is a cooperative sharing site exclusively for use by members and associate members of the S.C. Press Association. Stories, editorials and photos are for use only in member publications and on their websites. This sharing site only works if you participate. If you have something you would like to share, please do so. Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines to recognize where material came from.

My Brain on NASCAR: The world of promotions

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Just a couple of days prior to the race at Richmond International Raceway on April 30, I got an email from Jon Keller. Jon works for a global PR firm called Zeno, which according to its website, is “an independent, entrepreneurial team of visionaries, experts and achievers.

“We love to see our work break through and disrupt thinking, perception and markets,” the description continues. “First, we explore the roots of people’s emotions and motivations, then we apply that insight to our thinking and to the ideas we generate for clients.”

In this particular case, the disruptive breakthrough involved generating ideas about Busch beer, the primary sponsor of 2014 Monster Energy Cup Series Champion Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Chevy. Race fans who stopped by Busch’s activation kiosk in Richmond could enter for the opportunity to win a million bucks, if Harvick takes the checkered flag at the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20. Not a bad payoff just for dropping your name into a box.

NASCAR and the speedways that hosts its events are no strangers to the world of promotion. Sadly, the days when raceway staffers, from the guy who cut the grass right on up to the directors of public relations and marketing, would cruise around town, sticking signs in the ground on sticks, or hammering them onto light poles or any other empty surface just begging to be filled with a crafty sales pitch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Pompa Goes #ALLIN With Clemson Car In Bama At Talladega Superspeedway

By Hunter Thomas

Fast Track Racing’s Ed Pompa will feature the Clemson Tigers on his No. 10 Chevrolet this weekend in Crimson Tide Country at Talladega Superspeedway during the ARCA Racing Series General Tire 200 on Friday.

Back in January, the Clemson University football team defeated the University of Alabama, 35-31 in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The football title was Clemson’s first since 1981. On Friday, Pompa’s race car will be wrapped in bright orange and purple as he hits the track for the second time this season.

“Before the season started, I decided to wrap the superspeedway car in Clemson colors for Daytona and Talladega,” Pompa said. “ASM Graphics did an amazing job of designing and installing the ‘Clemson’ wrap. My son Jeff graduated from Clemson in 2012, so they received a bunch of my racing funds as tuition. I had a plan to auction off the hood from the Daytona car for charity. Now, the plan is to auction off the hood from the Daytona car and the Talladega car. Andy Hillenburg (Fast Track Racing team owner) has agreed to donate the Daytona hood to the Clemson Foundation, and the Talladega hood to The Double H Ranch. There are huge details related to these auctions being finalized, which I hope to be able to announce by race day.

“I’m sure the purple and orange car will bring out some animated response from the Alabama race fans, but it’s all in good fun. Might need a police escort to get out of the track!” Read the rest of this entry »

“Complaining” from The Times and Democrat

“Complaining” from The Times and Democrat

“Debtors” from The Times and Democrat

“Debtors” from The Times and Democrat

“No pot” from The Times and Democrat

“No pot” from The Times and Democrat

S.C. Education: The good, the bad and the hopeful

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

There is probably no other topic that has been the subject of this column more often than education. And the reason is very simple: if we don’t fix education in this state, nothing else really matters.

The road to a prosperous future for South Carolina runs past the school house door.

Unfortunately, in South Carolina this road (like our highways) is full of potholes and in great need of repair after suffering from years of neglect. As a recent US News and World Report ranking showed, overall our state is 50th in education.

This week’s column is about some education milestones on this road to a better future. These milestones are a small sampling of recent education news – some good, some bad and some hopeful.

Requiring Computer Coding for High School Graduation – A bill was recently introduced in the S.C. House of Representatives that would require all students in grades 9 -12 to take courses in computer coding as a requirement for their high school diploma – and it would take effect as soon as 2019. The initial response to the bill, S.C. Computer Science Education Initiative, was very encouraging as it passed the S.C. House by a 106-1 vote.

Today, only one credit in ‘computer science’ is required for graduation but this can be something as basic as keyboarding – a long way for the type of coding skills required by the new legislation. This new initiative is part of what has become a veritable national movement to encouraging high schools to require coding for graduation. It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor that in just three years – in 2020 – there will be a shortage of over one million computer coding jobs in the US. If ever there was a great opportunity for our young people, this is it.  Read the rest of this entry »

“GOP Fizzle” by Stuart Neiman

“GOP Fizzle” by Stuart Neiman

Living on Purpose: Having compassion on those less fortunate

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

In today’s world, it’s common to see people standing on the corner holding signs that declare how desperate they are for financial assistance. In our small town, we also have individuals that walk up and down the streets at all hours of the day and night and over the years they have become familiar simply by being continually visible. I along with others have spoken with them and assist in whatever way possible. Most of them have a place to stay and receive social assistance but still need help in many different ways. They suffer from various health problems and dysfunctional family situations but unfortunately are also exposed to harassment as people honk their horns and laugh.

One older gentleman in particular pushes a shopping cart around town and it’s usually filled with empty cans and various items he has found. His skin is weathered and wrinkled and occasionally someone will stop and talk with him and bring him a sandwich. In speaking with him I discovered he receives social security and has a modest place to live, but he seems to enjoy walking the streets and is free to do whatever he wants as long as he is not bothering anyone or causing a problem. We have a number of other colorful characters that do the same thing and remind us there are people who live a much different life than we do. I’m sure there are reasons and circumstances that would explain their situation but we are not to look down or be cruel with those who have experienced a difficult and disappointing life. Colossians chapter 3 describes the attributes that Jesus is hoping we will realize and develop. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, a heart of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; showing patience and understanding, and forgiving one another.”

As a community chaplain and a member of our state and local emergency crisis response teams, I am involved with those seeking assistance especially during the wintertime. Our local leaders graciously open the schools and specific buildings for emergency warming shelters for the homeless and restaurants are always generous to donate food. Recently, a new emergency shelter has opened with a vision to provide 60 beds, along with washers and dryers where individuals can maintain their clothes and they also attempt to serve 3 meals per day. My sister Terri helps me each year with the holiday food boxes for the needy, was taking a tour of this new facility recently with her 8-year-old son Victor. He listened as she was explaining to him about generosity and how important it is to help others. Suddenly, he spoke up and said, “Mom, maybe the man that pushes that shopping cart around town can find this place.” The room fell quiet. He was trying to process this information and the innocence of a child had connected with having compassion on someone in need. This brings a tear to my eye as I think how important it is to teach our children to not take our blessings for granted and how Christ wants us to love and help others.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Earnhardt, Jr., the best-loved

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Had you asked me a week ago, I would have said there have been only two occasions since this column’s inception when I have dreaded sitting down to write it.

Now, there are three of those occasions. After 18 seasons and more than 600 NASCAR Cup Series races, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. publicly announced on April 25 that his driving career would conclude at the end of the 2017 season. And for one stunned and very heart-wrenching moment, the world seemed to stop on its axis.

The news was very sad and slightly shocking, but not completely unexpected. Earnhardt missed half of the 2016 racing season while recovering from yet another head injury, the latest in a string of concussions that has beleaguered him for the past several years.

Obviously the decision was not made hastily – the beloved driver of the No. 88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports has been delaying contract extension discussions with team owner Rick Hendrick, and in a number of recent interviews has mentioned his desire to start a family with his new wife, Amy.

“Family” is a NASCAR lifestyle. There’s no law stating you have to spend the majority of your life in racetrack garages and infields to live it that way, but in Junior’s case, that’s what happened, He grew up under both the shadow and the tutelage of arguably the most revered athlete in NASCAR history, and even now, at the age of 42, it’s something that weighs heavily on his mind. To say that Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was a tough act to follow is putting it mildly.  Read the rest of this entry »

Noble Column: Plastic Bags, SC’s Home Rule and Dying Oceans

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Over the 40 years that I have known her, I have come to have great respect for my wife’s political antenna. When she says something about a politician or an issue, I have learned that it’s best to pay attention.

My wife is not a political junkie in the traditional sense. And, just living with me all these years has forced her to hear a lot more about a lot of people and a lot of issues than any sane and reasonable person should ever have to endure. My apologies, dear.

Like most normal people, she doesn’t follow this stuff on a daily basis. But, when she offers a strong and definitive opinion about someone or some issue, I’ve learned that she is usually right … even if it takes the rest of us a long time to see the wisdom of her judgement.

Just one example: many years ago, I became friendly with an overly ambitious eager beaver that wanted to run for Congress. After just one shared dinner, my wife judged him as excessively selfish and the type of person that would cut corners to get where he wanted to go. Years later, this eager beaver had made his way up the slippery pole of politics and was running for President, and during a heated TV interview he revealed the corner cutting side of his personality.

My wife just looked at me across the room and though she did not say a word, the message was loud and clear: “I told you so.”

Recently, her antenna has gone up again. This time it’s plastic bags.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: With God, it’s all about our attitude

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We know how important it is to have a good attitude and the correct motives especially when it comes to approaching God. Here are two Bible stories that expose the human conscience and identify why some people seem to overlook what is really important in their quest for satisfaction and security. Our first example is found in Luke chapter 18 and is about a wealthy businessman that has a meeting with Jesus. Verse 18 says, “And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” It’s easy to read over this and not discern exactly what he was asking. It seems “eternal life” is what everyone is always interested in, and the easy version of salvation has given the masses just enough false security to believe that all we need to do is just understand the story of Calvary and everything will be all right. We notice at the end of this conversation that Jesus perceived the pride and greed in this man’s heart and knew that He needed to become blunt with what true discipleship is all about. When Jesus explained that salvation was more about personal relationship than keeping a list of rules, the man weighed the cost against the scale of his love for materialism and decided that the price was too steep. Tragically, this is a very common reaction among those who are faced with yielding their independence. Allow me to say, we will never enjoy spiritual fulfillment while living in the bondage of selfishness and arrogance. Of course, we can settle for a socially acceptable religious facade, but again, God knows the intentions of our heart. Read the rest of this entry »

“Simple Pleasures” from The Times and Democrat

“Simple Pleasures” from The Times and Democrat

“Jobless Figuring” from The Times and Democrat

“Jobless Figuring” from The Times and Democrat

“MOAB” from The Times and Democrat

“MOAB” from The Times and Democrat

Creating functional art from recycled skateboards

By Kyle Vuille
Carolina Reporter

The act – and art – of skateboarding is open to interpretation and those who practice it believe they can do anything their bodies and minds are capable of expressing.

Professional skateboarder Marc Johnson said it best: “I had this idea, if you think of something, you can do it. You know, skateboarding is ideas that are put in action. I mean, every time you do a trick it’s mostly in your head and your body is just responding to what your head is telling it what to do. You can do any trick if you really want to, if you put your mind to it and try it long enough. if you can think of it, you can pretty much do it on a skateboard.”

Larry Reaves, 41, has expanded on those possibilities, taking two different schools of thought on form and function and blending them to create beautiful crafted pieces from old skateboards.

A standard skateboard deck is comprised of seven individually glued layers of maple wood that are pressed together.

Colorful scraps of the “skatewood” lay in a box. Reaves is influenced by Japanese artist Haroshi who uses recycled boards to make sculptures of art and his friend, George Rocha, who started Iris Skateboards.

In the skateboard world, boards come and go. Just by the nature of skateboarding, boards are used and abused.  They’re bound to be scratched, cracked, and snapped over time. Most decks get thrown away or go in the pit at your friend’s next bonfire.

Reaves grants these battered boards a second chance to shine by combining his craft of woodworking and his 31 years of skateboarding to create beautiful, and functional, pieces of art.

Reaves, 41, has been practicing carpentry for eight years, but many of his woodworking skills were honed over the years as a skateboarder who built his own ramps.

This piece from Reaves’ personal collection is a small club made from a board pressed between two pieces of mahogany wood.

“Since about ’86, it’s like, means to a way, making things to skateboard on, and steal your dad’s tools and make a thing to skateboard on, so yeah, I guess that’s full circle now we’re here making things out of skateboards,” Reaves said.

Reaves makes everything from knife handles to beer tap handles using “skatewood,” as Reaves calls it. He said he has been influenced in his work by Japanese artist Haroshi and George Rocha, founder of Iris Skateboards, a company that makes new boards out of old ones.

The process starts with getting the grip tape off the top of the board. Reaves’ secret is leaving the boards out in the sun for 20 minutes so the glue weakens and the top of the grip layer loosens, leaving some residue.

“You just use solar power and it comes right off,” Reaves said.

He then takes a palm sander with coarse sandpaper and sands off the graphics on the bottom along with the remains of the glue from the griptape.

Reaves says depending on the project he is working on for a client, he will ask them to supply him with a deck of their own giving it a personal, sentimental feel.

The next step in the process is shaving the “skatewood” into strips and gluing them in different shapes and patterns to create a work of art. The number of boards used for a project depends on the size and nature of it. This is where the table or band saws and the lathe come in to cut and shape a piece.

Reaves works a piece on the lathe. His machine rotates the wood to be shaved and formed.


For those who aren’t carpenters, a lathe, by definition, is a machine for shaping a piece of material, such as wood or metal, by rotating it rapidly along its axis while pressing a fixed cutting or abrading tool against it.

The finishing touches include sanding down the piece once for a smooth texture and if desired, adding a coat of varnish to create a shiny, polished look.

Reaves’ company, Reaves Woodworks, has gained exposure in the past year with the help of social media sites such as Instagram.

A special order of beer tap handles made of the “skatewood” are ready for more sanding and polishing. This unique design is headed for a bar in Charlotte.

“That’s funny, like my Instagram has gotten pretty popular in the past year and so I get a lot of those DIY crafter people that follow me and they’re just like ‘how do get your veneers that color’ and ‘how do you make all those lines in your products,’” Reaves said, “and I’m like ‘It’s a recycled skateboard, did you not read the description of what I’m posting?

“So that’s pretty funny to see people not dumbfounded, but just like ohhhhhhh, okay I understand now but yeah, it’s a trip to see non-skateboarders,,, their take and also their appreciation,” Reaves said.

Reaves says the appreciation of the skateboard community is such a boost to his business. Transworld Skateboard Magazine gave him a shoutout on Instagram and overnight, Reaves gained thousands of followers. Reaves currently has 12,200 followers and always has projects going on.

With the support of nearby local skateshops ranging from Charleston to Charlotte, Reaves has plenty of used boards to keep up with the supply and demand of his products.

“Then last holiday season, just trying to batch out bunches of screwdrivers and knives and some like that, I think I did 30 knives, 40 cutting boards, and then assorted hand tools,” Reaves said, “Last holiday season was a killer for us.”

Reaves does normal carpenter jobs building tabletops, stairs, porches as well as still being on call for information technology work, which he did before starting his woodworking shop.

The father of three says he’s the happiest he’s ever been doing what he loves to do while earning a living for his family.

“I like making useful items, not so much something that sits on the shelf.”

My Brain on NASCAR: Short Tracks

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

It is not uncommon, when one of NASCAR’s rare “off” weekends rolls around – the recent Easter weekend is a very current example — to hear the inevitable complaints, things like, “Aww, man, there’s no race this weekend.”

Or, as my friend Dianne put it (with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek) – “What’s up with that? Who needs family time?”

It is a fact that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series does not compete every week, and they’re being particularly lazy this year. After having the audacity to enjoy a couple of rare and well-deserved days off to spend Easter with their families, NASCAR’s premier racing series will follow it up with yet another free weekend – at the end of August.

Yes, you read that right. In 2017, from February’s Daytona 500 to the season-ending championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, NASCAR takes a whopping two weekends off. After the first one, they’ll surely be thankful for the short period of R&R they got during Easter, because the next stop on the circuit – Bristol Motor Speedway on April 23 – is anything but relaxing.

More than two decades ago, the late Jim Hunter, who then served as president of Darlington Raceway, took masterful advantage of what could have been a discouraging situation for a track promoter.

Read the rest of this entry »

SCLEAP: Providing on-call counseling for South Carolina’s law enforcement

By Joseph Crevier

Carolina News

When gunman Sueng-Hui Cho burst into a Virginia Tech classroom building and fatally shot 32 students and professors and wounded 17 others in April 2007, law enforcement officers from all over Southwest Virginia responded to the 911 alarm.

The carnage they witnessed in Norris Hall and a campus dormitory was almost too much to absorb. Within a day, the Rev. Eric Skidmore was traveling from South Carolina to Virginia to help Blacksburg area officers cope with the aftermath of the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.

Methodist Church

Eric Skidmore and the SCLEAP team are based out of the Heyward Street United Methodist Church located at 2501 Heyward Street in Columbia.

Eric Skidmore

Eric Skidmore, program manager, was recruited in 1997 by SLED to lead the then-new South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program.

Police car

SCLEAP works largely in conjunction with the Columbia Police Department, but also extends throughout the state and to four state departments.

“That chief, she knew that they needed help because this was much bigger than a single internal peer team can take care of, because all their people were involved in it,” Skidmore, program manager for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program, said. SCLEAP is modeled on an FBI program aimed at assisting officers who have witnessed traumatic events, from widely publicized incidents to those that don’t get much attention but nevertheless leave an impression on the minds of law enforcement.

Eight years after the Virginia Tech slayings, Skidmore and his staff headed to Charleston the day after nine parishioners were killed at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by white supremacist Dylann Roof. Roof, who was sentenced to die for the crime earlier this year, had been welcomed into the church’s evening Bible study on June 17, 2015. At the benediction, he pulled out a gun and began firing at the pastor and church members in what he hoped was the launch of a race war.

“It happened of course on a Wednesday night at a Bible study, and Thursday I got a call from an administrator in Charleston County that said we’ve heard about your peer support for police officers, can you come down here and talk with us,” Skidmore said.

Upon its founding in 1997, SCLEAP only served the members of five state agencies and their family members, including the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, known as SLED, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina Department of Public Safety and the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon.

Today, it extends to much of the Southeast and has been involved in assisting officers who have responded to major tragedies and less publicized, but violent, incidents from domestic violence to suicides that weigh heavily on first responders. The agency also helps those who suffer with post-traumatic stress syndrome from their time in war zones, those who have alcohol and drug related issues related to their service in the military or law enforcement and suicides in law enforcement.

The SCLEAP team only responds to tragic events upon request, Skidmore said. He said relationships he has built through training and seminars have led to partnerships as far north as Ohio and as far east as Texas.

It also relies on help from peer support team members, who are law enforcement officials trained to provide counseling. SCLEAP also has a cadre of trained volunteers who are officers, mental health professionals and chaplains.

“We have worked diligently on partnership with other states. So, when Virginia Tech happened, what’s important to know about that in terms of why they called us, (is that) we knew each other and we had trained together,” Skidmore said. “It was the personal relationships between the chief of police in Blacksburg, Virginia, and peer support elements in other states.”

Skidmore, along with SCLEAP staff members Steve Shugart and Ron Kenyon, are all ordained ministers. They offer 24/7 support and counseling to non-sworn and sworn law enforcement officials upon request, many of whom are veterans of the U.S. military.

The three-man staff is required to work 37 hours a week but often works overtime without pay because of the on-call nature of it, Kenyon says.

“When I was in the army we had to go over for tours in Vietnam and we were gone for months at a time, so this isn’t that bad,” Kenyon said.

Shugart and Kenyon specialize in counseling veterans, who often choose to go into law enforcement after the military.

Dr. Jack Ginsberg, a licensed clinical neuropsychologist at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, said signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and stress are more common in veterans because of the nature of their jobs. He uses forms of therapy ranging from simple verbal counseling to more intense types like neurotherapy, which tracks brain waves.

“Almost all returning combat veterans have a period of excessive alcohol use upon return. Three months is the minimum, six months is the typical, some of the time they will straighten out on their own,” Ginsberg says.

Ginsberg said drug use isn’t nearly as prevalent as alcohol abuse, though neither form of self-medication is helpful. In fact, they only make the problem worse, he said.

But that’s exactly what SCLEAP tries to do — minimize stress and prevent extreme cases.

“When they call, they kind of know what they’re gonna get,” Skidmore says.

“They’re gonna get people trained in a particular model, they’re gonna get mostly peer support team members, sworn officers from other agencies, they’re gonna get a mental health professional, they’re gonna get a chaplain and they’re gonna get a program that is tried and true and is sort of a standard of care in the high speed environment of public safety.”


Please email Joe Crevier at with any questions

, ,

Sweet sounds on a Saturday at Soda City Market

By Danielle Kennedy

/ Carolina Reporter

It’s a crisp, chilly Saturday morning on Columbia’s Main Street at the Soda City Market. Vendors with an array of goods from beaded necklaces to creamed blueberry honey line the streets seeking to lure shoppers over to their tents and tables for a sell.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of people, well-manicured canines and playing children, the sweet sound of a violin breaks through the cheerful noise of the weekly market scene.

A small, 11-year-old girl launches into a sonata by Handel and runs her bow expertly up and down her instrument.

Danka Ndubuisi, who has been playing since the age of five, stands on the median, slightly elevated above the passersby, completely focused on making sure the vibrations sent through her violin are perfect. One hand strums and plucks while the other draws the bow across the strings. Tippers bow before her to place money in her violin case, behind the sign “For our music lessons.”

“It sounds like she’s playing staccato,” said Melodik Rukus. “She’s good,” as he passes Danka playing her violin. Others passing by either remain silent and enjoy her playing or let her know how great she sounds.

“Wow, that’s beautiful.”

She performs at the weekly Soda City Market because she wants to raise money to continue her lessons at University of South Carolina.

Her mother, Malgorzata Ndubuisi, (pronounced Dew-BU-see), stands a few paces off under a large tree just to the right of Danka to watch and listen to her daughter’s lovely sounds.

“Danka started lessons at USC in the Suzuki Strings,” said Malgorzata Ndubuisi. “I was looking for a place for my kids to learn music and USC offers this program for very young children with private lessons.”

Danka, whose mother is Polish and father is Nigerian, is the third of six children — 12-year-old twin brothers Milka and Slawka, 9-year-old Eliasz, seven-year-old Izaisz and four-year-old Bozenka. All are home-schooled and attend the Suzuki Strings program at USC.

Danka can be seen performing in the midst of a crowd of strangers at Soda City sometimes twice or three times a month depending on her schedule.

When she grows up, Danka said, “I want to be a violin teacher, anywhere.”

Living on Purpose: Parents can guide but children make their own choices

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

How many parents have waited for the day when their child’s eyes would suddenly be opened and like the prodigal they will finally see the truth and change their ways? Mothers and fathers dearly love their kids, but unfortunately, things do not always go as planned and many difficult children have caused their parents much worry, sadness, and disappointment. It is easy to blame the parents, but I do not believe that all liability can be laid at their doorstep. Parents have the perfect opportunity to present constructive thinking, discipline and a sense of right and wrong into their children’s mind and spirit within the formative years, however this does not always guarantee the child will continue in the direction they were pointed. We guide and provide for our children, but they have a mind of their own.

Children are like sponges when it comes to learning and are very curious about what they observe, which gives every parent the duel opportunity to not only be the instructors but also the responsibility to demonstrate what they believe in front of them. We must also realize that children are vulnerable to other outside influences and have the ability to embrace whatever they want. So, how important is it to protect and guard the mind and spirit of a young child? Many experts agree that the first six years in a child’s life is his or her most important years of mental, emotional and spiritual development. It is believed that the foundation that is laid within the individual’s conscience during this crucial period of time becomes the decision filter they will use for the rest of their life.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Up To Here” from The Times and Democrat

“Up To Here” from The Times and Democrat

“Up To Here” from The Times and Democrat