Mark your calendar: Carolinas AGC legislative reception - Wednesday

Be sure to mark your calendar for the big annual Carolinas AGC legislative reception, which will be held this Wednesday in Columbia.

This is a great opportunity for legislators and staff members to unwind a bit after session and touch base with people in the state's construction industry, so we're hoping to see a lot of legislators and staff there.

Of course, the Blogland will be there, so you don't want to miss the occasion.

That's Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 pm at the Koger Center, right across from the State House. Mark your calendar and come join us.

Happy Birthday to Eric Bedingfield


Blogland best birthday wishes go out to Greenville County State Representative Eric Bedingfield.

Eric already gave South Carolinians a great gift by playing a key role in the victory of Congressman Mick Mulvaney over former Congressman John Spratt, so be sure to take a minute or two to return the favor by wishing him a Happy Birthday!

Here is what one of our readers had to say about Eric:

Carolinas AGC Legislative Reception - next Wednesday


Like the calendar girl is suggesting ... it's that time of year again - the annual Carolinas AGC legislative reception will be held on Wednesday, February 2.

This is a great opportunity for legislators to unwind a bit after session and touch base with people in the state's construction industry, so we're hoping to see a lot of legislators and staff there.

Of course, the Blogland will be there, so you don't want to miss the occasion.

That's Wednesday, February 2 from 6 to 8 pm at the Koger Center, right across from the State House. Mark your calendar and come join us.

Mark your calendar: 2/1, Senate Special Election candidates' forum

You are invited to attend the York County Republican Party - Senate District 16 Candidate Forum at the Fort Mill Golf Course; 101 Country Club Drive in Fort Mill on Tuesday, February 1st at 7:00 PM. This event is free and open to the public.

All candidates filed to run in the Republican Primary on February 22nd have confirmed their participation in this forum.

The Senate District 16 Republican Primary Candidates are: Brian Carnes (Indian Land); Greg Gregory (Lancaster); Rob McCoy (Lancaster); Wendy Petzle (Fort Mill); and Mike Short (Fort Mill).

Today's Midlands Birthday Girl


One of the most powerful women in Midlands politics is named Nikki, and today's it's her birthday.

That's Nikki Trawick, the President of the Capital City Republican Women's Club, one of the largest and most active Republican Party organizations in the Midlands region.

If you know her, take a few minutes to wish her a Happy Birthday.

Laurin Manning's back on the web


Laurin Manning, one of the pioneers of political blogging in South Carolina, has returned to the web with her new blogging venture: www.scsoapbox.com

Laurin's as sharp as they get with new media. Last year was much rougher than she deserved, so we're hoping this website starts off a big 2011 for her.

York County approach to drug dealers catching on?

The City of North Charleston, long known for having problems with drugs and gang-violence, is trying a new approach to getting drug violence off its streets:

A new program hopes to clean up a drug-plagued North Charleston neighborhood by steering entry-level dealers into a jobs program.

Key among its planks is that if the targets do not participate, the drug charges they were originally targeted under will be pursued, sending them in front of a judge.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officials were in the Charleston Farms neighborhood Thursday to announce the pilot effort, along with the arrests of 15 suspected drug dealers brought down after a six-month undercover investigation meant to clean up the area.

As part of the round-up -- which still has as many as nine arrests to go -- at least seven other lower-tier drug dealers will be given the opportunity to avoid prosecution if they take part in a jobs and betterment program. One of the requirements is that they also come back to the community for in-person updates, detailing their progress in moving away from the drug trade.

Not too long ago, we talked with 16th Circuit Solictor Kevin Brackett about his efforts to use a similar program in cleaning up Rock Hill neighborhoods.

Facebook and cell phones in South Carolina prisons

Glenn Smith with the Charleston Post and Courier finds South Carolina prison inmates aren't letting a life behind bars keep them from having a good time and keeping in touch with the friends and thugs back home:


Quincy Howard is ensconced behind the razor-wired walls of a state prison for killing a man in Marion County three years ago, but that hasn't stopped him from keeping up with his "friends" on Facebook.

In fact, the 22-year-old convict added more than 100 new friends in the past week while serving a 30-year sentence for manslaughter at the maximum-security Lee Correctional Institute in Bishopville.

He stares out from his Facebook page in a prison jumpsuit, accrues points in the Mafia Wars game and grouses about being "RAILROADED BY THIS CROOKED A JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN SOUTH CAROLINA."


Meanwhile, South Carolina is one of 31 states which have been requesting approval from the FCC, which includes South Carolinian Mignon Clyburn - the daughter of S.C. Congressman Jim Clyburn (aka J.C. Hammer) - to implement cell phone jamming. But since news of prisoners using cell phones to order hits won't get Clyburn and the FCC to take action, we're sure a few gangsta Facebook pages won't elicit any kind of action.

CofC's 2010 gubernatoral campaign strategy forum


Being an adjunct professor in the College of Charleston's Department of Communication, I decided to do lunch sitting in on their latest event in their ongoing Bully Pulpit series. Today's event discussed the good, bad and otherwise of the 2010 South Carolina gubernatorial campaign.

Moderated by Robert Behre of the Charleston Post and Courier, the panelists were Trav Robertson, campaign manager for Democrat Vince Sheheen, Tim Pearson, campaign manager for Republican Nikki Haley, Democratic political advisor Phil Noble and former Sanford staffer Chris Allen.

Credit for the event is also due to Dr. Bethany Goodier, the Chair of the Department.

The freewheeling event covered a lot of ground, as is often the case at Bully Pulpit events. Those who subscribe to the Blogland's Twitter feed got a 44 installment play-by-play of highlights from the event.

Those of you who didn't, but want to see what was said just need to click on the "Read More" link to see who said what:

Having fun at the Haley event


Even these folks had a great time. If you didn't make it, you missed a great time.

Thanks to the Haley family for their hospitality.

Mark your calendar: 1/28, Lake Wylie Republican Women

The Clover - Lake Wylie Republican Women Monthly Luncheon and Meeting will be held on Friday, January 28th at the River Hills Country Club in Lake Wylie. Registration & Social Hour at 11:30 AM and Lunch Program start at Noon.

Featured Speaker is James R. Olson, Senior VP External Affairs and Public Policy (ret.) for Toyota Motor, North America and Winthrop University College of Business Administration "Executive in Residence" Adjunct Instructor. Mr. Olson plans to "talk about the importance of Washington creating the proper atmosphere for freeing capitalism to flourish…to create actual wealth, as only the private sector can do.”

The cost for lunch is $17. If you would like lunch please RSVP by January 25th to Joyce Ballard at (803) 831-0550 or Diane Carr at (803) 631-1049.

The Program is Free and Open to the Public.

America losing relevancy in the Middle East?

Mohamad Bazzi, a journalism professor at New York University and an adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, warns that with recent popular discontent in Tunisa, Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, the Obama administration's retreat from advocating democratic reforms may have consequences upon the level of future American influence in the region.

The administration has remained remarkably quiet on democracy promotion and has been reluctant to criticize U.S. allies who fall short of the ideals about which Obama spoke so eloquently. The administration has also blocked Congressional threats to link future U.S. aid to democratic reform or improvements in Egypt's human rights record.

With Tunisia's revolution, Obama missed a chance to show the Arab world that he can live up to his lofty rhetoric. He must seize the next opportunity to portray America as a more sympathetic power - a country that sticks up for the little guy and does not tolerate repression.

Reader Mailbag: Clyburn won't stand for this

Another guest op-ed cartoon from Jamie Walton of Rock Hill.

Condolences to Rep. Shannon Erickson

The thoughts and prayers of the Blogland family with the family of Beaufort State Representative Shannon Erickson, whose mother, Martha Jane Smith, passed away overnight.

If you know her, reach out to her this week and show some support in this difficult time.

UAW turning up labor heat?

The ongoing NLRB effort to intimidate South Carolina into reversing the will of the voters regarding card check is part of an ongoing effort by labor unions to do all they can to reverse years of declining membership.

Frustrated by a long string of failed efforts to organize foreign-owned automotive industry plants in the U.S., including plants in South Carolina, the United Auto Workers have begun a renewed effort to organize these plants, announcing a set of "organizing principles" that they're asking companies to agree to follow in exchange for so-called "fair" treatment by the UAW:



In looking at these "organizing principles", it becomes obvious they will apply unevenly to the companies, with no reciprocal expectations upon the UAW. Several of these biased "principles" are below, with our critique in italicized text:

Guest op-eds: Make your voice heard in the Blogland


In the Blogland, our readers are our treasure. We value their opinions and work to make the Blogland a place they want to come back to on a regular basis, as well as a site which stimulates thoughtful discussion on current events and issues.

As part of this effort, we're opening the doors for YOU to become a part of the Blogland by submitting guest op-ed material. Anything which is well-written on a current issue is welcome. Op-eds expressing points of view different from those held by the editor/publisher/psycho are encouraged, as we can learn from getting other perspectives. You're even welcome to submit something responding to anything which has been published in the Blogland.

While discussion of issues and political records or qualifications of individual politicians is fair game, anything which discusses allegations of a personal nature will not be published. So keep anything you submit clean, fair and focused. If you've got a desire to sling mud, there are other websites which will be glad to oblige you.


Email your stuff to earl@earlcapps.org or send it via snail mail to the address on the left.

So if you've got something on your mind, write it up and send it in.

Happy Birthday to the better half

Best Birthday wishes go out to Jennifer Wilson, best known by many as the wife of Attorney General Alan Wilson, but like yours truly, is a communication professional with years of experience in public relations and broadcast journalism.

We certainly appreciate the supportive role she's played over the last year, and will certainly play during Alan's tenure in the AG's office.

When reached for comment on the occasion, Attorney General Alan Wilson said he was very excited to be celebrating the birthday with her, telling us: "I am very blessed to be married to a woman who is turning twenty-five today".

You've gotta love the extra person in this photo. But we're not sure if PJs are appropriate attire for a formal event.

We like this guy


The first Republican Governor of Maine in a long time apparently isn't one to mince words or play nice.  Last fall, he said that he would tell President Obama "to go to hell" over his political agenda. Now, he's telling the state's NAACP leaders to ... have a nice day:

Gov. Paul LePage of Maine said Friday that the state’s N.A.A.C.P. leaders could “kiss my butt” after they questioned his decision not to attend Martin Luther King Day events in Bangor and Portland.

“My (adopted) son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it,” he told a reporter for WGME. “The fact of the matter is there’s only so many hours in a day, so many hours in a week, and so much that you can do.”

When the reporter asked Mr. LePage to respond to the suggestion that he had a pattern of slighting the N.A.A.C.P., he said, “Tell them to kiss my butt,” adding, “If they want to play the race card, come to dinner. My son will talk to them.”

Pub Politics: Live on Wednesday with Senator Mike Rose


This week's episode of Pub Politics will be featuring Dorchester County State Senator Mike Rose discussing what is coming up in the State Senate this year.

They'll be broadcasting it live via the Internet beginning at 6pm - www.pubpoliticslive.com - or you can catch the show in person if you're in the Midlands:

The Tin Roof
1022 Senate Street, Columbia

Reader Mailbag: What Obama doesn't understand

Jamie Walton from Rock Hill sends this one in:

Alan Wilson to NLRB: "Bring it on"


If the National Labor Relations Board expected it's threats to sue over efforts to protect the use of secret ballot in certifying unions in the workplace would force South Carolina and three other states to reverse the outcome of referendum votes from last year, they won't be getting their way.

According to the New York Times, state Attorney General Alan Wilson's office was quick to respond, rebuffing the NLRB threat:

“South Carolina voters spoke overwhelmingly to ensure that their ballot votes are kept between them and their maker — not to be influenced by union bosses. If that right is challenged, our office is prepared to defend it in court.”

The Blogland spoke with Wilson earlier today, who told us his office expected action from Washington and assured us that they would be prepared to meet the NLRB challenge, pointing out "I don't know how you don't defend a sweeping decision made by 86 percent of your state's voters".

A copy of the NLRB letter to Wilson can be found here.

A vote of no confidence at SC State



--Provide and implement a compelling vision for the university.
--Adhere to shared governance by refusing to communicate with the elected representatives of the faculty.
--Uphold policy and to properly oversee the financial status, including the cash flow, of the university, as found by the outside financial consulting firm Elliott Davis.

The document also states that Cooper has "ignored public scrutiny regarding the University's financial status and has provided no answers or embarrassing answers to the public particularly, regarding the James E. Clyburn Transportation Center."

The document includes a closing appeal from the Faculty Senate that the no-confidence vote "warrants immediate attention and action."

The institution has been a source of considerable controversy, and Cooper is right in the middle of it. 

NLRB threatens action against South Carolina over secret ballot referendum

The Blogland has received a copy of a letter from the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board to Attorney General Alan Wilson threatening legal action to block the implementation of the secret ballot state constitutional referendum.

In a letter asking Wilson to "take voluntary measures to ensure that the Amendment not be ratified" and provide a "judicially sanctioned stipulation concerning the unconstitutionality of the Amendment", Lafe Solomon, acting General Counsel for the NLRB informs Wilson that he has been authorized to bring an action against the state to prevent the amendment from being enacted into law.

A copy of the letter is provided for your review.

Who cares what you voted for?

The Obama administration shows they could care less about what happened in November, as evidenced by a just-released statement from the National Labor Relations Board which declares the recently-passed South Carolina state constitutional amendment protecting the right to settle union elections by secret ballot to be null and void.

The media release advises that the board views the amendment as having no legal effect and threatens legal action against any state which attempts to implement such action:
The National Labor Relations Board today advised the Attorneys General of Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah that recently-approved state constitutional amendments governing the method by which employees choose union representation conflict with federal labor law and therefore are preempted by the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The states were also advised that the Board has authorized the Acting General Counsel to file lawsuits in federal court, if necessary, to enjoin them from enforcing the laws.

Under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, private-sector employees have two ways to choose a union: They may vote in a secret-ballot election conducted by the NLRB, or they may persuade an employer to voluntarily recognize a union after showing majority support by signed authorization cards or other means.

The state amendments prohibit the second method and therefore interfere with the exercise of a well-established federally-protected right. For that reason, they are preempted by the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

More on this issue will be forthcoming ...

Hell didn't freeze over yesterday


... but to those attending the inaugural, it may have felt like it.

Governor Haley took the oath of office yesterday, taking the helm of a state in a crisis. Political gridlock from the infighting that marked the Sanford administration combined with broken economy leaves a very difficult year. She acknowledged the likely coming fiscal crisis as federal bailout funding ceases in her address. We expect that the hole will be deep indeed, and that solutions will be difficult to reach.

Haley's agenda of restructuring state government, holding the line on taxes, promoting economic development and education improvements are all good ideas, but the devil will be in the details. The Blogland has supported Haley's agenda in the past, and hopes to be able to support her agenda going forward.

They're back


It's that magical time of the year when legislators come back to Columbia, only to discover ... it's cold and we're broke.

The General Assembly kicks off session today in a year bound to be full of surprises, with a horrible budget outlook and a new Governor bound to drive a lot of what takes place this year.

Of course, we can't rule out the prospects of more blogger sex scandals, but that's only if we don't get a life.

The Blogland will be out there, offering news, opinions and attitudes about what's taking place at the State House and throughout South Carolina. If you've got anything you'd like to say, either as a comment on a posting or an op-ed article, we'd love to hear from you.

Five Republicans to seek open Upstate Senate seat

Filing closed yesterday for the State Senate seat vacated by Congressman Mick Mulvaney. Five Republicans are in the running for the seat:

  • Brian Carnes of Indian Land
  • Greg Gregory of Lancaster
  • Rob McCoy from Lancaster
  • Wendy Petzel from Fort Mill
  • Mike Short from Fort Mill

This race was expected by many since last fall when Fifth Congressional District race polling showed Mulvaney pulling into the lead. Surprisingly, given the amount of lead notice, the race has taken plenty of turns and twists as late-entering candidates entered and others passed on running for the seat.

Underground utilities: Reforming the killer below?


As folks in San Francisco can tell you, if it's underground, it can still kill you and a lot of others. Last year, an underground gas line ruptured, killing four and destroying 38 homes.

This is something which has almost happened in South Carolina numerous times, often when construction crews barely miss a gas line which has been unmarked by utility locators. To the right is a photo of one such incident which took place in Mount Pleasant (in the districts of Sen. Campsen and Rep. Sotille).

South Carolina's laws regarding underground utility damage prevention were passed in 1978. It's 2010, and these laws are way behind the times, forcing yours truly and representatives from other construction general contractors to spearhead an effort to get these laws updated.

Last year's Senate Bill 1068 was followed by an effort to develop a consensus bill which would incorporate input from various stakeholder groups, guided by the best practices advocated by the national Common Ground Alliance.


If you want to read more about this lurking danger, there's more. You can also follow these reform efforts via Facebook as well as on Twitter. We encourage you to sign up for both and keep informed.

The first of two scheduled meetings took place Friday at the Gressette Senate office building, with another round tentatively scheduled Monday, depending on the weather.

This issue is pretty important. So please stay tuned and we'll let you know how it's going.

Blogland coming to North Carolina?


BREAKING NEWS ...

The folks of the Blogland are working on opening a desk in the Tarheel State. Negotiations are underway to bring our readers a look at Tarheel State politics, and share a little Blogland political rock and roll with the good folks North of the Border.

With the recent GOP takeover of the North Carolina General Assembly, a lot of changes are taking place up that way, and we hope to share these developments with our readers in the Carolinas and beyond. 

Dem young whippersnappers

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib observes that the freshman class in the U.S. House has noticably shifted the age differences between Republicans and Democrats in the chamber, with the average age of Republicans dropping nearly two years and rising about the same for Democrats:

The House of Representatives won't undergo merely a partisan change when the new Congress convenes on Wednesday. It will, in many ways, undergo a generational change as well.



A new and younger set of Republicans lawmakers will move in when their party takes control of the House. Perhaps more important, the change also will empower a new and younger set of Republican leaders who will run the House—and who figure to be in positions of power within their party for years, if not decades, to come.


So much for the Dems trying to capture the younger voters. It seems a little hard to appeal to the youth vote when your party's average House member is eligible for Social Security.

Goodbye Nancy

This pretty much speaks for itself ...

Democrats strong-arming in Clarendon House race?

The House race to replace the late state Representative Cathy Harvin has turned into a wide-open race with six candidates in the race: four Democrats and two Republicans.

The Blogland has had a number of reports of strong-arming taking place to keep candidates out of the race. This strong-arming was aimed at benefitting the one white Democratic candidate in the race: Clarendon County Council Chair Dwight Stewart.

Joe Wilson cleared in ethics inquiry


Based on OCE's (Office of Congressional Ethics) own acknowledgements in each of the six referrals, the committee concludes that there is insufficient evidence to determine with any degree of certainty that any one of the members were provided an amount of per diem (expense money) that was not necessary for their respective trips,' the ethics committee said in a report.

In Wilson's case, the ethics committee's staff disputed earlier findings by the OCE that he should have reimbursed the U.S. Treasury for the costs of 16 'hosted' meals he had received during three trips in 2009.

Bobby Harrell and the Charleston Tea Party

 

It was a standing room only crowd at Charles Towne Landing last night as State House Speaker Bobby Harrell met with the Charleston Tea Party.

The meeting, which Tea Party leader Mike Murphree said was at Harrell's request, was a free-wheeling discussion where neither Harrell nor audience members attempted to side-step issues or hide their points of view on an issue.

Harrell opened with outlining a number of initiatives which passed the House, asking audience members "we have the largest House Republican majority ever, but what do we do with that majority". In the Question and Answer session that followed Harrell's opening remarks, the audience shared their views about what needed to be done.

Another turn in State Senate 16 special election

The race to fill the Senate seat vacated by Congressman Mick Mulvaney took another turn today.

We've been informed that former State Senator Greg Gregory (R-Lancaster), who gave the seat up two years ago, will be entering the special election contest for the seat. Gregory was courted by Lancaster County politicos after Hugh Mobley decided to pass on the race to ensure the county had a resident Senator.

With that news, State Representative Deborah Long (R-Fort Mill) has decided not to run for the seat.

Many observers expect Gregory, who took the seat for the GOP in 1992 and faced only token opposition during this tenure, will be a favorite to win the seat.

A very happy New Year


The Blogland wants to congratulate John Hazzard, Chief of Staff for the State Senate Judiciary Committee, who got hitched for New Years'.

He has our prayers for a safe and happy honeymoon and a joyous life with Sara, his lovely bride.

Another turn in the race for Mulvaney's Senate seat?

The Blogland has been informed of two pending major developments in the race to fill Mick Mulvaney's vacated Senate seat:
  • Hugh Mobley will reportedly drop out due to health reasons.
  • State Rep. Deborah Long is looking at running for the seat and is being courted by many who supported Mobley, as well as from Brian Carnes, to seek the seat in Mobley's absence.

Happy New Year - it's beef jerky time!