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ISSUE 13.42
Oct. 17, 2014

10/10 | 10/03 | 9/26 | 9/19


News :
Turnabout is fall play
Photo :
Old barn, Jacksonboro, S.C.
Legislative Agenda :
On tap for next week
Palmetto Politics :
Four key debates ahead
Commentary :
See if you can find the “liberal”
Spotlight :
Municipal Association of South Carolina
My Turn :
S.C. continues to resist equal protection under law
Feedback :
Tell us what you really think
Scorecard :
Relatively slow news week
Megaphone :
Finger pointing 1
In our blog :
10/12: Dump the ethics act? Why?
Tally Sheet :
Research past bills, proposals
Encyclopedia :
Caesars Head State Park

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South Carolina ranked seventh from the bottom of 50 states in Wallethub’s 2014 ranking of the best and worst states for teachers. Noted Bernadette Hampton, president of the S.C. Education Association, “Most certainly inadequate compensation is a contributor to this statistic. Lawmakers in South Carolina have the ability to improve conditions for teaching and recognize teachers as the highly educated professionals that they are. Yet, year after year, they fail to take substantive, sustainable action. One-time money does little to change a perplexing compensation paradigm.” More.


Finger pointing 1

"Nikki Haley is stopping me from getting married. And I want that changed."

-- Charleston County Council member Colleen Condon, who is suing the state of South Carolina with her partner in federal court to force the state into dropping its legal opposition to same-sex marriage. More.

Finger pointing 2

"You've given away the milk. You've given away the cow. You've given away the pigs. You've given away the farm when it comes to economic incentives. We need transparency."

-- Independent Republican Tom Ervin, criticizing Gov. Nikki Haley in a Tuesday debate. More.


10/12: Dump the ethics act? Why?

“Eliminating the Ethics Act would return us to the legal framework in place prior to Lost Trust. How well did that work for us? That is not progress. An entire body of law requiring disclosures that make identification of offenses possible would be thrown away. Regulation intended to bring accountability and transparency to the behavior of both public officials and political advocacy groups would be lost.”

-- Lynn Shuler Teague [Read the full post.]



Caesars Head State Park

Located in Greenville County near its border with North Carolina, Caesars Head State Park was established in 1979. In 1996, the park became part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, which also includes Jones Gap State Park and Wildcat Wayside. Formed about 409 million years ago, Caesars Head rises 3,266 feet above sea level on the southern edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. It is a granitic gneiss formation protruding above the valley as a prominent monadnock.

The Blue Ridge region receives the greatest precipitation in South Carolina, and the rainfall at Caesars Head averages seventy-nine inches annually. The streams and rivers formed by the surface water include the Middle Saluda River, Matthews Creek, Coldspring Branch, and Oil Camp Creek. The biodiversity of the park is represented by more than 500 species of plants, 44 species of reptiles and amphibians, 41 species of mammals, 159 species of birds, and 10 species of fish.

The 7,467-acre park once belonged to the Cherokees but was ceded to the state in 1816. By the mid-nineteenth century 500 acres at Caesars Head had been purchased by Colonel Benjamin Hagood, who built a hotel there in 1860. By the 1920s, a highway had been constructed. Houses were built and a small summer community developed at Caesars Head.

How this mountain resort got its name is not known. Prominent among the legends are three versions. The first involves a hunting dog named Caesar. This dog jumped off the cliff while in pursuit of his prey, and the distraught owner named the cliff after his dog. A second is concerned with the corruption of the Cherokee word for Indian Chief, sachem. The final simply says that the rock resembles the profile of Julius Caesar.

-- Excerpted from the entry by David H. Rembert Jr. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)


Palmetto Priorities Statehouse Report encourages state leaders to develop and implement Palmetto Priorities involving several issues to make the state better a better place. Click the link to learn more about our suggestions for bipartisan policy objectives.

Here is a summary of our Palmetto Priorities:

CORRECTIONS: Reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2020.

EDUCATION: Cut the state's dropout rate in half by 2020.

ELECTIONS: Increase voter registration to 75 percent by 2015.

ENVIRONMENT: Adopt a state energy policy that requires energy producers to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

ETHICS: Overhaul state ethics laws.

HEALTH CARE: Ensure affordable and accessible health care.

JOBS: Develop a Cabinet-level post to add, retain 10,000 small business jobs per year.

POLITICS: Have a vigorous two- or multi-party political system of governance.

ROADS: Strengthen all bridges and upgrade state roads by 2015.

SAFETY: Cut the state's violent crime rate by one-third by 2016.

TAX REFORM: Remove outdated special interest sales tax exemptions as part of an overall reform of the state's tax structure to be completed by 2014.


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Every week in our new My Turn section, we seek guest commentaries on issues of public and policy importance to South Carolina. If you're interested, click here to learn more.


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Turnabout is fall play

Superintendent candidates are distancing themselves Zais

By Bill Davis, senior editor

OCT. 17, 2014 -- Conventional wisdom, combined with recent political history and purposefully faulty math, has it that the race for state Superintendent of Education provides Democratic candidates with the best chance of winning a statewide office this year.

Not only have two of the three past superintendents in this Republican-controlled state have been Democrats, but there appears to be a 74 percent chance that a Democrat will be elected superintendent in November.

Is that a scientifically-produced polling statistic? No, it’s pure bunk, but here’s the reasoning:

Republican candidate Molly Spearman is a former member of the S.C. House from Saluda County. First elected in 1992 as a Democrat, she switched parties by the mid-1990s and then was elected as a Republican.  She then became a deputy state superintendent of education in 1998 in the administration of Democratic Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum. In the years since, some pundits have labeled Spearman as a RINO – or a Republican In Name Only.

So assuming that Spearman is at least 52 percent Republican and 48 percent Democratic, and her opponent Tom Thompson is fully a Democrat, then, solipsistically, there is a 74 percent chance of the next superintendent of being a Democrat. [The math: (100+48)/2.]

Repairing Zais’ rift

Having Democratic leanings is not the only trait the two candidates share. They both survived odd primary runoffs that were spiced with controversies. Spearman had a GOP runoff rival who ducked questions while Thompson’s runoff opponent championed taxing marijuana sales to fund public K-12 education.

But perhaps the trait they most clearly share is that neither wants to be perceived as another Mick Zais, the strident top-down former Army general who is stepping down as superintendent at the end of his current term.

Both candidates have promised to listen to more sources and experts than did Zais.

“Zais had a mind that he knew what was needed to be done, and he did not need to listen to anybody else,” said Thompson, currently a graduate-level administrator for a national online college. “As a result, he did not value input from those (professionals) within the public education field.”

Thompson said the first “quick fix” would be to bring back to the table the major stakeholders in the state’s public education system – parents, teachers and administrators. “The state Department of Education cannot do it alone – Zais felt like he could.”

Spearman likened the role of the superintendent, not as a lead-from-the-front or damn-the-torpedoes type, but as an “ambassador” who brings together leaders from different areas of the state.

She said she would have a much more “positive” view to attract cooperation from a variety of educational experts and stakeholders. 

Different ways to tackle disparities

But neither Spearman, grieving from the loss of a sibling last week, or Thompson are running against Zais. So, here now are some differences. Both candidates want desperately to tackle the educational disparities in the state, but in decidedly different ways.

Thompson champions expanded early childhood education, reaching back further than even the beleaguered efforts to fund a K-5 program. He thinks by the state school system working with kids younger than 5 years old, the differences in educational opportunities and attainment can be mitigated.

Spearman, by contrast, would chart a two-pronged path forward, whereby the style of teaching would change to more “facilitate” learning and problem-solving, while at the same time creating a statewide educational funding system to address disparities between richer and poorer communities.

Like Zais, Spearman is enamored with distance learning, through which teachers in one part of the state or beyond lead lessons in multiple schools via tele-conferencing.

But unlike Zais, who wanted to whittle away at the traditional manner in which the education “product” was delivered, Spearman wants to use distance learning to augment school districts.

Poorer, rural school districts like those in Allendale County, which the state took over when Spearman worked at the state Department of Education, would have a better chance of offering classes that are tough to recruit and fill teachers for, such as AP Biology.

By contrast, Thompson would create economic advantages on the state level to attract more highly-qualified teachers to less urban districts.

All together now

Thompson argued that the reason why Democrats have done well in superintendent races is that the party’s message of inclusiveness to move every school forward resonates with more voters, regardless of political stripe.

“Parents, and voters, want to know that those who are running the public education system will work for the welfare of every child – it’s an easier philosophy to accept,” he said.

Spearman opposes vouchers and most instances of public money going to private schools, separating her from many in her own party. She said there are exceptions – such as allowing the families of special-needs children to use tax credits for better-suited private facilities. But those exceptions have to be coupled with solid levels of accountability and access to test scores, she said.

Also potentially separating her from some members of her party and some former colleagues in the legislature, Spearman said she would fight for statewide funding of public K-12 education.

To date, there’s been no public polling in the race. Most observers, however, expect Spearman to prevail because of her endorsements and lengthy record of public service.

Bill Davis is senior editor of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:


Old barn, Jacksonboro, S.C.

Note how the early morning sunlight made this old barn pop out of the shadows along S.C. Highway 264 near Jacksonboro, S.C., in rural Colleton County. Along the edge of the Southern Crescent, the barn reflects a time gone by in a county that is poised for growth because of its proximity to Interstate 95 and the Charleston metropolitan area. Photo by Andy Brack. More photos: Center for a Better South. 

Legislative Agenda

On tap for next week

  • Health care. A Certificate of Need Ad-Hoc Committee in the S.C. House will meet in 521 Blatt at noon Oct. 21 to hear testimony from stakeholders.

  • Domestic violence. A House Criminal Violence Study Committee will meet 9:30 a.m. Oct. 22 in 101/110 Blatt. An agenda includes no listing of items to be discussed. The meeting will be streamed live at

  • Utilities. The Public Utilities Review committee will conduct an annual evaluation of the Public Service Commission and staff at a 10 a.m. Oct. 22 meeting that has been moved to 504 Blatt.

Palmetto Politics

Four key debates ahead

Here’s a list of major debates left in the last few days before the Nov. 4 election:

  • Governor. Gubernatorial candidates will meet for a second debate at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Furman University’s McAlister Auditorium. It will be carried on some private stations across the state. 

  • Lieutenant Governor: Republican Henry McMaster and Democratic candidate Bakari Sellers will meet 7 p.m. Oct. 27 for a live debate on SCETV.

  • U.S. Senate 1: GOP U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Brad Hutto will meet 1:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Agape Senior Conference Center in Columbia for a “conversation with the business community” put on by the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups. Not invited: Petition candidate Thomas Ravenel of Charleston.

  • U.S. Senate 2: American Party candidate Jill Bossi, Democratic contender Joyce Dickerson and GOP U.S. Sen. Tim Scott will meet 7 p.m. Oct. 28 for a live debate on SCETV.


See if you can find the “liberal”

OCT. 17, 2014 -- There’s an old word floating around again that’s trying to con you into believing things that simply aren’t true.

It’s the word “liberal,” an old GOP label hauled out again at the end of an election cycle to try to link Democratic gubernatorial challenger Vincent Sheheen to some mysterious dark force that’s apparently more toxic than Ebola. 

“’Liberal’ has been used as a pejorative in the South for a long time,” said College of Charleston political scientist Gibbs Knotts. “The simple definition -- open to change -- means that many of our political leaders are liberal. But more recently, the term usually characterizes a person who favors government intervention in the economy, wants the government to correct social injustice, but also wants the government to stay out of people’s private lives.”

In other words, the term “liberal” might actually mean one thing -- that a politician wants new policies, whether that’s a new health plan or a new strategy to dramatically cut taxes -- but the GOP has turned the term on its head to make it seem ominous. 

So if you use the dictionary definition of “liberal,” four big liberals from history were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Or as some might say -- the guys on Mount Rushmore.

Couldn’t you consider Washington and Jefferson to be dangerous liberals because they wanted change so big that colonists could form their own country? (It was called a “revolution,” you know.) And Lincoln was the Republican who led the fight against slavery and had all of that rosy rhetoric called the Emancipation Proclamation. And Roosevelt, also Republican -- he wanted to rein in monopolies through government regulation and have the government preserve millions of acres of land.  Hmmm. Doesn’t sound very “conservative,” does it?

So let’s have a “liberal” test. Who said the following:

1. “Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns, according to Department of Justice statistics. This does not include suicides or the tens of thousands of robberies, rapes and assaults committed with handguns. This level of violence must be stopped.”

2. “We cannot pretend that we are preparing South Carolina’s children for the world that awaits if some of them remain unaware of what that world looks like. Especially when that lack of awareness is not their choice but is imposed upon them by circumstance, or worse, by our indifference.   South Carolina is going to invest in education technology in a way we never have before.”

3. “The goal of tax reform should not be to raise taxes. To achieve true economic success, our state must reform how it taxes goods so that it can reduce the rate for everyone.”

4. “This administration intends to cut taxes in order to build the fundamental strength of our economy, to remove a serious barrier to long-term growth, to increase incentives by routing out inequities and complexities and to prevent the even greater budget deficit that a lagging economy would otherwise surely produce.”

Know the answers? You probably guessed that the gun quote was by that liberal President Ronald Reagan outlining why he supported the Brady Bill. The second was by liberal Gov. Nikki Haley in her 2014 State of the State address on spending more on education. The third quote on cutting taxes was by none other than Sheheen in his 2013 book, “The Right Way.” And the final one on cutting taxes from a conservative bastion, President John F. Kennedy, in a 1962 address on the economy.

Regardless of what you may see on slick TV ads in the days ahead, Sheheen is no flaming liberal. He is a moderate. And while Haley does resist change more often than not, she certainly actively uses government to recruit new jobs and boost the economy. 

As you make your election selections for South Carolina’s leaders, don’t fall for ad traps set by cynical political professionals. Do your homework by reading analytical news stories, visiting Web sites and watching any debates that are out there so you will make informed choices on the first Tuesday in November.

Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:

Municipal Association of South Carolina

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is the Municipal Association of South Carolina. Formed in 1939, the association represents and serves the state's 270 incorporated municipalities. The Association is dedicated to the principle of its founding members: to offer the services, programs and products that will give municipal officials the knowledge, experience and tools for enabling the most efficient and effective operation of their municipalities in the complex world of municipal government.
My Turn

S.C. continues to resist equal protection under law

By Linda Ketner
Republished with permission

OCT. 15, 2014 -- When I was 16, I attended Girls Nation in Washington, D.C. as a "senator" from North Carolina. Of all the inspiring experiences, I remember most vividly the words chiseled into the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building, "Equal Justice Under Law."

It was at Girls Nation that I learned a fundamental principle of our constitutional democracy: Majority rule prevails except when it violates the equal protection of minorities. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson in his inaugural speech said: "All ... will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."

And it is on this constitutional basis, of equal protection under the law for all Americans, that federal courts all over the United States have overturned state bans on same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Alan Wilson joins a long line of South Carolinians throughout our history who have fought equal protection under the law ... and lost ... but not without creating rancor and needless anguish.

We can go back to the days after Reconstruction in South Carolina when progress for African Americans was answered with Ku Klux Klan-led violence and Jim Crow laws. Or, when women got the right to vote in 1919, and the 19th Amendment was sent to each state to be ratified, the S.C. General Assembly overwhelmingly rejected the amendment, and the amendment wasn't officially passed into law here for 49 years.

"Attorney General Alan Wilson joins a long line of South Carolinians throughout our history who have fought equal protection under the law ... and lost ... but not without creating rancor and needless anguish."
South Carolina fought equal protection under the law again when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the integration of public schools, K-12. The S.C. Legislature adopted resolutions that declared the Court's decision to be "null, void, and no effect." South Carolina held out longer than any other state in integrating schools, desegregating none until 1966 and not officially ending segregation until 1970, 15 years after the Supreme Court ruling.

The legacy of South Carolina's resistance to equal protection under the law is seen today in our ranking as 49th in the number of women holding public office, 50th in public education, and among the 10 worst states to raise black children. When it comes to LGBT equality, the Daily Beast ranked South Carolina a "-1" on a 1-10 point scale.

Most legal experts agree that South Carolina is bound by law to accept the rulings of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on same-sex marriage and that we, once again, are delaying the inevitable. Why? Why do we obstruct the rights of minority after minority in South Carolina?

I don't know. It's a question I have asked myself almost daily since coming to South Carolina 31 years ago.

Here's what I do know. Our environment is changing. People, communities, states, nations, wildlife, even vegetables thrive when they adapt to a changing environment. Perhaps this time we could embrace the change which increases justice and equality for fellow Americans. Perhaps we could welcome a palette with more colors in order to create a richer picture. Perhaps we could see this change as growth and understand that the familiar is not always meaningful. This change for LGBT equality has its roots and reason in our Constitution (big "C") and our constitution (little "c") as Americans. That can only and ultimately be good.

Linda Ketner, president of a Charleston leadership and management development firm, is co-founder and past president of the Alliance for Full Acceptance and S.C. Equality Coalition. This column originally appeared in the Charleston City Paper and is republished with permission of the author.


Tell us what you really think

We love hearing from our readers and encourage you to share your opinions.  But you've got to provide us with contact information so we can verify your letters. Letters to the editor are published weekly. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.We generally publish all comments about South Carolina politics or policy issues, unless they are libelous or unnecessarily inflammatory. One submission is allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Comments are limited to 250 words or less.  Please include your name and contact information.  Send your letters to:


Relatively slow news week

Health officials. Despite a “secret shopper” stunt this week by DHEC Director Catherine Templeton to check whether Charleston hospitals were ready to deal with Ebola, state officials seem to be ramping up efforts well to handle the virus if it ever comes to the state.

Growth. State economists predict slow, steady growth for the Palmetto State, now in its sixth year of recovery.  More.

House rules. House leaders are having healthy discussions on whether to curb the power of speakers. Keep it up. More.

A little slimy.   It seems a little too convenient and cozy that just hours after Gov. Nikki Haley celebrated the opening of a bicycle manufacturer’s new operation in Clarendon County that she started airing a new campaign ad featuring the company’s CEO. More.


Statehouse Report

Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2014 , Statehouse Report LLC. Statehouse Report is published every Friday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.
Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with this interesting weekly historical excerpt about the state. Republication is not allowed. For additional information about Statehouse Report, including information on underwriting, go to