Well, as everyone knows by now — even those of us at the beach and doing our best to be as far out of the loop as possible — state Rep. Converse Chellis will become our new treasurer tomorrow.
So how do we feel about that? I don’t know; how about you?
I don’t know much about the guy, beyond the facts that:
- He managed to sew up the House vote, which Nathan Ballentine acknowledged last week by bowing out. (Ken Wingate indicated his lack of interest at about the same time.) And, of course, the guy with the House votes is generally the guy who wins in these joint-assembly things there being fewer senators, and the loyalty divide between House and Senate being a far sharper distinction than between GOP and Dem.
- What this indicates, although does not prove, is that Danny Cooper, and therefore by extension Bobby Harrell, feel confident that Mr. Chellis will be their boy, and not the governors — which is why they put the provision in the sine die resolution to come back and do the picking themselves in the event young Thomas resigned. While Mr. Chellis might be a fine man, and while I often prefer Bobby Harrell’s priorities to the governor’s, this is a bad thing in good-government terms, because everything that the Budget and Control does is considered an executive function in sane states, and the Legislature already holds 40 percent of this executive agency — with the other 60 percent fragmented among three executive officers elected separately, and often with competing agendas. This gives lawmakers a solid 60 percent — if they can retain solidarity, in light of that Senate/House rivalry thing. But when it’s a matter of fighting with a true outsider like the governor (and to the General Assembly, any governor is an outsider, not just this one), suddenly House and Senate are quite capable of melding minds.
- He is a CPA, which may mean that he’s better qualified than Sen. Greg Ryberg, who would be my choice among the candidates I’ve actually had a chance to interview at length on the subject. So maybe that means he’d do a better job. At the same time, Ryberg would be a reliable ally of the governor on the B&C Board (even more so than Mr. Ballentine might have been), which is a good thing in my mind but a very bad one in those of Mr. Cooper and Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman, and what they prefer will count for a heap more than what I think when the voting starts Friday.
- His name — Converse A. Chellis III — sounds like it would belong to a character whose homework Dobie Gillis might have been tempted to copy, if Dobie hadn’t been an essentially good person at heart. No, wait — actually, I’m thinking of the obnoxious rich guy who was a regular character. In any case, Maynard G. Krebs he ain’t.
- His picture in the legislative manual is completely unfamiliar to me. I’ve probably seen him, maybe met him, but don’t recall. I wouldn’t mention this, seeing as how I’m awful with names and faces, except that people who are better with such things say they don’t know him either.
- Mr. Chellis was the subject of a lawsuit a few years back — this was reported this morning in the Charleston paper — arising from the breakup of an accounting firm of which he was a part. Allegations flew involving both sex and money, which I guess sort of covers the waterfront. Someone who was on the other side of the report. Plaintiff said, "Disputes arose between the members of CBA, concerning Chellis’s conduct
toward female employees, Chellis’s work ethic, and financial rewards." I don’t know much about accounting, and might not be in a position to judge even if I had more details. But I probably could have understood the conduct toward female employees part, had there been more info to go on. For the record, I don’t hold with ungentlemanly conduct toward ladies. But the lawsuit was settled out of court, and Mr. Chellis is likely justified in saying "I want to reassure you that these attacks are totally without merit,
and are merely an attempt by our opponents to derail the election
Which isn’t much. Me, I’ll be making like a Cubs fan and cheering for Sen. Ryberg, but we could be OK with Rep. Chellis. What do y’all think?