How NOT to deal with utility companies

I was a little taken aback at this report of an incident between James Island's state Representative Wallace Scarborough and some SCE&G workers. This bizzare Post and Courier story, with reports of yelling, gunfire and jail, sounds a lot more common on the East Side or somewhere in North Charleston ... WOW!

Scarborough had gotten a reputation of being far more low-key, less controversial and a lot less of a loose cannon than his predecessor, Lynn Seithe1, who he'd ousted from House District 115 (James Island and Folly Beach) in the 2000 GOP Primary.

I'd say this incident does NOT help him maintain that low-key, thoughtful image.

As the current chairman of the Lowcountry Utilities Coordinating Committee, I will go on record by saying that in no way whatsoever do I endorse this method of dealing with utility companies and their employees, no matter how bad the dispute may be:


State Rep. Wallace Scarborough took a gun with him late Saturday when he went outside to investigate flashlights in his parents' backyard. He spent the rest of the night in jail.

Scarborough, 47, was arrested after brandishing and pointing a pistol at utility workers and then firing his gun at about 9:45 p.m., according to an affidavit. Two South Carolina Electric and Gas employees were in the yard checking equipment after storms passed through the area, SCE&G spokesman Eric Boomhower said.

Scarborough, who was house sitting at his parents' home in the Crescent community in West Ashley, was charged with two counts of assault with intent to kill and released Sunday on a personal recognizance bond, according to jail officials.

-Nadine Parks, Charleston Post and Courier

Remember, the utility workers you see out there, especially after a bad storm, are just trying to do their jobs. If you let them do that, the public will benefit and they'll be able to return to their homes a little sooner.

9 Response to "How NOT to deal with utility companies"

  1. west_rhino 17/7/06 23:02
    And Earl, you also know that neighborhood, round the corner from your cousin, JGA III. While there may be an easement, the City of Charleston's anti second ammendment position makes "hot burglaries" and "home invasions" far more probable, particularly in a higher priced neighborhood like the Crescent.

    Now I can understand emergency response and SCE&G's need to assess their lines. However, The Crescent didn't lose power, the SCE&G personnel elected not to knock on the front door to say, we need to check the lines feeding James Island and we need access to your back yard.

    I also have seen a less expurgated version of this story in which the Police reported that Scarborough's handgun discharged into the backporch deck.

    I'm not excusing Wallace for what I expect will be presented as mishandling his gun, nor am I excusing the SCE&G employees for what will be portrayed in court as imprudence in the process of checking the lines. The truth will come out, though Pravda on the Ashley will probably show its typical anti Republican and anti Second Amendment colors.

    I'll agree that letting utility workers get their job done we'll all be happier and real utility workers are willing to show their picture IDs if asked, and maybe Wallace should have asked to see theirs.
  2. Earl Capps 18/7/06 07:53
    Utility employees don't go out late on a Friday night (or any night) without some good reason. Like the rest of us, there'd better be some reason for them to work late hours.

    I'm sure if asked, they'd have presented identification. But from the sounds of it, this situation got out of hand way too fast so that never happened.

    Our next committee meeting outta be interesting, that's for sure.
  3. west_rhino 18/7/06 08:56
    Earl, you might put the trauma shield in the back of the kevlar vest and assign someone else to hold the lighting rod.

    The ultimate importance of this issue that the upstate may have no clue about, is that it is hurricane season and while we are all far happier when we get phones, electricity and water back, looters do crawl out of the woodwork and caution on all sides is a must. Linemen don't assume that a line is dead or equipment is grounded and gun owners aren't justified in firing unless they are justified in killing (e.g. no warning shots Barney.)

    This whole mess with Mr. Scarborough is one I could see several other electeds getting into before he did. Knowing his counsel's way with words, the flames will be fanned by a press that likes to have an Altman to kick around.
  4. Earl Capps 18/7/06 09:15
    It's unfortunate for all involved that it had to go down this way. He is still head-and-shoulders above Lynn Seithel, who was nothing but overly-ambitious trash.

    I like to think this incident was a nothing more than a big misunderstanding, but I'd like for someone to explain how and why his weapon got discharged.

    It's one thing to yell at someone, but it's another to discharge a weapon.
  5. Earl Capps 18/7/06 09:17
    Actually, the Upstate is very familiar with power outages. Last years' ice storm put power out in about 60% of Upstate households in Greenville and Spartanburg, including my mother's house.

    A lot of those people were working in harsher conditions than a post-hurricane environment.

    In any event, as you point out, a little patience and understanding on both sides is essential. Someone's failure to do so is likely the root cause of what transpired.
  6. west_rhino 18/7/06 11:28
    At least it wasn't Cheney in a dove field or Col Mustard in the library with a rope.
  7. Anonymous 18/7/06 17:27
    BANG!!!
  8. Moye 19/7/06 18:12
    During daytime hours I can understand the utility people not letting homeowners know they are in the back yard but at night it is stupid and irresponsible for them to enter a back yard without knocking on the door. No one can say they were in that much of a hurry. Remember this house had electricity.
  9. Carolina Observer 19/7/06 19:35
    Something to remember is that just because that house had power, doesn't mean that the source be there. I have had my neighbors cable go out, but the main hub is actually in my backyard. It was night and I saw them and their truck. Asked them what was up, they told me. Sure as hell didn't approach them with a gun.

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