party will continue to support any position that keeps eggs in their basket ( tax money). The will complain about any accountability standard that is applied (NCLB) and they will continually avoid the truth that we are failing to educate our children.

Alternative programs are not the enemy. In my county we are spending somewhere North of $9000.00 per child exclusive of capital improvement debt and less than half of the student population scores proficient on PACT. We hand pick a select few of our students to take S.A.T. and we average less than 900. Private schools down the road charge less than $3500 per student inclusive of capital improvement costs and have remarkably stronger academic scores.

When a system openly discusses a "head count" as a manner to increase budget revenue, that system has lost focus of why it exists.

Public Education can work. Our current model does not work and should not receive continued protection. Our children deserve better and our local economy should demand better.

-- David L. Cope, Jasper County Board Of Education, District 1

11/8: SC would be better with two-party system

SC would be better served with a strong two-party system instead of one controling political party (See Commentary, 11/7). I was the only individual who challenged an incumbent as a Democrat from Greenville County for the SC House. Greenville County area residents seem oblivious to the goings on in Columbia, but as the largest populated county, we alone control 13 seats in the Statehouse.

If the metropolitan counties of Greenville and Spartanburg actively recruited more Democratic candidates and actively supported them, SC would see changes. One major obstacle is the Greenville media outlets amnesiac coverage toward the Statehouse. As a recent former USC graduate student, I was amazed by the Columbia area media coverage toward the General Assembly (that) Upstate residents simply do not get.

Elections are only meaningful when there are challengers. Even in hopeless cases, challengers keep the officeholders honest and focused on the needs of citizens rather than on simply accumulating and holding power and perks.

Occasionally a challenger wins. Those wins infuse the system with new ideas, and new excitement, engage more citizens, and provide a salutary object lesson for other elected officials who have let their attention drift away from the needs of their constituents.

-- Luanne McIntyre Taylor, Greenville, S.C.

11/8: More competition is better, Republican agrees

Andy, once again, you make some very good points(See Commentary, 11/7). This Republican has no problem with a little more active and principled competition. When the Democrats are prepared to either run to win, or at least run respectable, Alex Sanders-type statesmen, it will hold us Republicans more accountable for what we say and what we do.

As I once pointed out on my post-election message on the website, those Republicans who fail to learn from the lessons of defeats at the hands of Democrats are doomed to repeat them, and the people of this state are the real losers when those lessons fail to be learned by either side.

To those Democrats who wish to make their party into a team which can increase political accountability for all, as well as the number of constructive inputs into the process of governance, I wish them luck … but not too much luck!

-- Earl Capps, Summerville, S.C.

11/8: Column was Democratic front

To the editor:

As a Republican, I too was amazed at DeMint's homophobic comment (See Commentary, 10/10). I have, also, always been amazed by John Graham Altman's bigoted comments. But I don't paint the entire party as homophobic because of one or two individuals' comments .

But aren't you doing the same thing in your column? "A bunch of white guys"? That's Democratic code for "the rich" which somehow gets demonized by every Democrat for their success and money: money which Democrats want to re-distribute to their base. The "politics of division" indeed.

Also, I did not see anywhere in your article condemnation for overboard assertions from Democrats in the past election. If you are going to write an article only from the Democrat's point of view, at least have a banner that states, " Approved by the Democratic Party". By the way, Michael Graham is a "conservative columnist", not a "Republican columnist".

-- Barry Blake, Mount Pleasant, S.C.

11/7: Where's the coordinated Democratic effort?

I may be wrong, but my impression is that SC Democrats have failed in mutual support. As hard as Charlie Smith worked in the campaign for the State Legislature, he garnered little or no support from the State and County leaders. It was similar in the last election, when Lindsey Graham campaigned successfully as a team-player with other Republicans, aptly portrayed in the brochure they distributed as "The Republican Team."

Where's the coordinated Democratic team effort? Where's Democratic mutual support? Where's effective statements of a shared Democratic vision? This should be a call to order for party leaders: think as a team or go down as independents.

-- David Bossman, Charleston

11/5: Make voting changes now

To the editor:

Never mind not doing anything about this antiquainted way of voting at present (See 10/31 commentary.) Let's make some changes now.

For example, I almost missed voting on Tuesday because there were so many people voting and it was taking as much as 4 hours to get through the lines. I went home thinking I could come back a little before 7 p.m. and I almost did not make it in time to vote. It still took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to go through the line at 5 minutes to seven. And I know that some people did not vote because of the wait on those long lines.
Here is what I propose: You people need to send me a voting ticket of some kind at least two weeks before the National or any election. I can than go over the ballot, complete the thing and send it to whoever is keeping tally of this votes. That way I don't even have to leave my house.

Voting on the weekend is ridiculous. We have other more important things to do than that. So, changes to this mess need to be done and let's do it now before the next big fiasco comes about. Make sure you get those so-called lawmakers to get things moving about this.

-- Nathan Zavala, West Columbia, S.C.

11/2: GOP provides role models

To the editor:

I read your "Brack Report" piece on the "Southern Strategy 2.0." I have no objection to your expressing your opinion but I do think someone needs to set you straight on a couple of things. First is the importance of role models in education. One of the single biggest and most important issues in our country today is teen-aged pregnancy. Virtually all communities are united in wanting to do everything possible to combat and reduce it. It is impossible to do this when a teacher is single and pregnant. And I think you have read about the problems which the Catholic Church is having with predatory homosexual (and hetrosexual [sic] too) priests who prey on children. Most parents want no part of homosexuals in positions involving young children while having no objection at all to them in other posts. There is no need whatsoever to apologize for these positions.

The Republican Party seems pretty serious about role modeling. President Bush has not one but two African Americans in key cabinet-level positions. The President himself admits to an early drinking problem which he has clearly beaten. These are the kinds of role models which are important to me and I think to many others.

The truth of the matter is that the originator of the politics of division in this country is the democrat party [sic]. Its infamous incitement to class warfare permeates its every position on taxation and it never met an organized minority it didn't like and didn't try to pander-to. I remind you that it dominated the South for years until the electorate saw what it really was.

-- Chris Hammond, Charleston, S.C.

11/1: Southern Strategy 2.0 seemed to be right on track

To the editor:

Thank you, thank you for the report on Jim DeMint and what his campaign has been about! He is an absolute embarrassment, and if he is elected to the Senate, SC should be ashamed of themselves!

-- Christine Greenleaf, Charleston, S.C.

10/11: Writer does a hatchet job on GOP

(Editor's note: We publish the following e-mail -- misspellings and all -- from someone unhappy about last week's Southern Strategy column. Two factual corrections: First: I have only offered for office once. Second: The newspapers that publish the commentary have all disclosed my past political forays. -- Andy Brack)

To the editor:

in regard to southern strategy I wondered how long you could constrain yourself by a hatchet job on the republican party-I dare you in your next article to identify Andy Brack-long time worker for Fritz Hollinhgs-unsuccessful candidate for numerous democrat elected positions -in reality a Democrat political hack-who needed a job in the private sector since being continuously reejected at the ballot box-fortunately there are plenty of left leaning newspapers around for you to survive-You are a dishonest individual when you write an article like this without giving the reader your background.If you did we both know your credibilty would be suspect

-- Bill Roe, Bluffton, S.C.

10/10: Southern Strategy 2.0 is at work

To the editor:

Congratulations, wonderful comments. Yes, those architects of Southern Strategy 2.0, have yet to recognize the worth of the above mentioned recommendations. Until they do do, SC will continue in its backslide away from the realities of the now 21st century.

-- Harriet Smartt, Isle of Palms, S.C.

9/27: Amendment Two will nail small counties

To the editor:

This amendment (Statehouse Report, 9/26) that sounds so good, will be just one more nail in the coffins of the small rural counties of South Carolina. The majority of the property in these counties is owned by large paper companies.

Your amendment will reduce the counties assessed value on this type real estate by one third (33 percent). This shifts more of the tax burden to the homeowners and the local business people. Is that fair? No way!

Timber production is a business just like your local IGA or Piggly Wiggly. It should be taxed similarly.

-- John A. Padgett, Marion County Auditor, Marion, S.C.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We also learned that last week's commentary generated some discussion on a SC tax bulletin board. Here's an excerpt from a Lancaster County official:

"This is just another way the brillant people in Columbia pass special laws to help certain groups; this will have the opposite effect as proposed and in some counties will be a shift of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes to homeowners and business owners!! As usual the counties and homeowners lose out to benefit the rich."

From another source in S.C. Senate research, we learned this:

"This amendment, if adopted, will allow larger companies to apply for the 4 percent tax assessment on agricultural property. Because the legislation deletes the previous limitation of ten shareholders, companies with more than 10 shareholders likely favor this proposed amendment. Conservation and environmental groups that seek to slow down development of land may be against this proposed amendment."

9/10: Not a free country for everyone

To the editor:

Just the ticket, hike taxes (Statehouse Report, 9/5). When are people like you going to learn that the public really resents any intrusion into our lives? Why don't you just just rethink this desire to exert you power on others and leave us alone? This is still the United States of America, isn't it? Worry about your own family and forget about intruding on others.

-- Jeff Stoll, Beaufort,S.C.

9/7: Global warming is a hoax

To the Island Packet:

NOTE: This letter was sent to the Hilton Head Island Packet in response to a recent column on global warming (Statehouse Report, 8/22) . An excerpt is printed below.

Aside from the space alien now living on Hilton Head Island, who recently wrote that hurricanes were caused by SUVs, I don't think I've read anything quite as nonsensical as Andy Brack's column, 'Global warming nibbling away at S.C.'

Tenth-grade science taught that global temperatures are regulated by solar radiation. Just a few weeks ago, both Time and Newsweek stumbled on this revelation....It's a hoax, folks. Just another phony crisis to justify pouring hard-earned tax dollars down another special-interest rat hole.

-- Bill Wright, Bluffton. Full letter:

8/29: Retro vs. metro is the battle

To the editor:

Really nice piece (Statehouse Report, 8/29). Maybe you could have softened the "using the dangers of terrorism and war to..." or expressed this as a summary of the book. But, the conclusions bring it back to center. It is a rural versus metro battle. Funny thing, the Internet and incredible communication tools that are developing will help to merge these two kingdoms. There is a lure for people to return to smaller towns for quality of life reasons. They will still be able to be connected to "metro" by quickly improving electronic means. This migration is some time away however.

[That's a] big point these retros never admit; metro supplements their very existence through cash flows back to poorer areas as you mention. South Carolina gets $1.40 back for every dollar it sends to Washington. What a deal! And yet politicians make hay blasting Washington. If I were Connecticut, I'd be mad as hell for supporting "retro" and being demonized at the same time. It is time for a little intellectual honesty for sure.

-- Jim Brooks, Greenville, S.C.

8/25: Port privatization is a good idea

To the editor:

I noted that you used the SCSPA as an example of good use of services (Statehouse Report, 8/1) Having worked on the waterfront for 40 years, I must disagree with you. Most Ports lease their terminal facilities to private Terminal Operators (in most cases owned by steamship lines) at a cost plus basis so that the investment is paid by the lessee. This mean that they will bring as much business as possible to their terminals. NYK line recently purchased Ceres Marine Terminals and stated that the purchase was to operate their own terminals. If the port terminals were leased out, Charleston would have more business with a far smaller overhead.

Under the present setup, there are no Board members that have any knowledge of the needs and costs associated with terminal operations. Rumor has it that the SCSPA has spent $20 million on developing a yard computer program that is still not working at the Wando Terminal. My youngest son is the executive vice-president of a terminal in Long Beach, California, and he told me that a system with all the bell andwhistles costs $5 million.

No, I know that under the right setup for the state, leasing the terminals out would benefit South Carolina far more. You need to look farther than the PR of the SCSPA. Thanks for your time

-- Steve Hayes III, Awendaw, S.C.

8/22: Global warming may be normal cycle

To the editor:

I'm sure you are aware that the Great Lakes Region (in US and Canada) had the coldest summer on record for the last 15-20 years, THIS SUMMER...BUT no doubt about the current warming (see Statehouse Report, 8/22). Pictures of the North Pole area prove it for me.

So, the issue is not the temperature on average, but the cause, and intellectually acknowledging the fact and reality of slow curves of global temperatures in history. My point of course is: how do we NOT know that we are just on a normal warming curve at the current time? With what happened this year in the Great Lakes, a sign that we may be approaching the "top" of the curve.

Finally, note that the previous warming curves were ALL before any modern technology, population increases, and huge dependence on oil, etc.....The Chinese have the best records of natural phenomenon going back about 4,000 years. Iit would be interesting to analyze their temperature data.

-- Steve Imbeau, Florence, S.C.

8/16: Domestic violence is too prevalent in S.C.

To the editor:

I read your article "It's Time To Do Something About Domestic Violence" (Column, 8/15) in today's Beaufort Gazette - and I thank you for such a thoughtful article. In this same small paper, there is a brief mention of a 27 year old woman who was killed by someone she was dating for about a year.

As your article states, domestic violence is far too prevalent in South Carolina. All of your possibilities are good and need to be accomplished. October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month. I would like to see all media, churches, social service agencies, law enforcement and women's organizations work together to speak against domestic violence. I believe that churches, in particular, often keep their heads in the sand even when members of their own congregations are victims of domestic violence.

Holding offenders accountable is essential. It is amazing to me that people can ignore an evil that is so pervasive in the State of South Carolina. Thank you again for your thoughtful article!

-- Jean H. Barton, Port Royal, S.C.

8/17: Article presented startling facts

To the editor:

I am a new Sociology professor at USC-Sumter, and have conducted research and been engaged in service provision around domestic violence, previously in Memphis, where I conducted a study on DV and reporting in Latino households (I speak fluent Spanish), a study for which I am now analyzing the data. ... I really enjoyed your DV editorial in yesterday's The Item. ... Startling facts that you presented. Thanks.

-- Frank M. Afflitto, Ph.D., Sumter, S.C.

7/13: Education column was a joke

To the editor:

I've just read your article (Commentary, 6/20) and have this to say: When are the pro-government education types, (apparently like yourself) are going to get it through your heads money is not the problem? I have spoken with educators in Charleston County and the great great majority are simply fed-up with the screwed system.

How much money Mr. Brack do you think the taxpayers should dish out for public education? Ex. A 1st grade 30 pupil class with $8,000 per year per pupil; that's $240,000 per year. Do you think that's enough? How much do you think an 8 month a year working teacher should make? Now personally, your article is a joke like many in The Post and Courier, always more money with no reasonable accounting of where or how this money should or could be spent. Just take more money.

-- Jeff Sechrest, Charleston, SC

7/11: Need a new president

Enjoyed your comments on the presidential race. (Commentary, 7/11). As for this South Carolinian, Bush is the worst president in my lifetime (I have working memory back to Eisenhower!) and I will work to defeat him. The code words, the incessant lying, the pandering and the tendency to cloak proposals in the vestments of God are awfully tiresome for me. I agree that Edwards will make the race competitive in many states where it might not have been close.

We need a president who will take on the problems and dangers of the world in a way other than the ideological and strictly political approach of this crowd.

-- Dean Schuyler, Charleston, S.C.

7/11: Predicts Kerry will win

Good analysis. What is interesting in a poll out today is the undecided vote overall is less than 15%! That means that about 85%-90% of voters have already made up their minds, regardless. And, it's only July. So, all the rhetoric will be aimed at
keeping ones base, making sure they vote and then going after only 10%-15% of people on the fence. Bush will have to attack. Kerry will be better not to respond in kind. Talk about a polarized country.

Since Kerry has a 4%-6% lead look for that to remain reasonably constant, barring any national calamity. Also, we may have a terrorist attack before the election but non-conventional wisdom says no. An attack now can only be viewed as helping Bush. He can then say "I told you so". Of course, many believe he played into the terrorist hands by giving them a cause to advertise the United States as the evil imperialists. So, I'm sure the terrorists are actively debating who
they would rather see as President. I believe they will hold off and deal with a new administration, despite the gift Bush gave them.

Projection, Kerry wins by about 30-40 electoral votes. He wins Florida and North Carolina, plus one or two other southern states.

-- Jim Brooks, Greenville, SC

6/28: NCAA should stay out of politics

To the editor:

NCAA should stay out of the political arena and in the sports arena. The last bowl game I watched was in 1970, so you can see how important collegiate sports is to me. ACLU stands for Anti-Christian Lawyers' Union. What does NCAA stand for?

-- J.W. Barker, Batesburg, S.C.

6/28: Ridiculous comparison

To the editor:

This is ridiculous to compare the two in deed! Leave heritage and the Confederate flag alone. Tell the NCAA to take a hike. Stop wasting my tax dollars on history gone by and for Pete's sake get on with business. Stop belly aching about a 200-year-old Yankee mistake!!! Thank you!

-- Wendy C. Spivey, Columbia, S.C.

6/28: Leave flag alone

To the editor:

Our State bowed to outside pressure and took the flag off the State House and put it on the grounds in the Confederate memorial. We should never touch that issue again. That should be the end of it. As bad as the economy has been the last three years, tourism has been up. Enough said.

-- Larry Wolfe, Lancaster, S.C.

6/27: Palmetto idea not good

To the editor:

The NCAA should lift its moratorium on the Confederate flag flying at a Confederate memorial on Statehouse grounds. Not that it will matter since any bowl game 2-5 days before Christmas will not be well-attended. Even Clemson and FSU fans don't go to football that week. The stadium idea is not and never was a good one.

-- Ginger Johnson Sottile, Mount Pleasant, S.C.

6/20: Bad example

To the editor:

With investors with Carolina Investors giving only 15 cents on the dollar to their investors, I would look for other investment firms to "belly up" and try this procedure. I sure hope they continue with all the criminal indictments
for each and every officer and CEO .

-- Boyd McLean. Gaffney, S.C.

6/15: State needs more impact fees

To the editor:

This state needs to amend the present developer impact fee legislation so as to allow communities, especially in high-growth coastal communities such as Horry County, to impose it on all new construction in a way that it helps to supplement all services, including public education, that growth creates.

Its imposition would help eliminate the manipulation taking place with property tax versus sales tax as a means of financint the public's necessities. Sales tax and/or caps on residential/commercial property now before our governor for his signature is definitely not the way to go. Both merely pass the long term debt responsibility down to the lowest wage earner or retiree on a fixed income and owning little if any property.

Real property owners should take the bitter with the sweet. Appreciating property is a wonderful investment, but a portion of property tax is deductible. In addition, its sale can return a pleasing profit, but with those benefits come higher property taxes.

-- Bob Logan, president, We the People of Horry County

6/13: Environmental and economic health are connected

To the editor:

I read with great interest your editorial (Commentary, 6/13) on the report generated by the Council on Coastal Futures in Sunday's Florence Morning News. I would be very interested in the actual report and how to acquire a copy.

(Editor's note: If you want a copy of the report, please send an email to and we'll send you a copy.)

Our grass roots group in Florence has been campaigning for the same protection of our only natural resource Jeffries Creek, which is threatened by degradation from rapid commercial sprawl of big box development. We have been fighting more than 16 months to protect this watershed from the storm water pollution of a planned SuperCenter and other big box developments.

The connection between environmental health and economic health is one we have been stressing, but thus far has fallen on deaf ears. Thank you so much for your insightful and lucid editorial.

-- Carolyn Jebaily, Chair, Responsible Economic Development, Florence, S.C.

5/31: Disagrees with analysis

To the editor:

I disagree with your analysis (Commentary, 5/30) of the Governor's pigs..It is time we have a Governor who has enough principle to stand up to the Legislators who unfortunately happen to be 90 percent private business surrogates instead of representatives of THE PEOPLE....Standing up to Pork for Private Business risk needs to halt and halt soon or our state will be so far in debt that voters will be forced to fund public services with their own private funds, in addition to taxes. Millions of tax dollars here and millions of tax dollars there to "For Profit Businesses" will mean NONE for tax dollars anywhere...Enough is Enough! Pork is Pork with or without a pig.

-- Bob Logan, We The People of Horry County

5/30: Libertarian applauds Sanford

To the editor:

You say that Governor Sanford "...embarrassed state lawmakers. He embarrassed fellow Republicans, whocontrol the House and Senate." Good for him! It's about time.

You speak of honey versus vinegar, but "honey" is just another word for going along with the Good Ol' Boy system of government. If the people had wanted someone who would just go along with everything, they wouldn't have elected Mark Sanford.

I believe that Sanford was elected because the people wanted to see change, and see more efficient use of taxpayers' money. I am very glad that he has decided to take a stand.

I applaud Governor Sanford for embarrassing legislators who can't seem to eliminate pork from their diets.

-- Doug Kendall, Columbia, SC

4/28: Sounding like Ted Kennedy

To the editor:

Your article on tax cuts (Statehouse Report, 4/18) sounded as though it should be printed in The New York Times. The last paragraph is a familiar tune spouted by the Dems: "....It's nice for lawmakers to give tax cuts to their rich friends."

Take a look at what Florida and Georgia have done with their taxes and the growth that they have seen from Companies coming in and the revenue that it has brought to the state.

You use manufacturing as a defense for your argument though it has been in decline for the last 35 years. Due to high taxes and heavy government regulation most manufacturing jobs have gone to China and Mexico. Any reasonable thinker knows that you do not put your hopes in a job at the textile mill after high school. "Mom and dad worked at the mill and that's what I will do once I get out of high school." That type of thinking will land you on the unemployment line.

It's time to write off manufacturing jobs due to big government driving the costs up so high that we can not compete for jobs that can be done for much less overseas. You were moving more toward the center with your articles but this one sounded like something from Ted (I can't cross a bridge) Kennedy.

-- Jay Auld, Bluffton, SC

4/27: Legislators need to know more about finances

To the editor:

It is evident if you look at the daily agenda and then turn on the live play of the House or the Senate, that no in-depth discussion is going to take place on any given day - or certainly not where any constituent can see.

The games, oh, I'm sorry, rules, are just setups so that ONE individual can hold up or bury legislation that has been discussed in a sub committee where the public can attend and comment. It seems to me that if legislation is of great concern to a representative, then they would make an effort to attend, listen, or speak to the sub-committee members and the public, rather than tack their name on legislation when it is favorably reported out and has finally hit the full Senate agenda.

I would think as a dedicated elected official, that they would at least take the time to review bills on each days agenda rather than holding them up under the pretext that they need to "study" the bill.

As a former government finance officer for 18 years, I can see why the budget got in the mess it's in now. The budget procedure at the local level is very complex and only a DEDICATED elected official will take the time to really understand governmental accounting. With the State having many more layers of power, and taking less time to speak to the ones who know the process, it's no wonder that it isn't on the agenda until the 11th hour.

The chaos could be minimized if the "Budget Power Officials" would talk to the finance professionals (and some really great ones are out there) who know the system and can explain the long-term repercussions of legislation actions. Instead, decisions are based on the many lobbyists and how much pressure they apply; or even worse, legislatures trade "wants" with other legislatures which gets into specialized legislation which this state doesn't have the time or funds for any longer.

Cost cuts:

  • has anyone MANDATED that state agencies reduce the vehicle fleets to only absolute needs; how about has any one cut out the redundancy of pagers, cell phones, & car phones;

  • how about the waste of money spent using moving companies every time an agency moves instead of "inmate labor";

  • doesn't anyone look at state surplus before they go out and purchase office equipment and furniture new (the counties do and a lot of times the "surplus" has hardly been used at all).

If these SIMPLE things can not be mandated, then I'm sure I won't see the redundancy of "health and human service" agencies being dissected and centralized in my lifetime - that's going to take some real hard work.

Thanks for keeping me informed and for letting me speak my mind.

-- Deborah Shealy Nye, CGFO, Leesville, SC

4/21: Tax article was breath of fresh air

To the editor:

Seeing your web page for the first time was a breath of fresh air. Your article on taxes was a boost. I had written a Letter To The Editor, which was published about 3 weeks ago in the Sun News, essentially saying the same thing....Such an abundance of tax cut or tax substitution and exchange legislation this election year was making me dizzy and I said so in my letter.

This Election year certainly is bringing the tax maintenance politicians out of the woodwork and so far, the few I have seen, are all regressive as hell. Such ideas of replacing ALL Property Taxes with a 40 percent increase in Sales Tax from 5c to 7c wins the prize. Then we have the one that suggests replacing Golf Course Property tax with a formula based upon the Golf Course Businesses gross profit. That beauty was of course endorsed with legislators who own courses and is gaining muster in the legislature.

To put icing on the cake, we have three proposals to cap Real Property Tax assessments to 15 percent at each 5 year Assessment anniversary unless the property sales. Horry County alone stand to lose over $1.5 million annually on that one.

Then up steps some segregationist who wants to use tax credits to fund Private schools and let parents choose which one they want to send their kids to based on the amount of credit they receive. Problem is, those Private Schools, are not required to live up to any standards of education including the qualifications of their teachers! In addition, the credit some poor families will get, would not fund one year in a Dog Training Course let alone a year for their kids...

So its press and regress in our State Legislature where over 90 percent of them are Business Execs or else work for a Business Exec....I say throw all the bums out and start fresh with representatives who truly represent ALL the people and not just the Business Community. Bigger is not better but enough is enough!

-- Bob Logan, President, We The People Of Horry County

4/19: Chart was helpful part of story

To the editor:

I am the Democratic candidate for House District 32, currently represented by Republican Doug Smith. Although the district is mostly an upper income, traditionally Republican district, some of the precincts are former mill villages where the people will be hurt more than helped by the proposed income tax cut.

Your chart (Statehouse Report, 4/18) helps me show individual families how little they have benefited and how much they have lost by some of the recent tax cuts. I'd love suggestions from others on how to make voters understand the long-term disadvantages of some of our poorly-conceived tax cuts.

-- Alice Hatcher Henderson, Spartanburg

4/7: Evenhanded column

To the editor:

Nice job on the filibuster piece (Column, 4/4). I found it pretty evenhanded and interesting. While you confess to support the seatbelt bill, you did so in an open manner with no surprises. Wow, that's what journalism used to be!!

-- Chris Sosnowski, Charleston

3/23: Outraged on nuclear waste vote

To the editor:

Thank you for your article on 3/22 Packet on the votes of the S..C. House. My husband and I and friends were ooutraged at the vote to accept 100,000 more cubic feet of nuclear waste. Do those people have no conscience to take such actions?

The 3-2 vote for a development-backed bill to create relatively soft rules on development in wetland areas is a total farce since it just opens the door wide for developers to fill in and do their destructive thing. I hope that Gov. M.Sanford will veto the raid on the moneys for the Conservation Bank.
What can we as individuals do to let our Representatives know how strongly we disagree with their environmentally disastrous votes.

Thank you again for disclosing all that will make beautiful South Carolina less and less so. I am a transplant from the Northeast but have grown to love this state for its abundant natural beauty and want to do all to stop politicians who would want to do otherwise.

-- Doris McCullough, Hilton Head Island, SC

3/18: Altman is embarrassment

What an embarrassment for equality [SC Rep.] John Graham Altman is to the Charleston gay and lesbian community. His anti gay, deep-rooted hatred and disdain for gays and lesbians is unnerving and smacks of the same environment Hitler created when persecuting gays in Nazi Germany.

As a gay Christian, I am further incensed that so many on the religious right-(whose principles are neither religious nor right) have chosen him as their anointed leader....It is neither funny, macho or even cute that Mr. Altman is so very dismissive of gays, our lifestyles and our love for one another-in fact, it is juvenile. Mr. Altman often uses derogatory language in speaking about gays and lesbians and seems to enjoy his role as the new “moral leader.”

A closer look at his record legal and otherwise should expose this fraud as nothing more than a bigot, homophobe and frankly, a pathetic example of human service to his gay neighbors. Altman’s co-sponsorship of Bob Jones Graduate, Rep. Haskins anti gay-anti gay family bill, puts Altman in the same grouping as the other Bob Jones radicals in the Upstate -- something we Charlestonians did not vote to be part of.

-- Bryan Thompson, Charleston, S.C

3/15: Sanford is man of principle

Your column (SC Statehouse Report, 3/14) on Gov. Sanford ran in the Island Packet today. It seems you refuse even to consider that his veto of a "jobs bill" with " a lot of legislature Christmas gifts" could be based on principle and his policy beliefs. According to you, the veto was just a political maneuver on the assumption the legislature would override.

You obviously don't know the kind of man Mark Sanford is. You should take the time to read his book, "The Trust Committed To Me" in which he describes his life as a self term limiting Congressman and how he and a few others like him resisted the career politicians and their Christmas presents.

Presumably you are one who believed Mark Sanford couldn't win either the primary for Congress or the primary for Governor. Those endowed with political wisdom could not imagine the people of South Carolina could see the difference between a citizen office holder and the elite of the political class. But they did!

-- Herb Wiedemann, Hilton Head Island

Editor's Note: Sanford by law had 120 hours to veto the bill. He waited until the 119th hour to make the veto.

2/15: Preserving marriage isn't discrimination

To the editor:

In your opinion of 2/15/04, if you are trying to make a point by using the race issue it does not apply. Preserving the marriage institution as a union between a man and a woman is not blatant discrimination as you claim.

This country has been built on the family unit. The lynchpin of the family is the man and woman. The problems in this country from education, drugs &
crime, entertainment, and drugs in sports are blamed on the breakdown of the family structure. We are talking morals and values.

The marriage issue has to do with how families are going to find the answers to all the outside influences that are causing the younger generation to lose their way. The gays are the ones putting election year politics above the needs of the county.

-- Chuck Landau, Hilton Head, SC

2/15: Gay marriage issue is election-year politics

To the editor:

Marriage should be for people who make lifetime commitments to each other and actually intend to keep them. Gay people want only a single opportunity to pledge in their long-term relationships what Rep. [John Graham] Altman has pledged and breached at least twice in his own. And just how is it that Rep. Altman became the spokesperson for the institution of marriage in South Carolina anyway? Is there some "Frequent Flyer-type" program that the rest of us don't know about?

Any straight person in SC can have a few too many cocktails at the local pub, run to the nearest wedding chapel, parrot a few appropriate phrases and settle down for a week or so of wedded bliss and be in Divorce Court in a week. While the example may be a bit extreme, the ability of the straight couple to marry frivolously in SC is only exceeded by the couple's ability to divorce just as frivolously. The point is that with no forethought or public scrutiny whatsoever, the most frivolously married straight couple instantly receives 1,049 federal rights and benefits and hundreds more state benefits that are denied to gay couples. Many of those gay relationships have withstood the assaults of bigots like John Graham Altman III for thirty, forty and fifty years.

As parents of a gay son, we wish someone would explain to us how one human being loving another human being as much as our son loved his [late] partner in any way threatens the so-called sanctity of anyone's heterosexual marriage. The "sanctity of marriage" rallying cry is simply a sugar-coated justification for anti-gay legislation and gay-bashing...just as "state's rights" was a sugarcoated justification for segregation and lynching...and it is born of the same kind of hatred. It is a fraudulent issue.

The institution of marriage doesn't need protection from loving, caring gay South Carolinians like our son and his partner; it needs protection from demagogues and hypocrites like John Graham Altman III ....Mr. Altman and his cronies need to spend more time on real issues that deeply affect South Carolinians like paying off the $800 million budget deficit they ran up last year rather than grandstanding on the issue of this imaginary assault on the institution of marriage. If we can move SC beyond Altman's election year "chumming of the waters" on this issue, we might actually find that gay people do a better job of strengthening the institution of marriage than people like Rep. Altman do. They certainly couldn't do any worse.

-- James A. and Irene F. Smith, Charleston, SC

Editor's Note: This letter has been edited for length. Altman was not mentioned in the 2/15 story, but has been quoted in various media as opposing gay marriage. Also, the Smith's son, Charles, is an announced candidate seeking to replace Altman in the SC House.

2/15: Gay marriage would impact state

Your article which supposes that the gay marriage laws are only fluff and have no bearing on the function of our state are flawed. What you fail to recognize is that a marriage is also a state recognized relationship which has certain inherent rights and privileges. It would have a significant impact on SC businesses if all gay relationships had the right of survivorship, the tax advantages in probate, the life and health insurance benefits, and the right to retirement benefits of a gay partners, if all gay relationships were given the sanctity of marriage. These are enormous cost burdens on business alone, not even to mention the morality issues.

By declaring these issues as "GOP grandstanding" you have displayed not only your own bias, but your lack of understanding of the issues. There are natural limits imposed by God or nature, whichever you choose, that should be respected by all humans.

-- Stuart King, Florence, SC

2/9: One use for a proctologist

To the editor, regarding last week's seat belt column:

Why does this seem so reasonable and universally enforced except in SC? I know where to find the heads of the State Senators who are against this law however it would take a proctologist to extract them.

-- Name withheld upon request, San Diego, Calif.

2/8: Minibottles can be viewed in different lights

To the editor:

The mini-bottle issue has several viewpoints, including the quality and quantity of drinks served in public places. In addition to pouring spouts which are supposed to dispense one ounce, there are bar machines in existence that hold large bottles of alcoholic beverages (quarts and liters). The bartender or whoever has the key can program these machines to dispense a specific amount, e.g. one ounce or 3/4s of an ounce during "happy hours". Of course the same 3/4s of an ounce can also be served at ounce prices later in the day and night and thus the customer can be cheated. You can never be sure unless you stop to measure, which is hard to do when you order a mixed drink. As to quality, a customer can order a single malt Scotch (most expensive) and wind up with a multiple malt (of a lesser quality) unless he is a real Scotch taster, which most of us are not.

Restaurants with bar facilities have gotten away from opening the mini-bottle at the customers table (as is required by law, I believe). We should insist on that for quantity and quality purposes.

-- Francis X. Archibald, Hanahan, S.C.

1/19: Another aspect of tort reform

To the editor:

Maybe you'd like to address the venue "jury shopping" aspect of tort reform? Are the trucking and rail industries being dealt a fair hand when a majority of the cases are being tried in one small region?

-- State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton

Editor's note: Rep. Herbkersman is referring to last week's discussion on tort reform, which we thought was being rushed in the House. We replied to him that all parts of the bills didn't seem bad, such as an end to venue shopping.

1/12: Libertarian wants to lower taxes

To the editor:

Our Revolutionaries revolted over a 3 percent tea tax. Now, government takes nearly half of our annual income!

The U.S. Government gave $1.6 billion to McDonald's, through the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Market Access Program, so it could advertise Big Macs in EUROPE! Won't you sleep more soundly tonight knowing that you paid for European McDonald's advertising, while your government continues to say that it needs even more money out of your paycheck to help balance the budget?

Campbell's Soup has received $300,000 in taxpayer money. IBM has received $1.4 BILLION. Ernest & Julio Gallo winery received $4.9 million. $671 million went to General Electric. $3 million went to the California Raisin Board.

Heck, the state government won't even allow me to make personal choices on where I will spend my own money (video poker), but they can take half of it, every year, and give it to big corporations--or use it to give CIA training, weapons and other aid to people like Osama bin Laden! Something's just not right about that.

I support the Libertarian philosophy of eliminating waste, redundant/ overlapping agencies, unnecessary bureaucracies and special-interest projects. People would have more money to save, invest and spend. With the increased demand for products and services, the job market would have to expand to keep up with it. Then, with increased numbers of jobs, there would be more people saving, spending and investing. The circle of prosperity continues.

That's the kind of America I want to live in.

-- Doug Kendall, Columbia

1/12: Leave Internet taxation alone

To the editor:

As the state has clearly not become dependent on it [Internet sales taxes, 1/11 column] now, the legislature could always examine the idea of leaving it in the hands of the people who earned it.

-- Stuart C. King, Florence, SC

1/11:Some of South Carolina's best policy/politics books

We asked a series of professors and political observers to send us some of their favorite fiction and nonfiction books on South Carolina politics and policy. While we didn't get any fiction nominations, here's a list of top books from several sources (in no particular order):

1. "Ol' Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond," by Jack Bass and Marilyn W. Thompson, Longstreet Press, 1998.

2. "Strom Thurmond and the Politics of Southern Change," by Nadine Cohodas, Simon & Schuster, 1993.

3. "The Case Against Hunger: The Need for a National Policy," by Ernest F. Hollings, Cowles Book Co., 1970.

4. "Against the Tide: One Woman's Political Struggle" by Harriet Keyserling, University of South Carolina Press, 1998. Foreward by Richard W. Riley.

5. "Banana Republic: A Year in the Heart of Myrtle Beach," by Will Moredock, Frontline Press, 2003.

6. "Porgy Comes Home: South Carolina After 300 Years," by Jack Bass, Sandlapper, 1970.

7. "South Carolina: A History," by Walter Edgar, USC Press, 1998.

8. "South Carolina Government: An Introduction," by Charlie Tyer, ed., USC Institute for Public Affairs, 2002.

9. "South Carolina Politics and Government (Politics and Governments of the American States)," by Cole Blease Graham and William V. Moore, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1994.

10. "Government in the Palmetto State: Toward the 21st Century," Luther F. Carter and David Mann, eds., University of South Carolina, 1993.

11. "The Orangeburg Massacre," by Jack Bass and Jack Nelson, Mercer University Press, 1992.

12. "A South Carolina Chronology, 1497-1992, 2nd Ed.," by George C. Rogers Jr. & C. James Taylor, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC, 1994.

13. "The Primary State - A History of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, 1876-1962," by Frank E. Jordan, Jr., Columbia, SC, 1967

14. "Red Hills and Cotton," by Ben Robertson, USC Press (reprint), 1991.

15. "Profits and Politics in Paradise: The Development of Hilton Head Island," by Michael N. Danielson, University of South Carolina Press, 1995.

Many thanks to those of you who supplied titles. If you have a book you'd like other readers to know about, send an email to:

© Statehouse Report LLC. All rights reserved.