Twitter and keeping up with I-26 construction in North Charleston

As most of y'all know, I recently gave in to considerable peer pressure to get on Facebook.

My entry into Twitter, however, was only halfway. I set up a Twitter page for my company's I-26 project - - as a means to improve on keeping the public even more notified than they already are on this project.

Working with our project management - this project pretty much runs 24/7 - I can get alerts out, even when traffic may be backed up because of a wreck which has nothing to do with our construction operations. Local emergency services have really appreciated getting real time information to send to their units which often use I-26 to reach hospitals downtown.

That also means I'm on call nights and weekends - and believe me, on this project, the calls come at 2 am and Saturdays and Sundays - so this information can get out quickly.

Part of my job has been to develop and maintain a community and media relations program for our highway projects - the first of its kind in the industry in the Carolinas, and the only one. Using technology like the web and email lists to help keep the public informed and put the spotlight on our projects creates a new level of transparency and what we call "customer service" ... that is providing useful information about road conditions and project progress to our "customers" - the 4 million people who live and work and pay taxes in South Carolina.

If you want to keep updated about our project via Twitter or non-Twitter regular email alerts, drop me an email and I'll be sure to add you to the list.

Two examples of smart political thinking

Today, we saw two articles on the web related to Palmetto State politics which we thought represented some fresh and profound thinking ...

WESLEY DONEHUE, a Palmetto State political strategist and web political guru extraordinaire, share some wisdom about
the rise, fall, and future directions for those Republicans who made Sanford the centerpiece of their agenda for seeking political reforms:

Marketing a message around one singular person or a small group of individuals is a formula for failure. Sure, the movement leaders will claim otherwise as they’ve had smaller players carrying their water too, but it was always Mark Sanford who stood at the center. When the smaller players spoke, they weren’t labeled as reformers. They were labeled as Sanfordites.

Those at the center of the so-called “movement” are now tasked with picking up the pieces and finding someone to carry their message. I have a suggestion. Quit making the fight so personality driven. Make it about the ideas and have the voters carry the message. Voters are smart. They don’t need a super hero or a villain. They feel the effects of bad policy in the work they do, the bills they pay, and the communities in which they live. To them it’s about the message, not the messenger.

NIKKI HALEY, State Representative and gubernatorial candidate, who pulled out a smart and fresh idea with a campaign video which solicited videos from supporters about why they support her candidacy for Governor:

... but of course, there's only one Wonder Woman in state government: 9th Circuit Court Judge Kristi "Handcuffs" Harrington, who is quickly building a reputation as an efficient, no-nonsense judge.

"This is not a bluff": Rock Hill program offers "last chance" to drug dealers

Recently, Rock Hill Police have teamed up with prosectors and community leaders to test out a new program to combat drug dealing in Rock Hill's most drug-infested neighborhoods:

The eight people accused of dealing drugs felt the unwavering stares from Reddick and others in Rock Hill's community. But they also heard genuine offers of school choices and job choices and life choices other than prison.

Then all eight walked into another room.

Inside that second room at the police department were poster-size photos, taken from surveillance videotapes, of each of the eight selling drugs. Each of the eight had a chair with his or her name on it. In front of those chairs, not two feet away, sat a phalanx of people whose lives are spent putting drug dealers in jail for years and lives.

Their faces all said, without the words, “prison.”

This was not a neighborhood meeting. This was police showing evidence to eight people they claim are drug dealers, who all would face potential felonies if police present probable cause to a judge and ask for a signed arrest warrant, Gregory said.

“This is not a bluff,” Gregory told them.

Since then, five have found jobs or signed up for adult ed programs. The other three haven't been seen on the streets since. Given the alternative, we're not surprised.

The Blogland talked with York County Solicitor Kevin Brackett about this. According to Brackett, the attendees, who were promised they would not be arrested if they attended the meeting, were confronted by a team which included himself, Rock Hill Police, the FBI, DEA, and US Attorney's office. Only those with minor or clear records were selected for this - those whose long-time records made them "too far gone to be redeemable" were not eligible for this offer.

Brackett credited the Chief Gregory for introducing the idea to community leaders, prosectors for teaming up to support the program, as well as the community leaders who embraced the "tough love" idea behind this program - which has been implemented elsewhere:

Having the people from the neighborhood stand there and tell them they're fed up with their activities is a powerful thing, because a lot of the time, the dealers think they own the neighborhood and nobody is going to stand up to them. It says a lot that these neighborhood leaders are willing to take the lead on this, as well as offer to take care of their own so long as they're willing to change their ways.

Brackett promised that any individual who blows this "last chance" deal will see him personally prosecuting the case, warning "the charges can be instated anytime they step out of line." Knowing his no-nonsense approach to prosecution, we believe he means it.

Let's hope this team effort makes a difference.

Why DOES Sanford keep a campaign account open?

Sanford’s gubernatorial office did not respond to a State newspaper Freed of Information Act request filed July 8. His campaign, which still has more than $1.5 million on hand, declined to turn over receipts, writing Sanford already had complied with all state and federal campaign laws.

... but they weren't the first to do so. Fellow blogsite Voting Under The Influence raised the same issue back in April:

Looking over the Sanford for Governor’s campaign discloures from 2008 forward, it is apparent that the Governor is using his campaign for a November 2006 election for political purposes now. The Governor’s campaign has spent thousands on mail and printing since his re-election, including $6993 to the Lukens Company of Arlington, Virginia, on December 5th, 2007, and similar sums to other printers and mailing houses. The Governor’s campaign has maintained campaign mobile telephones and computer services.

As every turn of the Sanford saga produces more questions, often with ethical contradictions or more revelations (most of which we'd rather not know), perhaps The State and Voting Under The Influence are onto something.

Spratt & Clyburn teaming up to install death penalty defense lawyer as top Fed prosecutor for SC?

John Spratt and Jim Clyburn team up to try to get President Obama to appoint a leading death penalty defense attorney - who happened to be a big Obama supporters - to be the lead federal prosecutor for South Carolina.

Normally, this is the kind of story that would be too good to be true for even the most conservative talk radio show, but according to The State:

U.S. Reps. John Spratt and Jim Clyburn have recommended to President Barack Obama that he appoint Bill Nettles, a Columbia criminal defense lawyer, as the top federal prosecutor in South Carolina.

While his most recent high-profile case was defending Michael Phelps' much-publicized bong hitting, Nettles has made a career out of defending high-profile death penalty cases. So much so that the NAACP awarded him their "Foot Soldier in the Sands Award" for having:

“gone above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of the Association and its civil rights agenda” on a pro bono basis. A litigator with extensive civil and criminal trial experience, Mr. MacDougall was recognized, along with Bill Nettles of Columbia, South Carolina, for his trial and appellate work on behalf of indigent defendants facing the death penalty.

Nettles, a past president of the S.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has worked hard to try to keep cases such as these from receiving the death penalty:

While President Obama now has the right to appoint whoever he wants to this role, it would seem a high-profile veteran defense attorney with such a liberal record would not be a smart choice. But when Clyburn and Spratt are behind such a candidate, it lets you know just how liberal these congressmen are, and how little regard they - especially Spratt - have for their constituents.

Especially the family of Mary Stewart, who live right in Spratt's hometown.

We'll be watching this one ...

Weekend's here

I'll apologize for being a big AWOL as of late, but it's been a pretty hectic couple of weeks, between a lot of work hours, gearing up for fall semester and spending last weekend mostly in bed sick.

Today, is the day we remember St. Maximilian Kolbe, my patron saint, who was martyred for his faith in Auschwitz in 1941.

Tomorrow, my daughter and I go to St. Augustine for a Judas Priest concert. It's her second concert (the first time was Fallout Boy, this is the first time she's going to see one of my bands, so we'll see how well that works out). We'll tell you all about it when we get back.

I'm working on a few things for next week, so keep your eyes open. Some new ideas and provocative thoughts - but Blogland readers have come to expect that there's a definite attitude problem at work here, so expect more of it.

Until then, have a great weekend!

Some things we don't want to know - or discuss - about Mark Sanford

It's no secret the Blogland is published by someone who was once a major Sanford supporter that later became disillusioned with him for a lot of reasons. But while others rejoiced over his recent personal problems, the Blogland has refused to join the party.

That's not going to change. Bug me all you want, but I'm not interested. Not now, not ever.

Being twice divorced, I've seen what divorce does to everyone - to me, the children, and to everyone else involved. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy, and certainly not on the Sanford family.

Divorce represents failure to live up to those promises most essential to your everyday life, as well as to protect the people who are supposed to be the most important people in your life. Maybe you don't realize it in the beginning, but after a while, when you look back, you'll usually see the bad choices that led to the divorce and what it does to the kids. Sooner or later, you come to learn two things:

1) There's rarely ever a case where someone is completely blame-free, and
2) No matter how much you may want to protect them, the kids always get caught in the middle.

... and that's even without the entire world surrounding you, trying to pile it on and make it as visible and hurtful as they can.

Why Joe Biden really came here

Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden proved that he could do more than stick his foot in his mouth when his rush-hour arrival in Charleston stuck a monkey wrench in rush-hour traffic and forced our work on the I-26 project to stop for several hours.

Now, we know why Joe Biden really came here in such a rushed manner ...

Vice President Joe Biden’s arrival for a weeklong vacation at Kiawah Island yesterday is actually a cover story for the Vice President’s stay at a North Charleston alcohol and substance abuse treatment center, theDiscust learned.

Secret Service agents on Biden’s detail were overheard in a bar at Charleston International Airport to say that the Vice President’s transportation to Kiawah Island actually contained a Biden look-alike. The agents, visibly drunk, were then confronted by the reporter who went on to obtain the whole story. According to the agents, Biden’s taste for alcohol was rekindled at the “Beer Summit” last week. Although Biden drank a non-alcoholic beer at the time, the agents claim that afterwards Biden went on what they described as a “bender” throughout D.C. bars.

Let's hope when he leaves, he chooses a less inconvenient time for his departure.

Nobody captured the 80s better than John Hughes

If you grew up in the 80s, odds were that some meaningful aspect of your life was captured in a John Hughes movie.

John Hughes wrote, produced and directed a string of 80s theatrical hits that were well-known for depicting life in the 80s. Set in "middle America" settings, the characters and storylines may have appeared to look like "average" people at first glance, but he often ended up showing us that Middle America didn't mean Middle of the Road personalities. Those movies included:

  • National Lampoon's Vacation(1982)
  • Mr. Mom (1983)
  • Sixteen Candles (1984)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • Weird Science (1985)
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

As one who had rough teen years and never really fit in (nor would totally allow myself to), I could identify with John Bender (Judd Nelson's character in the Breakfast Club). As someone fairly carefree and somewhat rebellious, I could identify with Ferris Bueller. Later, as a parent trying not to take life too seriously, I would sometimes act a bit like Clark Griswold.

I think many of us found at least one character in Hughes' movies to be someone we could identify with, which made those teenage years in the 80s a little more bearable for more than a few of us.

Does displaying this make me a racist?

It's Bonnie's birthday (and the blog's too!)

As always, on August 5th, you get two birthdays for the price of one here in the Blogland. What a deal!

My daughter Bonnie turns eleven today, and the Blogland turns four ... and I act like I'm four.

Big plans? Not really. Birthday dinner and then church for a while for the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

Eckstrom's vision of transparency qualifies him for another term

News that the City of Charleston is putting its financial records online is the latest in a chain of local governments who have responded to the growing transparency trend which was championed by State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom:

State Comptroller Richard Eckstrom has been urging local governments to post such information online, to increase government transparency.

"By voluntarily posting their individual expenditures on their Web site for all to see, they are sending the message that people deserve easy, no-cost access to how their tax dollars are spent," Eckstrom said. "They should be commended."

Eckstrom's office previously posted spending information for state government on his Web site,, which now includes links to local governments that have posted their own information.

Charleston County and Dorchester County have posted their information online as well.

For now, Charleston's Web site shows vendor payments made in June. The list, posted on Monday, takes up 52 pages.

Comptroller Eckstrom, who was once seen by some as a polarizing partisan figure, has put forth a vision of accountability which has been seen as so common-sense that it's been embraced by a wide and bipartisan range of community leaders across the state, including Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, a staunch Democrat. That's the kind of responsible fiscal leadership this state needs as it navigates its way through some of its most perilous financial straits.

Eckstrom's efforts to reform how government manages its finances haven't always been embraced in their early stages, but time and time again, he has never been afraid to promote constructive ideas, stick to his fiscally-conservative principles, and challenge the status-quo in state politics. For this, the Blogland is proud to endorse him for third term in the Comptroller's office.

Voters who want to see state government become more responsible and accountable to those whose hard-earned dollars go to support it should vote to keep Eckstrom working as the state's top fiscal reformer.

Is being Lt. Governor a path to being Governor?

Does being Lieutenant Governor help you get to the Governor's mansion? Maybe not.

Brian McCarty answers that question with a lot of insight into modern South Carolina political history:

Governor Mark Sanford’s insistence on staying in office has the most direct political effect upon Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who is seeking the Governor’s post in 2010. Historically, sitting Lt. Governors who have tried to move up the Governor’s Mansion have had a difficult time. Being the sitting Lt. Governor of South Carolina has historically been no asset to winning the Governor’s race. (However, Robert McNair, the last Lt. Governor to assume the office of Governor, was easily elected in his own right for a term.)

Bob Peeler lost his bid to Mark Sanford in 2002. Nick Theodore lost his bid to David Beasley in 1994. Mike Daniel lost his bid to Carroll Campbell in 1986. All three were thought to be capable political forces in their time, but somehow fell short of the Governor’s office.

Of this Governor and the last three, two had been members of the U.S. House (Campbell and Sanford) and two had been legislators (Beasley and Hodges) who gave up their seats to run.

Fair Tax & Foul Balls - FairTaxers at the Riverdogs on August 14

In the Blogland, we always appreciate our fans. Among them is the loyal FairTax crowd ... even though we've always wondered if there ever a tax which people would really think to be fair?

Well, if you'd like to ask them that ... or just drink beer and watch baseball, then you should know the FairTaxers have just the event for you:

FairTax Night at the Charleston Riverdogs - Friday, Aug. 14 @ 7 pm
Charleston Riverdogs vs. the Lakewood Blue Claws
Make reservations for Sect. 202 (right behind 1st base) at 843-723-7241.
... and don't forget - Fireworks after the game!

If you've got questions about FairTax, baseball, beer, or all of those things - you can also

Karen Floyd to visit Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club Saturday

One of the biggest events in Lowcountry politics is the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club, which meets every second Saturday in the Summerville area. At this month's event, SCGOP Chair Karen Floyd is their speaker:

WHEN: Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: Kelly’s BBQ restaurant, US 78, Summervile
CONTACT: Ron Turner, Chairman (843) 814-1805

An appearance by State Republican Party Chair Karen Floyd will give Lowcountry Republicans a first-hand opportunity to discuss the future of the South Carolina Republican Party at the August meeting of the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast club. This is the first in the group’s planned series of meetings which will look at candidates and issues related to the 2010 elections.

Chairman Floyd, a marketing executive from Spartanburg, was elected to lead the state GOP at its May convention.

A moderated Question and Answer session will allow those in the audience to present questions to Ms Floyd.

Breakfast in Berkeley: Grooms wins GOP straw poll, IT kids make new friends

Every first Saturday in Goose Creek, Republicans gather at the American Legion Post 166 for grits, eggs, and a heapin' helping of politics. This month's standing-room only crowd set a record for attendance with an estimated 200 attendees, giving State Senator Larry Grooms a nearly-unanimous win in their gubernatorial straw poll:

  • Barrett 10
  • Bauer 4
  • Grooms 131
  • Haley 14
  • McMaster 14

These results were a big difference from the recent Dorchester County GOP straw poll where McMaster beat Bauer by a single vote, and with the other candidates far behind ... but we've said there are plenty of reasons not to read too much into straw polls and we're standing by that.

We heard from more than a few attendees who grumbled that McMaster chose not to attend because of schedule conflicts, but rather because it was expected that Grooms would win the straw poll handily. We won't go so far as to say we believe them, but we will say that this is the risk you run when you confirm months before, only to bail in the last few days.

Kelly Payne's "IT Kids" were there, getting their first taste of Lowcountry politics. Introduced by yours truly from the stage, who was wearing my very own IT kids shirt, they made a lot of friends and positive impressions quickly at the event.

If you missed the event because you slept in, it was too far to drive, or whatever, here is some of what you missed:

  • Fellow blogger Mike Reino was hanging out, taking pictures. Due to his performance at my graduation party roast, every effort was made to keep a microphone out of his hands.

  • Dean Allen, running for Adjutant General, gave a short stump speech, focusing on State Guard improvement.

  • Bill Connor, running for Lt. Governor, waved his faith around a little too much - a point raised by a number of attendees - and waved around his clueless and unsustainable "Retirees for Economic Development" plan (most jobs created to serve retiree communities are low wage and those who work them require large amounts of welfare benefits to make ends meet, while flooding local schools).

  • Brent Nelsen sounded much better and more qualified running for Superintendent of Education than he did when he was prospecting for the Governor's race. Even if he kept avoiding that long-haired dude who runs the Blogland.

  • 1st District Congressional candidate Tumpy Campbell gave a decent stump speech, pleasantly surprising in that he spared the audience the kind of "my daddy" crap that his brother overused when running for Lt. Governor two years ago, but his "just got into politics" claim was far from accurate, considering his past membership on the state ports authority board and his involvement as a political advisor for the Catawba Indians.

  • Local representative Tim Scott, always a favorite of this group, asked for input as he considers entering the race for Lt. Governor - and looks like he got plenty while at the event.

  • Larry Grooms gave another passionate stump speech, talking about working harder for economic development, pushing for more energy generation capacity, reforming permitting and regulatory agencies, and let attendees know he was married to his soul mate.

If you're kicking yourself in the butt for missing so much fun - you should!

But there's plenty of other upcoming events, so you can catch up on what you missed this time. Be sure to visit the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club next Saturday at Kelly's BBQ on US 78 near Summerville, where SCGOP Chair Karen Floyd will be speaking, and put the Berkeley group on your calendar for next month!

Also ... special thanks to Senator Danny Verdin, who drove all the way down from Laurens to hang out and check out Lowcountry politics.