Archive for category Columns

Political ‘false choices’ are crippling South Carolina

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Neil Robinson is a man who should be listened to.

He is an eminent Charleston attorney with a prestigious statewide law firm. He is highly respected by his peers and community as testified by a wall crowded with commendations and accolades. With his head full of white hair, his well-tailored suits and his air of quiet confidence, he has a distinguished and slightly imposing bearing.

But none of this is why we should all listen to him.

He is the Chairman of the State Education Oversight Committee (EOC). The EOC is an independent, nonpartisan group made up of 18 educators, business people and elected officials who have been appointed by the legislature and governor to enact the South Carolina Education Accountability Act of 1998. The Act sets standards for improving the state’s K-12 educational system.

When it was passed, the legislation was sponsored by all the right people in the Legislature and was approved by both the House and Senate unanimously – not a single dissenting vote.

One would assume that therefore the EOC would be extremely powerful and effective in shaping and reforming education in our state – but one would be wrong.

As Robinson explains, the EOC has very little real power to affect change. They can study issues, make recommendations, gather data and research, and consult with the best experts in South Carolina and around the country.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Let’s Play Chicken” by Stuart Neiman

“Let’s Play Chicken” by Stuart Neiman

Living on Purpose: We can be aware without being afraid

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Lately, people have been asking me about the coming eclipse and now the situation with North Korea. It seems whenever strange or crisis events are predicted, people become nervous. Of course, it’s only natural to wonder what is going to happen and I am reminded of the famous Y2K scare that was a huge topic in 1999. We all know this ended up being a false alarm like the boy who cried wolf, but it doesn’t take long for the masses to forget about it and embrace the next doomsday prediction as the hype starts all over again. I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of these events or be disrespectful toward those who are panicking but rather offering the suggestion to take a few deep breaths and rest in the comforting thought that God is in control. We can find peace in God’s presence no matter what will come as we are reminded that fear is the opposite of faith. Let us remember that fear is seeing God through the eyes of circumstance while faith sees circumstances through the eyes of God.

When it comes to discussions about the end of the world, the religious crowd commonly refers to this as signs of the end times. Christianity believes the Bible is filled with indicators which reveal when certain events will happen. These predictions are called prophecies but unfortunately, many of these guideposts are so shrouded with symbolism they are difficult to interpret. For those of you who are students of eschatology you have no doubt discovered there are countless opinions and disagreements about time-lines and how everything will fit together. Nonetheless, I believe the Bible is true and with serious prayer we can at least have some general clarity about what the future holds. Most importantly we are reminded in II Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  Read the rest of this entry »

South Carolina’s Nuclear Meltdown: What Next, Who Pays?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Here’s the issue: SCANA (the parent company of South Carolina Electric and Gas) and Santee Cooper (the state-owned utility that provides power for 11 local electric co-ops) tried to build two nuclear reactors and failed. They just pulled the plug on the projects costing $9 billion and 5,000 jobs – so far.

Here’s the question: Who is going to pay for this disaster?

This is obviously a huge and complex mess and the answer to ‘who pays’ will be an ongoing issue for years to come and it directly affects the family budget of 2.2 million SCE&G and co-op customers in all 46 counties. The bill could be as high as $9,000 for a family of four.

Over the coming months and years, there will be a host of accusations, finger pointing, charges and counter charges, law suits and counter suits. But, there are two things we know now for certain.

  • The people with absolutely no responsibility for this disaster – the rate payers – are being asked to pay billions of dollars, perhaps for as long as 60 years.
  • Those who are responsible – SCANA, Santee Cooper and the politicians that passed legislation to enable this to happen (and got paid for it) – will all be blaming each other when they are all at fault.

As this issue continues to unravel, there will be lots of new information about who is responsible for what. Based on what we know now, here’s what I believe should be done.

SCANA and SCE&G – Over the last ten years, SCE&G has hit their customers with nine rate increases and customers are already paying 20% of their bill to pay for the nuclear facilities – among the highest rates in the country. Now, they want to stick rate payers with a bill of $2 billion (others say the final number could be as high as $8 billion) to cover the cost of their failure over the next 60 years.

What they should do: The entire board of directors and senior management should resign. They should return all pay raises, bonuses and stock options they received since the project began in 2008. Last year the top five senior managers made on average $2.8 million and CEO Kevin Marsh made $6.1 million and $28 million over the last five years. When they leave, they should get no golden parachute or severance of any kind. To avoid disruption at the company, it could be done over time but completed within one year.

They should also roll back their rates to consumers to 2008 levels, plus inflation. And, how will they pay their debts? That’s their problem; it’s called capitalism.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Sometimes life shows up

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I have been privileged to sit under many great speakers and teachers in my life. Human behavior and spirituality has always been fascinating to me and it’s an honor to be involved with the work of the ministry. There are mysteries and complicated questions that we will never understand while we live in this realm, but, there are also practical lessons that God can reveal to us when we diligently seek Him. Years ago, I knew a special lady that enjoyed a full life of adventure and was used as a blessing to many. Included within her life of success and respect unfortunately there was also a great deal of tragedy and disappointment. It’s not that this is rare or unusual, but it was how well she responded when things went sour. You could see the years of hurt and pain in her face and sense the agony in her soul but she also had a strong will and fortitude to keep pressing forward. She spent much of her career as a counselor, helping to comfort people in times of emergency with what is defined as psychological first-aid and was known for a simple phrase that she repeated constantly; “life shows up.” This was her familiar battle cry and a coping mechanism that helped her endure the tragedies and disappointments in her own life. She taught that no matter what we go through, we cannot give up or stop trusting that God will help us overcome. This message of courage and faith are more than just words – they are a mindset and a key to victorious living.

There will be times when all of us will be shocked, surprised and caught off guard. These moments of crisis can hit us so hard that we can literally be “knocked out” for an eight count, but with God in our corner, He can help us get back on our feet. When things are going well, we have a tendency to enjoy the ride without a need to be cautious or prepared. If we have not invested the time to make sure our spiritual foundation is solid and our psychological first aid toolbox is loaded, we are vulnerable for an unexpected ambush. When we are drifting too far from the shore and away from the safety of God’s protective harbor, our only defense is a weak collection of emotions which usually fail to provide us with the ability to think or act clearly. Christians realize there is no substitute for praying, but sometimes just saying a prayer is not always an automatic fix for our own problems or anyone that is going through a serious situation. In times of adversity we can react with a positive attitude or we make things worse by piling on hopeless declarations. The best preparation for any type of situation is to live in the constant awareness of God’s presence. When we are walking with God and a serious storm comes upon us suddenly, His peace that passes all understanding can lessen the weight of fear and discouragement.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Tranquility

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

In a bizarre NASCAR twist that I never saw coming, the relationship between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch has taken a turn for the nice.

In a scenario that we’ve seen before, last week the two former NASCAR Cup Series champions battled for the win on the last lap of a pivotal race. With experience being the best teacher, many of us might have expected fireworks. We have, after all, seen this before with these two guys who, although they seemed to have mellowed ever so slightly, have treated fans to one of the most entertaining feuds in NASCAR for several years now.

It all started back in the Truck Series in 2008. Ron Hornaday Jr., who was driving for Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI), spun out after making contact with Busch on the last lap, creating some ill will in the process. In 2010, Busch went from Truck Series driver to owner, forming Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) and enjoying a little payback by unseating KHI to win the team owner’s championship.

As we all know, NASCAR drivers get cranky if they lose a game of cornhole, much less a race or, Heaven forbid, a championship. They also have long memories.

While these two have yammered and snarked at one another over the years, and their families have probably never bonded over pizza and bouncy houses at Chuck E. Cheese’s, things really peaked six years ago at Darlington Raceway. In terms of racing “altercations,” it was no Yarborough vs. the Allisons at Daytona, but it was a doozy.

With fewer than five laps to go in the 2011 Southern 500, Harvick was less than thrilled with the way Busch was racing him, and gave him one of those infamous little “love taps” drivers are so famous for, in treacherous Turn 3. Then, they somehow managed to get into a three-wide racing situation with Clint Bowyer, at a track where we all know has barely room for two, especially on the “pointy end” of the egg.  Read the rest of this entry »

We need to reinvent public education in South Carolina

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Cindi Ross Scoppe is one of the most important people in South Carolina. And, she has recently put forward one of the most important ideas for this state – perhaps the most important – for the last generation or so.

Now I know that sounds like extreme hyperbole, but bear with me on this one, I think I’m right.

First, about Scoppe and her idea.

She is the editorial writer for The State newspaper in Columbia. On a personal level, I don’t really know her very well. Over the years we have had a lunch or two and talked on the phone some. She has been kind enough to publish some of my columns – but that’s about it.

When I googled her, I learned that she grew up on a tobacco farm outside of Burlington, N.C., went to UNC at Chapel Hill and worked on a couple of newspapers in North Carolina. She has won a boatload of journalism and civic awards from state and national organizations for her work.

Her bio on The State website says “She is a lover of cats and a baker of cakes and volunteers with the (Episcopal Church) parish’s annual mission work trip to Appalachia.”

But most importantly, she “has covered state government and the General Assembly since 1988, first as a reporter and now as an editorial writer. She focuses on tax policy, public education, election and campaign finance law, the relationship between state and local government, the relationship between the people and their government, the judiciary and the executive branch of government.”

In short, she knows more about state government, politics, politicians and policy than just about anyone in the state of South Carolina.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Are we a spectator or a participator?

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We do not have to look very far to find someone that needs a miracle. There are lots of people who are suffering some type of crisis with everything from health problems, their children, and grieving over a loss, to finances, marriage issues and addictions. When we see and hear about difficulties, we become sympathetic, but how often do we consider that God may have brought these individuals to our attention so that we can not only pray but to intervene and help meet their needs? Instead of just discussing the situation and having pity, maybe we are their miracle and the answer to their prayers. We can remain the spectator like always or with God’s power we can become a participator and an agent of change!

Remember the times you have been discouraged or in trouble and you cried out for God to please send somebody to help? If someone responded, you knew they were a Godsend, right? If no one came, we assumed they were too busy or maybe just did not want to take the time or money to become involved. I believe our reactions toward others reveal more about us than we care to think about. It seems that most people are convinced this life is their own to do whatever they want and I can understand this point of view for a non-Christian. However, for those who are followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible clearly explains our way of thinking is to radically change from only concentrating about ourselves to obeying God as our highest priority. This renewing of our mind will produce generosity and compassion as we develop a willingness to become more like Christ in His attributes and character. I Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” When we accept the covenant of salvation, we are letting go of our selfish independence in order to become sensitive to God and the needs of others.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

From my vantage point – the sofa – roughly 300 fans turned out to watch the Brickyard 400 at venerable Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 21 … and half of them left when Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will retire from NASCAR competition at the end of the 2017 season, was forced out of the race thanks to a blown radiator.

Most of those fans probably didn’t come for the actual race anyhow, which over time has earned a reputation as one of NASCAR’s most snooze-worthy events. Rather, they made the trip to demonstrate their respect, appreciation, support and yes, love, for Junior. He wasn’t going to win the Brickyard 500, but that’s not why fans were there.

They were there to say goodbye.

The decline of the Brickyard 400 is a sad story. It certainly began its stock car racing tenure with a bang. The track’s inaugural race in 1994 hosted the largest crowd in NASCAR history. A 23-year-old whippersnapper became an overnight sensation by winning the race in only his second season of Cup Series competition, then went on to become one of the most successful and celebrated drivers in the sport’s history.

His name? Jeff Gordon.

Dale Earnhardt, Sr. took the checkered flag at Indy the following year, and the winners’ list since then has included superstars like Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson. On paper, The Brickyard 400 should be an iconic event, mentioned in the same breath with places like Daytona, Darlington and Charlotte.  Read the rest of this entry »

Is the American Dream alive or dead in South Carolina?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

If you stop and really think about it, this is the most fundamental question one could ask about our state and nation.

And the answer says a lot about the kind of people we are as a state and a nation.

The American Dream is both very simple and very profound. It has been the driving force behind our country since its earliest days.

We all have our own slightly different definitions of the American Dream. This is mine: if you work hard and play by the rules, your children will be better off than you are.

The French writer Alexis de Tocqueville traveling America in the 1830s described it simply as “the charm of anticipated success.”

The actual phrase ‘The American Dream’ was coined in 1931 by James Truslow Adams in his book “The Epic of America.” He defined it as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement… It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

This simple dream has motivated countless millions from all corners of the world to come to America. They were/are of all colors, creeds, religions and cultures but they all shared one thing – a belief in the Dream. They were/are willing to uproot themselves from their extended families, a place and culture that had nourished their people for generations – and risk it all, their very lives, to come to America.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Friends are the greatest blessings in life

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I was thinking the other day about how wonderful it is to have friends and how rare it is to have good ones. I believe we can all agree there are levels and categories with the people we know that range from those who seem like a brother or sister to the casual acquaintance. Our special friends help celebrate our victories and console us when we fail and we can trust them with everything. You know that if anything serious were to happen, they would be by your side all the way to the end. In this day and age of electronic relationships, it’s refreshing to have someone we can confide in, to sit down with and be transparent as we share our heart. We were not created to be an independent island to ourselves but rather are given an internal sense of the need for love and to develop a covenant bond with others.

Friendship is all about sincerely caring for another person without any false motives or reasons. We realize that many people who know us are not really connected with us and that is alright. We accept that we will not be best friends with everyone and no doubt that most of our casual friends also have this same mutual feeling about us. Have you ever been talking with someone and as they ask how you are, they instantly move on to another subject before you hardly have a chance to answer? I believe that true friends ask about us out of sincerity and are really interested in what is going on in our life. Those who are happy when we are on the mountain and cry when we are going through a dark valley can be placed on our short list of individuals who love and care about us. Donna Roberts is quoted as saying, “A true friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.”  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The new No. 88 driver

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Here are nine words you’ve probably never heard anyone say: “I’ll be so glad when Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires.”

Since his official retirement announcement in April, Junior Nation has, for the most part, buried its head in the sand, pretending this isn’t happening, living in a fantasy world where only good things happen, and the white knight always wins.

When something disrupts that perfect rainbows-and-unicorns delusion, we behave in much the same way as the children who believe in fairy tales; if we ignore the bad, scary thing, it will go away.

So much for that theory, which came crashing down on July 20 when Hendrick Motorsports officially announced that Alex Bowman will step into the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet in 2018 after Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires from full-time driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series … and any sentient life that exists somewhere out there must surely have heard Earth’s people moaning, millions of miles away.

Taking over the wheel of the most popular ride in NASCAR is no small thing.

Bowman, who is only 24 years old, drove ten races with the No. 88 team last year while Earnhardt was sidelined by a concussion that caused him to miss the final half of the season. While he did OK, I believe I can speak for most people when I say that in the eyes of fans, he was merely a placeholder, filling in until their beloved Junior could strap himself into that car and get back to the business of winning races.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: A true account of faith and forgiveness

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

For those of you that have never heard of a woman named Corrie Ten Boom and her remarkable family, it is truly a heart-breaking account of courage and sacrifice. We begin our story with Cornelia (nicknamed Corrie) who was born in Haarlem, Netherlands, in 1892. She was raised in a devoted Christian atmosphere and lived in a large house above her father’s business where he was a jeweler and watch maker. This loving family believed in demonstrating their spiritual convictions by offering shelter, food and help to anyone in need. They also held a deep respect for the Jewish community in Amsterdam, considering them precious in God’s sight and during World War II, actually participated in an underground organization that secretly hid hundreds of Jews to protect them from arrest by Nazi authorities. Within their home, they built false walls, and alarm systems, but eventually were betrayed by one of their Dutch neighbors. Unfortunately, all ten of the family members were incarcerated, including Corrie’s 84-year-old father, who soon died in the Scheveningen prison, located near The Hague. Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp, near Berlin. Betsie suffered and died there on December 16, 1944. Corrie miraculously survived and in her book entitled The Hiding Place, she tells her inspiring story about the power of forgiveness. The depth of what she learned is seen in quotes such as this one; “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

The evil horrors of the holocaust are beyond comprehension and a sad reminder of the fallen state of mankind. When Corrie and Betsy were struggling to stay alive with sleeping on lice infested straw and nothing to eat but a small amount of bread and water each day, she tells of a particular prison guard that was cruel to them and how these nightmares haunted and tortured her soul. When Germany surrendered the war, Corrie was finally released and after regaining her health, she began traveling around the world giving her testimony for Jesus. Another of her popular declarations is, “Love is the strongest force in the world” (especially when we include our enemies). It was now 1947 and she had been invited to a large gathering in Munich to share with a devastated country how God desires that we let go of the resentment and forgive each other. Her message was centered on confessing our sins, and as we forgive, God is faithful to forgive us and begin the healing process. She said it was common to have auditoriums filled with solemn faces and when dismissed they would not say anything and quietly leave.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Watch out for the quiet ones

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

On July 8, under the lights at Kentucky Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. won his third NASCAR Cup Series race of the season, although in this case, the word “won” might be a bit of an understatement. He obliterated the rest of the field.

Popular, R-rated and very outspoken, the late comedian George Carlin had a famous bit in his standup routine based on the premise that “It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for.”

Carlin was playing for laughs, of course, and he got them, but in some ways, I guess he was on to something. How many times, not just in the movies but in real life, as well, have we seen blustery blowhards bested by smaller, quieter voices who, rather than bragging about what they planned to do, simply went out and got it done?

The sports world is all about big personalities, often with big mouths to match. Muhammad Ali constantly reminded anyone who would listen that he was “the greatest. The double greatest.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr. came along a little later and disputed that claim, saying “Yup, I’m better than Muhammad Ali. Sugar Ray Robinson? Yup, I’m better than Sugar Ray Robinson. I would never say there’s another fighter better than me.”

Let’s not forget about Terrell Owens, who once said, “I’ll watch the highlights every now and then but, as far as watching the game, I feel like I am the game,” or the always-entertaining “Sir Charles” Barkley, who said, “You got to believe in yourself. I believe I’m the best-looking guy in the world and I might be right.”

Last but not least, here’s what Martin Truex Jr. had to say after his win at Kentucky: “You can have all the money in the world and all the best equipment and parts and pieces, but if you don’t have the right guys together and the right driver together with all those guys, it’s not going to be successful.

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The Coding Movement is Sweeping the World, U.S. and S.C.

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

All the way from the board rooms of tech executives in Silicon Valley to the kindergarten class at Voyager Charter School in Charleston, the coding movement is sweeping the country.

So, who is behind the coding movement?

Let’s begin with the National Science Foundation, MIT Media Labs, Newt Gingrich, National Governors Association, Amazon, Disney, Tim Cook, American Airlines, DonorsChoose.org, Facebook, Google, Barack Obama, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Skype, Mark Zuckerberg, YouTube, John Deere, Jeff Bezos, Discovery Channel, Junior Achievement, Jeb Bush, National Basketball Association, One Laptop Per Child, Marriott, Bill Gates, Expedia, Mark Cuban, Delta Airlines, General Motors, Best Buy, JP Morgan, LinkedIn, Intel, Wells Fargo, Target, Salesforce, Verizon, Walmart, Corey Booker, AT&T, Accenture, Bill Clinton … to name just a few. This is to say nothing of just about every national educational organization in the country, 27 Democratic and Republican governors… well you get the picture.

OK, you say, but exactly what is the coding movement?

In the narrowest sense, it’s about teaching young people to be able to write computer code. In the broadest sense, it’s about promoting computer education.

Now, unless they have been living in a cave for the last 20 years of so, most people have figured out that computers are important and understand they are vital for our future. But, what most of us who have not been living in a cave generally don’t understand is how big a problem we have with the lack of skilled coders and computer education. A recent Washington Post article outlined the problem:

“An estimated 500,000 unfilled U.S. jobs require some level of computer-science understanding, yet three-quarters of the nation’s public schools do not offer any computer science courses, often sending companies turning to foreign workers for specialized skills. The federal government isn’t doing much to help: Virtually no federal funding is dedicated to enhancing computer science offerings in K-12 schools … Computer science education has long been treated as an elective in K-12 schools, a nice-to-have option for the few students who are naturally inclined to seek it out.”

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My Brain on NASCAR: Danica in Victory Lane

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

At Daytona International Speedway on July 1, Danica Patrick headed to Victory Lane for the second time in her NASCAR Cup Series career. Also for the second time, she was celebrating a victory in a race she didn’t win.

If you enjoy watching awards show as much as I do, you’re familiar with the routine. Each award generally involves five nominees, and when their category rolls around, cameras zoom in on their faces as they pretend not to appear anxious while they wait for the winner to be announced.

It is a cringe-worthy moment, as one nominee – now he winner — is legitimately thrilled, while the others wear forced smiles and pretend they aren’t bitterly disappointed.

This is kind of similar to the end of a NASCAR race, as the winner heads to Victory Lane and finishers two through five are held on pit road for live interviews, where they acknowledge the efforts of their team members before hightailing it out of there as quickly as possible.

Since the November 2011 announcement that she would be competing in the NASCAR Cup Series, sharing a Tommy Baldwin Racing car in an alliance with with Stewart-Haas Racing, Danica Patrick’s popularity exponentially exploded.

Many people thought that NASCAR Nation might reject her, but in fact, quite the opposite was true. In a sport that continually struggles with the challenges of an aging fan base, she was the bridge that connected new fans – most of them young females – with the sport of NASCAR.

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Living on Purpose: Choosing to manage our time wisely

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

In this modern world in which we live, the access of information is becoming an addiction. For many people, technology is emotionally stimulating entertainment and as it continues to advance we wonder if the intent is to influence us within this evolution of pleasure enhancement. It’s amazing to consider that only 70 years ago the concept of computers controlling the masses seemed more like science fiction but now it has become a reality. Who would have dreamed that in this short period of time that most everyone would be connected to a world-wide information system and what a significant part it would play in our everyday lives?

We realize that technology is helping us in many different ways but we also consider that possibly we are also being drawn into a dimension that is having a negative effect on our mind and spirit. Take smart-phones for instance, they are literally becoming a part of us. Since we are moving away from practical problem solving and personal human interaction, I can only imagine how the masses would react or even survive if service was lost and everything was turned off.

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South Carolina’s Impending $19 Billion ‘Robbery’?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

“Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen.” Woody Guthrie

Full disclosure: I have nothing against the state’s utilities. Back in the 1980s and 90s when I was Director of the Palmetto Project, two of our board members were Virgil C. Summer, retired Chair of the Board of SCANNA (the parent company of SCE&G) and Al Ballard, head of the Electric Co-ops of South Carolina, the retail distributors of Santee Cooper’s power. Virgil was the founding Chairman on the Palmetto Project. Both of these men exemplified the highest values of corporate integrity, accountability and putting the people of our state first. A more recent full disclosure is that in the last few years I have solicited, without success, financial support from both SCE&G and Santee Cooper for non-profit projects.

In 2008, South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee Cooper applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a permit to build and operate two nuclear power reactors in Jenkinsville, 20 miles northwest of Columbia. The facilities were to be built next to the existing Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station that has successfully been in operation since 1984.

The power companies also received permission from the S.C. Public Service Commission to raise their rates by $1.2 billion (2.5%) during the construction period to partially finance capital cost. The two facilities were to go on line in 2016 and 2019 and the original combined cost for both was $11 billion with SCE&G’s share at 55% and Santee Cooper at 45%.

Since then, things have gone from bad to worse to disastrous.

Today, both projects are still unfinished. They are not even close – 33 % competed. A Morgan Stanley analysis in March projected that the cost of completing the project could be $22.9 billion, if the project is competed at all. This $22.9 billion is double the original cost. By comparison, the entire budget for the state of South Carolina for this year is about $7.5 billion.

At the root of this tangle of financial issues is an insidious little legal provision called the “base load rate.” In 2007, the power companies got the legislature to pass a law that said the rate payers will have to pay in advance for the construction cost of new power plants – plus the power companies would be guaranteed a profit of 10.25%.

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Living on Purpose: A young patriot willing to give all

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Every summer we look forward to July fourth because it’s filled with fun things to do, like barbequing, picnics, games, family reunions, fireworks and of course it’s a paid vacation day. Along with the excitement and activities, let us also remember and be grateful for those who have served our country so that we can enjoy our freedom. Independence Day is all about the courage of many Americans who fought against Great Britain in the Revolutionary War and with much blood-shed declared the victory and helped establish this great nation. On July fourth, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, declared the sovereignty of the United States of America as they signed the Declaration of Independence which is recognized as our nations birthday.

There is an interesting story of a young man who was a soldier in this war and in every sense of the word defines the meaning of a true American hero. Nathan Hale of Coventry, Connecticut was born in 1755 and grew up to be a highly educated and handsome young man who had every prospect for a happy and fulfilling life. Those who knew him commented on his love for sports, his kindness and strong Christian convictions. As tension increased about a possible conflict with the British, Nathan like many other enthusiastic young men, joined a local militia and was quickly advanced to the rank of sergeant. When the war officially became a reality, many chapters of Connecticut militia rushed to Massachusetts to help their neighbors during the Siege of Boston but Hale was unsure whether to join these forces or to wait and see what would unfold. He was a young professional teacher that had a lot to lose especially with not being clear about what was happening. In early July 1775, Nathan received a heartfelt letter from his best friend, Benjamin Tallmadge who had seen the war firsthand and was now relaying about the situation. Tallmadge told Nathan that teaching school was truly noble but at this time it was critical to consider the responsibility of defending this glorious country. The day after receiving this letter, Nathan Hale resigned his teaching position and became dedicated to the call of duty.

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My Brain on NASCAR: Kyle Busch

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

2015 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch is not a happy camper.

How do I know this? Are we super-secret pen pals and he shared this with me in confidence? No. Did he tell someone else, and I saw it on Twitter because people can’t keep anything to themselves these days? No.

But I definitely know that Kyle is not only unhappy, but downright ticked off. You know it, too, and you know the reason why just as well as I do.

He isn’t winning.

For probably 70 percent of the competitors in NASCAR’s Cup Series, putting up the numbers that Busch has earned in 2017 would constitute a successful season. Two poles. Four stage wins. Nine top-10 finishes. Six top fives. A current ranking of fourth in the driver standings. Not too shabby, right?

Wrong. I can’t help but think that for someone like Kyle Busch – if in fact there is anyone else like him – a no-win season so far feels more like a bed of nails than a cushy La-Z-Boy recliner.   The guy is much more than a driver; he is driven.

Back in 2010, Denny Hamlin went on a bit of a racing rampage, taking eight checkered flags and finishing the season in second place, behind – who else? – Jimmie Johnson. When he crossed the start/finish line at Darlington, Hamlin radioed his crew these five words: “All we do is win,” a phrase that ran as a headline in media outlets all across the country and eventually ended up on team T-shirts.

Anyone can have a great season, but a great career is a different matter entirely … which brings us back to the subject at hand. I am frequently asked that if I could choose just one driver to root for over the course of an entire season, who would it be?

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