Other lawmakers think solicitor should probe RCRC


Bluff Road Park, one of the facilities overseen by RCRC.

This is an interesting wrinkle:

Four members of the Richland County legislative delegation now are asking Sheriff Leon Lott to turn over an investigation of the Richland County Recreation Commission to 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson.

In a letter sent Friday to Lott, Sen. John Scott, Sen. Darrell Jackson, Rep. Jimmy Bales and Rep. Christopher Hart ask Lott to engage the Solicitor’s Office in investigating any possible criminal activities of the legislative-controlled Recreation Commission….

Two weeks ago, Sen. Joel Lourie, Rep. Beth Bernstein and Rep. James Smith, asked the sheriff’s department to investigate the commission in light of further recent reports of possible criminal activity.

“We think it is a more appropriate channel” to have the solicitor investigate, Jackson told The State. “Our goal is just to get down to the bottom of this. If something criminal has happened, then we need to take action. … If there are no criminal activities, then we hope we will put this to rest.”…

So… what’s that about? Why the solicitor instead of Lott? I hope it’s not just as simple as a superficial analysis would suggest. This matter is rife with racial tension — until now, you’ve had white officials seeking an investigation of black officials. Is it meaningful that three white lawmakers sought for the white sheriff to investigate, while three black lawmakers and one white one want the black solicitor to be in charge?

Perhaps, in the minds of some, both white and black.

One thing I’m sure of: Anyone who would accuse Lourie, Smith, Bernstein or Lott of racism would be light years off base – and I can’t see Jackson, et al., doing that. So what’s the real reason for the other four lawmakers choosing this other course?

The story doesn’t mention, by the way, where the four stepping up on the issue today would back the call by Lourie, Smith and Bernstein to turn the commission over to county council — which is the most obvious reform measure from a legislative perspective…

12 thoughts on “Other lawmakers think solicitor should probe RCRC

  1. Doug Ross

    Sure the alleged payoffs in the parking lot might require investigation, but why can’t these same lawmakers comment on what we know for sure: that several family members of the head of the RCRC work for the department. Are they okay with that?

    And, as usual, they only speak of faceless entities. Why can’t they reference the specific person who is being investigated? It’s not the RCRC that is corrupt. It is a person (or people). It’s amazing that when a teacher does something that might be perceived as wrong, he or she is put onto administrative leave until the issue is resolved. Why is this guy allowed to stay in his job, considering the severity of the charges.

    Yes, Brad, it IS a black and white issue. Columbia/Richland County is three separate entities. There’s the white segment, the black segment, and the mixed segment. A and B are both bigger than C. Go down to Soda City on Main St. some Saturday morning. It’s crazy that in a mixed race town, a street market in the middle of downtown would be 95% white.

    1. Barry

      “why can’t these same lawmakers comment on what we know for sure: that several family members of the head of the RCRC work for the department. Are they okay with that?”

      Are we to assume that maybe some favors have been called in and some family members or friends of legislators on the payroll (in one form or another) of the rec commission? Sure seems that way.

  2. Barry

    I’m still trying to figure out how the Richland County Recreation Commision head makes $20,000 more a year in salary than does:

    SC Dept of Natural Resources Agency Director Alvin Taylor
    SC Dept of Parks, Rec and Tourism Director Duane Parrish
    SC LLR Agency Director Richele Taylor

    almost $60,000 more than SC Dept of Agriculture Chief Hugh Weathers

    What the heck does the head of the Richland Rec Commission do? He’s not the guy organizing all the rec events in Richland County, They have high paid directors doing those jobs.

    1. Doug Ross

      Well, he doesn’t make that much when he’s kicking back tens of thousands of dollars to the people who gave him the raise.

      And when are these same legislators going to go after the Penny Tax ripoff? Hmmm… maybe too many close ties to the P.R. firms getting millions of dollars that were supposed to go to roads. Nothing to see here… just keeping duping the apathetic and ignorant residents of the county.

        1. Doug Ross

          The Nerve has more reporting on the story today. The money is still flowing.

          How are the road improvements coming? Or are we just getting bike paths?

          1. Barry

            Parts of Clemson road (supposedly going to be widened and improved from the penny tax scheme) will collapse off into the abyss before the county ever gets around to actually doing any work on it. What a big mess every single day.

            It should be rebranded as the “collect the tax for-ever and maybe eventually do some paving” penny program.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Actually, they can’t tax forever — it’s limited to 25 years. And the paving projects are spread out over the years, I believe.

              I say “I believe” because I haven’t studied the plans. I supported the tax increase, and am happy to pay it, to keep the buses running. I saw the roadwork as a necessary sweetener to get the measure passed. But since it was passed, county council needs to make it clear to the public when it will be tackling each promised road improvement…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                The road projects are for me sort of like Saddam’s WMD.

                The WMD weren’t a big factor for me in deciding to go into Iraq. The road improvements weren’t a factor at ALL for me in supporting the penny tax.

                That said, it was a terrible thing that we didn’t find WMD, because it was so important to other people. Likewise, the county needs not only to keep its promise on the road improvements, but do so transparently so the public can SEE that it’s doing so…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Do y’all ever wonder: What DID Saddam do with those chemical weapons he had?

                  I do…

                  Of course, not all of them were gone, according to The New York Times:

                  From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

                  In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

                2. Barry

                  They were a factor for the tens of thousands that live in the hundred or so subdivisions off Clemson Road.

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