Archive for category Columns

Living on Purpose: Learning to read our heavenly blueprint

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I recently spent an afternoon with a young man as he was sharing about his search for personal direction. In his attempt to discover what type of life God wants for him, he’s hoping that he will eventually find happiness and contentment. I truly respect anyone (especially a teenager) that is trying to do the right thing and willing to invest the time it takes to search until they find it. I remember a few years ago reading about another young man named Guiseppe, who was also trying to find his place in the world. His parents had come to America from Sicily and his father was from a long line of fisherman (no pun intended). His father was very proud and considered it an honor to carry on this profession and he expected all of his sons to continue just as all the generations before. The problem was that even though he wanted to please his father, the Sea and the smells of dead fish made Guiseppe nauseated. Instead of this type of work, he had a passion to play sports. Sadly, throughout his teenage years, his father was very disappointed and constantly declared Guiseppe was lazy and would grow up to be good-for- nothing. Nevertheless, in spite of the emotional hurt and pain, he continued with his vision and surprisingly ended up more successful than anyone in his family could have ever dreamed. You may have heard of him, his full name was Guiseppe Joe Dimaggio.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The SV Talladega

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

On Sunday, October 15, NASCAR Cup Series racing will return to Talladega, and we’re already wondering what will happen this time around.

It’s no secret that Steven Spielberg is a great cinematic tease, a master of the slow build, giving audiences little glimpses and hints of a monster before finally hitting them with the thing all at once.

In the classic thriller Jaws, audiences didn’t get the full effect of the terrifying (well, it was terrifying for the 1970s, anyhow) shark until well into the film, when our unlikely trio of hunters — police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled World War II vet Quint (Robert Shaw) — least expected it.

The mixture of shock, humor and dread that followed encapsulated everything that’s great about the movie, and Scheider played it perfectly, famously ad-libbing the oft-quoted line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” without dropping his cigarette.

Nobody told NASCAR founder and CEO Bill France Sr. that he needed a bigger racetrack, but he was determined to build one anyway. His masterpiece, Daytona International Speedway (DIS), was going like gangbusters and had inspired the construction of several new speedways, effectively pushing traditional dirt tracks aside in favor of bigger, faster and more lucrative venues.

But DIS didn’t quite satisfy Mr. France. He had a “go west, young man” type of vision: to make NASCAR a national sport with a racing schedule that stretched from coast to coast. He wanted a bigger, faster racetrack, and in 1968, ground was officially broken on Talladega Superspeedway, now widely considered NASCAR’s biggest, fastest and most dangerous track.

The project had its issues, of course. The land was located smack in the middle of nowhere, and the two-lane country roads one took to get there were, let’s just say … rustic.  Read the rest of this entry »

How Long South Carolina, How Long….?

Phil Noble

EDITOR’S NOTE: MR. NOBLE ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR ON OCT. 10. THIS WILL BE MR. NOBLE’S LAST COLUMN UNTIL THE ELECTION IS OVER OR HE WITHDRAWS HIS CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR.

By Phil Noble

In 1934, Gov. Ibra Blackwood signed legislation to create the South Carolina Public Service Authority that become known as Santee Cooper. This state-owned enterprise grew to become the state’s largest power producer serving all 46 counties in the state. Thanks to a special law passed by the legislature in 2007 that essentially eliminated all financial risk, Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric and Gas tried to build two nuclear reactors at a cost of $9 billion.

Today, the project is dead – mired in scandal and corruption. Estimates are the failed project will cost the average South Carolina family of four $9,000 that they will be paying for 60 years. The disgraced president of Santee Cooper (a state employee) left with a $16 million golden parachute and the five senior executives of SCE&G paid themselves $21 million in ‘performance bonuses’ during the time the project was failing.

How long South Carolina, how long must we wait for honest power companies that fairly serve the people of South Carolina and not themselves – and an honest and independent legislature that we want, need and deserve?

In 1993, 39 largely rural school districts in what became known as the Corridor of Shame, filed suit seeking to have the courts rule that their students were being denied an adequate education and asked the courts to mandate that the legislature provided a reasonable education. In 2014 – 21 years later – the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the students were not receiving a ‘minimally adequate’ education and mandated that the state legislature enact measures to remedy the inequities.

Today, three years after the court’s ruling, the legislature has done virtually nothing and recently U.S. News and World Report ranked South Carolina’s schools the worst of any of the 50 states.

How long South Carolina, how long must our children wait to receive the type of education they want, need and deserve?  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Choosing to give our stress to God

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

It may seem insensitive, but the idea of stress being an issue we can control is worth considering. Many within the medical world agree that stress is not a monster that forces us to be afraid but rather our worries originate as a response from within our own mind. Thus, if we can learn how to re-wire the way we think, we can begin to walk in victory over the stress which we blame for ruining our happiness. In some way or another, we have heard about going to our “happy place” a seemingly magical location where we can take shelter from whatever is threatening our security. But just what is this well-intentioned advice really talking about? It can mean different things to different people but to many, it’s a place in the deepest part of our conscience where we can commune with God and embrace the safety and joy of His presence. I remember a movie where a young girl was experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks whenever a stressful situation would present itself. Her family would lovingly remind her to go to her happy place, and she would close her eyes and begin to control her breathing. As she blocked out what was happening around her and focused on comforting thoughts, she would eventually calm down and return to a peaceful state of being. As Christians, we are reminded that Jesus is a type of strong tower where those who are afraid can run into Him and be safe. Psalm 91:1 says, “They who dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God in Him will I trust.” If we stop and think, we realize that everyone has a choice to either emotionally wrestle with their problems or immediately give them over to God and let Him take care of them. If you notice when we become entangled with these external circumstances and allow them to hold us in the bondage of stress, we are consumed with hopelessness and can hardly focus on anything else. However, when we embrace God’s truth by faith and allow Him to carry them for us, our confidence is renewed as we press forward in the freedom of His peace which passes all understanding.  Read the rest of this entry »

NASCAR presents … Snark Tank

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

It’s October, and only seven races remain in NASCAR’s playoffs. (On a side note, I’m still stymied regarding the reason why NASCAR changed the name of its post-season competition. The Chase was a pretty cool moniker, once you got used to it. The Playoffs, well, that name is just done to death.)

Anyhow, yet another random act of tweeting during the race weekend at Dover reminded me once again of one of my favorite things about NASCAR: When the going gets tough, the tough get snarky.

Although stock car racing has seen its share of physical altercations over the years – Cale Yarborough vs. the Allisons is always the first and best one that comes to mind – in recent years most of the competitors seem content to engage in wars of words rather than the harsher, and more painful, alternative.

Let’s take Kurt Busch and Jimmy Spencer, for example. It’s common knowledge that these two were never the best of buddies, but after an on-track incident in 2002 at The Brickyard, when Spencer wrecked Busch, taking him out of the race, Kurt expressed the opinion that Spencer was nothing but a “decrepit old has-been.” He later softened up and changed his mind, deciding instead that Spencer was actually a “never-was.” Ouch.

Another great (and by great I mean silly) incident was the verbal scuffle between Boris Said and Greg Biffle at Watkins Glen in 2011. Said felt that Biffle was racing him too aggressively for someone who was multiple laps down. Things got testy after the race when Boris really got out of line, going on a verbal tirade that included calling The Biff an “unprofessional little scaredy-cat” and “a chump.”

Wow. Call the censors. Language that salty simply can’t be tolerated on national television. There are kids watching.  Read the rest of this entry »

Corruption is Crippling South Carolina

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

The ever deepening and broadening corruption scandal that is unfolding daily across the front pages of newspapers is crippling our state.

It is crippling us in ways big and small – seen and unseen.

It does not have to be this way.

Let’s begin with an ever so brief summary of the scandals by putting things in two different but interrelated (slop) buckets: the legislature and the utilities.

First the legislature. We see daily how the legislature has kept all the money and all the power in the Statehouse where they can auction it off to the highest bidder. By all accounts, the biggest auctioneer is Richard Quinn and Associates and his legislator son, Rick Quinn, who keep a generous cut of the auction price for themselves.

The folks on the ‘selling’ side are Quinn’s clients who include: Gov. Henry McMaster, Sen. Lindsay Graham, Rep. Joe Wilson, Attorney General Alan Wilson, Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Superintendent to Education Molly Spearman, Pres. Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell, and more than three dozen members of the legislature and other elected politicians in our state’s Congressional Delegation in Washington.

On the ‘buying’ side are those that benefit from the favorable actions of the politicians and include: South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee Cooper (more on them later), The State Ports Authority, University of South Carolina, S.C. Trial Lawyers Association, a variety of health care companies and dozens of others.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: The way we think defines who we are

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When we talk about life being filled with possibilities, we usually imagine someone stepping into our situation and helping us achieve our goals. It’s easy to fall into the habit of hoping that another person will provide what we need or figure out the solutions to our problems. True, there are times when we can depend on the generosity of others but God has given each of us a sound mind and unlimited potential if we can only learn how to activate these internal resources. A common spiritual principal is to pray and wait, and there is validity in that process, but I have also learned through the years that many times God is actually waiting on us to take the initiative to press forward. When we place our trust in Him and allow Him to change our attitudes into a positive force, that which seems unattainable moves into the area of possibility. Romans 12:2 points out that we have a responsibility to be transformed by the renewing of our mind in order that we may prove and demonstrate God’s perfect will. We must allow the Lord to change our mind from fear to faith as learning to believe is the basic foundation for success. If we focus on being the best we can be, good things will come but if we expect the worse, we release the powers of negativity that can diminish our joy and hope. With every situation we can respond with a positive confidence or a negative skepticism and these mental choices will always determine whether we live in spiritual peace or emotional misery.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Tom Reichert

By Dr. Tom Reichert, Dean of the USC College of Information and Communications

Fake news. It’s a phrase that became the most memorable takeaway from Election 2016 and the political hangover that still resonates today. It should come as no surprise that Oxford Dictionaries proclaimed the 2016 word of the year to be “post-truth,” an appropriate adjective for an era in which some news consumers are less concerned with whether or not something is true than they are with how it makes them feel.

Like buzzwords, the term “fake news” has been tossed around indiscriminately. No one is immune from the accusation. Even rigorously investigated stories from The New York Times and The Washington Post have been labeled outright falsehoods by consumers who’d prefer news that confirms their own biases. But fake news does not originate from newspapers. In reality, it’s often generated by companies looking for an easy profit, pushed out through social media newsfeeds and fanned by extremists and foreign governments.

While fake news isn’t a new phenomenon – just look at the political forward emails that made the rounds 20 years ago – America’s shift toward online news sources has made consumers susceptible to dangerous misinformation. A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that more than 60 percent of U.S. adults get news from social media. That trend might seem innocuous, but when one news story can go viral and ignite a cultural movement in a matter of minutes, truth matters.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult for consumers to differentiate between what’s true and what’s not. Compounding the problem are politicians and other powerful figures who seek to discredit honest journalism. Regardless, newspapers are not the ones peddling fake news. Open a local or national newspaper and what you see is the product of trained journalists bringing you carefully sourced stories about crime, government, business, sports and issues of public interest. These stories impact our lives. Most journalists are trained at universities and programs like our School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. For 94 years, we have been teaching students to write, make sense of data, interview, and dig deep to hold those with our public trust accountable. The only agenda our students and alumni possess is a passion for the profession and a sense of service for our country.  Read the rest of this entry »

For South Carolina and Democrats, Crisis is Opportunity

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble and Roy Willey

In the Chinese language, the symbol is the same for crisis and opportunity. For both the state of South Carolina and for the Democratic Party – this truly is a time of both crisis and opportunity.

First our state’s crisis. Anyone who reads a newspaper knows our state is at the beginning of a political corruption and ethics crisis the likes of which we have not seen in a generation. And, add to this the huge related $9 billion nuclear scandal with SCANA, Santee Cooper and the Legislature.

There is not enough space in this column (or dozens of columns) to detail what’s happening, but it’s bad and deep. This corruption is a disease, it’s infectious and it’s spreading across our state. It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

So far, the scandal has seen the indictment and/or conviction of Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, former Majority Leaders of the House Jim Merrill and Rick Quinn and Senator John Courson. Perhaps dozens of others are lying awake at night with the cold sweats. There will surely be many more indictments to come and the questions of their guilt or innocence will be played out in the media for months and years to come.

Next, the Democrats’ crisis. It is no exaggeration to say that the Democratic Party in South Carolina is on life support. A Democrat has not won a majority in a statewide election since 2006. Democrats have lost seven of the last eight governors races and the last win was in 1998. Since 2000, the Republicans have had a majority in the both the state house and senate, and since 2004 Republicans have held both US Senate seats and all but one of the Congressional seats.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Protecting our spiritual sensitivity

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

A couple of months ago, we brought a new English Bulldog puppy into our home and he has been such a wonderful addition to our family. When we bought him, they told us he was 8 weeks old, but after finally receiving his papers from the breeder, we noticed he was actually only 6 weeks old at the time. He was a healthy bruiser and we would laugh at him stumbling and being uncoordinated, but now we realize it was just because he was such a young baby. We would sit on the front porch in the evenings and watch him investigate around the front yard. He was so happy as he would roll around in the grass and explore his new surroundings, but when he would hear a loud commotion or a noisy car passing by, it would scare him and he would come running to us. After a while, he gradually became more used to the traffic sounds and lawn mowers and eventually it did not bother him at all. As I was spending time with him one evening, it dawned on me that our conscience is also sensitive to what we see, hear, and think about and how each of us can choose to remain tender-hearted or we can become calloused and indifferent. When we are confronted with sin, maybe we should consider running to God for protection.

When we consider our spiritual life, we have been called to guard and protect our conscience from the darkness of iniquity. A huge part of accepting Jesus as the Lord of our life is to respect His holiness and for us likewise to attempt to live a pure life. You see, the idea is that God hates anything that resembles sin and we are also to feel the same way no matter how tempting and desirable it may seem. Unfortunately, many individuals are convinced this concept is old fashioned and not really that important. Have you noticed lately that people in general do not want to hear about self-discipline or messages that contain topics about changing the way we think and live? In our defense, we consider this intrusion as meddling and no one’s business, including our creator. The Bible defines this as conviction which are the uncomfortable feelings that we feel whenever we know we are doing something wrong but love it too much to stop. I can relate to this daily battle because I struggle just like everyone else. Our old human nature is opposed to virtuous living and is always willing to fight for its independence.  Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

My Brain on NASCAR

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Part two of a three-part series on Darlington Raceway

I’m not even going to pretend to be unbiased on the subject of Darlington Raceway. “The Lady in Black” is simultaneously NASCAR’s greatest and most flawed structural achievement, a lop-sided Southern belle with a mean streak 1.366 miles long.

Like a doomed and dramatic high-school romance, she regularly and with great relish demoralizes would-be suitors, perhaps as some sort of payback for those who over the years have called the fabled egg-shaped oval everything from a dinosaur to a dump.

Ah, the sweet taste of revenge. A rash of improvements over the past couple of decades has the track “Too Tough To Tame” looking anything but prehistoric. Gone are the wooden bleachers of her early years, replaced by gleaming, high-rise grandstands. The former press box – an elevated platform enclosed by chicken wire where sportswriters were treated to “gourmet” lunches of pimiento cheese sandwiches (still a Darlington meal-time tradition) with a side order of flying rubber, has been replaced by a state-of-the-art media center and catering services.

Just outside of the Turn 3 retaining wall, rows of graceful palmettos – South Carolina’s state tree – line the hospitality village, where the movers and shakers of the corporate world entertain their customers and employees prior to the races.

Drivers, crew members and fans requiring medical attention are treated by a team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in a modern infield care center, similar to a small trauma hospital, including 24-hour helicopter transport service if it is needed.  Read the rest of this entry »

S.C.’s Nuclear Scandal, Politicians and Clean/Dirty Hands

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

For a columnist like me, the state’s nuclear scandal is the gift that keeps on giving. It is no exaggeration to say that there could be a column every week (or several times a week) on the growing scandal – and it’s likely to be so for months and even years to come.

There will be thousands of news articles written by journalists, millions of words spoken by politicians and utility executives, and billions of dollars in payments to rate payers are at stake.

As we begin (and we are just at the beginning of the beginning) to work our way through this $9 billion scandal effecting millions of people in our state, there are two basic facts that we should never lose sight of – and two necessary first steps that must be taken in dealing with this gigantic scandal.

The two basic facts:

  1. Those responsible should be held accountable. SCANA (parent company of South Carolina Electric and Gas), Santee Cooper and the politicians that passed the legislation to enable this to happen (and got paid for it) – will all be blaming each other when they are all at fault. Their hands are dirty.
  2. Those not responsible, the rate payers, should not have to pay. The people with absolutely no responsibility for this disastrous scandal – the rate payers – are being asked to pay billions of dollars, perhaps for as long as 60 years. This is wrong. Their hands are clean.

The two necessary first steps:

  1. The legislators, statewide elected officials and Congressional politicians with dirty hands must ‘come clean.’ This means they should disclose all of their financial dealings with SCANA, Santee Cooper and the electric co-ops – and give the money back. They should return all campaign contributions since the scandal began in 2007 and they should disclose and return all of the retainers, consulting contracts and other unreported payments they and their immediate families have received. (Better than returning the money, they should give it to charity.)
  2. Those utility leaders with dirty hands who are directly responsible should resign. This means that all of the boards of directors and senior management of both SCANA and Santee Cooper should resign. They should also refund any bonuses, stock options or other extra payments they have received since the beginning of the scandal in 2007. When they leave, there should be no severance payments or golden parachutes. None.

Read the rest of this entry »