Stalking and violence - legal for labor unions

It's well-known that labor disputes can result in violence against persons and property in workplaces in the United States. But what isn't as well known is that in some cases, the courts and the laws are giving labor unions license to harm and harass companies and workers, according to a report issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Workforce Freedom Initiative.

Entitled "Sabotage, Stalking and Stealth Exemptions: Special State Laws for Labor Unions", the report looks at how both courts and some states have turned a blind eye to threatening and dangerous behaviors, going against the growing concerns over combating violence and threatening behaviors in the American workplace.

The report begins by tracing the history of state exemptions to a 1973 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court (United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396) which held that ruled that violence in pursuit of union demands cannot be prosecuted under federal law, arguing that violent activities, when used during a strike by workers of the Gulf States Utilities Company, did not meet the standard of "wrongful" conduct needed to convict in a federal extortion case. From there, a number of states are called out for giving unions a pass on threatening and violent conduct in workplaces.

Happy Birthday to Congressman Trey Gowdy

Best Blogland birthday wishes to Upstate Congressman Trey Gowdy, who is wrapping up his first term in Congress.

If you know him, be sure to tell him to enjoy his birthday - and to take Monday off to enjoy life a little!

Walton cartoon - "Biden goofs"

What a school board member "learned"

Earlier today, Charleston County School Board member Toya Hampton Green, who had already decided not to seek another term, abruptly quit her seat with two months remaining on the board.

Reason: she took a job with the state association of school boards, as "director of policy and legal services", and "suddenly" had to get her kids off to school at their new Columbia address.

Translated: Green had hoped to work as a lobbyist while holding a school board seat in Charleston County, but either had second thoughts about the conflict of interest or someone got wind of what she was trying to pull. But we're sure she'd just say she "forgot" to resign before accepting the job offer and moving.

In her resignation letter, she thanked Chris Fraser, the board Chair, and Nancy McGinley, the Superintendent for what she "learned". We're guessing that among the things she "learned" was how to try to illegally hold onto an elected office and use public office to allow oneself to build a career at taxpayers' expense. But Charleston County's school board is well-known for games and self-enrichment, so Green's move, while disappointing, is nothing new.

Industrial real estate broker Todd Garrett, 36, and self-employed painter Tony Lewis, 50, both plan to run as write-in candidates for the seat, as no candidate was able to gather enough petition signatures to qualify. Republicans are backing Garrett for the full term as well as for an appointment to fill the seat for the remainder of Green's term.

Defeated Lowcountry incumbents lose in SEI rulings

Charleston County Auditor Peggy Moseley and Summerville State Senator Mike Rose, both of whom lost re-election primaries in June, didn't seem to fare any better with the courts today.

The Charleston Post and Courier reported that earlier today, Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson ruled that Moseley's opponent, Mt. Pleasant town councilman Paul Gawrych, had filed his SEI paperwork properly, leaving him on the November general election ballot. The Post and Courier also blasted Moseley in an editorial today:

You’ve got to give it to Charleston County Auditor Peggy Moseley — she’s got moxie. Or maybe you’d prefer gall. 
Despite losing badly in the Republican primary two months ago, the 78-year-old auditor is going the court route in an effort to retain the position she has held since 1992.
So much for the will of the people.

Also, the Summerville Patch reported that while the State Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from Senator Rose, it won't take place until after today's certification of candidates by the state Election Commission.

Unlike past rulings, which kept candidates off the ballot before the primaries, ruling in favor of the incumbents would require the courts to overlook the lopsided margins of defeat in both races, with Moseley getting just 31 percent and Rose 40 percent.

Walton Cartoon - "Reid's Money"

Heisting Timmonsville: Everyone does it

When burglars broke into the Timmonsville Town Hall and raided the mayor's office and the now-defunct police department, taking records and weapons, they weren't the only ones using Town Hall to pull heists. They were just the ones who were smart enough to hide their identities during the act. These moments are just part of the ongoing circus that is the town of Timmonsville, which recently fired most of its employees, including the police department.

Last week, in a late-night break-in, thieves hit Town Hall, taking court records, cash, weapons and raided the town's evidence safe. According to local news media, the masked bandits, who were caught on video, remain at large.

Earlier in the week, the town got news of another raid conducted upon the town. This one was done from the inside, revealed when a financial auditor informed Timmonsville's council and Mayor that an audit couldn't be conducted because the town had no financial records to audit.

Charping, who was hired earlier this year to advise the debt plagued town on how to get its financial house in order, told town council members Tuesday that while Timmonsville has checks and receipts from throughout the year, there was never any formal record keeping to satisfy the needs of an audit.

“You have to understand that no auditor can audit something that doesn’t exist,” Charping told council.  
As a result, the auditing firm, selected in April to conduct the town’s annual financial review, has withdrawn from the project entirely last week, saying it would be too much work to conduct an audit without the proper accounting information.

However the auditor did inform the town of a previously-hidden account holding town money, listed as the "Lori Anderson Charitable Trust" and could only be accessed by the town's former treasurer, Dora Lee, who had been dismissed in a recent mass-firing.

It was explained that in past years, information for the audits was put together just in time to conduct the annual audits which are required by state law. However, those past audits missed the Lori Anderson account.

Given the numerous problems faced by the town, it seems hard to believe there won't be more problems surfacing in the not-too-distant future. We'll be watching ...

Rock the Red event to counter Dem convention

While holding the Democratic convention in Charlotte might once have seemed a good idea, it is increasingly viewed as the last stand of Democrats in the Deep South before a Romney-Ryan sweep in November. From the looks of it, they'll even be fighting to keep the media spotlight during their convention week.

ROCK THE RED - an all-star line-up of country music stars and Carolinas GOP politicos - will be gathering just several miles away from the Democratic convention to contest the political narrative being wielded by Democrats. Featuring the likes of Charlie Daniels and Travis Tritt, along with S.C. politico such as Alan Wilson and Mick Mulvaney, the event is scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, September 5.

Tickets are available online, with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $99. If you like to mix your politics with country music, you might want to check this event out.

Senate ballot rulings: Barwick ok, Thurmond off (maybe)

Earlier this evening in Charleston, state Circuit Judge Ernest Kinard ruled on two lawsuits regarding the ballot status for two GOP state Senate candidates, leaving Tony Barwick, a Sumter Republican who won a June GOP run-off in Senate District 35, on the ballot and removing Paul Thurmond, a Charleston Republican seeking Senate District 41.

While Thurmond was knocked off the ballot, the court ruled that Republicans could re-open filing and conduct another primary to select a nominee. 

This ruling came just after news after two other Republicans who were seeking to run for the Senate District 41 seat as petition candidates - Walter Hundley who won a recent special election to fill the seat, as well as Wally Burbage who lost the special GOP primary for that seat - failed to qualify as petition candidates.

Rulings in several other races are expected soon.

Reportedly Democrats will appeal today's Senate candidacy rulings.

Gloria Tinubu: Who needs academic standards?

While Seventh Congressional District Democratic candidate Gloria "The Green Quitter" Tinubu has made education a key campaign issue, her record shows that she has consistently worked against higher standards for education, seeking to avoid the kind of oversight that is needed to ensure accountability and effectiveness.

Last year, while still a member of the Georgia State House, Tinubu came out against legislation which would allow Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to remove Atlanta school board members if the school district lost its accreditation (the bill was passed and signed into law last year). In the first three minutes of a YouTube video, Tinubu declared her opposition to the bill and bashed SACS, the regional accreditation agency for K-12 schools and colleges, "and the ungodly things they've been attempting to do".

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he’s talking with state lawmakers about legislation for a temporary takeover of the Atlanta Public School system ... And the Rev. Joseph Lowery, the civil rights icon who has been trying to bring warring school board factions together, says such a move might be necessary.

But it's not the first time that Tinubu has had issues with SACS and the academic accreditation process.

101st Airborne turns 70 today

Today is the 70th anniversary of the United State Army's 101st Airborne Division. 

The Screaming Eagles of the 101st have been on the front lines, taking on some of our nation's toughest battlefield missions ever since the Second World War with an exemplary record of service, including D-Day, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, Vietnam and the Middle East.

We appreciate their steadfast service to country and to the cause of freedom.

A tour guide narrates a visit to the battlefields around Bastonge, telling the story of General McAuliffe's famous rejection of German demands to surrender the 101st during the Battle of the Bulge - "Nuts!".


Atlantic Beach officials getting rich off suing town?

Meet the Mayor of Atlantic Beach
It sounds like being an elected official in Atlantic Beach, a small beach-front town adjacent to North Myrtle Beach in Horry County, can be a great way to make money.

An op-ed published by the Myrtle Beach Sun Times identifies a number of town politicos who have sued the town, including Mayor Retha Pierce, warning that the "entire practice of Atlantic Beach leaders profiting from suits against their own town is overdue for investigation by the State Ethics Commission and/or the state attorney general.":

Read more here:

Councilwoman Windy Price, Mayor Retha Pierce and Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Cole have all had suits pending against the town. Price and her husband have received more than $50,000 in settlement cash since November. Pierce has pocketed at least $22,000. Lest you be tempted to write it off as not your problem, that money comes not from the Atlantic Beach budget but from a state insurance fund paid into by taxpayers across the state. Now it seems that Cole’s payday may be just around the corner.
The Town Council this week (or at least the lawsuit-loving trio who control it) directed the town’s manager to move ahead with negotiating a settlement to a long-running suit against the town by the Tyson Beach Group, a land-holding company in which Cole has a stake.

New federal EEO expectations for criminal background checks

Criminal background checks can be an effective way to avoid problems in the workplace, but if not done properly, background check processes can create more headaches than they avoid, thus employers should use them with caution. 

A recent 4-to-1 vote by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to approve new guidance for employers conducting criminal background checks is certainly going to raise the bar even higher for employers.While the guidance from the EEOC is not a regulation, it is a warning of growing concern by the Commission and will help inform its field staff when conducting investigations and considering enforcement actions. 

One of the key motivators for this decision was driven by concerns about employers who inappropriately used criminal background checks. The most egregious example was employers who screened out applicants based upon arrest histories, not taking the time to determine if the arrests led to convictions. In too many cases, arrests resulted in dropped charges, meaning people who were found not guilty in the eyes of the law were found guilty in the eyes of an irresponsible employer.

Pussy Riot: The new voice for freedom in Russia?

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has gradually worked to roll back democratic reforms which came to Russia after the fall of communism two decades ago. Muzzling news media outlets, jailing opponents and arm-twisting elections have all borne fruit, allowing him to consolidate power.

It seems ironic that the most visible challenge to Putin's rule has come from the female punk band Pussy Riot. The band, best known for wearing bright outfits including masks in neon colors, has become known for outrageous performances with songs often challenging Putin's regime.

Arrested in February for a guerrilla protest performance in a Moscow church, the band has garnered an international following, including numerous music performers, including Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Faith No More, who have called for their release and for greater freedom of expression in Russia.

Court restores Bennett to State Senate ballot in Dorchester

Delivering a promised decision in the ongoing court battle over Dorchester County Republican Party candidate filings, Circuit Judge Howard King restored Sean Bennett to the fall ballot as the Republican nominee for Senate District 38, removing incumbent Senator Mike Rose, who lost the June primary contest to Bennett:

The Court declines to disenfranchise the voters of Dorchester County and invalidate the results of the Republican Primary on the basis of confusing and unconvincing testimony and evidence that Bennett did not file his SEI.

There is no word on if Democrats, who pushed the lawsuit, will appeal.

Guest Cartoon: Walton - "Chester Gateway"

Chester County has struggled for years to captialize on its I-77 frontage to attract economic development by attempting to market the area around the SC 9 interchange with I-77 Thus far, those efforts have been good for a few gas stations and hotels, a failed car dealership and an undeveloped industrial park adjacent to the southwestern quadrant of the interchange.

According to one reader we heard from on the matter, "Chester has spent a fortune on a supposed "gateway" to Chester off of #9 Highway and 77 highway. The bought a defunct car dealership to remake into a convention is an absolute joke and this gateway goes nowhere ... hoping to "sell" the gateway center for conventions, proms for the schools. But, there is nothing but a few fast food places and a few low cost motels."

S.C. State: The transportation center quagmire continues

While declining student enrollment and a projected deficit at South Carolina State University might seem like major problems, it's not stopping the university from planning to sidetrack much-needed tax dollars and tuition money into the never-ending quest to build a discredited facility named after Congressman Jim Clyburn.

Efforts to build the university's James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center have been dogged by a number of audits, spiraling construction costs, funding shortfalls and the loss of federal recognition for the facility. In spite of these problems, the college administration is proposing to allocate $1.6 million in their budget for the fiscal year 2012-2013 towards building the center, even though the university does not expect to begin during this fiscal year.

Last year, the Center was hit by a Legislative Audit Council report which found the tens of millions of dollars missing, reported "duplicate billings, insufficient state matching funds and questionable payments" of amounts sometimes in the six-figure range and resulted in some expenses being referred to SLED for investigation of abuses by individual employees of the center. It also showed the construction of the center, which lost its federal University Transportation Center status, was plagued with mismanagement.

Not only is the center named after the Congressman, one it's better-known alumni, one of the proposed buildings will be named after his wife Emily, leaving us wondering how many other Clyburn relatives will have their names gracing parts of the Center - if it is ever completed.

Harrell challenger to offer Pre-paid Legal for legislators?

With some of the recent publicity over state legislators gone wild, there may be a market for affordable legal services, such as those offered by John Steinberger, who is challenging House Speaker Bobby Harrell as a petition candidate following a stunning defeat where he got a mere 37 votes in the State Senate special election primary in the spring for the seat vacated by Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell.

In addition to teaching at a Charleston area Christian school, Steinberger is a sales rep for Legal Shield, offering "comprehensive legal services through dedicated law firms on retainer" and encouraging people  to contact him for details.

Steinberger has been been known as one of the leading advocates for the Fair Tax. The South Carolina Fair Tax bill filed in the now-ended legislative session even included Harrell as a co-sponsor (but we're betting Harrell will reconsider supporting the legislation if is re-filed next year)

This pre-paid legal services firm is often considered an MLM system and has drawn mixed reviews.

Since launching his State House bid, Steinberger has also been targeted by a Twitter parody account.

Happy Birthday to Chip Limehouse

Chip Limehouse never seems to get his fair share of time on the blogs, so for his birthday, we're going to give him a little exposure by wishing the Chipster a Happy Birthday!

He got an early birthday present in June when he scored nearly eighty percent of the primary vote over political novice Peter vonLehe Ruegner, whose struggling candidacy floundered in the face of everything from poor polling numbers to questions about his residency.

If you know the guy, be sure to take a moment and wish him a Happy Birthday.

Chip, in case you're reading this, here's some cake for ya!

Tennessee's own Alvin Greene

Democrats in South Carolina who were embarrassed about Alvin Greene's surprise win for the 2010 Democratic Senate nomination are probably feeling a little better following news of the outcome of the Tennessee Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, where Mark Clayton a little-known radical prevailed in a field of seven candidates who were seeking the Democratic nod to face GOP Senator Bob Corker.

Even though it's likely that the Tennessee Democratic primary field was far more active than the one where Greene prevailed, Clayton still managed to win in spite of a record of making controversial statements, including:

  • “The federal government is building a massive, four-football-field wide superhighway from Mexico City to Toronto as part of a secret plot to establish a new North American Union that will bring an end to America as we know it” 
  • The approach of a “godless new world order” in which Americans who speak out against the government are sent to “a bone-crushing prison camp similar to … one of FEMA’s prison camps” (which don’t exist either). 
  • Google censored Clayton’s 2008 campaign against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in cooperation with the Chinese government 
  • “[Former California Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, wants to amend the Constitution so that he can become president and fulfill Hitler’s superman scenario.”

Not surprisingly, Clayton's nomination was quickly rejected by the leadership of his home state Democratic Party. We imagine that the national Democratic party won't be endorsing his candidacy either.

Court restores 2 of 3 Dorchester GOP candidates

After an all-day hearing, two of three GOP candidates in Dorchester County who had been disqualified from the November ballot were put back onto the fall ballot. House 97 nominee Ed Carter and Dorchester County Council candidate Carol Duncan (as the GOP Chair, she had not contested her initial removal from the ballot) were put back onto the ballot, while Sean Bennett, who defeated incumbent Senator Mike Rose in the June GOP primary for Summerville-centered Senate District 38, remained off the ballot in favor of Rose. All three had been bumped from the ballot last month after questions were raised about their candidacy filings.

After ruling to restore Carter and Duncan to their races, Circuit Judge Howard King left the decision regarding the qualifications for the Senate seat open but promised to review the issues and make a final ruling before the August 15 deadline for finalizing the general election ballot.

In an interesting twist, a request to subpoena Summerville Patch editor Lindsay Street was rejected by Judge King upon a motion by media attorney Jay Bender. While Street had witnessed filing documents in the process of covering the ongoing filing issues, Bender argued a "reporter should be the witness of last resort, not the witness of first resort".