Fighting the "Florence Fix"

Growing questions about plans by Florence County Council to hire the current Council Chair Rusty Smith as County Administrator seem to be slowing down plans to fast-track a backroom deal. While it seemed as if the fix was in for a quick insider deal as early as last week, sources indicated plans to hire Smith were put on hold due to growing scrunity by local citizens.

The Florence Morning News joined those asking questions about the pending backroom deal when its editorial staff published an op-ed calling for much-needed transparency into the process for selecting a new administrator:

(I)n this very special situation, county council needs to make its selection process a wide-open affair that’s as transparent as a windshield on the done side of a car wash. They ought to do that anyway, in our opinion, but the slight odor of something awry emanating from the halls of power over this affair makes it an imperative. If people are saying the fix is in, then it’s a public servant’s job to do everything in his power to show them it’s not.

Municipal governments in South Carolina are required to maintain a certain amount of transparency when hiring a top executive. The state’s open records law requires them to make public the applications and other materials associated with “no fewer than three” candidates who are seriously considered.

We think they ought to go further in this case, and have asked county officials do so. We’d like to take a look, and have the public take a look, at all the resumes received for the job. There are supposedly close to 100, but we’d think it would be worth the time to look, just so we’d know how many really qualified candidates there are and to understand what choices council had before they do or do not select Smith.

We couldn't agree more. The current administrator will be on the job until November. While it's important to have someone on the job in enough time to ease the transition, that's no excuse to fast-track an insider deal without transparency and fairness for both taxpayers and applicants alike.

We'll be sure to keep you posted.

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