Archive for category Opinion

DOT Commission: Go. Just go.

By Hannah Hill for TheNerve.org
June 29, 2017

In less than a week, Governor Henry McMaster will acquire the power to fire any or all the Department of Transportation’s commissioners. It was a DOT-reform element in the the gas tax bill that was passed this year. It takes effect July 1.

The commission has been responsible all along for the condition of the roads. Ultimately, it decides what to fix  and when, how to do it, and how to spend money allocated by the General Assembly.

While the gas tax bill didn’t fix everything, it did give us clearer lines of accountability — if we will use them.

That’s great, because no one is happy with how the commission has handled its responsibilities. Read the rest of this entry »

The Biggest Pension Loser

By Hannah Hill for TheNerve.org
June 2, 201

The State published a story two days ago with the headline “SC pension deal will hit cities, counties, schools hard.” It’s referring to the astronomical increase in employer contributions to the state pension fund. The bill, now signed into law, increases the employer contribution by 70 percent over the next six years.

State agencies aren’t the only employers in the state pension system. Local governments, school districts, and even some private organizations and non-profits are part of the system and will have to cough up the dough to cover the mandated employer-contribution increase. Read the rest of this entry »

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Photos Included, Courtesy, SCPA

Spartanburg Day’s Williamson Building Legacy

By Jacob Wilson

Record setting junior Zion Williamson and the Spartanburg Day School Griffins are in the hunt for a second consecutive South Carolina Independent School Association State Championship. 
Williamson, who needed just 34 points to grab the South Carolina High School single season scoring record, scored 38 points against Northside Christian Academy (Lexington, SC) at Sumter Civic Center in the South Carolina Independent School Association State Tournament last Saturday to set a new state high school record for scoring. 
The Griffins square off against Pee Dee in the second round of the Class 2A SCISA Tournament at Sumter Civic Center. With a victory, Spartanburg Day advances to a third round matchup on Thursday.
If the Griffins can collect a victory on Thursday, they will compete for the SCISA championship on Saturday at the Sumter Civic Center. Williamson led Spartanburg-Day to an 80-57 victory over Bethesda-Academy in last year’s title game. 
Williamson is looking to add another trophy to his long list of accomplishments. The junior chalked a record breaking 27th 30-point game of the season with his 37 point effort against Oakbrook Prep on Valentine’s Day. 
Denmark-Olar’s Larry Davis, who also held the single-season scoring record, chalked up 26 30-point games in 1991. 
“Zion is a basketball player that plays the game the right way,” said Spartanburg Day coach Lee Sartor. “Even though he can do some amazing things with the basketball, he shares the ball with his teammates.
He has a chance to do what a lot of us dream we could do. He understands that. He is a tremendous basketball player, but he is an even better person.”
“I have a strong love and passion for the game,” Williamson said. “I am just happy to be able to play basketball. 
I thank God for the athleticism that he gave me. I just love the game of basketball and love to make the crowd smile.”
The 6’7’’, 220 pound junior, who is currently ranked No. 2 overall in his class by ESPN, has chalked up ove gained national attention for his highlight reel dunks.  
NBA All-Stars like Jermaine O’Neal (Eau Claire), Ray Allen (Hillcrest), Kevin Garnett (Mauldin) , Alex English (Dreher), and Pete Maravich (D.W. Daniel) all played high school ball in South Carolina. 
However, those great players did not grow up in the era of social media or YouTube. 
“Social media has changed the whole feel of play,” said Williamson’s step-father Lee Anderson. “We purposely kept him out of major events.
He was in training and we knew that this day would eventually come. We saw kids that were ranked really high in the country his age. I told him that ‘You are better than these kids. When you get into ninth grade, we will show the world that you’re better than those kids.’”
Anderson said that Williamson showed out in a tournament in Atlanta the summer before his ninth grade year. 
“From that moment, his name has been in the spotlight,” Anderson said. “When we were growing up, we didn’t have social media. 
A reporter posted that he was the best ninth grader in the country. Social media has played a big role in getting his name out there.”
One of WIlliamson’s highlight clips has eclipsed the 1 million view mark. 
His Instagram account has exploded. In August of 2016, the junior had 3,500 followers. As of February 10, Williamson has over 235,000 followers. 
One of his followers Drake, Williamson’s favorite rapper, even sported a Spartanburg Day School number 12 jersey on instagram on January 15. Williamson has also received phone calls from several NBA players including James Harden and Dwight Howard. 
The junior also earned No. 1 in ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 Plays for his dunk on Friday, December 10 against Ben Lippen.
The junior’s meteoric rise to fame has been well documented. Williamson started working for this fame when he was five years old. 
“He came to me when he was five years old and told me that he wanted to play college basketball,” said Anderson, who played basketball at Clemson University. “I said son ‘I played at the Division 1 level and it is tough. If that is what you want to do, I will teach you how to play the game. But only if that is what you want to do.’ He said ‘Yes sir.’ “
“We would wake up at 5 am in the morning and go to the park,” Anderson said. “There were a couple of mornings where I’d get lazy and wouldn’t want to get up. 
He would be in my room at 5 am and say ‘Dad, I thought we were supposed to go to the gym.’ And I thought woah, this kid is serious. I realized at that time that he was serious so I needed to be serious.” 
Williamson spent his summers in the gym playing the game he loved.
“In the summer, he would be in the gym from 9 am to 5 pm,” said Anderson. “Every single day.” 
“Zion is a well-rounded player,” Sartor said. “He has worked hard on his strengths and weaknesses.”
With a rare combination of size and ball handling ability, Williamson has drawn interest from the national media, scouts, and the most prominent college coaches in the country. 
Two basketball hall of fame coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski have made the trek from Chapel Hill and Durham, respectively, to see Williamson play live.
In a game against Shannon Forest on February 10, Williamson grabbed a steal, dribbled down the court, and nailed a reverse 360 dunk. 
“He has the size of a post player and the agility of a guard,” said Sartor. “That is just unusual. 
People are surprised that he is so big, strong, and quick and fast.”

No amount of new revenue will solve the state’s roads problem

By Hannah Hill
February 10, 2017

Last week, the South Carolina Senate passed a bill that would lay the groundwork allowing the governor to appoint the state superintendent of education — making the Department of Education a cabinet agency and fully accountable to the governor. The bill has yet to pass the House, but a similar bill passed the House last session.

The idea behind the legislation is sound. Apart from the governor and lieutenant governor, South Carolina has no fewer than seven constitutional officers — public officials elected by the entire state. Our system creates, in effect, a series of “little governors” in charge of their own fiefdoms: The commissioner of agriculture, for example, is separately elected by the state, as if the average voter has any set idea of what the state’s agriculture policy should be. The same is true of the adjutant general, as if the average voter has more than a clue of what that office even does. Read the rest of this entry »

Op-Ed: Succession Quandary Shows Legislative Negligence

By Hannah Hill
December 13, 2016

The constitutional conundrum South Carolina will face if Nikki Haley is confirmed as UN ambassador is evidence of at least one thing: Its legislators take a casual approach to the rule of law.

How did we get to this point? The amendment to the constitution that voters approved in 2012 would have been enacted in 2018, but when the bill to ratify the amendment was filed in the Senate in 2013 it left out a key portion – which changed the effective date. Here is what happened: Read the rest of this entry »

Lawmakers Who Still Work for the Groups That Influence Them

By Elisabeth Parker for TheNerve.org
November 3, 2016

Ethics laws in many states frown on elected officials working for lobbyist principals – and for good reason. There’s something fishy about a lawmaker taking money from an organization that employs lobbyists for the purpose of convincing the lawmaker to vote for or against certain bills. The working relationship may be completely honest – there may not be any vote-trading at all – but it doesn’t look good to the public.

Representative Russell Ott, for example, was previously a lobbyist for the SC Farm Bureau, as well as their state legislative affairs coordinator. When his father, Harry Ott, resigned as a legislator in 2013 for a position with the United States Department of Agriculture, Russell won his father’s seat. Following election, Ott continued to do consulting work for the Farm Bureau. As The Nerve reported two years ago, Ott denies any conflict, even though he sits on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which any legislation important to the Farm Bureau would have to pass. Read the rest of this entry »

Confused about sales taxes? Me too.

By Phillip Cease for TheNerve.org
October 3, 2016

The South Carolina House of Representatives is at it again. This time they are really going to fix things. No more lip service. This is about action. They are going to fix the tax code.

There is, in short, a committee.

The South Carolina House Tax Policy Review Committee has been tasked with looking over South Carolina’s tax code. Shortly after the chairman of the committee, Rep. Tommy Pope, started the first meeting, he quoted a fellow House member, Gary Simrill, in saying that “any time we deal with taxes it’s always lobbyist full employment day.”  And therein lies the problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Monuments to Politicians Are Everywhere in South Carolina

By PHILLIP CEASE for TheNerve.org
September 26, 2016

Take a trip down any major highway, back road, or waterway and you’ll likely come across the Senator So-and-So Interchange or the Representative So-and-So Frontage Road. State lawmakers love to name roads and structures after each other, with the result that every other road or building in the state has one of their names on it.

In Washington, these little vanity projects are called “Monuments to Me.” How many are there in South Carolina? I recently discovered that former Senator John C Land III has the distinct privilege of having not one but two boat landings bearing his name – one on Lake Marion and one on Lake Moultrie.* Who knows how many fishing trips have been delayed or thwarted by hapless fishermen showing up at the wrong John C. Land III boat landing. Read the rest of this entry »