Weigh in and say WHAT, Eva?

Regarding all the things said about Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin in the recent Pinson trial, Eva Moore has this to say in Free Times:

Yet there seems to be some discomfort in Columbia about either condemning the mayor or letting him off the hook. The usual mainstream pontificators — The State’s editorial board, blogger Brad Warthen, WIS General Manager Donita Todd — have yet to weigh in on the mayor’s role in the Pinson trial.

This was brought to my attention by my daughter, who said it doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m employed by the MSM or not; the Free Times will always label me that way.

I guess.

As for the rest of it — weigh in? Weigh in and say WHAT, Eva?

As she points out, we’ve been treated to the unusual spectacle of a lot of loose talk ABOUT the mayor in open court, but no charges brought. Makes you wonder if there’s another shoe, and if so, when it will drop.

Improper financial dealings. A sex-tinged anecdote. Some back-and-forth about whether the mayor should have reported the trip or not — one of those “ethics” issues we natter about when we don’t know how to get at the actual scandal, if there is one.

And frankly, I don’t have any opinions about that. At least, none that are busting to get out of me. If you ask me, I’ll say that I prefer that the mayor of Columbia not have this cloud hanging over him. The city needs a good mayor with good ideas who is in a position to lead. And a clouded mayor can’t lead much. So the city sort of drifts. Or it can. We’ll see.

But folks, I don’t know enough either to call for his head or to defend him against all comers. I just don’t. Do you? If so, have at it…

30 thoughts on “Weigh in and say WHAT, Eva?

  1. Barry

    Columbia folks doesn’t really care either way.

    I think most just assume somone in his position is going to have some fun outside his marriage from time to time (not sure if his wife cares or not) – and having cozy relationships with questionable people? Well, he was a big pay day lending scam promoter and defender and he got elected anyway.

    1. Silence

      I’m with Barry on this, but I would make one suggested edit. It’s not that Columbia folks don’t care, it’s that Mayor Benjamin has the support of a large constituency of voters who don’t care, and will continue to support him. Some may be uninformed, some may be voting strictly on the basis of race, some may not care, some may even believe that he’s working in their best interests. I guess it doesn’t matter why they support him, as long as they make 50% on voting day.

    2. Kathryn Braun Fenner

      As a Columbia folk, I’d say plenty of us care. We are not surprised by the revelations of indiscreet behavior with women. We are not pleased by the amount of smoke blowing from his direction on the Pinson case. We really don’t like the steamroll wring of opposing voices on council.
      We held our breath and voted for him, because the alternative was, well…..

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          who is not your District rep, so perhaps you are less aware of his, um, limitations

        1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

          Well, foolish me. I thought you meant Columbia voters. If you don’t vote, you don’t count.

          1. Barry

            Let’s try this again

            When 70% of the Columbia doesn’t vote at all- they obviously don’t care what the Mayor does.

  2. Doug Ross

    Carefully chosen words. Many times it is what is NOT written that offers insight. It’s okay to be very opinionated about the activities of or even single words spoken by a Governor. But digging deeper into other politician’s behavior might have negative side effects.

    One would have to make a significant effort to come up with a rationalization that the Mayor’s trip to Florida was unrelated to city business..or that it didn’t matter anyway.

  3. Doug Ross

    And when is the mayor going to speak on the immigrant children issue? Or is that just a behind the scenes conversation the two of you will have?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I have shared with you every word of communication with the mayor on that subject, and I don’t see that you have any reason to think otherwise.

      1. Doug Ross

        I said “will have”. As in – he texted you that he would have a statement on it but hasn’t said anything yet. But it gets to my other entry above — let’s say hypothetically that after reviewing what has been reported so far on the mayor’s dealings with Pinson, you arrived at the conclusion that the mayor should resign. Do you think he would continue to text you about his plans to issue a statement on immigrant children — or would he cut off communication?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Actually, he has made statements to a couple of TV stations about it — here and here — several days after what I posted.

          I don’t know HOW he’d react to that. I’d like to think he’d be cool about it, but I haven’t had a good track record on that. People will be cool up to a point, and then…

          For instance, Hillary Clinton didn’t come in for an endorsement interview in 2008, and the reason was sort of related to my having called on her husband to resign. But that wasn’t her; she didn’t know me from Adam, but she was advised by SC folks not to talk to us, and THAT had to do with what we’d written about her husband…

          I never called on Jim Hodges to resign as governor, but was pretty critical, and there was a long period when communications between the editorial board and his office dwindled to slim to none. (I get along with him much better these days.)

          There are exceptions.

          When I saw Mark Sanford at Lee Bandy’s funeral, he acted like nothing had ever happened. But that’s unusual for two reasons — he had just been re-elected to Congress, and he’s Mark Sanford. In my experience, Mark Sanford doesn’t react the same way most politicians do to a LOT of things. As I’ve said before, earlier versions of Word used to try to change his name to Sangfroid, and I always thought that was very insightful of Microsoft…

  4. Silence

    When Mayor Benjamin was first running the scuttlebutt was that the Mayorhood was just a stepping stone to Congress or higher office. At this point, the Mayor has probably been tainted by enough scandal to preclude that, but you never know.
    Payday lending, car crash, The Village at Rivers Edge, etc.

    I’m certainly not going to stay at the Columbia Hilton or eat at Arizona’s.

    1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

      Well, scandal surely didn’t preclude Sanford or T-Rav from running. Of course, rich white guys from the Lowcountry may have a different standard applied to them.

      1. Silence

        T-Rav has yet to be elected to anything post-scandal. It would be very suprising if he were ever elected to anything again. Of course, he can afford the filing fee, so he can run all he likes. Not that it will do any good.

        Sanford falls a bit more into the “Clinton” mode, where reasonable people can see how he might have strayed from his wife, who appears to be a bit of a harpy. I don’t think most folks blame him, and hence, most people who aren’t fierce liberal partisans have forgiven him his indiscretions.

        I don’t think either of them was mixed up in anything like this Pinson affair, though. Mayor Benjamin may be like T-Rav, in that he might keep running for stuff. He also may be like Sanford & Clinton, in that he likes to chase the ladies (allegedly). He’s got more than a bit of the taint on him now… but I don’t think he’s being held to a different standard. Time will tell how he fares.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          not saying he IS being held to a different standard. just saying there might be one. Democrat vs. Republican is another difference, plus the loyalty the black community has for one of its own.
          I am curious to see how the black religious community takes to all this. Religious voters love the “Come to Jesus; get forgiven for sins” narrative, which Sanford really nailed. Benjamin has not made a mea culpa, yet.

          1. Barry

            scandal doesn’t preclude anyone from running. Winning might be harder – depending on the issue.

            and then of course it matters who the person is running against.

            Sanford’s affair made national headlines. It was the biggest joke running on MSNBC for months.

            Sanford lost my support before the affiar- but I would have never voted for him because of his actions with his girlfriend (not to mention his ineffectiveness in office).

            Benjamin being tied at the hip to a guy that’s heading to jail for his crimes- and of course inviting strippers to his room doesn’t seem to matter to most folks at all.

        2. Mab

          Re: “… into the ‘[dramatis personæ] mode…”

          Jesus was the last, most effective one. Are you people about running a country or producing a film?

          1. Mab

            That’s re:

            Silence August 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

            T-Rav has yet to be elected to anything post-scandal. It would be very suprising if he were ever elected to anything again. Of course, he can afford the filing fee, so he can run all he likes. Not that it will do any good.

            >>>Sanford falls a bit more into the “Clinton” mode<<<

      2. Barry

        “Of course, rich white guys from the Lowcountry may have a different standard applied to them.”

        Marion “*itch set me up…I shouldn’t have come up here” Barry says “Hello, remember me?”

        1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

          Yup, black voters support black candidates, like I said, often without regard to who. See also, Scott, Tim

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    Now that I look back at this, it doesn’t look like any of us was burning to say anything profound on this subject. Eva’s probably disappointed in all of us…

    I hope everyone knows I mean that in a GOOD way…

    1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

      Well, the rest of us said a whole lot, earlier on Open Threads. I think Eva was looking for your personal take.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah, and just don’t have one. Waiting for further developments at this point…

        It may seem odd, but frequently the things that make the biggest, most exciting headlines are not the things that create in me the urge to opine.

        If I were at the paper, I might feel the urge, or the duty, to say SOMETHING. But without going through that discernment process, I’m not sure what it would be at this point, beyond what I said above — having a mayor with such a cloud over him is not good. But I don’t see any good way out of that situation at the moment.

        1. Doug Ross

          Confession is good for the soul but not always for political careers.

          I think Eva Moore is a little disappointed that the media appears to be unwilling to really dig too deep into this story. When it comes to local politics, The State seems to require a smoking gun, a dead body, DNA evidence, and video tape from three different angles before making the decision to go after local politicians. We saw the same slow play on Randy Scott , Ruben Santiago, the Richland County Election office, etc.

          Now if it’s the Governor, she’s guilty until proven innocent.

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