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Man found 70 years after being declared missing-in-action

By ROBERT J. BAKER

The Manning Times

editorial@manninglive.com

ted-gardner-2

ROBERT J. BAKER / THE MANNING TIMES
Charles Arthur Gardner was 32 when he went missing over the Pacific island of New Guinea. His remains were identified through mitochondrial DNA analysis June 25.

MANNING, SC – Ted Gardner can remember one of the few times his father cried.

“The day he got the notice that my brother was missing overseas, he sat at the table, put his head down and cried,” Gardner said Thursday shortly after officials with the Department of the Army’s Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Operations Center confirmed that his long-lost half-brother had been identified from a collection of remains found on the island of New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean.

Charles Arthur Gardner was presumed dead after he went missing in April 1944, when the younger Gardner was just 16. The elder Gardner, 32, was a staff sergeant and radio operator in the Army Air Corps helping with flying missions over the Pacific Theater. His remains were among those of eight servicemen found in the northern part of the island between 2008-11. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Good Things Happening in SC – and Why

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

Newspapers and the media are often accused of only reporting the bad things that happen – and there’s some truth in this. And it’s particularly easy to fall into this trap in South Carolina where it seems that there is a lot more bad news than good.

We all know the saying, ‘If it’s a list of bad things SC is at the top, and on a list of good things we’re at the bottom.’

As true as this may be, there are some good things that are happening in our state that have been generally overlooked by the media. Here are five of them and though they may seem unrelated, I think there is a common message for us in all of these examples.

First, SC ranks 6th in the country in the number of new businesses owned by women. In the last seven years, the number has increased a whopping 78%, a full 10% more than the national average. And, new businesses nationwide are being started by women at twice the rate they were just three years ago. Starting a business or non-profit group is an act of hope and optimism and the fact that so many women in our state now feel empowered to do so, is a very positive statement about our state. It hasn’t always been this way.

Second, our state’s colleges and universities have among the best online programs in the country – and it’s not just one or two schools. The US New and World Report recently rated nearly a thousand online degree programs in six categories and we should all be proud of what they found. Medical University of SC’s graduate nursing program was ranked 2nd in the country and USC’s program was 16th. USC’s graduate education program was ranked 15th and USC Aiken was 84th and Francis Marion was 152nd. USC Aiken’s bachelor’s degree program was ranked 41st, Charleston Southern was 56th and Limestone was 93rd. USC’s graduate engineering program was ranked 36th. Remember, anything above a 100 ranking is in the top 10% nationally

Third, the incarceration rate for youth offenders has dropped 67% from 1997 to 2011; the decline put us in the top ten nationally. And in a fourth related issue, our state prison recidivism rate is dropping – and dropping fast. The rate has dropped 18% in the last four years alone. These changes have saved the state over $5 million in 2013 alone and more savings are on the way as a state prison in Columbia is closing later this year because of excess capacity.

Fifth, our state’s Apprentice Carolina program run by the State’s Technical College System has become not just a national but a global model. Since 2007 more than 10,000 trained apprentices have gone to work with 600 companies – all on a training budget of only $600,000 a year. The program is focused beyond just limited job skills to creating ‘apprentice scholars’ who learn not just skills for today but learning for a lifetime. One of the best programs has been at BMW and people have come from such places as South Africa, New Zealand, UK and Canada to study our success.

Interesting, you say, but what do these have to do with each other? What’s the common thread?

The answer is they are all about results – and not ideology. Too often in our state, some people – especially the politicians making decisions – look at issues through the narrow distorting prism of ideology. On both the left and the right, they make choices and make judgments based on some standard of ideology purity and not based on measures of common sense effectiveness.

All of these success stories are about what works. Women start successful business and their profit or loss is not dependent on their gender. Online course are about the future and innovation, not about ‘how have we always done this’.

When we get past the shrill rhetoric of ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ and ask the basic question of ‘what works’ – then we find a very different outcomes. And the apprenticeships are about a new creative public/private partnership; it’s ignores those ideologues that carp on about ‘wasteful government spending’ or ‘private sector corporate welfare.’

It’s about what works; what’s effective.

And all of us, including the media – especially the media – need to remember it is not always the voices that’s the loudest or the most extreme that have the best answer.

Correction: I was wrong. In a recent column about Fortune 500 corporate headquarters in South Carolina, I said that we had none. Our faulty research indicated that The Domtar Company in Rock Hill was not really a SC company but was essentially Canadian. I was wrong; Domtar has Canadian roots but is now a South Carolina company headquartered in Rock Hill. They have four facilities in the state, employ 865 people, are exporting worldwide and are currently expanding their South Carolina operations. I apologize for getting this wrong and it’s good to know that we do have at least one Fortune 500 company in the state and hopefully Domtar’s good example will encourage others.

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an indecent reform group founded by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform. phil@scnewdemocrats.org   www.SCNewDemocrats.org

PROFESSIONAL BASS FISHING’S FORREST WOOD CUP SET FOR LAKE MURRAY

MEDIA CONTACT:
JOSEPH OPAGER
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
o: 612.337.1989 c: 218.434.0748
e: joseph.opager@flwfishing.com
twitter: @joeopager
www.flwfishing.com

PROFESSIONAL BASS FISHING’S FORREST WOOD CUP SET FOR LAKE MURRAY
World’s best anglers eye $500,000 title

COLUMBIA, S.C. (July 29, 2014) – The Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, will return to Lake Murray and the Columbia, S.C. area Aug. 14-17 to crown bass fishing’s top angler of 2014. Hosted by Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism, the tournament will feature 45 of the world’s best bass pros and co-anglers casting for the sport’s biggest awards – $500,000 cash in the pro division and $50,000 cash in the co-angler division.

“The most exciting thing about this tournament is that it’s being held in my backyard,” said Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., who will be making his 10th Forrest Wood Cup appearance. “I disappointed myself the last time that the Cup was held here in 2008 and I didn’t think that I would ever have this opportunity again. To get another chance to possibly win $500,000 in front of my hometown crowd is a dream come true.” Gagliardi said that he expects this tournament to play out very similar to the last time the Forrest Wood Cup was held on Lake Murray and that the tournament could be won with a variety of different tactics, allowing competitors to fish to their strengths. “Some guys will be catching fish shallow, some guys will be catching them out deep,” Gagliardi said. “I think that the majority of the field will most likely be fishing a combination of both. There will be a lot of junk fishing going on. You can look at the results from the last time and get a really good idea of how this one will play out.”

The 2008 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray was won by California pro Michael Bennett, who “junk-fished” for the first two days of competition, moving down the bank casting to “junk” – lay-downs, trees, grass, docks or anything else that could hold fish. Bennett then moved shallow for the final two days of competition and fished a topwater frog around docks with grass to seal his win and earn the title of Forrest Wood Cup champion. “I think that if a guy can catch 11 pounds a day, he’ll make it through to the weekend top-20 cut,” Gagliardi said. “I think the winner is going to have a four-day total right around 60 pounds. “Every time we bring the show to town we always get a great crowd,” Gagliardi went on to say. “I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of ‘good lucks’ and well wishes from everybody in the community, and I think the fans are really going to be in for a treat. If you were at the last one, the Cup is going to be even bigger and better this time.”

Gagliardi’s sentiments were shared by his fellow competitor Castrol pro David Dudley, the 2003 Forrest Wood Cup champion. “I’m most excited to be competing for a half a million dollars,” the Lynchburg, Va., native said. “Winning the Forrest Wood Cup in 2003 helped to anchor my career. I want it again. No one has ever won the Cup twice, and I would love to become the first angler to accomplish that feat.” Dudley agreed that the winning competitor would most likely be fishing a mixture of both shallow- and deep-water patterns. “This tournament could literally be won any way,” Dudley said. “I think the tournament is going to fish very similar to 2008, and it is going to be a grind. The winner will probably average right around 14 pounds per day.”

Anglers will take off from Dreher Island State Park located at 3677 State Park Road in Prosperity, S.C., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be held at the Colonial Life Arena located at 801 Lincoln St. in Columbia, S.C., beginning at 5 p.m. daily. Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center located at 1101 Lincoln St. in Columbia, S.C., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the Chevy Truck Tour, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy games, activities and giveaways provided by more than 40 sponsors, shop the latest tackle and outdoor gear, and learn more about the sport from more than 100 exhibitors. All activities are free and open to the public.

FLW has teamed up with the South Carolina Barbeque Association to feature the “Bass & BBQ” festival presented by The State. Fans enjoying the FLW Expo can sample barbeque from 35 of the state’s top barbeque teams Saturday and purchase their favorites directly from the teams Sunday. Five dollars will get you five 2-ounce samples on Saturday. Country artist Jeremy McComb will perform on the Chevy stage in the “Bass & BBQ” festival at 2 p.m. Saturday followed by country artist John Wesley Satterfield at 2 p.m. on Sunday.  Also on Saturday and Sunday, 500 free rods and reels will be given away each day to the first 500 children 14 years and under who are accompanied by an adult. The rod and reel giveaways are courtesy of WLTX News 19. One lucky fishing fan will win a Ranger Z521C powered by a 250-horsepower Mercury outboard. The Ranger boat giveaway is courtesy of 97.5 WCOS-FM and is free to enter, but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.

Prior to Sunday’s final weigh-in, country music superstar Rodney Atkins will perform a free live concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage, starting at 4 p.m. The Curb Records recording artist has six No.1 hits, including “These are My People,” “Cleaning this Gun” and “Take a Back Road.” Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC when “FLW” airs Oct. 5 from 2-3 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

ABOUT FLW
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2014 over the course of 229 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world. For more information about FLW visit FLWOutdoors.com and look for FLW on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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A creative school fundraiser? Quit selling cookie dough and let parents give directly

Trip DuBard

Trip DuBard

By Trip DuBard

A federal nutrition program that places new restrictions on snacks and beverages sold in schools also provides an opportunity for some fresh thinking about school fundraisers.

As reported by The State newspaper recently, The Smart Snacks in Schools program creates a dilemma: how will schools raise private dollars if they can no longer sell snack foods?

“If we can’t sell a candy bar anymore, what can we sell?” asked one school official. “We are going to have to get creative.”

How creative would it be simply to stop selling?

When was the last time your college asked you to buy a candy bar? Non-profits, colleges and universities don’t sell stuff to raise money; they simply appeal for support based on the organization’s mission. Why don’t our public schools?

As a parent, former local PTA officer and public school supporter, I believe such creative thinking could benefit schools in three big areas: dollars kept by the school, financial accountability, and community involvement.

 

Dollars: Most parents know school fundraisers are big business, raising thousands of dollars for an individual school. This additional cash is used by the principal and/or the school PTA to buy copy machines, computers, library books, and almost anything else within a school.

What most people don’t know, though, is how few dollars the schools actually keep. Would you believe only half? In fact, that may be too generous. “World’s Finest Chocolate” advertises “up to 50%” profit. And Sally Foster says schools can expect 40% profit on sales of its cookie dough.

Think about it: people are trying to give twice as much money as the schools actually receive. The other half goes to a for-profit company.

Could there be a better way? Sure. Simply donate directly to the school. Unfortunately, most public schools (The Governor’s School for Science and Math in Hartsville being a notable exception) don’t have development offices like universities and can’t or don’t want to handle direct donations. To get around that, they could ally themselves with a willing non-profit, such as a community foundation or local education foundation.

The answer for more than 160 public schools in counties such as Georgetown, Lee, Horry, York, Dorchester, Spartanburg, Berkeley and Greenwood has been a “Donate Now” button offered by SC Future Minds. The non-profit works like a privately funded development office for public schools, organizing corporate and individual support through programs such as the SC Teacher of the Year Celebration, Spaghetti Night Sponsored by Mueller’s and the Conference of SC Public Education Partners. Instead of keeping “up to 50%”, schools using the “Donate Now” button keep 94% of donations, with the rest going to offset SC Future Minds’ transaction costs.

Accountability: Parents join a PTA to support their children. But well-meaning volunteers can soon be over their heads with accounting issues they’re not trained to handle, resulting in embarrassing news stories about missing PTA funds.

Why not separate those duties and allow PTAs to do what they’re good at – connecting parents to school needs – and outsourcing the difficult accounting issues?

Contributions to the “Donate Now” button go to SC Future Minds, a legal 501(c)(3) charity whose finances are audited annually by the Elliot Davis accounting firm. A check is issued from SC Future Minds, along with a spreadsheet showing contributions and fees, directly to the principal of a school, who is easily held accountable through the district’s board and superintendent.

Involvement: If you got a note that your first grade teacher was retiring and asking your help to honor her, wouldn’t you consider a financial contribution to the school? Colleges and universities have vast systems to keep in touch with their graduates, but not K-12 public schools. Online donations help create the databases public schools need to keep graduates in far-away locales connected.

Peddling snacks, wrapping paper or cookie dough to improve programs devalues the great work teachers across South Carolina perform every day and underestimates how much a grateful public values that work. Let’s cut out the expensive middleman and make it easy to support our public schools with easy and accountable online donations.

Trip DuBard is executive director of SC Future Minds, which connects private support to public schools across South Carolina. He can be reached at trip@scfutureminds.org.

“Bear It” by Walt Inabinet

"Bear It" by Walt Inabinet

“Bear It” by Walt Inabinet

“Whistlin’” by Walt Inabinet

"Whistlin'" by Walt Inabinet

“Whistlin’” by Walt Inabinet

“Kerry Success” by Walt Inabinet

"Kerry Success" by Walt Inabinet

“Kerry Success” by Walt Inabinet

SC is Still Abusing Our Children

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

For several years now I have written this same column – and I’m going to keep writing it until we as a state stop abusing our children.

Because we do, in fact, abuse our children. And we have been doing it for a long time.

Every year for the last 25 years, the Casey Foundation has issued their Kids Count Report, which assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states. Using an index of 16 indicators, the reports ranks states on overall child well-being in four domains: (1) economic well-being, (2) education, (3) health, and (4) family and community.

Underneath these 16 basic indicators they have mountains of data on everything – race, gender, age, section of country, income and so on. And in keeping with a modern tech savvy operation, it’s all there in a useful, searchable database – and anyone can crunch the numbers to their hearts content. Check it out, you’ll learn something.

But all this data boils down to one single ranking for our state – today we’re 45th. When the first report was done 25 years ago, we were 45th.

OK, you might say, here it comes, another tirade blaming our state’s politicians – right? Well, sort of.

The problem of fixing things for our children is not simple and easy; its culture, politics, public policy, race, religion, law and God knows what else. But there are things that can be done – specific, concrete legal and policy changes that can be made that will produce positive results.

And we also know that there is one thing that politicians can do – it’s 100% in their control – and that’s to pass state laws. That’s what there are there for. They can pass good laws or bad laws or no laws at all.

Ironically, in the same week that Kids Count came out with its comprehensive assessment, there was another study released looking at one special area of our state’s family policy: laws about pregnancy and family-leave policies. And how did we do? Need I say, we got an “F”?

This study was by the National Partnership for Women & Families – “a comprehensive review of federal and state laws that help expecting and new parents take leave during pregnancy and when a child arrives.” They found that in 181 countries worldwide, there are at least some guarantees of paid leave to women for childbirth, and 81 have some type of similar provision for fathers.

In earning our grade of F (like 16 other states), they found that beyond the minimal federal requirements, SC workers have no rights or protections for new and expectant parents who work in the private sector, nor are there additional parental or pregnancy disability leave rights or protections. The one positive aspect for our state law is that state workers who earn sick time are entitled to use up to 10 days to care for an ill spouse or child – that’s about it and that’s not much.

Our state’s lawmakers need to understand something basic – Ozzie and Harriett are dead. This is not the South Carolina of the 1950s, with stay at home moms fixing dinner for hubby and the kids. Today in the US, 71% of children live in families where all parents work.

And it goes beyond softer “quality of life” issues to the hard economics of dollars and cents. People want to live and work in a state that has reasonable, progressive and flexible laws that protect and support them and their families as they grapple with the ever changing demands of the 21st Century workplace. That’s not South Carolina.

As the report outlines, there are literally dozens of no and low cost legal and policy changes that can be made to make our state more kid and family friendly – and ultimately help reduce our levels of child abuse. For a start, let’s begin with a guaranteed return-to-work policy for new moms and flexible sick-leave policies that reflect a greater child-care role for men, to name just two.

It’s tempting to throw up our hands and say, “There’s nothing I can do, let’s not talk about this, you know football season is just around the corner.”

But that is not true. There is something that we can do: we can care.

Since the beginning of time, cultures have excelled at what they cared most about. Ancient Athens valued leaning and knowledge – the standard they set has never been exceeded. Sparta valued military might and glory that are synonymous today with their name.

South Carolina has two nationally ranked college football teams. We are national leaders in making cars, tires and manufacturing other “stuff.” We pay our football coaches and CEOs millions.

This is all well and good. But our children are still being abused.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We CAN do better. It’s an election year.

I really don’t want to have to write this same column again this time next year.

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group started by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform. phil@scnewdemocrats.org   www.SCNewDemocrat.org

Beware Common Core “Lite”

By Dillon Jones
for the S.C. Policy Council

On several recent occasions you may have heard pundits or public officials claim that South Carolina has gotten rid of Common Core. The implication is that the state has retaken power from the federal government over education policy. There’s some truth in that, and it’s certainly encouraging to see some state officials moving in that direction, but to claim South Carolina has regained sovereignty over its academic standards would be — unfortunately — far from the truth.

It’s true that the Legislature passed a bill that that, among other things, requires South Carolina to begin reviewing its current English and math standards — currently Common Core — by Jan. 1, 2015. The bill also specifies that “the new college and career readiness state content standards” must be implemented in the following 2015-16 school year. And it’s true that the State Department of Education, for the next few months led by Superintendent Mick Zais, has strongly indicated that the new standards won’t simply be a “rebranding” of our current Common Core standards.

All good. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Destroyed’ Ethics Commission letter not related to new media policy, director says

By Rick Brundrett, The Nerve

Nearly eight months after a “destroyed” State Ethics Commission letter was provided to The Nerve, the longtime director of the state ethics-watchdog agency still won’t explain how the letter exists despite his earlier statements to the contrary.

But in a written response Friday to The Nerve, Herb Hayden said a pending lawsuit against him and the Ethics Commission in connection with the letter in question has nothing to do with a new media policy announced at last week’s commission meeting.

James Burns, the commission chairman, said during Wednesday’s meeting that for now, all comments to the media on behalf of the agency would come from Hayden – effectively muzzling the agency’s main spokeswoman, Cathy Hazelwood, who serves as the commission’s chief lawyer and deputy director.

Hayden afterward told a reporter from The State newspaper that the main reason for the new media policy was that the commission didn’t “want to give the impression that Cathy as the prosecutor is already predisposed to any particular action on any particular case,” adding, “Her role is to evaluate the evidence presented during an investigation.”

In an email Friday to Hayden, The Nerve asked if the pending lawsuit against him and the commission, or any other specific incident or case, spurred the change in the agency’s media policy.

“The answer to both questions is no,” Hayden responded in writing, though he didn’t reply to a follow-up written question about the suit.

Burns, an attorney with the Nelson Mullins law firm in Columbia, and Christian Stegmaier, an attorney with the Collins and Lacy law firm in Columbia and who represents Hayden and the commission in the suit, referred The Nerve’s questions about the new media policy to Hayden.

In the suit, filed Jan. 10 in Richland County Circuit Court, the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation, a Greenville-based, government watchdog organization, and Edward “Ned” Sloan, the foundation president, contend that Hayden and the commission violated the state Freedom of Information Act by “responding with a falsehood” to The Nerve about the “destroyed” letter.

The Nerve on Sept. 5 sent a request under the FOIA to Hayden for a copy of an Aug. 28 letter written by Hazelwood to Gov. Nikki Haley. In that letter, Hazelwood directed the Republican Haley to reimburse the state for the costs of travel for her and her campaign staff to attend a fundraising event on June 27, 2013, at a North Carolina resort for a group with ties to GOP N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory.

Questions about the trip surfaced after media outlets reported that the State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for Haley, had not revealed initially that she was involved in a traffic accident at the resort involving a state-owned vehicle driven by a SLED agent. Haley was not injured, authorities said.

Although Haley’s campaign staff had received campaign contributions that day, Hayden told The Nerve in a Sept. 30 email that when he learned the event was a fundraiser for a “non-profit and not a campaign event, I determined that the letter (written by Hazelwood to Haley) was not necessary.”

Under state law, the governor appoints all nine members of the Ethic Commission’s governing board, with consent of the Legislature. Board members serve five-year terms, though they can continue serving indefinitely in “holdover status” after their terms expire, as The Nerve reported last year.

Hayden in his initial Sept. 26 email response to The Nerve’s FOIA request said only, “No letter was sent to Governor Haley.”

When The Nerve in a follow-up request on Sept. 27 pointed out that the FOIA required the release of the letter regardless of whether it was sent to Haley, Hayden in an email response that day said, “The letter was destroyed when the decision was made that it was not necessary.”

After The Nerve on Sept. 30 requested under the FOIA an electronic copy of the letter, Hayden replied by email that the document was “destroyed, both hard copy and electronic copy.”

The Nerve, however, on Nov. 27 obtained, through another FOIA request, an Aug. 28 email from Hazelwood to Butch Bowers, an attorney for Haley, which contained a scanned, signed copy of the letter. The Nerve initially reported about the existence of the letter in a Dec. 2 story.

“The letter I mailed is attached,” Hazelwood told Bowers in the email, which was copied to Hayden.

Contacted recently about the pending lawsuit against Hayden and the Ethics Commission, veteran media lawyer Jay Bender, who is not involved with the suit, told The Nerve he wasn’t aware of any state court ruling dealing with the issue of whether a government official violated the FOIA by falsely claiming that a requested public record didn’t exist.

“It’s the denial that can trigger the violation, no matter the form of the denial,” Bender said.

Contacted Friday by The Nerve, Greenville lawyer Jim Carpenter, who represents the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation and Sloan in the lawsuit, said he was vacationing and wasn’t aware of the new media policy announced at Wednesday’s Ethics Commission meeting.

Carpenter said the question of whether a “false denial” of the existence of a public record is a violation of the FOIA is “one of the issues still pending in the lawsuit.”

“Common sense would say, ‘Yes,’” Carpenter said.

The suit asks for a judge’s ruling that Hayden and the commission violated the FOIA, the awarding of plaintiff attorney fees and costs as allowed under state law, and “such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.”

No court hearings have been held yet. Carpenter estimated a ruling likely is “10 to 15 months” from the date of filing of the suit.

In their written response to the suit, Hayden and the commission denied violating the FOIA, contending that the Aug. 28 letter from Hazelwood to Haley was “nothing more than a ‘draft’ and was arguably not a ‘public record’ under the FOIA.” They also said the letter was “never signed nor was it formally transmitted to the governor via the United States Mails.”

In an email Friday to Hayden, The Nerve asked how he could contend in the suit that there was only an unsigned draft of the letter when a signed copy had been obtained by The Nerve.

No response was given.

Reach Brundrett at (803) 254-4411 or rick@thenerve.org.

SC, Immigration and ‘Us vs. Them’

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

First things first: every nation must secure and control its borders. This is not political rhetoric or an ideological judgment but a simple geo-political fact.

Whether it’s the Ukraine and invading Russians, Japan defending obscure costal islands, or ancient Rome resisting Hannibal and his elephants coming over the Alps from Carthage, it is exactly the same. A nation’s borders must be secure.

We in the US need to do this with our southern border with Mexico. We can argue over the need for a fence, or electronic monitoring, or the National Guard holding hands on the banks of the Rio Grande – but whatever it takes we must be able to control and secure our borders.

That said, one of the great tragedies of the current “children’s crisis” is how it is being used to whip up unfounded fears, prejudices and outright hatred.

Our daily newspapers, TV news reports and the Internet are full of stories of the current crisis of children coming over the border. Yes, the crisis is real and though the numbers seem to be declining in the last couple of weeks, clearly we can’t control our borders and this is a serious problem.

But what is equally troubling is that this children’s crisis has sparked a wave of knee-jerk, ideologically-driven protests that have no basis in fact, as well as an even more troubling wave of sleazy politicians who are pandering to the worst instincts and fears of the anti-immigrant protesters.

First, the facts. A whole slew of national and state officials have repeatedly stated that there is no indication that the undocumented children are either being flown or transported by bus to our state. Repeat: no evidence, none, zero. Yet, there have been numerous protests across South Carolina – and others are planned – with the predictable demagogic politicians and wannabes claiming otherwise.

Second, the reaction of too many politicians has been to “blame the children,” when in reality, it is we in the US who must accept a good portion of the blame. Clearly the general poverty south of the border is an ever-present motivation for many to cross into the United States, even if they have to do so illegally. This is why people have come to America – legally and illegally – since the birth of our nation.

But what politicians won’t talk about is that what seems to have sparked this latest children’s crisis is the takeover of whole neighborhoods and cites throughout Central America by drug gangs. These gangs demand that kids join their criminal enterprises – and their wars with other drug gangs – or in many cases be killed outright. Thus, many of these frightened children flee north. Increasingly, responsible national media are documenting this as one of the root causes of the current crisis.

The hard truth that no one talks about is that these drug wars are fought over filling the insatiable demand for illegal drugs by us in the US. If there were no demand for drugs, there would be no drug wars. When was the last time you heard a politician talk about this? It’s easier to blame the children.

What’s lacking are politicians of either party that will stand up and tell the truth about the current crisis and it causes – and not simply indulge in pandering.

This is not new in our state and national history and it’s not just about brown or black or others with different skin color. It’s about “us vs them” – us (who have been here for a while) vs. them (who just arrived).

My family is Scots-Irish; they came to the Upcountry of our state in the 1750s. If you had asked, they’d have told you that they were farmers by tradition, South Carolinians by choice, hard-working and self-reliant by temperament, and Presbyterian by the grace of God. And so they were. But the fine upstanding people of Charleston who had been in South Carolina for a while did not see it that way. One newspaper went so far as to call these newly-arriving Scots-Irish “the scum of two nations.” Us vs. them.

And throughout our country’s history, each new immigrant group has had to fight their way through this prejudice and bias of the “us” who were already here. The Russians, Italians, Poles, Germans, Africans, Greeks and Chinese have all experienced the same fate.

Somehow we seem to have lost sight of our single and most basic shared history as Americans – we are all us. President Franklin Roosevelt said it best when he began a 1939 speech to the Daughters of the American Revolution with the words, “My fellow immigrants…”

So much for political pandering.

For too many, it is a slippery slope from denigrating “them” to their somehow becoming less than human. The denigration of “them” is just one step away from discrimination, then to abuse, and on to hate crimes…and worse.

Hyperbole you say? Well, there are people in our state today who personally witnessed the lynching of our fellow South Carolinians.

Yes, we can solve this crisis and yes we can control our borders.

But when you see the news reports, remember: these are children and this is America. Let’s not forget who we are as a nation, and who made us the great nation we are today.

It was us– all of us — however and whenever we got here.

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group started by former Gov Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform. phil@philnoble.com   www.SCNewDmeocrats.org

“A Trend” by Walt Inabinet

EC2099

“A Trend” by Walt Inabinet

“Government Waste” by Walt Inabinet

"Government Waste" by Walt Inabinet

“Government Waste” by Walt Inabinet

“The Border” by Walt Inabinet

"The Border" by Walt Inabinet

“The Border” by Walt Inabinet

 

Criminal Charges Possible for New Company’s Cab Drivers

STATE REGULATORS SHOW UP AT ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING, “RUCKUS” ENSUES

By Rick Brundrett for TheNerve.org
July 18, 2014

On June 17, George Parker, a law enforcement officer with the state Office of Regulatory Staff, attended a meeting in Columbia aimed at recruiting drivers for UberX, a popular smartphone-app, ridesharing business that launched Thursday in the Capital City, Charleston, Greenville and Myrtle Beach.

Parker, an ORS transportation program manager, said he went to the event at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel on Lady Street to “obtain information for ORS regarding the driver/partner recruitment process for Uber,” according to a sworn affidavit submitted by him.

What Parker didn’t say in his affidavit, filed with the S.C. Public Service Commission, was that ORS representatives apparently weren’t welcome at the event. Read the rest of this entry »

Supreme Court autopsy ruling trumps public accountability

Bill Rogers

Bill Rogers

By Bill Rogers

For the second time in a month, the S.C. Supreme Court has ruled against openness and punted important issues back to the Legislature for change.

On Tuesday, the court ruled that autopsy records are exempt from release under the FOIA because they are medical records.

Why does this matter to the public?

It matters because the next time police shoot an innocent man, don’t expect the public to have access to the autopsy report giving the details of the death.

That is what this case was about… the shooting of an innocent suspect. Supposedly in self-defense. Problem is, the autopsy showed the suspect in Sumter County was shot in the back.

Can you see now why autopsy records should be public?

This is a terrible ruling that will allow coroners to withhold information the public has a need to know.

This case was really about public oversight, and the public lost.

The public also lost a few weeks ago when the high court ruled that not only could public bodies change meeting agendas at the last minute without notifying the public, but that agendas for public meetings were not even required.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve got enough sense to read this part of the FOIA: “All public bodies shall notify persons or organizations, local news media, or such other news media as may request notification of the times, dates, places and agenda of all public meetings…”

Pretty clear to a layman. But the court chose to focus on the wording for notification of regularly scheduled meetings at the beginning of the calendar year, where the wording said that notice must include the agenda, “if any.” If you announce a meeting to be held in October at the start of the calendar year, I can’t imagine having a meaningful agenda prepared. The law made it clear later that agendas must be available 24 hours in advance.
Why is this a problem for the public?

Because you won’t know what your councils or school boards will be discussing, so you won’t be able to  participate in the discussion.
These rulings send us back to secret government.

Sure, the Legislature can fix this. But will they? For the last two years, efforts at FOIA reform have failed.

It will fail again if the public and the media don’t demand FOIA and ethics reform.

Bill Rogers is executive director of the S.C. Press Association, the trade group for South Carolina’s 110 newspapers.

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“Attaboy Harry” by Walt Inabinet

"Attaboy Harry" by Walt Inabinet

“Attaboy Harry” by Walt Inabinet

“Time Lapse” by Walt Inabinet

"Time Lapse" by Walt Inabinet

“Time Lapse” by Walt Inabinet

Supreme Court Supporting Secrecy in Harrell Case?

By Rick Brundrett for TheNerve.org
July 14, 2014

All courts shall be public, and every person shall have speedy remedy therein for wrongs sustained. – Article 1, Section 9, S.C. Constitution.

South Carolina’s top court, however, apparently ignored the first part of the above sentence last week in its ruling involving House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

The S.C. Supreme Court in Wednesday’s ruling about the state grand jury investigation of Harrell recommended that any future “ancillary” legal arguments concerning the speaker’s case be held behind closed doors – giving what Harrell wanted, but didn’t get, in the beginning.

Several attorneys, each with years of state grand jury experience but who asked not to be identified, told The Nerve that they believe the justices – despite ruling that the state grand jury investigation could continue – slipped in the secrecy recommendation in a footnote to help Harrell.

“It seems to reaffirm the secrecy that Harrell wanted in the first place,” said one attorney. Read the rest of this entry »

‘While I breathe I hope’ – Really?

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

South Carolina’s motto, ‘While I breathe I hope’, is surely the most optimistic statement any one can make. Despite all, if we can draw a breath, we are hopeful and optimistic.

I’m sure most people don’t pay attention to such things, or even know what our state motto is, but ‘While I breathe I hope’ gives great solace to me. I am an optimist by nature and when it comes to the future and fortunes of my beloved native state, I sometimes vacillate widely between despair and hope. (Today’s newspaper says we’re 50th in something again). But somehow through it all, I seem to usually come out on the ‘hope’ side.

All this got me to thinking about other state mottos and what they say about these states. Presumably somebody didn’t just sit in a closet and make these up; somehow they must have some value or meaning about the state, their history and their character.

First the basics; all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories have an official motto. Only Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands don’t have a motto and for these tropical island cultures, maybe they should both just adopt the motto ‘Who cares?’

Most states’ mottos are in English or Latin. South Carolina, North Dakota and Kentucky have two official mottos. Our other one is ‘Ready in soul and resources’, which seems a bit off to me. We as a county have two mottos as well, sorta. Since Colonial days, E Pluribus Unum (One out of many) has been on the official national seal, but it was never officially adopted as our motto. That honor went to ‘In God we trust’, but it seems like we didn’t get around to making this one official until 1956.

After looking at the official state motto of all 50 states, it seems that they fall into five basic categories:

First, are the traditional, positive and often pious mottos. Examples of these are Arizona’s ‘God enriches’, New York’s ‘Ever upward’, Wisconsin’s ‘Forward’, Colorado’s ‘Nothing without providence’ and American Samoa’s ‘Samoa, let God be first’. Pretty standard stuff.

Second are mottos that tell you where the state is. For example: Alaska’s ‘North to the future’, Indiana’s ‘The crossroads of America’, Minnesota’s ‘Star of the north’. Michigan’s motto has a strange geographic twist: ‘If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you’.

The third group could be called the feisty mottos. These all express some sense of truculence or defiance which is understandable in that many of these, especially those in the original 13 Colonies were written at the time of the Revolution. Delaware is ‘Liberty and independence’, Massachusetts, ‘By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty’, Virginia, ‘Death to tyrants’, Pennsylvania, ‘Virtue, liberty and independence’. New Hampshire’s motto, ‘Live free or die’, is one of the few state mottoes that have managed to become at least somewhat well-known outside of the state.

The fourth group of mottos are the short ones, often only a single word. Rhode Island’s is ‘Hope’, Texas’s ‘Friendship, Utah ‘Industry’, Maine’s ‘I lead’, Montana’s ‘Gold and silver’, Tennessee’s ‘Agriculture and Commerce’. And the only motto in Greek is California’s ‘Eureka’ (I have found it).

The fifth group are my favorites; these are the ones that are just strange and even weird. New Mexico’s is ‘It grows as it goes’, Washington’s ‘Bye and bye’, and Maryland’s ‘Manly deeds, womanly words’. My all-time favorite in this category is Puerto Rico, whose motto is ‘John is his name’. I have no idea what this means but since it is the oldest motto, dating to 1511, and is in Latin, we can assume something got lost in translation over the years.

So, mottos are like names; everyone has to have one even if it doesn’t always make sense or seem to fit. And we in South Carolina have ours – both of them.

As for me, ‘While I breathe I hope’ is pretty darn good. On most days it keeps me optimistic about our state even if the morning newspaper says we are 50th again on a good list or 1st again on a bad one.

While I breathe I hope… pass it on.

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group stated by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform. phil@scnedemocrats.org   www.SCNewDemocrats.org