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South Carolina’s Nuclear Scandal, ‘Legal’ Bribery and Silence

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

With each new revelation, our state’s ongoing scandal of SCANA, Santee Cooper and their political dealing is providing new insights into how thoroughly corrupt our state’s political system has become.

What we are learning is really disgusting – and it’s getting worse.

With the Watergate scandal, we learned that the best way to uncover and understand a political scandal is to ‘follow the money.’

When we follow the money in our state’s utilities scandal, we find that Gov. McMaster, the Legislature and our Congressional Delegation are essentially wholly owned subsidiaries of the utilities. The utilities have ‘bought’ the support or silence of these politicians who are supposed to be looking out for the people’s interest.

This week, The State did a devastating story that followed the money. Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • SCANA has donated at least $1.25 million to S.C. lawmakers and statewide candidates since 2000.
  • Other contributions — almost $80,000 — went to legislators on a committee that names the members of a state board that regulates SCANA.
  • Still other contributions — more than $90,000 — went to 31 of the 32 legislators now trying to unravel how the plan to add two reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville failed.
  • SCANA’s contributions skyrocketed by almost 300 percent — to $110,000 — in the year before state lawmakers passed the 2007 law that allowed the utility to charge its customers in advance for the Fairfield County reactors.
  • In June, SCANA and its subsidiaries, political action committees and employees showered the state’s chief executive (Gov. Henry McMaster) with at least $115,000 in donations. It is the most the company has given to one candidate in at least two decades, records show, driving speculation the company was trying to buy political cover.
  • Since 2009, SCANA has spent $1.5 million on Statehouse lobbyists, employing from eight to 10 in any given year.
  • SCANA has given money to more than 320 state candidates since 2000.
  • Those donations include more than $1 million since 2006, the year before S.C. lawmakers passed the utility-friendly Base Load Review Act.
  • Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, the Edgefield Republican who co-chairs the Senate panel investigating the V.C. Summer debacle, has received $7,300 since 2006. Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, the Lexington Democrat who co-chairs than panel, got $6,250.
  • The company (SCANA) also has paid an unspecified amount to a powerful political consulting firm, Richard Quinn & Associates. That firm, which also helps elect legislators and statewide officials, is under investigation as part of an ongoing Statehouse public corruption probe.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Prez and Dems” from The Times and Democrat

“Prez and Dems” from The Times and Democrat

“Golf Widower” from The Times and Democrat

“Golf Widower” from The Times and Democrat

“Citizen Input” from The Times and Democrat

“Citizen Input” from The Times and Democrat

Martin Truex Jr. Kicks Off the NASCAR Playoffs with a Win at Chicagoland

By: Sarah Sedwick/TheFourthTurn.com

JOLIET, Ill. – Martin Truex Jr. clenched his fifth win of the season during the Tale of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.

Truex claimed the first victory of the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs; however, this win did not come without difficulty. The Furniture Row Racing team overcame a speeding penalty that was assessed on lap 42. Despite the adversity, Truex Jr. worked his way up the leaderboard, where he finished more than six seconds ahead of Chase Elliot, who took second place. Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota led the final 55 laps of the race en route to his 12th victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The win also marked his second at Chicagoland Speedway

“I can’t even tell you how much it means to me,” said Truex Jr. “I’m a much better driver because of (Sherry Pollex), and what she taught me. We’ve learned a lot about life together. We continue to face every challenge head on and not skimp and we live every day just like we want to and we have fun. I’m proud of her and very proud to have the teal and gold in the race car and thankful for the other 28 guys who have done it. I’m thankful for all that and everybody.”

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott wrapped up the Tale of the Turtles 400 with a second-place finish, but he gave his best shot trying to run down Truex Jr. for the lead as the race concluded.
Elliot held the lead for 38 laps, beginning on lap 125, but lost a battle with Kevin Harvick on lap 163, and led for four more laps towards the end of the race. This race marked Elliott’s 15th top-10 finish in 2017.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Being thoughtful – on purpose

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Over a 12-year span at UCLA, American college basketball coach John Wooden won ten National Championships and their total of 11 remains a record today. Wooden is regarded as one of the most successful coaches in sports history, and more importantly an even greater person. He was a man of integrity and character and was highly respected on and off the court. He believed in discipline and felt strongly about teamwork and demonstrating appreciation for those around him. This attitude of being outwardly gracious became the foundation of his coaching philosophy and played a huge part of his team’s success.

Wooden taught that each time a player scored, they were to personally congratulate whoever helped make the play. At first, this seemed sissy and awkward to the arrogant players, but the coach explained that even the slightest gesture of recognition would encourage the individual and create a stronger unity within the entire team. This awareness is now openly seen in every sport with high-fives and the various gestures of open acknowledgment. This reminds us of how powerful our attitude can be as it has the potential to motivate or deflate those around us. Inspiring words can build self-esteem, confidence, and hope but they only have a chance to be effective when they are released. Imagine what a difference we could make by simply developing a determination to show our gratitude and be an encouragement to everyone.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Dear Danica Patrick

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Dear Danica Patrick,

Hey, girl! I just wanted to drop a note to let you know how sorry I was to hear the news of your “departure” from Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the 2017 season. (Good job on your decision to get ahead of the story and make the announcement yourself on Facebook, by the way. Gutsy move.)

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I have to admit I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t see this one coming.

It’s a bummer for sure, but you have a good racing resume to fall back on, so I know you’ll be fine. Remember that time when you became the first woman to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500, and when you won that IndyCar race in Japan? That was cool. So was that one top-ten finish you’ve scored so far this season in the NASCAR Cup Series. And winning that Daytona 500 pole back in 2013? What a great story that was.

I guess maybe the problem with that list is that all of those achievements — leading laps, earning poles and most importantly, winning races — are all just part of the job description for professional race car drivers. They shouldn’t carry more weight, or garner bigger headlines, when they are achieved by a woman.

Those pesky sponsorship problems don’t help matters, either. After all those times you had to wear skimpy outfits in those racy — get it, “racy?” — TV commercials you did for Go Daddy, they up and left you; they were Gone Daddy.

When you posted those photos of your perfect, healthy yoga-fied figure all over Instagram, I’m sure it was just part of promoting your health and fitness initiative, and not meant to be intimidating at all.  And when Nature’s Bakery jumped ship on its sponsorship agreement two years early, that had to sting.  Read the rest of this entry »

Do We Have State Sanctioned ‘Child Abuse’ in South Carolina?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Suppose you had a neighbor next door that did not adequately feed their children; and they did not provide adequate health care to them; and they did not provide their children with the economic support needed to have a decent life; and they did not provide them with reasonable family support.

And, suppose that this neighbor did this year after year. And, suppose that you regularly had a talk with your neighbor and showed them how they were not measuring up and told them there were resources available to them to do better.

Now suppose that from time to time, your neighbor did a few things to make the situation a little better but sometimes things got worse. And, suppose that in 27 years, overall things only got just a tiny bit better – and the kids were still worse off than over 80% of the other kids in the neighborhood.

Would you call this systematic “child abuse?” Well, thus is the status of children in South Carolina.

For the last 27 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been issuing their authoritative Kids Count Report (KidsCount.org) that measures the well being of kids in all 50 states on a wide variety of indexes. From year to year, they crunch literally hundreds of thousands of data points that give a clear and accurate picture of what’s happening from state to state and from year to year.

The good news is that South Carolina is at an all-time high. The bad news is we are ranked 41st of the 50 states.

And, when you dig a little deeper, the news is overall bad as South Carolina is not really getting better. Essentially, the rest of the states are getting worse. The summary numbers for the last five years tell a depressing story:

Economic Well Being – overall South Carolina ranks 37th. We are worse in the number of children in poverty (289,000 children) increasing from 22 to 27%. For children whose parents lack secure employment (356,000 children) we are worse, going from 30 to 33%. For children living in households with a high housing cost burden (346,000 children) the numbers have increased from 31 to 32%. And for teens not in school or not working (19,00 children) we have improved fractionally from 8 to 7%.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Larson Wins In Overtime At Richmond; NASCAR Sets The Field For The 2017 Playoffs

By: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com

Kyle Larson stole the victory in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 after the race went into NASCAR Overtime at Richmond Raceway. The 16-driver field for the 2017 Playoffs was also set after the checkered flag flew in Virginia.

Larson won the race off of pit road in his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet before the final restart, and he held off the field to claim the victory when the caution came out just after he took the white flag. Larson spent much of the race chasing a dominant Martin Truex Jr. who ultimately ended the event in the wall after contact from Denny Hamlin. Truex Jr.’s crash brought out the caution that ended the race and handed Larson his fifth victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“I’ve got the greatest team out here and definitely the best pit crew,” said Larson. “That showed tonight. I can’t thank those guys enough. They were money all night long to gain spots. This win is a huge, congrats to them. The Target Chevy was pretty good all night. The No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was definitely the best, but I thought I was second best for most of the runs but it came down to the last restart there and I got a good start. I spun my tires pretty bad and I was a little nervous, but we cleared him (Truex Jr) into (Turn) 1 and I was pretty excited about that. So, I can’t thank Target all of our partners enough. I’m really pumped for the Playoffs. We’ve got a great shot at the championship, I feel like, this year. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

Joey Logano finished in the second position. He earned his 12th top-10 finish of the season; however, he needed a win to claim a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Red Cross Ford won at Richmond Raceway in the spring, but the win was encumbered due to an issue with the suspension. Logano was one of the Championship 4 that competed for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season, but on Saturday night, his 2017 championship hopes came to an end with the runner-up finish.  Read the rest of this entry »

“See The Light” from The Times and Democrat

“See The Light” from The Times and Democrat

“Prognosis” from The Times and Democrat

“Prognosis” from The Times and Democrat

“Proxy” from The Times and Democrat

“Proxy” from The Times and Democrat

Living on Purpose: Diligence requires less talk and more action

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Success is not easily understood or there would be more of it! Learning and demonstrating certain principals can make the difference between watching others succeed and enjoying the blessings of success in our own life. One of these fundamental principles is that your God-given talent will make room for you! Proverbs 18:16 is a powerful statement that is worth considering; “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” What does this mean? If we will pursue and practice whatever we are good at to the point of becoming our best, others will recognize our talent and will be more than willing to promote us and declare to the world about what we can do. Proverbs 22:29 say’s, “Do you know a person diligent in their business affairs? They shall be presented before kings and shall not stand before mean tyrants.” Allow me to include that our talents are truly opportunities but as we are reminded of the 10,000-hour rule, they must be developed. Very similar to being an athlete, it will require vision, hard work, and determination to become outstanding. How does a marathon runner increase their stamina and endurance? Certainly not by laying on the couch and eating Cheetos! They run every day to build strength and fortitude.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Labor Day Weekend

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Part three of a three-part series on Darlington Raceway

Labor Day weekend 2017 at Darlington Raceway was the best of times … and then it got better or, depending on where your personal driver allegiances lie, it got worse.

Either way, it was definitely eventful.

Let’s begin by mentioning one of the most interesting features of any NASCAR race: the outfits.

A speedway fashion statement generally consists of a T-shirt, cap or both, emblazoned with the name, car number and sponsor of the wearer’s driver of choice.

It’s generally just your normal, mainstream racing apparel, although I do have to tell you that as we were attempting to persuade overnight guests to exit the infield the morning after a particularly memorable Mother’s Day weekend at the track “Too Tough To Tame” a few years back, I was greeted at one RV door by a lovely grandmotherly lady sporting a tank top and a pair of Dale Jr. boxer shorts. That one’s kind of permanently burned into my brain.

Most of the drivers seem to truly enjoy Darlington’s throwback theme; they definitely embrace it. It’s like NASCAR Halloween, and it’s great to see competitors, who become so focused and fierce when they strap into those cars, sporting vintage fire suits and big ‘80s sunglasses with mustaches to match, laughing together and slapping one another on the back before the race. I can’t help but think that the very atmosphere itself is a throwback to the golden age of racing.  Read the rest of this entry »

S.C.’s Nuclear Scandal, Political Corruption and Accountability

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

The current scandal of SCANA’s (S.C. Electric and Gas parent company) and Santee Cooper’s nuclear debacle is arguably the biggest scandal in our state’s history in the last 100 years.

It involves over $9 billion in wasted money which millions of South Carolinians are being asked to pay and the wholesale corruption of our Statehouse that enables it all to happen.

It is a sorted scandal of long term political corruption, short term corporate incompetence (or worse) and the total denial of responsibility by all who are at fault.

If this isn’t the biggest scandal in our state’s history, please tell me what is.

And, the great irony is that it did not have to happen. It was totally preventable.

My recent columns on the nuclear scandal have generated a lot of response. Below, is an email that says it all:

Dear Phil,

I read the subject article, written by you, as part of a personal Google search launched to better educate myself on the shutdown of the V.C. Summer project.  I am not a resident of your state or an investor in SCANA or any firm associated with the project.  My interest comes from a life spent working in the nuclear industry.   I have been blessed with opportunities as a Senior Reactor Operator, senior manager of multiple nuclear departments and executive positions in nuclear generation and support companies.  I am committed to the view that nuclear generation is a carbon free source of electricity needed to maintain living standards in developed countries as well bring a better life to underdeveloped ones.   Read the rest of this entry »

“Harvey and Debt Ceiling” by Stuart Neiman

“Harvey and Debt Ceiling” by Stuart Neiman

Living on Purpose: We are passionate about what we love

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

A while back, a good friend wanted to know if I would teach her husband how to play the guitar. Though I have led worship in church for years, I am not really what you would call a guitarist. I enjoy writing songs and using the music as a vehicle to relay messages about the Christian life. Anyway, she had an old guitar in the attic and thought it would be wonderful to hear her husband develop a musical gift. He is in his mid-sixties and up to this point has never mentioned anything about playing and singing. But, nonetheless, she announced for his birthday that she had paid me for several lessons and went on to say how excited she was to see this come to pass. With being put in such an awkward position, he pretended to be thrilled and as it is commonly called was, “a good sport about it.” In the first lesson, I was able to speak to him privately and asked if this was really something he wanted to do. He would just laugh and sigh as he struggled with the chords that were killing his fingers. Each week I would bring more homework for him to practice and I could tell this idea had turned from being comical into more of a burden.

I’m not declaring it’s impossible to learn something new when we are older, because we certainly can, but I am saying if we have never been passionate about a particular subject our entire life, this is probably not our calling. Gifts and talents are given by God and usually placed within our heart when we are filled with energy and enthusiasm. In this particular case, the individual had never felt a stirring deep within his soul to play music, and was only trying to make someone else happy. It was obvious he was not practicing during the week and of course was not advancing in his ability to play. Eventually he gave up just like everyone else that attempts to do something on a whim. Gold medals are not won by demonstrating a mediocre interest and a half-hearted effort. We can appreciate others when they attempt to persuade and offer suggestions about our life but ultimately, it’s our responsibility to discover what God has called us to do. I believe that unless we have a relentless passion and a driving determination to accomplish something, we will end up reminiscing about what could have been. It would be like a father telling his son how he wants him to become a body builder. The dad converts the basement into a gym, plans all of his meals and then relays to everyone about what a champion his son will be someday. This just does not work unless a burning desire is embedded within the heart of the individual who can not only see the vision but is consumed with a fervent aspiration to succeed no matter what it takes.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Trying Times” from The Times and Democrat

“Trying Times” from The Times and Democrat

“Jumper Cables” from The Times and Democrat

“Jumper Cables” from The Times and Democrat

“Big World” from The Times and Democrat

“Big World” from The Times and Democrat