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Ten at the Top: A Big Idea for S.C.

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

This week more than 800 movers and shakers from 10 Upstate counties gathered in Greenville. It was an amazing event because of (1) what they said, (2) what they did not say, and (3) what it means for the rest of the state.

First, who are they? Ten at the Top, or TATT as they like to call themselves, is made up of community leaders from the 10 county regions we generally call the Upstate who have come together to creatively tackle their common problems.

They don’t really care where the county lines are, what the divisions between government and business are, or which non-profit group does this or that. It’s all about “regionalism” and everyone co-operating across traditional divisions to tackle shared problems.

Irv Welling, one of the most respected senior statesmen of the Upcountry, started TATT in 2005 when he brought together 300 leaders with the rallying cry of “Upstate Together.” Since then they have had periodic small and large group meetings and have established ongoing working groups that wrestle with the whole range of issues important to people and communities.

Their overall mission is best expressed in the phrase “10 Counties, 1 Vision.” A few random quotes from various speakers reflect both their sprit and purpose:

“Any time we can erase the county lines we are better off.”

“We are going beyond just job creation and business issues to quality of life and the whole gamut of issues that people care about.”

“It’s about breaking down the barriers – air and water don’t respect county or city lines.”

“We don’t care about structure; we care about results.”

“It’s about our holding hands and changing the world together.”

“We want to shape the future and not let it just happen to us.”

Since its beginning, TATT has continued to grow with increasing effectiveness partly because it is a combination of “old Upstate” and “new Upstate.” The dynamo executive director Dean Hybl only came to the Upstate in 2010 from central Florida, and the current Chairman is Carol Burdette, who has deep roots in the Upcountry and has been an extraordinarily effective leader in countless community projects. Their Board reflects the diversity of the region – newcomers and old timers, large and small business, non-profits and governments – and a whole lot of ordinary people who simply care about their community and are willing to work to make it better.

But beyond the leadership, a key to their success has been their eagerness to engage everyone in the larger process. As one speaker said, “We don’t want anyone outside the tent.” The numbers reflect this commitment: in 2014 alone there were 68 regional engagement events and 390 since 2010; 2,350 people participated in 2014 and 21,395 have been involved since 2010.

Among the most interesting features of last week’s meeting were the breakout sessions, where people brainstormed ideas in each of five major issue areas: community vibrancy, economic and entrepreneurial vitality, human potential, natural beauty and resources, and sustainable growth. At each of the five sessions, small signs with about 30 specific topics were taped to the wall and participants used 4×6 inch oversized Post-it notes and wrote their ideas and suggestions and stuck them to the wall under each of the topic signs.

A staggering 3,000+ ideas were posted; that’s nearly four per participant. The next step was for the five working groups to take all of these ideas and put them into the next phase of their action plans.

And what of their successes so far? The conference highlighted nearly 50 specific projects that had been completed by their efforts. Everything from “born leaning,” a creative initiative of all seven United Way agencies – to the 18 mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, a multi-use greenway that has had over 400,000 users – to the creation of the NEXT Innovation center, to grow new and small businesses – to the successful Clean Air Upstate initiative, – to comprehensive local government planning projects – and on and on it goes.

What also struck me at the conference is what they didn’t talk about – the state or national government. Not one time did I hear anyone make a reference to the state or national government or any state or national politician. Zero, none, nada.

Nor did I hear the words Republican or Democrat. It was as if politics did not exist. There was lots of talk about local elected officials working together, but the idea of looking to Columbia or Washington for help was simply not a point of discussion.

These were local people, working with local resources, tackling local problems, using local ideas.

For South Carolina, where we are shackled by a state government and educational system that are ineffective at best and dysfunctional and corrupt at worse, 10 At The Top could be like water in the desert.

Ten at the Top is about solutions, not problems.

As I walked out of the conference feeling incredibly hopeful and optimistic, it stuck me that this is a model that works – and we need something like it in every region of the state.

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

Tunnel to Towers 5K Run This Friday

Runners start the first Tunnel to Towers 5K race last year in Columbia. Photo by Mark Bellune | Lexington County Chronicle

Runners start the first Tunnel to Towers 5K race last year in Columbia.
Photo by Mark Bellune | Lexington County Chronicle

By Jerry Bellune
Lexington County Chronicle
Photos of 343 first responders killed rescuing others at the World Trade Center will be honored during the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run this Friday.

During Thursday’s First Responders and Military Service Members Memorial at the Columbia Convention Center, Diane Rawl said Gold Star Mothers are organizing the honor.

They expect 343 volunteers to hold photos of those who gave their lives in the 2001 attacks along the route of the run to inspire an anticipated 10,000 runners.

The run starts in Columbia, crosses the Congaree River into Cayce and West Columbia and returns to Columbia.

Mrs.Rawl, whose son, Lt. Ryan Rawl of Lexington, was killed June 20, 2012, in Afghanistan, spoke to a large crowd of first responder and military families at Thursday’s 9-11 memorial service in Columbia.

The service was organized by retired Army Col. Dan Henningan of Lexington and his all-volunteer committee.

What would 10,000 feet running across the Blossom Street Bridge into Cayce sound like?

That’s what Hennigan and his organizers expect at the statewide Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk here Friday, Sept. 19 expect to hear.

Hennigan of Lexington said his group expects to attract 5,000 runners at 7 p.m. Sept. 19.

That’s more than double the estimated 2,000 runners the event attracted last year.

Columbia and Lexington County are among nine events across the country staging Tunnel to Towers runs to raise money for homes for wounded warriors and their families.

Participating again this year will be first responders, Fort Jackson and other retired and active duty military people, Lexington Medical Center doctors and staff members and volunteers from across the state.

Some will run in heavy firefighter bunker gear.

“Sept. 19 is a time for everyone to come together,” Hennigan said.

The event honors the courage and self-sacrifice of firefighters and other first responders Sept. 11, 2001, during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

It is named in memory of firefighter Stephen Siller.

On his way to play golf on his day off, Sept. 11, 2001, Siller heard news of the attack at Ground Zero.

He turned around and headed for Manhattan.

Stalled at the jammed Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Siller ran to the site of World Trade Center in 60 pounds of bunker gear and lost his life saving others.

White Knoll Middle students near Lexington raised money to replace a fire truck destroyed in the attack and New York donated World Trade Center girders for the 9-11 Memorial at the Convention Center.

“This forged a bond between New York and South Carolina,” said Hennigan, a Brooklyn native.

“We must never forget.”

Hunter Hayes to perform at concert
Acclaimed country music singer and four-time Grammy Award nominee Hunter Hayes will be in Columbia for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers South Carolina 5K Run & Walk on the evening of Friday, Sept. 19 in Columbia’s Vista and will give a special concert for an expected 5,000 par­ticipants after the race at the Tin Roof and Music Farm.

The gates for the Event Celebration will open at 7:30 p.m. at the Tin Roof at 1022 Senate Street. The race awards ceremony will begin at 8 p.m., followed by the concert at the Music Farm at 9 p.m.


Medal of Honor recipient to speak at T2T event

By Mark Bellune
markbellune@yahoo.com
“It’s an incredible cause,” said Medal of Hon­or recipient Kyle Carpenter of the Tunnel mto Towers run to be held Friday.

“We never need to for­get 9-11 and all the people that sacrificed on that day. Sept. 19, it’s going to be a great event.”

The Gilbert resident and current USC student, Carpenter was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama in June. He and other special guests will speak to the crowd Sept. 19 before the race. The U.S. Marine was critically wounded in Af­ghanistan diving on a gre­nade to save a friend’s life.

Carpenter says he wants to honor our heroes here in South Carolina and across the nation.

“The community, Lex­ington, Gilbert, South Car­olina, the nation — every­body has been awesome,” he said. “Thank you for your support.”

The run was founded in New York City in honor of Brooklyn firefighter Ste­phen Siller and all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

South Carolina’s run is the second largest in the nation behind New York’s.

 

For more information see:
www.T2Trun.org
Facebook: Tunnel to Towers South Carolina
Twitter: @T2TSC
Instagram: T2TSC

“Roger Goodell” by Stuart Neiman

"Roger Goodell" by Stuart Neiman

“Roger Goodell” by Stuart Neiman

“One Day” by Walt Inabinet

"One Day" by Walt Inabinet

“One Day” by Walt Inabinet

“Junkie” by Walt Inabinet

"Junkie" by Walt Inabinet

“Junkie” by Walt Inabinet

“Boots” by Walt Inabinet

"Boots" by Walt Inabinet

“Boots” by Walt Inabinet

The Very Strange World of Race and Politics in SC

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

In November, South Carolina will make history by electing its first African American to the US Senate. And, if the polls are to be believed, it will be Republican Tim Scott.

Ironically, he will be elected without significant African-American support on the Republican ticket – the party that is widely perceived to be indifferent, if not hostile, to African Americans.

Scott’s opponent, Columbia City Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson is also African American, so if by chance lighting did strike and she won, our US Senator would still be an Africa American.

There are two other African Americans on the statewide ballot. Thirty-year-old Democrat Bakari Sellers is running for Lt. Governor in a race that he characterizes as David vs. Goliath – he’s David. And Democrat Tom Thompson is in a very tough race for Superintendent of Education. Including this year’s primary elections, there were seven African Americans running for statewide office in 2014 and most predict that the only one who will prevail is a Republican. Strange.

Scott’s win will be the first time an African American has won statewide office since 1876.

(As an aside, Tip O’Neil famously once said, “all politics in local” but in my case it’s personal. Among the African Americans who last held statewide office in our state were Lt. Governor Alonso Ransier, whose house in Charleston is two doors down from mine, and Francis Cardozo, who was State Treasurer and Secretary of State. He was minister of the Plymouth Church next door to my house.)

Doesn’t all this this seem a little odd for a state that 28.6% of registered voters are African American?

Other states in the South with fewer minorities have elected African Americans to statewide office. Twenty nine years ago, in 1985, Doug Wilder was elected Lt. Governor of Virginia and four years later he was elected Governor; North Carolina twice elected an African American judge in a statewide election in the 1970s. Georgia first elected Michel Thurmond Labor Commissioner in 1998.

But not so in South Carolina. By my count, in recent history there have been six African Americans that have been the Democratic nominee for statewide office – from Governor on down, but none have been elected.

Besides being the anomaly of an African American in a largely lily-white party, Scott’s personal political history is a little ironic – to say the least. Who would have ever thought that Strom Thurmond’s son would have lost the Republican primary for US Congress to an African American in Charleston in the 150 anniversary year of the firing on Fort Sumter and the start of the Civil War? But he did, he lost to Tim Scott.

And, at the time, I had had several Charleston Republican friends explain it to me as “normal” ….but we will leave that to another day.

So what is the lesson is all this?

As a general rule, in South Carolina politics today – party trumps race.

On the statewide level, Republicans, black or white, beat Democrats, black or white. In the past 23 consecutive statewide elections, Democrats have failed to win a majority of the vote. (In 2006, Jim Rex was elected Superintendent of Education but he did not get a majority of votes as there were two minor party candidates on the ballot.)

I’m a lifelong Democrat, so it really, really, really breaks my heart to see my party so roundly rejected. There are lots of pundits that will offer their “ifs, ands and buts” about all this, but the facts are the facts.

We have seen in State House and local races that there are notable exceptions; Keith Summey, the white Republican Mayor of North Charleston presides over a 60+% African American district; Democrat Anton Gunn twice won a State House seat in a majority white district in Richland County, and there are others.

But, the new reality is that party now trumps race in South Carolina politics – and that’s something very strange in the history of the Palmetto State.

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.SCNewDemocrats.org

USC v. Georgia 10

University of S.C. wide receiver Nick Jones catches a Dylan Thompson pass before stepping out of bounds while being pursued by Georgia's Damian Swann on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 35-38. (photo by: Bob Sofaly)

University of S.C. wide receiver Nick Jones catches a Dylan Thompson pass before stepping out of bounds while being pursued by Georgia’s Damian Swann on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

These photo were previously unavailable due to technical difficulties.

USC v. Georgia 9

University of S.C. running back Mike Davis gets wrapped up by a host of Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks went on to defeat the Bulldogs 35-38. (photo by" Bob Sofaly)

University of S.C. running back Mike Davis gets wrapped up by a host of Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks went on to defeat the Bulldogs 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

USC v. Georgia 8

University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley, right, gets a big block from offensive lineman Kolron Houston and gains extra yards against the University of S.C. on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks went on to win 35-38. (photos by: Bob Sofaly)

University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley, right, gets a big block from offensive lineman Kolron Houston and gains extra yards against the University of S.C. on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks went on to win 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

USC v. Georgia 7

University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley runs the ball against the University of S.C. on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. Gurley's efforts were not enough as the Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 35-38. (photo by: Bob Sofaly)

University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley runs the ball against the University of S.C. on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. Gurley’s efforts were not enough as the Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

USC v. Georgia 6

Steve Spurrier, head football coach at the University of S.C., makes his wishes knows Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs at Williams Brice Stadium 35-38.(photo by" Bob Sofaly)

Steve Spurrier, head football coach at the University of S.C., makes his wishes knows Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs at Williams Brice Stadium 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

USC v. Georgia 5

University of S.C. running back Brandon Wilds, center, his stopped after a short gain against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday in Williams Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks went on to beat the Bulldogs 35-38.

University of S.C. running back Brandon Wilds, center, his stopped after a short gain against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday in Williams Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks went on to beat the Bulldogs 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

USC v. Georgia 4

University of S.C. wide receiver Pharoh Cooper tries to bring the ball down in the end zone Saturday night against the Gerogia Bulldogs on Saturday night in Williams Brice Stadium. Officials ruled that he was already out of bounds when he caught the ball. The Gamecocks went to defeat the Bulldogs 35-38.

University of S.C. wide receiver Pharoh Cooper tries to bring the ball down in the end zone Saturday night against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday night in Williams Brice Stadium. Officials ruled that he was already out of bounds when he caught the ball. The Gamecocks went to defeat the Bulldogs 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

USC v. Georgia 3

University of S.C.'s running back Mike Davis, left, tries to turn the corner as Gergia's Toby Johnson moves in to stop him Saturday night at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 35-38. (photo by: Bob Sofaly)

University of S.C.’s running back Mike Davis, left, tries to turn the corner as Georgia’s Toby Johnson moves in to stop him Saturday night at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

USC v. Georgia 2

Gamecock fans in the student section didn't let a little rain dampen their spirits on Saturday. The Gamecocks defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 35-38. More than 84,000 people were on hand at Williams Brice Stadiums.

Gamecock fans in the student section didn’t let a little rain dampen their spirits on Saturday. The Gamecocks defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 35-38. More than 84,000 people were on hand at Williams Brice Stadium. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

USC v. Georgia 1

Roman Smith, 9, was ready to help the Gamecocks pound the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at Willimas Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 35-38.

Roman Smith, 9, was ready to help the Gamecocks pound the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 35-38. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Op-Ed: How S.C.’s Road Funding System Is Tearing Up My Car

By Barton Swaim for TheNerve.org
Sept. 10, 2014

Last weekend, I drove up to Carthage, North Carolina, to see some old friends. From Columbia, I took Highway 1 from Camden through McBee to Cheraw, then into North Carolina.

I’ve driven on bad roads before. I’ve driven in the American northeast, where melted snow seeps into the pavement and cracks it all winter long. I’ve driven in the Scottish Highlands, where many of the roads can’t really be called roads at all.

But never have I driven on a road as derelict as South Carolina Highway 1 between McBee and Cheraw. I don’t know what roads are like in rural Zimbabwe or Chile, but they cannot be worse than our Highway 1. If it hadn’t been on a Saturday, I probably would have gone straight to my mechanic and asked him to make sure no vital parts had FALLEN OUT OF THE ENGINE. Read the rest of this entry »

Domestic violence: Tackle it head-on

Hard hits. Domination. Fierce competition to become the victor. Taunting.

These words certainly describe an NFL football game, but they can also be used to describe an NFL player such as former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice. In fact, the correlation is uncanny and worthy of inspection. Sorry fans, but a football game can sometimes be likened to nothing short of a controlled barroom brawl. Some players on the field can be barbarians off the field. Again, case in point via Ray Rice.

It is appropriate the Ravens terminated Rice once the video was released showing him punching and knocking out his then-fiancee-turned-wife. It is also appropriate the NFL has given him an indefinite suspension, although we’d cast a vote for a permanent ban. That, despite wife Janay’s defense of her husband following the suspension. Was the suspension driven by a need to avoid a public relations debacle? Probably, especially considering the video clip released earlier this summer in which Rice is seen dragging Palmer out of the elevator did not elicit such a reaction. Instead, it took the subsequent video.

Domestic violence seems to be an issue too many of us ignore. Unless a video such as that of Rice in an Atlantic City hotel elevator emerges, domestic violence is often hidden beneath a veil. Worse, the veil is often draped by the very person being abused. Too often women who are abused wind up with a tremendous lack of self-worth and somehow think they brought the abuse on themselves. They make excuses for the abuser, cover the bruises and cuts and make excuses that only promote further abuse. The abuser feels justified and emboldened, the incidents increase and the controlling dominant personality intensifies.

It is a shame our country, as a whole, has not done better. We point the fingers — and rightfully so — at other countries, admonishing them and sanctioning them for acts that are clearly inhumane. Yet we forget that while we point one finger, three are pointed straight back at ourselves.

And sadly, no better example of our nation’s lackadaisical handling of domestic violence exists than right here in the Palmetto State. Interesting enough, just as the latest chapter in the Rice domestic violence tale unfolded, the Violence Policy Center on Monday released its latest statistical report, from 2012 studies, that ranks South Carolina as the second-worst in the nation for violence against women. Alaska captured the unenviable No. 1 spot. Granted, we have improved. Only a year ago we had the No. 1 spot. Hardly something to celebrate, especially considering South Carolina has ranked in the report’s top 10 every year for the last 17 years, three of which had us at No. 1.

We can talk about domestic violence. We can even have a month — October — designated as the official month to raise awareness about the issue. But we have to do more than that. We have to be willing to address it head-on. We have to stand ready to fully support victims of abuse, as they often need immense help in breaking free from the cycle. We need a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence and abuse the way we readily take a stand against those who abuse animals and leave children unattended in hot cars. We need to show the NFL and other professional organizations that we stand with the victim, not the player who sports our favorite team’s jersey.

Here’s a thought. Football will still be going strong in October. And while we applaud teams that sport pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s see players and fans alike wearing purple, the color that designates Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Heck, they can wear both. But isn’t it more than a bit ironic that of the two that primarily claim women as victims, breast cancer and domestic violence, it is more fashionable to wear pink during October?

From the Index-Journal, Greenwood, SC

“Bank On It” by Walt Inabinet

"Bank On It" by Walt Inabinet

“Bank On It” by Walt Inabinet