GOP candidates push reforms in "counter-town hall" meetings

Republican challengers across the country have found a new way of capitalizing on the roiling emotions surrounding congressional health care town hall meetings.

Driven by intense voter interest in the topic, the almost-certain promise of media coverage and the opportunity to upstage incumbent Democrats, GOP candidates in state after state are holding their own health care town halls — and reveling in the subsequent publicity bonanza.

The health care events are proving to be a boon for those seeking to oust incumbents, delivering the most precious of political commodities — voter attention and local press coverage.

... click here to read more.

Berkeley GOP Breakfast Club - This Saturday in Goose Creek

The Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club monthly events are must-stops for anyone wanting to learn and network in the wide world of Lowcountry GOP politics - the group has one of the biggest turnouts of Republican activists. What's just as important to note is that for the low price of $5, their breakfast buffet is darn cheap and good too:

Dr. Anthony Parker, Berkeley County Superintendent of Education, will be the guest speaker at the Berkeley Republican Breakfast, September 5, 2009. Dr. Parker will give the attendees an update on the status of Berkeley County schools and answer questions from the group.

The Berkeley Republican Breakfast is held the first Saturday of each month at American Legion Post 166, 116 Howe Hall Road, Goose Creek. A great $5 breakfast is served at 9:00 am. No membership is required and the public is always welcome. For more information contact Charles Schuster at 509-6027 or Nancy Corbin at 688-4975 (or email her).

Inside Intervew: House Speaker Bobby Harrell

House District 114 covers a lot of historic ground in the Lowcountry. As the current House Speaker, District 114’s State Rep. Bobby Harrell has the chance to make his own mark on state history. Representing the district since 1992, he worked his way to the top, serving as House Majority Leader and Chairman of Ways and Means before becoming Speaker four years ago when former Rep. David Wilkins decided to accept an ambassadorship to Canada. Recently, he agreed to chat with the Blogland, so we threw a few questions his way.

What got you into politics?

I love South Carolina. I want to make a difference. I told my wife, Cathy, for years that I did not like what I saw happening in our government. One night at dinner, she told me to either stop complaining about it or go do something about it. Shortly after that some friends approached me and asked me to run for the State House. I told Cathy and she said,”I told you so.” She always has been ahead of me on the politics of the moment. We talked about the effect it would have on our family. We prayed about it. We talked to more friends to ask their opinion. Then, we decided to do it.

I say “we” because Cathy and I have always been a team, and she has always been my most important political advisor.

We announced I was going to run and then a funny thing happened. About a week later, we found out that she was pregnant with our daughter. So, we went through our first campaign (which was difficult because neither of us anticipated how negative a campaign can be) and we went through a pregnancy at the same time. Our son, Trey was nine years old.

She allowed us to take a family picture in the nursery at our home four days after Charlotte was born and send that picture out on a brochure to households all over the district. She was sitting and holding Charlotte, and they were both beautiful. Trey and I were standing there as proud brother and daddy. I’m not sure how many wives would allow a picture of themselves to be sent out to thousands of people four days after having a baby. If anyone ever needed proof of what a great wife she is, that pretty much sums it up.

Name three current or former politicians who’ve had major influences upon you, and for each of them, give us a sentence or two to explain.

Ronald Reagan- He showed us that you can be conservative without being mean. Because he had this wonderful trait, he had a huge positive effect on our country. Joe Scarborough explains this best in his book, The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in restoring conservative values to America.

Carroll Campbell- When he was Governor, he understood what South Carolina needed to do to be a dominant force in economic development. Some of his original staff told me that right after his first inauguration, he gathered them all together and told them that his administration would be all about growing South Carolina’s economy. Because of his efforts, that were continued by David Beasley, we got to the point that our unemployment rate became the third best in the country. I miss him terribly. We could use his leadership today.

Strom Thurmond- He was the best at helping people get through the red tape of government that I have ever seen. One of my favorite things about my job is the ability to help people who are not being treated right by some government agency. Senator Thurmond taught me, by his example, that people need their elected representatives to be their advocate in government, not only on the legislative level, but sometimes on a personal level.

A constituent of mine had received a ticket for not having her insurance card with her and even though she could prove she had coverage, she could not get anyone at DMV to listen. Her husband was in the Persian Gulf at the time. She called me one night in tears. The next day, I was able to get someone from DMV to simply listen to her, and after seeing her proof of coverage, they fixed the problem. She was in the right, but no one in authority would listen.

Senator Thurmond was immensely popular because he understood that people needed him to be more than just their Senator in Washington. I think that is something everyone in elected office needs to understand.

What do you see as the top priorities for the State House in the upcoming year?

The economy is the most important issue facing us. We have to get back focused as a state on the recruitment of business and industry to our state. We have to change the Employment Security Commission from a check writing agency to a job placement agency. The economy of our state has changed. Manufacturing, agriculture and tourism are still very important, but the knowledge based economy has shown great potential for growing our economy and per capita income in South Carolina.

Education is incredibly important for us to grow the economy. K-12 education (particularly K-3) needs to focus on the basics, most of all reading. This is the most serious problem facing our secondary education system and leads to dropouts more than anything else. I hope we can do something to deal with this particular problem this year. I don’t believe it’s a money problem, and hopefully, since we don’t have any this year, we can get our schools focused on the problem and make the systemic changes that are needed.

You told the Charleston Post and Courier that “People in this state are taxed enough. We don't need to increase the burden, so we need to prioritize with the money that's available.” What are some budget priorities you’d like to see established?

This question brings us to another important issue facing our state and that is that we must cut the budget where necessary to stay balanced. The pressure to raise taxes to deal with the budget shortfall will be bigger this year than it has ever been. We cut our state budget last year by over a billion dollars. It went from over $7 billion to less than $6 billion. North Carolina raised taxes last year by almost a billion dollars. Raising taxes in a down economy is the worst thing you can do to slow down the recovery. It is crucial that we beat back any efforts to raise taxes, and that government live within its means. The priorities of that budget must be the economy and education.

In addition to being the Speaker of the House of Representatives, you are also the Mayor of Importantville. Isn’t dual office holding forbidden in South Carolina?

From what I have been told, some people believe it is the same office. That would keep it from being dual office holding. Besides, there will likely be other constitutional issues discussed this year that are a lot more important. I want to make sure that from both offices, I do my best to keep us focused on doing the things necessary to move our state forward.

Bauer's offer shows real leadership

Today, Andre Bauer joined the chorus of Republicans calling upon terminally-damaged Governor Mark Sanford to resign from office. Setting aside his own political ambitions, he offered to serve out the remainder of Sanford's term and not seek a full term in office next year.

While it's not the first time Bauer has made this offer, it's the first time he's voiced the opinion that Sanford should step down. In spite of numerous attacks against him throughout his tenure as Lt. Governor, Bauer has offered support for Governor Sanford.

If Bauer sticks to his word, it will show something this state needs badly right now - someone willing to do what it takes to get this state moving forward again, even at the expense of their own political objectives. Since he's making this offer so publicly, it seems difficult to imagine voters allowing him to go back on his word if he should take office and later change his mind.

Bauer has worked hard in recent years to overcome his "bad boy" image following his difficult 2006 re-election campaign. This has included efforts to raise awareness of senior citizen issues and play an active role in economic development and industrial recruitment. While some may question if he is ready for the job of Governor, he has grown considerably in the last two years. Given his better relationships in the General Assembly, he could likely preside over efforts to relieve the state's costly political gridlock.

If Bauer is not up to the job, his tenure would be short-lived. But it's hard to imagine him doing much worse than the current Governor.

Sanford, who has proclaimed his tenure as Governor to be about serving the people of South Carolina, and not his personal ambitions, would be wise to accept Bauer's offer and step aside. This would spare the state the highly-publicized spectacle of impeachment hearings which could very likely see Sanford become the first Governor in state history thrown out of office.

Introducing the new State Fairgrounds parking area

More than a few Blogland readers have asked me about what my company has been doing over at the State Fair parking area over the last few months.

We just completed a major rebuilding of the parking area, which is also a favorite place for USC Gamecocks tailgating. This $5 million project involved a lot of landscaping, paving, and the installation of an innovative stormwater management system.

If you'd like to know more, we have a project webpage that tells you more. We're also planning an event on Friday, September 4 - if you're interested in coming, let me know. No promises, but I'll try.

Fall fun time in academia begins this week

Fall semester starts at CofC this week, with lots of fun teaching another semester of public speaking, as well as helping facilitate a graduate public relations class for Tom Martin, the Department of Communication's Executive in Residence.

Several Blogland readers from various professions have volunteered to come discuss public speaking and their careers with my students this semester and I'm absolutely pumped to see them come discuss the importance of becoming an effective speaker.

Stay tuned ...

Go see District 9

I just saw District 9, and WOW!

The movie portrays the aliens not as some super race, but rather ill-mannered refugees in a near-future Johannesburg, South Africa. Living in a slum encampment, the aliens are despised by the locals and preyed upon by a defense contractor which was charged by the United Nations.

The movie is an action and sci-fi flick produced much like a documentary. Lots of interview scenes, security camera footage, news reports and live action COPS-esque footage. The end result comes across a lot like a present-day social and politcal critical work, which make this seem like a real story from today, not a futuristic look into the future. The end result is a wild ride that you do no't want to miss.

Prayers and condolences for the Herbkersman family

The Blogland pays its respects to the family of Beaufort County State Representative Bill Herbkersman for the passing of his father, Donald Herbkersman. A graduate of USC, Mr. Herbkersman met the call of duty to family and country as a parent who raised seven sons, an Army veteran of the Korean War, and active member of the American Legion. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

COLUMBIA - A Mass of Christian burial for Donald William Herbkersman, 77, will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 22, 2009, at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Final Commendation and Farewell Prayers will be in Greenlawn Memorial Park. The Rosary will be recited at 6:30 p.m. Friday, August 21, 2009 at Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, with visitation following until 9 p.m. Other visitations will be Thursday from 7 until 9 p.m. and Friday from 3 until 5 p.m. at the funeral home.

Mr. Herbkersman died Tuesday August 18, 2009. Born in Bedford, Ohio, he was a son of the late Roland Fredrick and Anna Mae Zawacki Herbkersman. He was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church. An Army veteran of the Korean War, he was also a member of the American Legion. Along with his seven sons, he was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at the University of South Carolina. He retired from Square D.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Catherine “Katie” Phalen Herbkersman; six sons, James Jude of Venice, Calif., William Gerard (Mary) of Bluffton, Joseph Francis (Gayle) of Columbia, Thomas Patrick of Hilton Head Island, Timothy Michael of Columbia and Martin John (Scarlett) of Columbia; 13 grandchildren, Michael, Kaitlyn, Courtney, Matthew, Shelby, Cole, Tara, Bernie, Jack, Olivia, Roland, Thane, and Quentin.

He was predeceased by a son, Bernard Neil and a brother, James Leonard.

Memorials may be made to the Bernard Herbkersman Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Cardinal Newman High School, 4701 Forest Drive, Columbia, SC 29206.

Judas Priest and a darn good time in St. Augustine

Wow!!!!! What a show! As with every show I - along with any other Judas Priest fan - has been to over the years, it never disappoints. It was very much the usual Priest performance - high energy and hard driving from start to finish.

The band started out by playing the entire British Steel album, and then threw in some other cuts from across their career:

Hell Patrol
Victims of Changes

... and then Rob Halford drove the Harley on stage, followed by:

Freewheel Burning
Diamonds and Rust
You've Got Another Thing Comin'

While the crowd clearly loved the entire show, the high point of the show was when Halford drove the Harley on stage and kicked into Freewheel Burning, the crowd went wild. Even though a lot of them expected Hell Bent for Leather, you could see the crowd go wild with the fast-paced Freewheel.

The use of laser lights in the lighting set-up added a special effects element not seen since lasers were set in the eyes of the Metallion stage prop in the Defenders of the Faith tour, including an animation at the opening of a steel worker driving rivets - an homage to their roots in Birmingham, England - a city famous for being the heartland of ... British Steel.

Before the band kicked off the closing song, Halford praised the American and British flags in the backdrop as representing the two greatest countries on earth, "united in war and united in peace" - and paid tribute to the men and women who fight for freedom ... and then added "and against the fucking Taliban!"

It's always nice to see someone who gets it and isn't afraid to call it like he sees it.

Sure, it was unfortunate that Whitesnake had to cancel, but you could talk with the fans and they were cool about it. Nobody wanted him to push himself and all thought it better for him to recover to "live to fight another day".

This was the first concert I'd taken my 11 year old to, not counting when I took her to see Fallout Boy a couple of years back, which was one of her bands. A lot of people there thought it was great to see her along for the show.

If you're reading this, it's yet another reason why if you can catch these guys on the road.

The before-show scene was really cool. This guy from Wilmington, NC (shown above) has the album cover artwork from the band's Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith on his chest (for those of you who don't know what real rock and roll is, these are arguably the best Priest albums ever released) has to be one of the most hard-core Priest fans I've ever met. The dude with the British flag cape was clearly paying tribute to the band's album.

Before the show, we did some sight-seeing in St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in North America, dating back to the 1500s. We visited the old Spanish fort overlooking the inlet from the ocean, as well as the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum.

After that, we stopped at the waterfront in Jacksonville. The way they've coordinated the lighting along the waterfront creates a really good lighting effect. There's a really good waterfront scene on the downtown side of the St. Johns River - waterfront park, hotels, and restaurants. It's worth checking out if you're passing through.

Twitter and keeping up with I-26 construction in North Charleston

As most of y'all know, I recently gave in to considerable peer pressure to get on Facebook.

My entry into Twitter, however, was only halfway. I set up a Twitter page for my company's I-26 project - - as a means to improve on keeping the public even more notified than they already are on this project.

Working with our project management - this project pretty much runs 24/7 - I can get alerts out, even when traffic may be backed up because of a wreck which has nothing to do with our construction operations. Local emergency services have really appreciated getting real time information to send to their units which often use I-26 to reach hospitals downtown.

That also means I'm on call nights and weekends - and believe me, on this project, the calls come at 2 am and Saturdays and Sundays - so this information can get out quickly.

Part of my job has been to develop and maintain a community and media relations program for our highway projects - the first of its kind in the industry in the Carolinas, and the only one. Using technology like the web and email lists to help keep the public informed and put the spotlight on our projects creates a new level of transparency and what we call "customer service" ... that is providing useful information about road conditions and project progress to our "customers" - the 4 million people who live and work and pay taxes in South Carolina.

If you want to keep updated about our project via Twitter or non-Twitter regular email alerts, drop me an email and I'll be sure to add you to the list.

Two examples of smart political thinking

Today, we saw two articles on the web related to Palmetto State politics which we thought represented some fresh and profound thinking ...

WESLEY DONEHUE, a Palmetto State political strategist and web political guru extraordinaire, share some wisdom about
the rise, fall, and future directions for those Republicans who made Sanford the centerpiece of their agenda for seeking political reforms:

Marketing a message around one singular person or a small group of individuals is a formula for failure. Sure, the movement leaders will claim otherwise as they’ve had smaller players carrying their water too, but it was always Mark Sanford who stood at the center. When the smaller players spoke, they weren’t labeled as reformers. They were labeled as Sanfordites.

Those at the center of the so-called “movement” are now tasked with picking up the pieces and finding someone to carry their message. I have a suggestion. Quit making the fight so personality driven. Make it about the ideas and have the voters carry the message. Voters are smart. They don’t need a super hero or a villain. They feel the effects of bad policy in the work they do, the bills they pay, and the communities in which they live. To them it’s about the message, not the messenger.

NIKKI HALEY, State Representative and gubernatorial candidate, who pulled out a smart and fresh idea with a campaign video which solicited videos from supporters about why they support her candidacy for Governor:

... but of course, there's only one Wonder Woman in state government: 9th Circuit Court Judge Kristi "Handcuffs" Harrington, who is quickly building a reputation as an efficient, no-nonsense judge.

"This is not a bluff": Rock Hill program offers "last chance" to drug dealers

Recently, Rock Hill Police have teamed up with prosectors and community leaders to test out a new program to combat drug dealing in Rock Hill's most drug-infested neighborhoods:

The eight people accused of dealing drugs felt the unwavering stares from Reddick and others in Rock Hill's community. But they also heard genuine offers of school choices and job choices and life choices other than prison.

Then all eight walked into another room.

Inside that second room at the police department were poster-size photos, taken from surveillance videotapes, of each of the eight selling drugs. Each of the eight had a chair with his or her name on it. In front of those chairs, not two feet away, sat a phalanx of people whose lives are spent putting drug dealers in jail for years and lives.

Their faces all said, without the words, “prison.”

This was not a neighborhood meeting. This was police showing evidence to eight people they claim are drug dealers, who all would face potential felonies if police present probable cause to a judge and ask for a signed arrest warrant, Gregory said.

“This is not a bluff,” Gregory told them.

Since then, five have found jobs or signed up for adult ed programs. The other three haven't been seen on the streets since. Given the alternative, we're not surprised.

The Blogland talked with York County Solicitor Kevin Brackett about this. According to Brackett, the attendees, who were promised they would not be arrested if they attended the meeting, were confronted by a team which included himself, Rock Hill Police, the FBI, DEA, and US Attorney's office. Only those with minor or clear records were selected for this - those whose long-time records made them "too far gone to be redeemable" were not eligible for this offer.

Brackett credited the Chief Gregory for introducing the idea to community leaders, prosectors for teaming up to support the program, as well as the community leaders who embraced the "tough love" idea behind this program - which has been implemented elsewhere:

Having the people from the neighborhood stand there and tell them they're fed up with their activities is a powerful thing, because a lot of the time, the dealers think they own the neighborhood and nobody is going to stand up to them. It says a lot that these neighborhood leaders are willing to take the lead on this, as well as offer to take care of their own so long as they're willing to change their ways.

Brackett promised that any individual who blows this "last chance" deal will see him personally prosecuting the case, warning "the charges can be instated anytime they step out of line." Knowing his no-nonsense approach to prosecution, we believe he means it.

Let's hope this team effort makes a difference.

Why DOES Sanford keep a campaign account open?

Sanford’s gubernatorial office did not respond to a State newspaper Freed of Information Act request filed July 8. His campaign, which still has more than $1.5 million on hand, declined to turn over receipts, writing Sanford already had complied with all state and federal campaign laws.

... but they weren't the first to do so. Fellow blogsite Voting Under The Influence raised the same issue back in April:

Looking over the Sanford for Governor’s campaign discloures from 2008 forward, it is apparent that the Governor is using his campaign for a November 2006 election for political purposes now. The Governor’s campaign has spent thousands on mail and printing since his re-election, including $6993 to the Lukens Company of Arlington, Virginia, on December 5th, 2007, and similar sums to other printers and mailing houses. The Governor’s campaign has maintained campaign mobile telephones and computer services.

As every turn of the Sanford saga produces more questions, often with ethical contradictions or more revelations (most of which we'd rather not know), perhaps The State and Voting Under The Influence are onto something.

Spratt & Clyburn teaming up to install death penalty defense lawyer as top Fed prosecutor for SC?

John Spratt and Jim Clyburn team up to try to get President Obama to appoint a leading death penalty defense attorney - who happened to be a big Obama supporters - to be the lead federal prosecutor for South Carolina.

Normally, this is the kind of story that would be too good to be true for even the most conservative talk radio show, but according to The State:

U.S. Reps. John Spratt and Jim Clyburn have recommended to President Barack Obama that he appoint Bill Nettles, a Columbia criminal defense lawyer, as the top federal prosecutor in South Carolina.

While his most recent high-profile case was defending Michael Phelps' much-publicized bong hitting, Nettles has made a career out of defending high-profile death penalty cases. So much so that the NAACP awarded him their "Foot Soldier in the Sands Award" for having:

“gone above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of the Association and its civil rights agenda” on a pro bono basis. A litigator with extensive civil and criminal trial experience, Mr. MacDougall was recognized, along with Bill Nettles of Columbia, South Carolina, for his trial and appellate work on behalf of indigent defendants facing the death penalty.

Nettles, a past president of the S.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has worked hard to try to keep cases such as these from receiving the death penalty:

While President Obama now has the right to appoint whoever he wants to this role, it would seem a high-profile veteran defense attorney with such a liberal record would not be a smart choice. But when Clyburn and Spratt are behind such a candidate, it lets you know just how liberal these congressmen are, and how little regard they - especially Spratt - have for their constituents.

Especially the family of Mary Stewart, who live right in Spratt's hometown.

We'll be watching this one ...

Weekend's here

I'll apologize for being a big AWOL as of late, but it's been a pretty hectic couple of weeks, between a lot of work hours, gearing up for fall semester and spending last weekend mostly in bed sick.

Today, is the day we remember St. Maximilian Kolbe, my patron saint, who was martyred for his faith in Auschwitz in 1941.

Tomorrow, my daughter and I go to St. Augustine for a Judas Priest concert. It's her second concert (the first time was Fallout Boy, this is the first time she's going to see one of my bands, so we'll see how well that works out). We'll tell you all about it when we get back.

I'm working on a few things for next week, so keep your eyes open. Some new ideas and provocative thoughts - but Blogland readers have come to expect that there's a definite attitude problem at work here, so expect more of it.

Until then, have a great weekend!

Some things we don't want to know - or discuss - about Mark Sanford

It's no secret the Blogland is published by someone who was once a major Sanford supporter that later became disillusioned with him for a lot of reasons. But while others rejoiced over his recent personal problems, the Blogland has refused to join the party.

That's not going to change. Bug me all you want, but I'm not interested. Not now, not ever.

Being twice divorced, I've seen what divorce does to everyone - to me, the children, and to everyone else involved. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy, and certainly not on the Sanford family.

Divorce represents failure to live up to those promises most essential to your everyday life, as well as to protect the people who are supposed to be the most important people in your life. Maybe you don't realize it in the beginning, but after a while, when you look back, you'll usually see the bad choices that led to the divorce and what it does to the kids. Sooner or later, you come to learn two things:

1) There's rarely ever a case where someone is completely blame-free, and
2) No matter how much you may want to protect them, the kids always get caught in the middle.

... and that's even without the entire world surrounding you, trying to pile it on and make it as visible and hurtful as they can.

Why Joe Biden really came here

Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden proved that he could do more than stick his foot in his mouth when his rush-hour arrival in Charleston stuck a monkey wrench in rush-hour traffic and forced our work on the I-26 project to stop for several hours.

Now, we know why Joe Biden really came here in such a rushed manner ...

Vice President Joe Biden’s arrival for a weeklong vacation at Kiawah Island yesterday is actually a cover story for the Vice President’s stay at a North Charleston alcohol and substance abuse treatment center, theDiscust learned.

Secret Service agents on Biden’s detail were overheard in a bar at Charleston International Airport to say that the Vice President’s transportation to Kiawah Island actually contained a Biden look-alike. The agents, visibly drunk, were then confronted by the reporter who went on to obtain the whole story. According to the agents, Biden’s taste for alcohol was rekindled at the “Beer Summit” last week. Although Biden drank a non-alcoholic beer at the time, the agents claim that afterwards Biden went on what they described as a “bender” throughout D.C. bars.

Let's hope when he leaves, he chooses a less inconvenient time for his departure.

Nobody captured the 80s better than John Hughes

If you grew up in the 80s, odds were that some meaningful aspect of your life was captured in a John Hughes movie.

John Hughes wrote, produced and directed a string of 80s theatrical hits that were well-known for depicting life in the 80s. Set in "middle America" settings, the characters and storylines may have appeared to look like "average" people at first glance, but he often ended up showing us that Middle America didn't mean Middle of the Road personalities. Those movies included:

  • National Lampoon's Vacation(1982)
  • Mr. Mom (1983)
  • Sixteen Candles (1984)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • Weird Science (1985)
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

As one who had rough teen years and never really fit in (nor would totally allow myself to), I could identify with John Bender (Judd Nelson's character in the Breakfast Club). As someone fairly carefree and somewhat rebellious, I could identify with Ferris Bueller. Later, as a parent trying not to take life too seriously, I would sometimes act a bit like Clark Griswold.

I think many of us found at least one character in Hughes' movies to be someone we could identify with, which made those teenage years in the 80s a little more bearable for more than a few of us.

Does displaying this make me a racist?

It's Bonnie's birthday (and the blog's too!)

As always, on August 5th, you get two birthdays for the price of one here in the Blogland. What a deal!

My daughter Bonnie turns eleven today, and the Blogland turns four ... and I act like I'm four.

Big plans? Not really. Birthday dinner and then church for a while for the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

Eckstrom's vision of transparency qualifies him for another term

News that the City of Charleston is putting its financial records online is the latest in a chain of local governments who have responded to the growing transparency trend which was championed by State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom:

State Comptroller Richard Eckstrom has been urging local governments to post such information online, to increase government transparency.

"By voluntarily posting their individual expenditures on their Web site for all to see, they are sending the message that people deserve easy, no-cost access to how their tax dollars are spent," Eckstrom said. "They should be commended."

Eckstrom's office previously posted spending information for state government on his Web site,, which now includes links to local governments that have posted their own information.

Charleston County and Dorchester County have posted their information online as well.

For now, Charleston's Web site shows vendor payments made in June. The list, posted on Monday, takes up 52 pages.

Comptroller Eckstrom, who was once seen by some as a polarizing partisan figure, has put forth a vision of accountability which has been seen as so common-sense that it's been embraced by a wide and bipartisan range of community leaders across the state, including Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, a staunch Democrat. That's the kind of responsible fiscal leadership this state needs as it navigates its way through some of its most perilous financial straits.

Eckstrom's efforts to reform how government manages its finances haven't always been embraced in their early stages, but time and time again, he has never been afraid to promote constructive ideas, stick to his fiscally-conservative principles, and challenge the status-quo in state politics. For this, the Blogland is proud to endorse him for third term in the Comptroller's office.

Voters who want to see state government become more responsible and accountable to those whose hard-earned dollars go to support it should vote to keep Eckstrom working as the state's top fiscal reformer.

Is being Lt. Governor a path to being Governor?

Does being Lieutenant Governor help you get to the Governor's mansion? Maybe not.

Brian McCarty answers that question with a lot of insight into modern South Carolina political history:

Governor Mark Sanford’s insistence on staying in office has the most direct political effect upon Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who is seeking the Governor’s post in 2010. Historically, sitting Lt. Governors who have tried to move up the Governor’s Mansion have had a difficult time. Being the sitting Lt. Governor of South Carolina has historically been no asset to winning the Governor’s race. (However, Robert McNair, the last Lt. Governor to assume the office of Governor, was easily elected in his own right for a term.)

Bob Peeler lost his bid to Mark Sanford in 2002. Nick Theodore lost his bid to David Beasley in 1994. Mike Daniel lost his bid to Carroll Campbell in 1986. All three were thought to be capable political forces in their time, but somehow fell short of the Governor’s office.

Of this Governor and the last three, two had been members of the U.S. House (Campbell and Sanford) and two had been legislators (Beasley and Hodges) who gave up their seats to run.

Fair Tax & Foul Balls - FairTaxers at the Riverdogs on August 14

In the Blogland, we always appreciate our fans. Among them is the loyal FairTax crowd ... even though we've always wondered if there ever a tax which people would really think to be fair?

Well, if you'd like to ask them that ... or just drink beer and watch baseball, then you should know the FairTaxers have just the event for you:

FairTax Night at the Charleston Riverdogs - Friday, Aug. 14 @ 7 pm
Charleston Riverdogs vs. the Lakewood Blue Claws
Make reservations for Sect. 202 (right behind 1st base) at 843-723-7241.
... and don't forget - Fireworks after the game!

If you've got questions about FairTax, baseball, beer, or all of those things - you can also

Karen Floyd to visit Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club Saturday

One of the biggest events in Lowcountry politics is the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club, which meets every second Saturday in the Summerville area. At this month's event, SCGOP Chair Karen Floyd is their speaker:

WHEN: Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: Kelly’s BBQ restaurant, US 78, Summervile
CONTACT: Ron Turner, Chairman (843) 814-1805

An appearance by State Republican Party Chair Karen Floyd will give Lowcountry Republicans a first-hand opportunity to discuss the future of the South Carolina Republican Party at the August meeting of the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast club. This is the first in the group’s planned series of meetings which will look at candidates and issues related to the 2010 elections.

Chairman Floyd, a marketing executive from Spartanburg, was elected to lead the state GOP at its May convention.

A moderated Question and Answer session will allow those in the audience to present questions to Ms Floyd.

Breakfast in Berkeley: Grooms wins GOP straw poll, IT kids make new friends

Every first Saturday in Goose Creek, Republicans gather at the American Legion Post 166 for grits, eggs, and a heapin' helping of politics. This month's standing-room only crowd set a record for attendance with an estimated 200 attendees, giving State Senator Larry Grooms a nearly-unanimous win in their gubernatorial straw poll:

  • Barrett 10
  • Bauer 4
  • Grooms 131
  • Haley 14
  • McMaster 14

These results were a big difference from the recent Dorchester County GOP straw poll where McMaster beat Bauer by a single vote, and with the other candidates far behind ... but we've said there are plenty of reasons not to read too much into straw polls and we're standing by that.

We heard from more than a few attendees who grumbled that McMaster chose not to attend because of schedule conflicts, but rather because it was expected that Grooms would win the straw poll handily. We won't go so far as to say we believe them, but we will say that this is the risk you run when you confirm months before, only to bail in the last few days.

Kelly Payne's "IT Kids" were there, getting their first taste of Lowcountry politics. Introduced by yours truly from the stage, who was wearing my very own IT kids shirt, they made a lot of friends and positive impressions quickly at the event.

If you missed the event because you slept in, it was too far to drive, or whatever, here is some of what you missed:

  • Fellow blogger Mike Reino was hanging out, taking pictures. Due to his performance at my graduation party roast, every effort was made to keep a microphone out of his hands.

  • Dean Allen, running for Adjutant General, gave a short stump speech, focusing on State Guard improvement.

  • Bill Connor, running for Lt. Governor, waved his faith around a little too much - a point raised by a number of attendees - and waved around his clueless and unsustainable "Retirees for Economic Development" plan (most jobs created to serve retiree communities are low wage and those who work them require large amounts of welfare benefits to make ends meet, while flooding local schools).

  • Brent Nelsen sounded much better and more qualified running for Superintendent of Education than he did when he was prospecting for the Governor's race. Even if he kept avoiding that long-haired dude who runs the Blogland.

  • 1st District Congressional candidate Tumpy Campbell gave a decent stump speech, pleasantly surprising in that he spared the audience the kind of "my daddy" crap that his brother overused when running for Lt. Governor two years ago, but his "just got into politics" claim was far from accurate, considering his past membership on the state ports authority board and his involvement as a political advisor for the Catawba Indians.

  • Local representative Tim Scott, always a favorite of this group, asked for input as he considers entering the race for Lt. Governor - and looks like he got plenty while at the event.

  • Larry Grooms gave another passionate stump speech, talking about working harder for economic development, pushing for more energy generation capacity, reforming permitting and regulatory agencies, and let attendees know he was married to his soul mate.

If you're kicking yourself in the butt for missing so much fun - you should!

But there's plenty of other upcoming events, so you can catch up on what you missed this time. Be sure to visit the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club next Saturday at Kelly's BBQ on US 78 near Summerville, where SCGOP Chair Karen Floyd will be speaking, and put the Berkeley group on your calendar for next month!

Also ... special thanks to Senator Danny Verdin, who drove all the way down from Laurens to hang out and check out Lowcountry politics.