Walton Cartoon: "Kerry ... served?"

Sullivan releases endorsements for District 17 GOP run-off

Greenville County Republican House candidate Chris Sullivan, facing fellow Republican Mike Burns in the GOP run-off for the House District 17 special election, released endorsements from several Upstate legislators. This follows an announcement of endorsements by several Greenville and Pickens County legislators who were backing Burns.

The legislators backing Sullivan in the release are:
  • Rep. Eric Bedingfield - Greenville Co.         
  • Rep. Bill Chumley - Greenville & Spartanburg Co.  
  • Rep. Tommy Stringer - Greenville Co.          
  • Sen. Lee Bright - Greenville &  Spartanburg Co.
  • Sen. Kevin Bryant - Anderson Co.
  • Sen. Danny Verdin - Greenville &  Laurens Co.
The release (way too long for a professionally-written release) is published below:
Leaders say Sullivan’s record of fighting for
conservative Republican agenda makes him the best choice. 

A group of six Upstate Legislators announced today their endorsement of Chris Sullivan as the best choice in the special election for State House District 17.

Family Court races going down to the wire

Several judicial races are going down to the wire, with candidates hustling for support before legislators vote to fill the seats at noon tomorrow.

The Blogland did Q&A interviews with two candidates still in the running: Kelly Pope, who is seeking Family Court At-Large Seat 1, and Melissa Emery, who is seeking Family Court At-Large Seat 5. We appreciate their willingness to answer questions to help enlighten.

Last week, the Blogland raised questions about a Family Court candidate who has no courtroom experience, but still wants to be elected to a Family Court seat:

While candidates are withdrawing from a number of formerly-contested judicial races as they find themselves short of the votes needed to win election to seats, Frierson is still hanging in the race, meaning she has likely attracted some support - but we're not sure why.

If Frierson wanted to serve as a judge badly enough, especially in a focused post such as a Family Court judge, it would seem logical that she would have sought to add practical courtroom experience, especially with domestic issues, to her resume before seeking this post. Hopefully she will address this lack of experience and try again in the future - but this is too important a post for on-the-job training.voting or know someone who is.

All three articles should make for good reading - especially if you're one of those voting, or know someone who is.

Lexington Senator to sponsor Concealed Carry classes for educators

Say what you want about newly-elected Lexington County Senator Katrina Shealy, you can't call her a liberal gun-hating politico.

Shealy announced free Concealed Weapon Permit classes for South Carolina teachers and school administrators. The classes, which require both classroom instruction and written tests, will take place in February at Shealy & Sons Electric, which is located at 517 Spring Street in West Columbia. The shooting proficiency test will be scheduled subsequently at Mid Carolina Rifle Club.

The Lexington County Republican was motivated to provide teachers training in response to recent school violence:

Kelly Pope, Family Court candidate - Seat One

As part of the Blogland's efforts to open up the state's judicial election process for people to see, judicial candidates are invited to answer questions about their background. Thus far, two candidates for this year's judicial elections have taken questions from the Blogland: Family Court candidate Melissa Emery and Circuit Court candidate Maite Murphy.

Now, we’d like for our readers to meet Kelly Pope, who is seeking At-Large Judge seat #1 in the Family Court:

Sixteen Republicans running for First District special

With filing closed, an unprecedented sixteen candidates have filed to run for the open First Congressional District seat's Republican primary.

The First District has been held by the GOP since 1980, when Republican Tommy Hartnett from Charleston took the seat in an open-race. The Democrats generally have not run strong races for the seat, but in 2008, a strong challenger fell just a few thousand votes behind then-incumbent Henry Brown.

Candidates will meet in the March 19, 2013 Republican Primary. A runoff (if necessary) would be held on April 2, 2013 and the general election is May 7, 2013.

Here's who's running - with web links for most candidates:

John Kerry - not fit for duty

Following the failure of Barack Obama's first effort to name a new Secretary of State to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he's trying again with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Until John Kerry steps forward and answers these questions with the transparency and specificity we require, we will not cease assailing him, and we will not cease our opposition to his candidacy for Secretary of State. Senator Kerry, if you truly value the openness and truthfulness that is part and parcel of this vaunted office, you will promptly come clean and, following that, formally remove yourself from consideration for this position.

There are plenty of good reasons why Kerry is wrong for the job. Many of them have to do with his lack of candor about his Vietnam service and his subsequent efforts to oppose the war and tarnish the image of those who served there. In 2004, the group Swift Vets and POWs for Truth went after Kerry, most prominently via a series of TV ads which featured numerous Vietnam War veterans who questioned Kerry's service record and claims about Vietnam. Their website, which remains online today, raises troubling questions about his record and honesty.

School bus driver strike looming in the Lowcountry?

A breakdown in union contract negotiations may soon leave tens of thousands of Lowcountry school children stranded without school bus transportation. School bus drivers who work for Durham School Services, a company which contracts to provide school bus drivers to both the Charleston County and Dorchester II school districts, voted unanimously to authorize a strike.

In South Carolina, school districts are responsible for providing drivers for the school bus fleet and can choose between hiring them directly or contracting out for drivers, while the state is responsible for buying and maintaining the bus fleet. While the state is working to give Durham flexibility to bring in out-of-state drivers and the Dorchester II school district has begun running employment ads for drivers, these efforts may be too little and too late as a strike could begin at any time.

While the strike has not begun, the authorization means a strike could occur at any time. Lindsay Street, writing for the Summerville Patch, reports this could leave the two districts short approximately 250 drivers. This situation is complicated by complaints that the school districts have been largely shut out of reports on the situation by Durham, according to media reports and school district sources who have spoken with the Blogland. 

Having worked in the construction industry for as long as I have, I long ago learned the importance of managing relationships with suppliers, vendors and subcontractors. While you can't control what they do - beyond what is specified in contractual agreements - if you let them keep you in the dark, eventually you'll get burned.

School districts should be kept fully aware of any problems which could have a major impact upon the ability of a contractor or vendor to deliver crucial services. Otherwise, the contracting parties need to be held accountable when the contract is up and future contracts for these and other services need to take the need for greater transparency into account.

Noel Canning ruling a setback for Obama and NLRB

Efforts by the Obama administration to pursue an aggressive pro-union agenda via the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) suffered a major setback earlier today. A three-judge federal appeals court in the Noel Canning case unanimously found that recent recess appointments of NLRB board members violated the Constitution, ruling that "Because none of the three appointments were valid, the Board lacked a quorum and its decision must be vacated."

If today's ruling is upheld by the Supreme Court, to which the Obama administration is expected to appeal the case, it would be a long-awaited victory for Republicans and business organizations who have long objected to the Board's growing reach into non-union workplaces and increasingly pro-union rulings. It would also be vindication for Senate Republicans who have sought to check the administration's political agenda via the confirmation process which the recess appointments bypassed.

In the case, attorneys for Noel Canning, a Washington State canning and bottling company, argued that NLRB seats were filled in violation of the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 3, which allows Presidents to fill posts by recess appointments only when the Senate is in recess. Their position was that because the Senate was still meeting in pro forma session when the Obama administration filled vacant NLRB seats via recess appointments, three of five seats were improperly appointed. This would mean the Board would not have a legitimate quorum of at least three members and would therefore have no power to make rulings such as the one which Noel Canning appealed. The three Board members whose appointments were challenged by the suit were:

Legislators back Burns in Upstate House GOP run-off

On Tuesday, Mike Burns missed winning the five-way GOP primary for House District 17 by a mere eight votes - and roughly ten percentage points ahead of Chris Sullivan, who he'll face in a February 5th runoff.

While it's not impossible for candidates to close a ten-point gap in a run-off, Burns is leaving nothing to chance, which is smart considering that Sullivan came within ten points of ousting Senator Mike Fair in the June GOP primary.

Today, we see more evidence of how seriously Burns is taking the run-off challenge - and how seriously he's being taken by others - as he released endorsements from five Upstate legislators. The endorsements include Senator Tom Corbin, who'd vacated the District 17 House seat in November when he was elected to the Senate, along with House members Dan Hamilton, Phyllis Henderson, Dwight Loftis and Phillip Owens - all of whom represent areas near or adjacent to District 17.

According to the endorsement press release:

Family Court candidate lacks courtroom experience

In the race for the First At-Large seat on the Family Court, two candidates are competing for the job: Rosalyn Frierson from Columbia and Kelly Pope from Spartanburg.

The Report of Candidate Qualifications released by the Judicial Merit Selection Committee raised questions about Frierson's experience. According to the report, Frierson reported no time in state or federal courtrooms and no time with practicing family law - but in spite of this, she still wants to preside over courtrooms in Family Court. 

Frierson explains her experience as "less conventional":

I have worked as an attorney during my 20 year legal career in what may be viewed as a less conventional path. I have worked with practicing attorneys and was married to an attorney for many years who practiced in domestic law. I have seen the practicing side of an attorney from that secondary view. I believe that I have the skills required of a judge.

We're sure there are lots of cops, legal clerks and court reporters who have "secondary views" as well, but you don't see them expecting to become judges.

More Sheriff problems

The last couple of weeks haven't been good for South Carolina Sheriffs.

Last week, the Abbeville County Sheriff was convicted for misconduct in office. This week, problems reportedly have surfaced in two other counties: Chester and Chesterfield.

The Link, a Chesterfield County newspaper, reported that SLED is investigating reports of using inmate labor. While SLED denied the investigation to WBTW TV News, the Blogland received other reports of an ongoing inquiry going back to Friday of last week.

But wait, there's more ...

Alex Underwood, the newly-elected Sheriff in Chester County, found unserved and unlogged warrants for several dozen people in a storage container that dated back over the last year and were left behind from the previous Sheriff, who Underwood defeated in November. The charges reportedly include a wide range of offenses, including drug violations, rape and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

Underwood has called SLED in to investigate and help untangle the mess. Source have confirmed that there is discussion of bringing charges in the matter.

Let's hope Underwood's tenure goes uphill from here.

Could North Carolina tax changes efforts boost S.C. Fair Tax prospects?

Those backing a state-level FairTax proposal, which would replace state income taxes with a sales tax, have worked to attract support for their vision of changing the state's tax codes. Recent events in North Carolina may help the South Carolina FairTax activists make some long-awaited progress.

In recent weeks, leaders in North Carolina state government, including Governor Pat McCrory, N.C. House Speaker Tom Tillis and N.C. Senate President Phil Berger, have discussed the idea of cutting or eliminating the state's income tax and replacing it with a sales tax, similar to FairTax legislation which has been proposed in South Carolina.

In an  interview with the Winston-Salem Journal last month, McCrory said he believed that "North Carolina's corporate and personal income tax rates are holding back recovery from the Great Recession because they make the state less attractive to business executives seeking to create jobs." Yesterday, House Speaker Tillis echoed McCrory's sentiments while speaking to a group of small business owners near Charlotte.

Also speaking out on this subject yesterday was Forbes, which called for states to end their income taxes, pointing out the recent moves in North Carolina:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback have all called for their states to eliminate their income tax and replace it with a sales tax over the past week. They were joined yesterday morning by North Carolina, where the Senate President Pro Tempore, Phil Berger, confirmed the legislature and the Governor, Pat McCrory, would pursue serious tax reform this session. Indeed, a senate proposal being crafted into legislation includes a repeal of North Carolina’s personal and corporate income taxes along with an expanded sales tax.

Moves like these will likely draw greater attention upon two bills which have been filed in the state House and Senate here in South Carolina - H3116 and S185 - both of which would replace the state's income and estate taxes with a six percent sales tax.

Close primary finish in District 17 leads to run-off

The Tuesday Republican primary in House District 17, which will be followed by a run-off in two weeks, was one of the closest photo-finishes seen in state politics in some time.

According to a report posted on The South Carolina Conservative website, Mike Burns fell just eight votes short of winning the nomination outright, with 1114 votes (49.7%), forcing a run-off with Chris Sullivan, who got 874 votes (just under 39%). 

Following Burns and Sullivan were three others: Roy Harmon (143 votes - 6.4%), Tom Kolarik (75 votes - 3.4%) and Randall Young (24 votes - 1.1%).

With a ten point deficit to close in the run-off race, the eight votes that eluded Burns could be all it takes to give Sullivan a second chance to win the seat. Sullivan waged a strong GOP primary challenge to Senator Mike Fair last spring, carrying nearly forty-six percent of the vote. Those we've talked with expect a spirited race between the two leading another close - but final - finish in two weeks.

Kudos to Javan Browder for getting the numbers out there before anyone else.

Set-up at Tea Party convention?

Earlier this month, several stories claimed that radical political activities were taking place at the Tea Party convention held in Myrtle Beach, most notably the "witch doctor" t-shirt activist who reported selling t-shirts which portrayed Barack Obama as a witch doctor. Writing on Brietbart.com, Tim Slagle responded to those stories with a different take on things:

No matter what Conservatives do to make their case, the Alinsky-bound Left is determined to continue the narrative of angry white racists.

Did you know there was a Tea Party convention in South Carolina, last weekend? Well if you read the Huffington Post or any number of Left Wing blogs, you do now. Because some yahoo, decided it would be funny to show up in a T-Shirt, with a caricature of the President as a Witch Doctor.

Slagle dug deeper into this story, finding a more restrained picture than what was presented by other sources, including raising questions about the identity of the person who allegedly produced and sold the t-shirts.

Melissa Emery, Family Court candidate - Seat Five

In the first few weeks of this year's legislative session, this race to fill a number of state judicial seats will be at the top of the agenda of our state’s legislators. 

We at the Blogland believe our state’s judicial selection process is too hidden from the public eye, and that a little transparency is long overdue. To help shed a little light on this somewhat-shadowy process for the benefit of our readers, we ask those seeking upcoming judicial seats to answer a few questions - and appreciate those who respond.

Melissa Emery, a Pee Dee native and an attorney from Myrtle Beach, is seeking the Seat Five At-Large Family Court seat. The first in her family to get through college, she’s a proud Francis Marion alum who is nearing her tenth year as a member of its board. A graduate of USC Law School, Ms. Emery has been practicing law for eighteen years, with much of her practice time spent in family law.

Now, we’d like for our readers to meet Ms. Emery:

S.C. State to offer Corruption major

Struggling with declining enrollment and funding shortfalls, S.C. State University could use some fresh new ideas to help boost enrollment. The Blogland has been informed that the college intends to specialize in a new major in Corruption.

"A lot of people have called this college a poster child for corruption," one source at the Orangeburg-based university told us. "So we figured 'why not work with what we're good at?'"

The school has been the center of a lot of attention regarding money, ethics and it's leadership. Recently, a former university board Chair and former campus police chief were busted in a big kickback scandal. While this would seem to be more than enough of a scandal for any college, S.C. State has been the source of enough incompetence and mismanagement for ten colleges, as evidenced by a string of problems faced by the school:

Walton: "Obama FDR"

Try Thug Control, not Gun Control

Two recent Rasmussen polls suggest that gun control advocates are going beyond the limits of popular support. While the first survey found that 74 percent of respondents agreed with the following statement: "Does the U.S. Constitution guarantee the right of an average citizen to own a gun?", the second one presented an even bigger question for those who think that passing laws is the answer to reducing gun violent. In that survey, 57 percent of respondents believed that there should be a greater emphasis on enforcing current laws over passing new ones.

When we see that, we can't help but think about websites like Charleston Thug Life, which recently ran this posting showing a collection of photos taken from Facebook pages of local hoodlums, some of whom are clearly underage, carrying weapons - including the photo shown on the right. This site has profiled many instances of convicted felons who committed crimes with weapons they weren't supposed to have in the first place and shown how, time and time again, dangerous criminals get light sentences and dropped charges, allowing them to run the streets and keep doing more of what they'd been doing.

Want to reduce the number of crimes committed by those with guns? It would seem logical that locking up the ones who commit them would be a good first step. 

First District parody candidates on Twitter

The race to fill the First Congressional District seat is underway. Without a minute to spare, pranksters have taken the race to Twitter with parody Twitter accounts. While we've seen this taking place in some South Carolina races, the speed and number of parody accounts is greater than before.

So far, the Blogland has identified four Twitter parody accounts running wild (look at some of the comments and you'll see what we mean):

As the race develops, we're sure there will be more. Stay tuned.

Blogland Tales of Corruption

It's no secret that South Carolina government is a playground for the dishonest, unethical and downright criminal - and occasionally the lights get shined on a few of them, including here in the Blogland.

A new subject category on the right-hand sidebar "CorruptionSC" allows quick access on Blogland postings which discuss the corrupt, dishonest and inept games and those who play them. Many of them may not be big, sexy headline stories, but often state and local governments screw us by the little things, not the big things.

Amazingly, many of these things are done in local government without any effort to hide what is being done.

The Blogland has been doing its part to try to change some of that and will continue to do so, but your help is needed. If you've got a story to tell, the Blogland is ready to listen to what you have to say. Drop us an email anytime.

Abbeville Sheriff arrest raises questions about courthouse corruption

Yesterday, Abbeville County Sheriff Charles Goodwin was charged with misconduct in office. This is related to allegations of a kickback scheme related to work performed on county cars from 1998 to 2011.

Goodwin wouldn't be the only Sheriff busted in recent years. Former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin was nabbed by the feds for his role in a Lee County drug ring, former Union County Sheriff Howard Wells was convicted for lying to federal officials while former Saluda County Sheriff Jason Booth was found guilty of misconduct in office for using inmate labor on his personal property.

But Sheriffs aren't the only courthouse officials who are getting into trouble around the state, raising questions about conduct by elected courthouse officials - and who is watching them.

Haley's Work for Welfare plan: Not so radical

Earlier this week, the Haley administration announced that if you're receiving SNAP (what we call food stamps these days), don't have children at home and are considered able-bodied, it's time to work in return for your benefits.

As reported on Haley's Facebook page, SNAP 2 WORK, an effort spearheaded by the Departments of Employment/Workforce and Social Services, will require up to 100,000 of those who fit into this category and are receiving these benefits to work.

Frankly, we'd like to know why that shouldn't be 100% of those in that category. If taxpayers are having to go without on account of those on public assistance in the current poor economic situation, we don't see why their hard-earned dollars should be paying for a free ride for others.

For those who think that's a mean, cruel right-wing thing to do to people in tough times, the truth is 1) this concept was used by a leftist President and 2) it makes sense from a workforce development standpoint:

Walton Cartoon: Two Down ...

Another lost hero

The father of John Campbell, a Charleston County GOP activist and Blogland reader, passed away last Friday and was buried yesterday.

A thirty-year veteran, he served in World War II, as well as during Korea and Vietnam. Our Republic has depended upon people like him who answered the call of duty for so long and so reliably.

Let us be grateful for what he's done, and may we be worthy of the freedoms and opportunities which him and others sacrificed so much for.

Please keep John and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Legislators honor York County overpass flag-waver

For years, Leonard Farrington was a regular figure in York County. Not because he'd run for office, was a wealthy businessman or had been involved in some nefarious scheme.

Leonard Farrington was noted for getting on top of the Sutton Road overpass in Fort Mill (Exit 83) and waving an American flag, an effort he'd taken up the day after 9/11 and continued until 2011, when health reasons forced him to hand the flag over to the local Rolling Thunder chapter.

While Farrington passed away a year ago, he hasn't been forgotten. Two York County legislators - Rep. Ralph Norman and Senator Wes Hayes - have both sponsored resolutions to name the Sutton Road overpass after him. Those bills - S215 and H3293 - are expected to pass easily. The signs to be placed will read:


While he may have been a hero of that time, it wasn't the first time Farrington answered the call of duty. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941 upon learning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, spending much of the war in the Pacific.

Brackett & Pope mark twenty good years in the 16th Circuit

As shown here, State Rep. Tommy Pope is standing with his successor in the Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office as he is sworn into office for another four year term by Chief Justice Jean Toal.

Pope was elected to the office twenty years ago and stepped down several years back. Brackett, his deputy, was appointed to replace him and has won two elections (the most recent one unopposed) in his own right. Pope returned to politics two years ago, scoring the second political upset of his career when he ousted the senior member of the State House, Herb Kirsh from York County.

Both have built a strong record of partnering with local law enforcement and being among the toughest prosecutors in the state. Brackett has also worked with the Blogland on a number of stories about what is taking place in his Circuit.

Here's to four more years for Brackett!

Assault conviction in Atlantic Beach assault not the end of questions about Town and former Chief

The Blogland has discussed the Horry County town of Atlantic Beach and former Police Chief and town Administrator Benny Webb plenty - and for good reason. Both can't seem to stay out of trouble.

Thursday last week, Webb was found guilty of assault and battery. This occurred in May of last year, involving an altercation between Webb and local activist Paul Curry, who was requesting town records.

While the conviction may provide some vindication for Curry, when we talked with him, he was concerned about what this ruling may show for other cases where Webb was involved in prosecuting others during his law enforcement career:

After listening to Webb on the witness stand, I'm concerned whether he may actually believe that the audio recording of his threats had been altered, that he did not actually say the things captured on the recording. I question whether Webb may have given perjured testimony during his law enforcement career, convicting innocent people, who did not have a recording of what actually happened.

NLRB ruling keeps union dues coming in

Even though recent right-to-work decisions in Indiana and Michigan present the potential for large numbers of workers to opt out of paying union dues as a condition of employment, a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board will allow unions another avenue to collect union dues.

Issuing a ruling in WKYC-TV, Gannet Co., Inc., the Board ruled that even when a union agreement expires, employers should still collect union dues from employees' paychecks. This goes against a long-standing precedent which dates back fifty years, which allowed employers to stop collecting union dues when a collective bargaining agreement ends.

This ruling will give labor unions another incentive to drag out contract negotiations and less incentive to negotiate in good faith with employers. But prolonged labor contract negotiations do come with a risk to workers, as evidenced by the decision of Boeing to open a production facility in South Carolina and the decision to close Wonder Bread. But as union dues are the lifeblood for organized labor, which has seen it's numbers continue to decline in recent years, this kind of ruling is one that means they can keep collecting money, even when they're not delivering results for their members.

In Bethlehem Steel, the NLRB, relying on the proviso to Sec. 8(a)(3) that “nothing in this Act shall preclude an employer from making an agreement with a labor organization to require as a condition of employment membership therein,” held that an employer acted lawfully in unilaterally ceasing to honor a contractual union security clause.

The Board ruled that this new opinion would only apply to future cases.

Obamacare, the Big Picture and Honesty

Yesterday, I wrote something some people didn’t like. There’s no point rehashing what was said or what they had to say. I’m sure at least some of it was long-standing frustrations being vented with me. Either they’re over it or not, but in any event, I’m over it and ready to move on. But I'd like to close the week out by clearing up questions about what I think of “Obamacare”. It’s an issue that I’ve chosen not to discuss on my blog because I tend to focus upon state issues, not national ones.

Those who know what I do for a living know I’ve been working in the fields of human resources and occupational safety for quite a few years (not a blogger for hire or whatever else you may have heard). While I’ve long ascribed to the view that more federal government intervention is a bad thing, my career experiences have greatly reinforced that point of view. Some of these issues I’ve covered on the blog and others I haven’t – but would be glad to discuss with anyone who wants to know.

While it’s certainly not the only issue which can hurt the private sector, Obamacare is one of the bigger ones. The costs to employers and employees alike already have been steep. Employers have often chosen to absorb many of the costs, but in a tough economy, you can bet many employers have been forced to cut jobs to pay for complying with these mandates. I couldn’t be more opposed to Obamacare.

My biggest concern is that those objecting to Obamacare, aside from the dangerous and angry conduct by a few which makes us all look bad, is that in their zeal to challenge Obamacare, they are overlooking many other actions by this administration that will do tremendous damage to the private sector and our nation’s economy.

Kickback scheme at S.C. State the target of federal probe and indictments

At any reputable public college or university, the kind of dysfunction, stone-walling and misappropriated money that seems the norm at S.C. State Universiy wouldn't be tolerated.

Today's news of federal indictments related to kickbacks involving S.C. State board members and campus police are yet another wake-up call for the school nobody seems to want to touch:

A former trustee at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg has been indicted in a federal kickback scheme, according to documents unsealed Thursday.

Court documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that Jonathan N. Pinson faces two felony counts of interference with commerce by threat of violence. Pinson, a Greenville businessman, used his position to solicit favors and money, prosecutors said.

Also indicted is a Greenville businessman who allegedly worked with Pinson. A former university police chief pled guilty to his role in the scheme and is cooperating with investigators.

Apparently since the state won't clean the school up, the feds will have to do the job for South Carolina.

We know these would be problems at other places, but look at the pattern taking place here. Nobody seems to care what takes place, judging by the lack of accountability for the school, so if the big money hole known as the James E. Clyburn Transportation Center is considered perfectly acceptable, which it seems to be based upon the lack of attention upon the school's problems, why should anyone care about a few more kickbacks?

Isn't it finally time for someone to take this school's problems seriously, demand accountability and either clean the school up or close it?

Unions busted for union-busting?

It was just a few months ago when Obama’s National Labor Relations Board ruled that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union had engaged in union busting and ordered the union to stop harassing its own union organizers for wanting their own union.

Now, a Teamsters union local in Memphis is fighting its two clerical workers from unionizing with the Steelworkersand–again, the Obama labor board is having none of it.

The Teamsters even hired lawyers and even appealed losing their case - but ultimately lost.

You can't make stuff like this up.

How to catch an illegal immigrant in Columbia

We're not sure how to discuss a story like this, so we'll just let you read about the t-shirts being worn by employees at the Taco Cid restaurant in West Columbia and reach your own conclusion:

A photo of a T-shirt worn by employees of Taco Cid, a Mexican-style restaurant in West Columbia, has sparked accusations of racism. 

The shirt pictures a pair of tacos underneath a wooden trap with the phrase "How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant" written just above in red, white, and green lettering -- the same three colors on the Mexican national flag. 

The photo appeared on social networks and across news media websites over the weekend. The backlash prompted the store's owner to post a response to the uproar on the restaurant's website.

"Our T-shirts were created as a witty and comical statement regarding ILLEGAL immigrants. There are NO racial nor hate remarks towards any specific ethnic group," said the statement.

Lunatic Fringe: Meet the nullifiers

Caught in a crossfire of attacks from Democratic Party and affiliated groups and selective media presentation of token extremists, the Tea Party movement is hemorrhaging public support nationwide. According to a recent poll by Rasmussen, only eight percent of those surveyed identified themselves as being part of the Tea Party movement, while forty-nine percent of respondents held a negative view of the Tea Party movement.

Moments like that which followed a recent press conference by those wanting South Carolina to "nullify" Obamacare legislation might explain why people have soured on the Tea Party movement.

Upwards of sixty screen captures of Facebook commentary by some of those in attendance at the event were sent to the Blogland earlier this evening. While most of them consist of repetitive and shop-worn criticisms of Republican Party leaders, most notably House Speaker Bobby Harrell, House LCI Chair Bill Sandifer and Charleston County GOP Chair Lin Bennett, several screen captures went over the lunatic fringe, including threats of violence. We've been told that SLED agents are looking into these messages to determine if the threats have any merit.

Richland County: Where nobody really gets fired

The Election Day mess in Richland County last year was the worst ever seen in this state in modern times.  The lines, polls with lines hours after the 7pm closing time, a widespread shortage of voting machines and trickle of ballots magically appearing were unprecedented in modern times.

After an investigation and hearings, we were told the person believed to be most responsible for the mess, Lillian McBride, the county's Director of Elections was fired and that a house-cleaning would get the county's election operation back in order.

But we must warn our readers that while the word "fired" in most places means you're gone and a new team comes in to straighten things out, the word seems to have a very different meaning in Richland County.

In Richland County, when you're "fired", that just means demoted with a modest pay cut, because McBride is back as the county's deputy elections director. According to The State:

McBride – who last week agreed to step out of her $89,124-a-year director’s job – would stay in the office, overseeing county voter registration efforts and absentee balloting. That’s the job she held 18 months ago before becoming the state’s highest-paid county elections director and presiding Nov. 6 over the most bungled county election in modern state history. Wednesday night, the four-member county elections commission, which oversees the elections office, passed resolutions urging incoming interim elections director Jasper Salmond to offer McBride the job at that salary.

Go figure.

DSS: More kids put in harm's way

Last year, South Carolina DSS removed children from a home after a child was mauled to death by a dog. The surviving children were returned to the home after an investigation. Earlier this week, another child in the home was attacked by a dog. According to News Channel 4:

According to the incident report filed on Jan. 3, the 3-year-old had significant injury to his face, including a puncture wound on his right cheek and to the left side of his nose.

It's hard to imagine that the children would have been returned to a home with dogs in it, but hey, we ARE talking South Carolina DSS, the agency tasked with wasting tax dollars and putting children in harm's way.

This incident comes less than a week after reports that DSS placed a child into a home in the Upstate without doing a complete background check. The child's uncle, a convicted violent felon, was later charged with abusing the child before the child was placed with another relative (no word on if a complete background check was done on that relative).

Work Zone Safety Legislation moves forward

Those who know me, personally or professionally, know that my latest legislative project in South Carolina has been to seek to rewrite and toughen laws on work zone enforcement. While the challenge of making work zones safer has been a professional problem for years, it became much more personal back in March of last year when a drunk driver entered a lane closure, ramming and destroying my personal vehicle while I was doing a site inspection.

I can tell numerous stories and show numerous examples of where my co-workers had close calls, the reality is that work zones are at least as dangerous for motorists. In over a decade in the industry, not a single company employee was killed or seriously injured in a work zone incident, while eight motorists and three pedestrians have died in our work zones.

Work zone safety reform is about protecting workers AND motorists.

Senate Bill 139 is the legislation which was filed by Senators Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley County), Chair of Senate Transportation Committee and Larry Martin (R-Pickens County), Chair of Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation will add a dedicated penalty to cover law enforcement costs, allowing the state to hire additional law enforcement officers, along with an additional two-point penalty against one's license. Similar legislation was filed in the 2011-2012 legislative session, but died when that session ended back in the summer.

In addition to safety concerns, there are other considerations that are driving this legislation:

Walton Cartoon: Never to Hawaii""

DSS: Putting Children in Harm's Way is Job One

Dorchester County State Rep. Jenny Horne has been one of those most vocal with concerns about the gross inability of the Child Protective Services arm of SC DSS to protect children from abuse.

In a Charleston Post and Courier story, Horne cited concerns about "timeliness of DSS response to complaints about child welfare and delayed court proceedings because department paperwork was not in order." This included one instance where the agency failed to act three years after parental rights had been terminated three years ago and another where a girl was placed in a Dorchester County home with a registered sex offender.

One can add to this growing pile of complaints - and childrens' bodies - this story in the Rock Hill Herald on Friday about how the agency placed a child in a home with an uncle who had served time for a violent felony without conducting a complete background check (hint: one can be done in minutes on the SLED website). 

Not surprisingly, after being placed with the uncle, the child was taken out after reports of ... yep ... physical abuse by the uncle.

Responding to a request by nearly three dozen House Republican legislators, the Legislative Audit Council has initiated an audit of the agency's ability to protect children. Such an audit has been long overdue as the agency has a long history of failing to protect children. Not only have some of these gross failures been talked about on this blog, but DSS is the agency which historically generates the most complaints to the Blogland.

It would be nice if the agency would be held accountable for a change, but asking for that would be like beating a dead horse (or child, as the agency would probably prefer).

Tim Scott Rises Above Left-Wing Haters: My latest national op-ed

Tim Scott hasn't even been in the Senate a week and the haters are starting to come out against him. Read the latest in my national op-ed article: "Tim Scott Rises Above Left-Wing Haters", where I discuss Tim Scott's rise as one of America's true "post-racial" politicians (with a little help from South Carolinians Lin Bennett and David Carter):

The appointment of Tim Scott, a Congressman from Charleston, South Carolina, to replace South Carolina’s outgoing Senator Jim DeMint, made history. The first black Senator from the South since Reconstruction (during Reconstruction, Mississippi sent two black Republican Senators – Blanche Bruce and Hiram Revels – to Washington), he ascended to the Senate after nearly twenty years in politics from South Carolina’s coastal region.

While Scott’s appointment has generated considerable praise from his home state, as well as national political observers, it’s safe to say that NAACP leader Benjamin Jealous isn’t among Scott’s admirers. In criticizing Scott, who received an “F” score on the political scorecard for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Jealous accused Scott of not supporting civil rights ...

Want to read the full story? Then go check it out.

Charleston Sheriff presents "Run, Hide, Fight" video

A workplace safety video posted on a website by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security was shown to Charleston County Council members last night by Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon. The video, entitled "Run, Hide, Fight" presents a simulated workplace shooting incident and suggests responses that could be taken to protect against a potential shooter:

Cannon made a presentation Thursday to Charleston County Council on a five-minute video, called “Run, Hide, Fight,” which is available on the Sheriff’s Office website. He encouraged council to in some way adopt and make use of the video, which already has been adopted by the city of Houston.

The video was produced with money from a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cannon said.

The video, which was originally developed by the Homeland Security department of the City of Houston, Texas is part of "Active Shooter Information", a safety resource website developed by Alabama Homeland Security in response to recent public mass shootings. Since it's release, the video has generated considerable publicity, including it's presentation by Sheriff Cannon.

It doesn't seem like this advice is an aberration as the video has also been shared on a number of other police websites, including St. Louis County, Missouri and Prince George's County, Maryland. A workplace security conference held earlier this year in California shared the same advice on how to respond. It's worth noting that in all cases, the experts say running or hiding are the best responses.

Check out the video below:

Republicans take control in Lancaster County

The GOP "Majority Makers" (Left to right): Council Vice-Chair Bob Bundy, GOP Chair Sandy McGarry,
Councilman Steve Harper, Chair Larry McCullough, Councilman Brian Carnes

Last night, Lancaster County Republicans celebrated the third milestone of the 2012 election cycle by swearing-in the county's first-ever Republican majority on Council and the election of Republicans Larry McCullough as Chair of Council and Bob Bundy as Vice-Chair.

Council chambers were standing-room only for the swearing-in and officer elections, with most of the attendees from the ranks of the county GOP - another sign of the growing muscle of Lancaster Republicans.

Lancaster County Republicans marked two other historic firsts by electing the county's first Republican courthouse official - Treasurer Carrie Helms - and the first time the county had voted twice in a row for a GOP Congressional candidate - Congressman Mick Mulvaney

With Lancaster County now voting more Republican than South Carolina voters on the average, including the last four Presidential election contests, it's likely these historic wins are a sign of things to come. According to county GOP Chair Sandy McGarry, the party is already hard at work in getting ready for the 2014 elections, seeking to capitalize on the county's growing GOP strength.

Gloria Tinubu update: The Green Quitter ain't quittin'

Gloria "The Green Quitter" Tinubu's appearance in South Carolina politics has been as turbulent as her career in Georgia politics and academia, not to mention Delta Airlines flights. But give her credit - she's not always a quitter.

After losing her bid for the Seventh Congressional District seat, where she upset the state's Democratic political machine, which had lined up State Rep. Ted Vick and then Pee Dee attorney Preston Brittain, Tinubu is making plans for a comeback. According to an email she sent out earlier today:

Thank you for your support during my run as the Democratic nominee for South Carolina's 7th Congressional District. Having garnered over 120,000 votes, we were roughly 6 percentage points away from a victory. In order to position myself to run again and win, I need your help now. 

First, I'm asking you to consider serving on my campaign finance committee for your county. As a committee member, you will help set our fundraising goals and develop strategies to meet those goals. Most of the meetings will be held via conference call with in-person monthly or quarterly meetings held only on an as-needed basis. Please let me know your willingness to serve via email at gloria@gloria4congress.com or call us at 843.488.2234. 

Secondly, if possible, I'm asking you to make another contribution now and/or ask friends and family to match the contribution you made. I want to retire my short-term campaign debt owed to staff and consultants no later than January 31, 2013. 

I'm turning to you, my friends and loyal supporters, to help in this early phase of fundraising.

We can't help but wonder what she's going to run for next.

Walton Cartoon: "NRA"

My national op-ed: "A Bad Year for Big Labor"

This article I wrote about the national setbacks suffered by organized labor was published on the national website Front Page Magazine this morning:

Early in 2012, labor unions began a major political offensive aimed at regaining political initiative after a number of high-profile setbacks in 2010 and 2011. Focusing their efforts in Michigan and Wisconsin, two Midwestern states with strong union bases, their costly efforts to roll back efforts to challenge their power ended up costing them, leaving them worse off than when the year started.

In Wisconsin, labor unions poured thousands of people and millions of dollars into recall efforts to keep the GOP-held legislature and Governor from challenging their lock on state government. When the smoke cleared, Governor Scott Walker, along with most of the targeted legislators, survived recall campaigns. Efforts by labor unions to end Republican control of the Wisconsin legislature were short-lived as Republicans made good their recall losses by adding to their majority in the Wisconsin House and regaining control of the Senate in the November elections.

In Michigan, efforts by labor unions to lock in their power and blast their opponents out of power fell short. Their main effort, campaigning for a constitutional amendment that was aimed at keeping the state from enacting right-to-work legislation, failed by nearly twenty points on Election Day. Expensive efforts to target state legislators also fell short, including spending nearly a million dollars to topple the Republican House Speaker.

Emboldened by these victories, Michigan Republicans responded by pushing through right-to-work legislation, which ends the ability of labor unions to compel employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment in both private and public sector workplaces, following a move by Indiana, which became the first “Rust Belt” state to adopt right-to-work legislation earlier this year.

These political upsets were just the latest in a string of recent setbacks for organized labor which signify a growing erosion of the once-formidable power of labor unions ...