One of the major battlegrounds in the 2008 Republican primary races was Spartanburg County, and now it looks like the enmity among different groups in the Upstate is carrying on into this years legislative session.
According to a story in Sunday’s Herald-Journal, the Spartanburg delegation is sparring over appointments that were made in August of last year. For people not used to the arcane rules of state government, local delegations have power to appoint some local officials.
However, part of the problem is that Gov. Mark Sanford will not approve the appointments because seven of the 13 members are freshmen (not exactly an efficient way to run the government, Guv — rules are rules).
So, now, there are apparently two chairmen of the delegation, though only one is legit, according to state law. Rep. Lanny Littlejohn, by the rule that a simple majority of seven is required for an election, is the chairman. However, Sen. Lee Bright, Sen. Glenn Reese, Sen. Shane Martin and Rep. Joey Millwood seem to have done their own thing and given Millwood (God help us) the chairmanship.
For a total account of the bizarre, you have to see the story:
Many of the nine remaining delegation members, however, said they had not been contacted about the appointments and said they were unaware of the changes. Sanford again refused to sign off, saying he wanted all members to be aware of the changes.
“From a legal standpoint, the bare minimum was met to make the new list legal,” Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said. “But we were concerned that all members had not seen the list.”
Martin said the others had been consulted.
“The problem is they have trouble following the law,” Martin said. “Now it seems they have trouble with the truth. We (Bright, Martin and Reese) have businesses to run, and Representative Millwood has a job. We don’t have time to fool with these good ol’ boys. We’re going to move forward and do what is best for Spartanburg. It’s not right to leave these fire department and other board members wondering whether they’ve been appointed.”
Rep. Steve Parker, also a business owner, said he was not informed of the changes. Rep. Keith Kelly, an attorney, and Rep. Rita Allison, a former Sanford employee, also said they were in the dark.
“I guess I’m a good ol’ girl,” Allison said. “They do have the weighted majority, and that’s not a problem with me. But nobody ran anything past me or asked me to sign off on anything.”
The four also did not contact the seven August appointees they removed. Bright said he thought the Governor’s Office would notify them. [Ed. note: Yeah, this guy is a smarty.] Sawyer said the Governor’s Office would only contact those appointed, and only after the governor signs off on the appointments.
Cheryl Jeter Jones, who was appointed to the Department of Social Services Board in August, learned from the Herald-Journal that the four had replaced her with Jimmy Tobias, Martin’s Democratic opponent in the November election.
Jeter Jones, a longtime community activist, said she was operating under the assumption that the application deadline was Jan. 26, as she was told in the letter from Littlejohn, and that the appointments would be made Feb. 2.
When asked why the four had decided to replace Jeter Jones with Tobias, Bright said: “It’s good to have a set of fresh eyes to look at things sometimes.” He was unaware that Jeter Jones also was a first-time appointment.
Oh, man — it’s like Bright is Charlie in the Flowers for Algernon’s denouement. If Sawyer is to be believed, though, it is good to see that the governor isn’t totally brain-dead about this issue.
One thing is for sure — Rep. Keith Kelly isn’t going to let four members usurp power from the other nine.
Millwood, who was elected chairman of the four at a meeting they held on Nov. 24 – a meeting that might have violated a state law that defines a quorum as a simple majority of the body, which would be seven members – on Friday sent a letter to all delegation members saying he has called a meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday in County Council chambers to address the appointments.
Kelly said that’s not going to happen.
“There’s no such thing as a chairman Millwood,” Kelly said. “So he has no authority to call a meeting.”
Appointments divide delegation [Herald-Journal]