Condon will now have plenty of power for his electric sofa

Y’all have probably already seen this:

Former S.C. Attorney General Charlie Condon has been appointed chairman of the Santee Cooper board of directors.

Gov. Henry McMaster made the appointment Wednesday. Condon will serve out the term ending in May left vacant when Leighton Lord resigned last December and then be appointed to a full seven-year term.

“I appreciate Gov. McMaster asking me to accept this important challenge,” Condon said in a statement. “As the future and mission of Santee Cooper is debated, my goal is to provide transparent and accountable leadership of the board, with the interests of ratepayers and customers my No. 1 priority.”…

Y’all remember Charlie, right? He was the AG who used to play pandering politics so strenuously that it was embarrassing — at least, it was embarrassing in the pre-Trump era, before standards were drastically lowered. After him, Henry McMaster’s sober stewardship in that office was a great relief.

Charlie Condon

Charlie Condon

Charlie’s probably most famous for saying he’d like South Carolina to replace its electric chair with an “electric sofa” so we could execute multiple prisoners at once.

Here’s the funny thing about Charlie, though — one on one, he was a personable and fairly reasonable guy. Sit down with him, and he seemed OK. Very likable. You just didn’t want him getting in front of a microphone, at which point he seemed to lose all restraint.

Anyway, here’s hoping that we’ll see the private, sensible, one-on-one Charles Condon at Santee Cooper, rather than Press-Release Charlie. We’ve got enough turmoil on the utility front already…

28 thoughts on “Condon will now have plenty of power for his electric sofa

  1. Barry

    Saw it. Didnt care.

    Thought the story the Post and zcourier did on a local solicitor was interesting. Also interesting that The State didn’t do the story, one right here in their back yard.

    South Carolina prosecutor spends thousands of taxpayer funds on parties, travel. AG now reviewing

    Charges include a $6,000 Christmas party
    a $2,000 Super Bowl bash complete with face-painting services,
    a $912 charge on the office’s credit card for a stay at a deluxe hotel in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands
    $509 for a stay Feb. 26, 2017, at a five-star Miami hotel on a return trip from Bogota, Colombia.
    One $179 ride in August 2016 began in downtown Minneapolis and went to the area near Paisley Park, the recording studio for Prince, who had died several months earlier

    In one 13-month period, he spent at least $1,200 on Uber rides, mostly choosing the more expensive Uber Black and Uber Select options.

    His office also covered a $623.53 tab in 2017 at Hanks Oyster Bar in Alexandria, Va.; $276 at Thoroughbreds, a steakhouse in Myrtle Beach; $363 at Pearlz Oyster Bar in Columbia; and a $197.93 bill at Ruth’s Chris in Columbia.

    Closer to home, Johnson’s agency charged taxpayers more than $7,700 for dues and meals at the Capital City Club.

    The office capped 2017 with a Christmas party at Social Bar and Lounge that cost taxpayers $5,786.69.

    Johnson has been unavailable for comment and his office refused to answer questions about the expenditures.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          As for what you could get, let’s see… probably a year’s membership for about three employees plus one nice party for the staff….

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            The biggest bill I’ve ever had there was for a lunch for my great-aunt when she turned 100. We had about 25 family members. It was $700 and something…

              1. Claus2

                So $7700 – $3000 party = $4700. You pay $1600 for breakfast??? Or is that just the right to eat breakfast there?

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  First, I wonder why you’re obsessed with this. Second, you seem to be pretty confused about numbers, for a numbers guy.

                  I like to eat my breakfast out, rather than spend time preparing one when I could be reading the several papers I read during that meal. And I tend to eat a pretty hearty breakfast. All of which is my business, and not yours.

                  We’re talking about a 13-month period, right? Let’s simplify and just call it a year.

                  A similarly hearty breakfast at Lizard’s Thicket (let’s say the Country Ham and Eggs meal), is $8.49, plus $1.69 for coffee. So if you do that every week day, you spend a little more than $50 in a week. If you do that for 50 weeks — saying you take a couple of weeks off in the year — it costs you more than $2,500. And I didn’t include tax.

                  But that’s not really a good comparison, since breakfast at Cap City is an unlimited buffet, which they don’t have at Lizard’s Thicket. Also, the quality is higher — you get a wide variety of fresh fruit, for instance, which isn’t available at the Thicket.

                  I figured it out long ago. I save money eating at Cap City — my dues included — compared to any other place I can think of.

                  So it surprises me that you think $1,600 would be too much for 13 months of breakfasts. That would be about six bucks a meal — including coffee, tax, everything.

                  Absolutely none of which is any of your business. So that’s it for that topic…

        2. Claus2

          That’s why I didn’t go into Journalism… I don’t care if it has an a or an o, people know what I’m saying regardless. Plus I knew Journalism paid about as well as being a liberal arts major and I liked numbers better than words.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I can tell.

            I don’t know whether there will ever be a meeting of the minds between word people and numbers people.

            By the way, you don’t have to be bad at one or the other to have a preference. According to standardized tests, I was better at math than verbal skills. I just preferred the words.

            But I respect numbers, which is one of the reasons I have so many arguments with numbers people. They want to quantify EVERYTHING, but to me, numbers are for precision, and they should not be used arbitrarily to try to quantify things that can’t be quantified.

            For instance, it bugs me when doctors ask, “How bad is your pain, on a scale of one to 10?” Can you imagine anything more arbitrary than that, or more likely to vary widely by the individual?

            If you say 3, you’re saying, “It hurts, but I can take it. I’m that tough…”

            If you say 10, what you’re really saying is, “I can’t stand it! Give me drugs NOW! If you don’t, I’m going to chew off that part of my body! AAIIIEEEE!”

            So why not just use the words?

            1. Jeff Mobley

              As I recall, the villain in The Princess Bride was engaged in long-term research project in an effort to develop a universally applicable, accurate, and precise measurement scale for pain. This is how the hero, Wesley, ended up Mostly Dead.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                “Mostly Dead.” See, now, that’s why Miracle Max is my kind of guy. He could have said “99 percent dead,” but he went with “mostly,” which is precise enough. A number would be arbitrary…

            2. Claus2

              That’s not arbitrary at all, the level of pain varies between patients. What may be a 3 to Chuck Norris may be a 10 to Chuck Todd. The doctor knows that Chuck Norris doesn’t need pain medication stronger than Tylenol or Advil, and Chuck Todd won’t be comfortable until he has a morphine enema for the same pain.

              To answer your question… why answer it with a story when you can answer it with one word… 3 or 10. The doctor doesn’t need an essay to a simple question.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                You just explained why: A 10 to one person is a 3 to another. So the number has no objective meaning. Numbers should only be used when a 3 for one person is the same as a 3 for another person….

                1. Mark Stewart

                  I was in pre-op after a serious accident several years ago. The Dr. asked me what the pain was 1-10; I said 8. When I saw him again 18 hours later he asked the same question. Then he told me before surgery I had said 8 – but then I passed out on the gurney, so he wrote down 11.

                  I agree, people forget numbers can either be numbers, or they can be a sort of analytical painting or wordplay (a form of art). The crazy thing is they can be both – and many people just can’t wrap their heads around that concept. Just as they can’t see the analytical in words.

                2. Claus2

                  Actually it does, it’s a perspective number. If you experience a 10 for the same level pain I consider a 3, there’s no need for the doctor to prescribe anything stronger than an aspirin to me whereas he’ll prescribe something different to you. This isn’t a defined number, like a nickle is 5 cents to me but 4 cents to you…. it’s 5 cents to everyone.

                  Pain level is just a bad example of what you’re trying to get across.

                3. Jeff Mobley

                  Let me try to split the difference between Brad and Claus here. Obviously Brad is right that a number scale for pain is essentially meaningless when applied across different people.

                  However, when applied to one person, within a reasonably short window of time (a few hours, let’s say). The numbers do convey some relative meaning: 8 is worse than 3, for example. So, there is some information there. And asking the patient to “quantify” their pain level could force them think a little bit more. So maybe you get a little bit more from the number scale that from “a lot” vs. “not much”.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Numbers-oriented people probably like it when a doctor asks them that.

                    If he asks me that, I’m liable to say, “Well, it’s now 2 higher than it was before you said that…”

  2. Barry

    When I worked for the state, the most I ever remember spending on a hotel room was $96.00. The 5pther people in my office would compete with each other on the cheapest hotel room would could book. Our office pride was when we could land $36 rooms in Myrtle Beach.

    On the taxpayer dime, IF I stayed out of town in a hotel, 90% of the time I would eat dinner at Taco Bell, Burger King, or Subway. The most I ever remember spending on dinner when I was working was $11 (including tip) at a Ryan’s Steakhouse near Greer off of Hwy 29. We (and I include my supervisor) worked hard to keep our expenses low. It was a focus of ours and a point of pride.

    That is why when I see stories like this is makes no sense to me how someone can abuse their position in such a manner.

    I just returned from a work trip with my company where my boss, and several coworkers were able to get a $70 a night hotel at a dumpy hotel. It was safe and decent. That is all we needed. Not a one of us would dream of getting a $500 a night hotel room or even a $300 a night hotel room. I’d sleep in my car before I did that to my company.

    1. Richard

      Aren’t there limits on what state employees can spend on lodging before it comes out of pocket for the balance? I know someone who was on a state trip to London and ended up staying at a $400/night hotel and had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get the state to pay for all of it.

      1. Barry

        Yes, there are guidelines. The thing is, at most regular hotels if you tell them you are a state employee they will give you a great rate. I always had my I’d with me to provide it.

        One year we had a conference at the beach and the government rate at the conference hotel was still $125-$150. I got permission and chose to stay offsite at a holiday inn for half that rate.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      It’s a wonder I didn’t turn into a spendthrift work traveler. One of the first times I traveled out of town for work, I couldn’t find my immediate supervisor to sign my expense report or something… anyway, I ended up going to the executive editor, Reid Ashe, and asking him to sign it. He looked it over and said, “You travel cheap!” before signing it.

      Well, yeah, I had been careful not to spend a penny more than absolutely necessary. I’ve always had this fear of being challenged on an expense — I knew that would upset me a LOT. I just hate the idea of someone accusing me of taking something I’m not completely entitled to. It would shame me and anger me at the same time, and I didn’t want ANY kind of argument with bean-counters.

      Reid’s words helped me relax a bit at the time, but I continued to be paranoid that the NEXT person who looked at my expense report wouldn’t be as forgiving, so I never really entirely got over my paranoia. And, to the extent possible (sometimes you don’t get much of a choice as to where you stay, for instance), I continued to “travel cheap.”

      I’ve told this story before, but it illustrates my point: When I went to cover the Iowa Caucuses in 1980 — or rather, I went there to cover Howard Baker campaigning there for a few days — in the company of photographer Mark Humphrey, we were as usual careful with our money. At one point, we were huddled together, both of us peering into our open wallets (in those days, you really had to have cash with you) trying to figure if we had enough left for something or other, and the producer of an NBC crew that was also covering Baker — an attractive young woman who looked kind of like the actress Paula Prentiss — came over and asked whether we needed anything, and offered to put us up for the night if we were broke.

      We said no, we had that covered. It was embarrassing, but she was trying to be nice to the poor boys from the little paper down in Tennessee…

      1. Barry

        I always eat the continental (included) breakfast at the hotel so I never have an expense for breakfast.

        On business, I often will buy a foot long sub for lunch, eat half, put the other half in my cooler and eat the other half for dinner. It’s satisfying enough for a day out of town on business. If I want a snack, I’ll pay for that myself.

        Two weeks ago I travelled to the Midwest on business. The highest priced dinner I had was $16. The following night my dinner was $10 with tip. I just submitted my expense report earlier this week. I have coworkers that do the same thing.

        I always have copies of my receipts and my boss approves my expense report within about 5 mins of receiving it.

        So you can see how abusive I find this particular story.

  3. Karen Pearson

    I know when I worked for the state, and traveled a lot within the state, the outside most the state would reimburse us for was $100.00 and we always had to turn in receipts. For overnight stays we had a meal allowance of $27.00 a day. We had to be there past 8pm to get dinner, if it was a day when we were returning to Columbia. I do not understand how the PTBs get to charge so much. Are they a different order of human being that they need more money to survive?

  4. bud

    My expense claims were always modest as well. Not sure how the big travel claims get approved.

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