Posts Tagged ‘S.C. General Assembly


Spartanburg’s house divided
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

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.”

Game on.

Appointments divide delegation [Herald-Journal]


The problem with term limits
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

Again, the prospect of term limits is raising its funky head above the water and making another go of it in the General Assembly. No matter how often this comes up, it just sounds like a bad idea. The fact is, when you have regular turnover of legislators, it allows outside influences to have a bigger influence on the process. Institutional knowledge is lost, so legislators end up relying on, oh, lobbyists and others with set agendas.

There’s a reason people like Howard Rich are so gung-ho for term limits. He didn’t make all that cash by looking out for others. Hell, the basic libertarian belief, boiled down, is, “Fuck you, I’ve got mine.”

That’s to say, it’s not just Rich and his freakshow hydra (SCRG, S.C. Club for Growth, S.C. Policy Council, &c.) in this state that would have way more say in what your representatives do. It’s everybody.

If you think this is just Vierdsen going loopy after a dessert of “special” Christmas brownies, the St. Petersburg Times were all over this six years ago:

The push for term limits in the 1990s has resulted in a raft of unintended consequences, many of which are just beginning to be felt.

In Tallahassee, lawmakers who face the end of their tenure have desperately jockeyed to run for other seats rather than return to private life. The prime example being House Speaker Tom Feeney, who used the power of his office to wangle a new congressional district for himself through redistricting. Moreover, all the turnover has given the Legislature little historical memory, shifting power and expertise to bureaucrats and lobbyists.

There’s a reason we gots elections, Broseph.


S.C. Democrats fail to capitalize
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

If the S.C. Democratic Party was going to have a big election cycle for the first time since the ’98 wave, it was going to be this year. President-elect Barack Obama and the DNC put tens of thousands of dollars into the state. There was set to be an unprecedented turnout of black and Democratic-leaning young voters.

And, true to form, the SCDP dropped the ball.

Yes, the races in SC-1 and SC-2 were closer than expected, but as they say, it ain’t horseshoes and it ain’t hand grenades. Obama performed better than Sen. John Kerry, but, Phil Noble excepted, nobody expected anything less than an easy win by Sen. John McCain in this state.

The chances really came in the few contested general election General Assembly races. Dems won three — three — races that were close. Greenwood Mayor Floyd Nicholson beat the odds and kept retiring Sen. John Drummond’s seat, despite a strong showing from County Councilman Dee Compton. Anne Peterson-Hutto upset Rep. Wallace Scarborough. Anton Gunn put his skills on display in HD-79 and proved retiring Rep. Bill Cotty right: without Cotty running, the seat flipped.

Slim pickings in a major Democratic year. Mandy Powers Norrell lost to Rep. Mick Mulvaney in a hotly-contested Senate race. Dems have been able to perform in the Lancaster area, but not this time.

The SCGOP, in one of the worst cycles for Republicans in some time, showed that, as Vierdsen has said before, it’s the only game in town.

Sen. Kevin Bryant fended off Marshall Meadors by 11 points. Sen. Shane Massey, in a seat that was Democratic for years, beat Greg Anderson by about eight. Of the other few contested seats, the GOP was pretty successful in giving Democratic incumbents a run for their money.

As we’re seeing with the Republican leadership in the U.S. House, getting beat means you reevaluate who your leaders are, clean house and create a new plan of action.

Why is it that, after five consecutive cycles of getting their asses handed to them, the party activists in the state Democratic Party aren’t lobbying for a total overhaul of the party leadership? They must not want to win, or enjoy not having the responsibility of being in the majority.

Here’s a prediction for you: unless Jim Rex stays put and gets another nutjob to run against him, you can mark it down that Republicans will sweep the statewide offices in 2010.


Action among the losers
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

People rarely check up on what’s going on in the campaign accounts of losing candidates. It’s not liable to be newsworthy or politically relevant.

Then there’s blogs, thankfully.

Katrina Shealy, who got about $50,000 from Howard Rich and his friends, then nailed by Sen. Jake Knotts in the runoff, is still paying her consultants. Starboard Communications got $15,000 from Shealy on Sept. 1, about two and a half months after the election. She also paid $561 to Nelson Mullins on Sept. 28 for a “legal opinion.” That’s a little odd. Sure, a campaign may put an attorney on retainer during the race to run things by them, but a “legal opinion” in late September, three months after the election?

Two of the SCRG/Conservatives in Action-tied Sandlapper Group‘s losing candidates are still paying those guys, too. Ed Rumsey, who got absolutely obliterated in his race for HD-2, paid Chad Connelly and Taft Matney $20,000. Kyle Boyd, who lost to Rep. Carl Gullick, sent $14,481.14 Sandlapper’s way.

Joe Bustos, who lost to Mike Sottile in HD-112, has lauched a camapaign for mayor of Mt. Pleasant and has hired Rod Shealy to run that race.


Floyd Nicholson can’t handle his money
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

This is seriously fucked up — Floyd Nicholson, the mayor of Greenwood and a candidate for S.C. Senate, can’t handle his cash. According to the last disclosure report, Nicholson has two charges to his account for having “non-sufficient funds” in his campaign account.

Come on, Floyd — this may be a seat held by a Democrat, but if you go out and get charged extra because you didn’t watch your money, do you really think you’re going to win the seat?

Probably not.


Waiting is the hardest part
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

For those of us who aren’t regularly in a lather about the presidential race, we’re waiting…waiting…waiting for the new state campaign disclosure reports to come out on Oct. 10 Oct. 15. Or before, if the candidate is on top of what they’re doing.

Sure, there’s things to talk about when it comes to the bailout vote, and the issues between Gov. Mark Sanford and the General Assembly, but otherwise the summer news doldrums are in effect. Frankly, it would be fun to see Sanford get the legislature back in session – at least something would be happening.



Howard Rich friends don’t know what they’re talking about
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

It’s funny when imbeciles like Lee Bright and Joey Millwood have to answer actual questions. They’ve taken an enormous amount of money from Howard Rich, say they’re for school choice, but can’t seem to answer simple questions.

Bright said he didn’t make any promises to Rich or his groups to get the money. He said he never spoke to Rich.

“We’re like-minded individuals who are for less government, and he knew my stance from the debates,” Bright said. “But I made no commitments, other than to make South Carolina a better place for my family and other families.”

He didn’t say how Rich knew his positions from his debates with Talley. Most were sparsely attended, and the audience consisted largely of supporters of the two campaigns.

When asked how low-income students would benefit from a tax credit plan, Millwood said, “I’ll have to get back to you.” He said there were “a lot of student grant organizations out there,” but when asked where they were he said he didn’t know and that he’d never looked into it.


Who is Howard Rich? [The Herald-Journal]

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