Posts Tagged ‘S.C. politics


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]


Sanford enters his last two years as a failure
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

So, what has Gov. Mark Sanford accomplished in his past six years in office? Not much, except squeezing a couple of State Sen. Jake Knotts’ pigs to the point that they shat all over his shoes and the floor of the State House.

But, that has not stopped Sanford from acting like he actually matters. His new bullshit line of spin is that members of the General Assembly are passing along patronage like Halloween candy. Naturally, he forgets his own complicity in diverting money to his people.

Sanford asked that more than $100,000 left over from hosting a national governor’s convention be given to a nonprofit group run by his allies. The money later was returned to the state. Sanford also intervened on behalf of a campaign contributor during a contract dispute to redevelop a Beaufort County port. Sanford said he was looking out for taxpayers by putting his real estate background to use for them.


It’s all so incredibly lame. Sanford is just like Lane Kiffin — he cannot get anything done on the job, but he can keep getting another job. State Sen. Glenn McConnell called it perfectly:

McConnell also noted the unemployment dispute. Past governors, he said, would have brought together all parties to find a solution. But Sanford is more interested in how his actions will play in the polls, McConnell said.
“It’s always as though it’s somebody else’s fault,” McConnell said. “His failures are of his own making. …
“Gov. Sanford has some great ideas, but his execution is the worst that I have seen of a governor.”

The latest thing is who Sanford will endorse for governor. It’s believed that U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Atty. Gen. Henry McMaster will run in the Republican primary. It would be a good idea for all three to turn a cold shoulder to Sanford and do their own thing.

Sanford’s ‘failures are of his own making,’ senator says [The State]
Sanford mostly silent on 2010 governor’s race [The State]


Gov. Grinch doesn’t care
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

Gov. Mark Sanford loves his political masturbation ritual — he does something because of “principles,” accuses his opponents of “defrauding the taxpayers” and revels when his plan is shot down.

This is a man who clearly could not give two shits about your everyday guy (or gal), trying to pay his bills and hoping that his job won’t be gone tomorrow. The fact is, South Carolina needs help. We have no money for the unemployed. National unemployment figures are the worst they’ve been since 1982.

But the Hooverite in the Governor’s Mansion doesn’t care. It ain’t harming him none. Shit — his wife is an heiress, and he’s not doing too bad himself. In any other time, it would be fine for Sanford to do his Ayn Rand/Grover Norquist/19th Century economist circle jerk, but right now is when we need real leadership, not someone who governs like he is at a late–night CR session of brandy and cigars.

One of today’s LTEs in The State puts it perfectly:

’Tis the season for goodwill toward our fellow man, unless you happen to be Gov. Mark Sanford. I was deeply troubled by the Dec. 18 article in The State, “State jobless benefits running out.”

It reported that Sanford is threatening not to apply for federal loan money necessary to pay unemployment benefits to 77,000 South Carolinians until the Employment Security Commission capitulates to his demands. Sanford wants an audit — but the commission is already audited annually. He also want additional data collection — the commission is willing to comply, but needs new tools to collect that demanded data.

Even if Sanford’s demands are reasonable, his decision to hold South Carolina’s neediest families hostage in order to advance his bureaucratic agenda is not reasonable. Sanford has frequently chosen ideology over pragmatism and people, but this would outdo “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

Sanford is quick to espouse his Christian beliefs when he’s out talking to voters, but cutting off desperately needed unemployment benefits this holiday season in the middle of a recession smacks of hypocrisy.

I hope the governor will take a page from his platitudes and recall that he will be judged by his actions toward the least of those among us.

Thursday’s Letters to the Editor [The State]


Sanford doing what he does best: attacking Republicans
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

…and now, back to business as usual here at your choice site for political vitriol.

How did Mark Sanford get elected? Twice? This is a guy who managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the state GOP, not to mention the electorate, to do a whole lot of nothing. He just sits on his throne and makes a lot of noise, none of which goes anywhere.

Perhaps Sanford’s only accomplishment as governor was collaborating with his minority of supporters and hangers-on to target members of his own party in primary elections. When Primary Day came, that didn’t turn out well for him either.

His only credibility comes from the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, Howard Rich, John Stossel and the like who constitute the intelligentsia of plutocrat libertarianism.

Now, his latest column made it national, up on, and he’s doing what he does best, turning the guns on his own party. In a bizarre turn, he tries to tell the GOP to operate like a major company:

Chick-fil-a does not say to its franchisees, “However you want to cook the sandwiches is cool with me.” They are precise in what they expect, and it’s my hope going forward more conservatives in all corners of America will be equally precise and exacting in making sure their views are reflected by the party that supposedly represents them.

Um, OK. Vierdsen likes the chicken nuggets as much (no, more) than the next man, but that’s such a screwed-up analogy, it makes your brain turn flips.

Political parties are not major corporations, and can’t act that way, especially in this country. We have two major parties. As such, they have to operate in a big-tent way if they are going to win a governing majority. That means millions of people, each with a slightly different ideology and general beliefs.

If Sanford wants the GOP to be as strict as a corporation with numerous franchises, then he’s evidently trying to screw over his party one more time. The Republican electorate, like the Democratic one, has many common beliefs, but it’s not in lockstep uniformity. If that’s what Sanford wants, then he must be planning for a pretty small tent.

Commentary: Conservatives didn’t lose election, GOP did []


Neckties, contracts, high voltage!
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

Vierdsen’s been an observer of politics for about 20 years and a participant, off and on, for about half those years. During that time, he’s seen a lot. One of his first political memories (other than picking Jack Kemp for VP in kindergarten because he had a good name and hey, he was under the elephant. Alabama has an elephant. Win!) is of the notorious Willie Horton ad used against Gov. Michael Dukakis in the ’88 campaign.

That brings us to “Boogie Man,” the brilliant documentary on Lee Atwater that played at The Nickelodeon and will be shown on PBS’ “Frontline” tonight at 9 p.m. Atwater was behind the ad, and farmed it out to a third-party group.

Now, sit down, kids. Uncle John wants to tell you some things.

A lot of S.C. politicos would like to fashion themselves after Atwater. Of the Brahmans of Palmetto State GOP consultants, most worked with him, for him, or employed him. The younger ones would like to be the next Atwater (almost like every basketball player wants to be the next Michael Jordan).

Atwater did some really nefarious shit. Not the least of which was to Columbia liberal activist and attorney Tom Turnipseed in his 1980 race for Congress. Whatever you think about Turnipseed’s politics, he’s a good man and didn’t deserve what happened. As we all know, Atwater later apologized before he passed away from cancer.

Still, Atwater’s legacy, as much as he didn’t want it to be, is rough, balls-out, mean goddamn politics. The political atmosphere in this state is cast in his image.

It’s a schadenfreude-based political economy. You love it when you nail the opposition, and you do it with ruthless action. Then, you have to get your shit together and keep composed when it happens to you. Because it will.

Some heavy things, back room deals and plain unethical behavior took place during the General Assembly primary races (and a few others in the general election). The consultants and candidates who approved, carried out or were at least complicit in what happened know who they are, what they did, and probably don’t care.

Vierdsen both loves and hates this mess. Seeing a candidate, person, or organization that you are targeting get blown up is as satisfying as watching a linebacker for your team nail the hell out of the opposition’s quarterback so hard that he fumbles and separates his shoulder.

Then again, you know you just earned yourself a few more years in Purgatory. And, watching other people get treated the same way, especially if you aren’t involved in either camp, can make you a little ill.

Ultimately, though, you’ve got to play the game. You’ve got to have the spine and the lack of scruples to win. In the paraphrased words of Ollie North’s ’94 campaign manager, you’ve got to want to cut the other guy’s balls off.

If you do try to make out like you’re the next Atwater, no matter what you do, it’s important to have Vince Foster’s words in the back of your mind:

“I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport.”

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Dave Martin/AP

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