Last year, an effort to give the job of Florence County Administration to Rusty Smith, who serves as the Chair of Florence County Council, blew up badly with a high-profile backlash that went so far as to generate an opinion against the move from the state Attorney General's office. Smith ultimately withdrew and Council hired a professional administrator
But a little more than a year later, it looks like the "Florence Fix" is about to become the "Rusty Re-Do".
Last week, the administrator announced his resignation amid reports that he was having trouble running the county's government (we're sure the Council Chair and his buddies on Council had nothing to do with this ... wink, wink ...). This came along with news that Smith's Council colleagues are planning to move quickly to give the job to Smith - without the usual search for a qualified replacement that is conducted extensively and in the public eye.
Since Smith didn't fare well with highly public vetting processes before, so we could see why Smith and his cronies would want to avoid the kind of embarrassing and highly-public spectacle that killed his first attempt to get the job.
The "Rusty Re-Do" has all the hallmarks of a insider deal, with a minimum of advance publicity and being rushed to a vote before two new Republican council members can take their seats. This will likely ensure the same council members who made Smith their Chair will soon give him one of the best-paying jobs in Florence County.
This process is the kind of insider deal that the Attorney General's office cautioned against last year:
At a minimum, South Carolina law requires that Chairman Smith removes himself from any influence over the process of selecting the new administrator. Moreover, while it does not appear the Ethics Act requires Chairman Smith to resign from his seat on council during his candidacy, section 4-9-100 of the South Carolina Code might make Chairman Smith ineligible for appointment at this time. Finally, it is the opinion of this Office that it would be contrary to the public policy of this State for a county council to appoint its own member as administrator.
Reportedly Smith's buddies will make their move in Thursday night's council meeting - and odds are pretty good that they'll get away with it, since Florence County is well-known for the kind of cozy deal-making which allows people like Smith to just about get away with murder.
Then again, it's Solicitor has maintained close relationships with local defense attorneys, even allowing them to run his re-election campaign, so one can literally you get away with whatever you want in Florence if you're brazen and power-hungry enough to do it.
Seeing as how Florence voters keep electing people who pull shady backroom deals like this, they must like it this way. There's no other way to explain this, so as long as they do, they'll keep getting more Third World screw-jobs like this.