Better Oversight, More Transparency Required

July 13, 2012 8:25 AM
Better Oversight, More Transparency Required

“The treasurer has a legitimate concern. He has the right, if he is putting his signature on there, to have staff to give him confidence that what he is doing is right for the people of the state.” Governor Nikki Haley

Better oversight and more transparency of investment decisions for the state’s $25 billion pension fund may result from a vote taken by the S.C. Budget and Control Board Thursday.

The board, chaired by Gov. Nikki Haley and including Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White as members, unanimously (5-0) approved a motion by Loftis to “hire a counsel to determine the fiduciary and statutory responsibilities of all trustees, custodians and commission members” with regard to investment decisions and contracts of the pension fund.

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SCDOT and Press Release No. 44

July 7, 2012 11:00 AM
SCDOT and Press Release No. 44

Robert J. St. Onge, the Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), has been issuing press releases about the agency’s cash position since it was first revealed that SCDOT had no cash around April 2011.

We are now up to press release No. 44.

Millions of dollars in contractor fees and purchases went unpaid as it became clear that the agency’s cash management existed “in name only,” creating a crisis that has been an embarrassing debacle for SCDOT and our state over the past year. But according to the press releases from St. Onge’s office the agency’s cash position has a “continued positive outlook” and contractors and purchases are mostly being paid in a timely manner – a “rosy” picture indeed.

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Nikki Haley’s Festival of Lies

June 28, 2012 5:26 PM
Nikki Haley’s Festival of Lies

“With all due respect, Mr. Rainey is a racist, sexist bigot who has tried everything in his power to hurt me and my family,” Gov. Nikki Haley told the S.C. House Ethics Committee.

That statement sums up the performance Haley put on for the committee. Combined with what came off as an innocent little girl act, Haley got away with character assassination while Rainey was never called to testify.

This was not an adversarial hearing. Rainey’s complaint was not represented by anyone. Even the attorneys hired by the House to “present” the case did not advocate Rainey’s complaints.

Although not listed on the witness list, Haley was called as a witness by her attorney Butch Bowers. There was no complaint against her testifying by the other side. And Rainey, a lawyer himself, built up a convincing case in his complaint but was never called to present it, defend it or explain it. No accusing witnesses were called.

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Tom Rice, Gloria Tinubu Win Impressively

June 27, 2012 7:00 AM
Tom Rice, Gloria Tinubu Win Impressively

Tom Rice and Gloria Bromell Tinubu secured the nominations, in impressive fashion, of the Republican and Democratic parties respectively for the new 7th Congressional District. The two will meet in the November general election to see who goes to Washington.

Both scored significant double digit wins in defeating opponents Andre Bauer (Rice) and Preston Brittain (Tinubu) on Tuesday’s primary runoff elections.

We offer our congratulations to both.

Based on turnout in the primaries and the makeup of the district, Rice has to now be considered the serious favorite to become the new Congressman from South Carolina in November.

That having been said, I am sure there are some out there, looking for a personal statement from me. So here we go.

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Nikki Haley’s PEBA and Bigger Government

June 22, 2012 9:16 AM
Nikki Haley’s PEBA and Bigger Government

The proposed overhaul of state government and the end of the Budget and Control Board ended Thursday at 5p.m. While Gov. Nikki Haley didn’t get the streamlining of government that she supposedly was pushing, she did manage to add a level of bureaucracy in the form of the Public Employee Benefit Authority.

Established as part of an overhaul of the state retirement system, the PEBA adds a new level of bureaucracy in the form of an 11 member board that is required to meet once a month and where each member is paid $1,000 per month for this one day meeting.

Added to the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission and the S.C. Budget and Control Board, who also have their hands in at least part of public employee benefits, the PEBA doesn’t make a lot of sense to us.

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S.C. Supremes Deny Election Commission

June 20, 2012 8:35 PM
S.C. Supremes Deny Election Commission

The S.C. Supreme Court Wednesday denied a petition by the S.C. Election Commission to dismiss a lawsuit by 7th Congressional district candidate Preston Brittain on certification of votes in the 7th Congressional race.

After the Election Commission threw out the 2300 plus votes cast for S.C. Rep. Ted Vick who had previously withdrawn his candidacy after an arrest in Columbia for DUI and weapon’s charges, and the Election Commission subsequently certified Gloria Bromell Tinubu as the Democratic Party nominee.

Brittain filed the suit In S.C. District Court last Friday, asking that the Election Commission be required to include Ted Vick’s votes in the total of votes cast, the result if successful would have triggered a runoff between Brittain and Gloria Bromell Tinubu.

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13 Million Will Buy You A Toxic Waste Site

June 19, 2012 2:26 PM
13 Million Will Buy You A Toxic Waste Site

One of the state budget items to be discussed this week by the House/Senate conference committee is the proposed purchase of additional land at the current site of the state farmers market in Lexington.

The House put $1 (one dollar) in the budget for the purchase while the Senate was much more generous with $13 million. Quite a large range to discuss and there are many reasons why.

When the state moved the farmers market two years ago, sites in Lexington and Richland counties were considered. Sources in the General Assembly say the Richland site was preferred for a long time until a late drive with petitions and the like secured the market in Lexington.

What wasn’t known at the time, according to legislators we talked to, was that the Lexington site has considerable environmental issues. It was a toxic chemical waste dump for many years and there are EPA warning signs on the property to this day.

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Finally, Fireworks in 7th Congressional District

June 14, 2012 8:13 PM
Finally, Fireworks in 7th Congressional District

Political fireworks are finally being launched in the 7th Congressional District primary races.

To date, the complete lack of buzz about the race district wide has been its most noticeable characteristic. Now that 10 of the original 14 candidates have been eliminated, we are finally getting down to some “good ole Pee Dee politickin.”

The biggest issue right now is if there will be a Democratic runoff election between Gloria Bromell Tinubu and Preston Brittain. The S.C. Election Commission will certify the election results from the primary Friday. There are two possibilities, one that Tinubu will be ruled the winner outright or two that a runoff will be held.

At issue are the nearly 2,300 votes Ted Vick received in Tuesday’s voting, two weeks after Vick dropped out of the race. Vick’s name remained on the ballot. With the Vick votes included in the vote totals, Tinubu captured 49 percent of the total vote and a runoff would be required. Without the Vick votes included, Tinubu took 52 percent of the total which would give her the win outright.

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Election Day at Last…

June 12, 2012 5:15 AM
Election Day at Last…

The election day that we weren’t sure was going to happen is now upon us.

With nearly 300 candidates wiped from the ballot due to their failing to file required paperwork properly and several unsuccessful attempts at the state court level to have at least some of them restored, one last ditch effort was attempted yesterday at the federal court level to hold off the election.

It only took hours for a three judge panel to decline to issue an injunction holding off the primary. According to reports, the judges met in a conference call and denied to hear the case.

In all honesty, it was a long stretch to attempt to find standing in federal court for the five plaintiffs that filed the case. They were all candidates, some from each party, who were tossed from the ballot earlier due to irregularities with their paperwork.

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SCGOP Drops Ball, Fails County Chairs

June 9, 2012 5:46 AM
SCGOP Drops Ball, Fails County Chairs

When, and if, voters go to the polls Tuesday to vote in the Republican or Democratic primaries, they still may be voting for ineligible candidates.

According to information we have been gathering over the past 24 hours, the adherence to the requirement in state law for non-exempt candidates to file a Statement of Economic Interest “at the same time and with the same person” as they file their Statement of Intention of Candidacy, cannot be guaranteed even at this time.

In two separate rulings, the S.C. Supreme Court has said both documents had to be filed in accordance with state law section 8-13-1356(B) and it was the responsibility of the parties to verify that had been done.

In a May 2, 2012 ruling, the Court directed the parties to verify their records and certify candidates to the S.C. Election Commission by May 4, 2012.

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