Category Archives: Exclusive

Lynn Teague on the Legislature’s unfinished business

When I saw this Tweet yesterday, it gave me an idea:

In my church, we confess every week as follows: “I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do…”

That last part is where I, personally, fall down the most. So I take it seriously.

I asked Lynn if she would write us a blog post on what our lawmakers “have failed to do.” She kindly obliged, and here’s her report:

What Remains at the State House

The General Assembly just canceled their scheduled return to Columbia for May 23-24 to work on unfinished business. The conference committee on S. 954 and H. 4375 has been scheduled for Wednesday, but there will be no meeting of the whole House and Senate until the end of June. What haven’t they done? What should they be doing before the days dwindle down to a precious few?

Lynn Teague

Lynn Teague

Their work for the remainder of 2018 is defined by the sine die resolution, passed before their departure from Columbia on May 10. Under that resolution, they can return to deal with the state budget, anything related to V. C. Summer, legislation to make the state tax code conform to changes in the federal tax code, bills that have been passed in both houses and are now in conference committee, and some local legislation. They have given themselves until November to do this. That is far too late for some of the remaining bills.

First, the state needs a budget. The government won’t shut down if the budget doesn’t pass by July 1, but it would surely be better to let agencies know what they have to work with at the start of the fiscal year. The budget also includes important provisos that are there in part because the General Assembly failed to pass other needed bills. Legislators should be working now to resolve their differences on those.

What else should legislators do when they return? They must surely bring our tax system into conformity with changes in the federal tax code, either by reconciling H.5341 and S. 1258 in conference or by writing a new bill. This is an area in which failure to act could be costly for South Carolina’s citizens.

And then there are the utilities. Of course, the utilities, which everyone said were the sole focus of the 2018 session. And yet, bills to resolve both short-term and long-term issues arising from the catastrophic failure of V. C. Summer remain to be passed. Some of the delay can be attributed to differences between House and Senate. Some can be attributed to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that was not inclined to haste. I wouldn’t say that they were slow, but substantial parts of the Greenland ice sheet collapsed between meetings. So now a significant amount of work remains to be done.

S 954 is best known for the ongoing battle between House and Senate over the amount of a temporary rate suspension, whether 13% or 18%. With each passing day, we pay more to SCANA for something that we aren’t getting because this isn’t resolved. However, in the long term the more important aspect of this bill is the PSC schedule, which would give all participants certainty of a schedule to resolve the complex issues surrounding SCANA and its exorbitant rates. This schedule is especially important given SCANA’s stonewalling of discovery requests from intervenors and the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) at the PSC, delaying the ability of stakeholders to examine material evidence.

Other surviving utility bills include H.4375, amending the Base Load Review Act (BLRA) that made the V. C. Summer catastrophe possible. Retroactive repeal would be lovely, but is pretty surely unconstitutional. The most important elements of H. 4375 are preventing future use of the BLRA and introducing a definition of prudency, a central concept in evaluating whether SCANA’s costs at V. C. Summer were legitimately incurred. Another bill, H. 4379, creates a consumer advocate and removes the serious conflicts currently embedded in the ORS mission statement. The first two of these bills are on the agenda for the Wednesday conference committee, but H. 4379 is not yet in conference. Legislators must be working to resolve their differences on these bills before proceedings at the PSC and in the courts move further forward.

Those are the absolutely necessary bills for June. We are sure that legislators expect to dig in and move fast when they return to Columbia, but there is a lot to do. November is too late for much of it. July is too late for some of it.

Two other important utility bills, H. 4377 and H. 4378, were never heard in Senate Judiciary subcommittee, but nevertheless could and should be taken up under the sine die resolution. No one has indicated any intention to do this, but it is possible and needed so it is worth mentioning. H. 4377 makes important changes to strengthen the qualifications of members of the PSC and improve their access to information. We need that. PSC members shouldn’t be just representatives of local areas there to look out for local interests, they must be technically and legally competent to address the complex issues before the PSC.

H. 4378 revised the membership of the powerful State Regulation of Utilities Review Committee (PURC) that oversees the whole regulatory system. It gives the Governor appointments to this important body and ensures that legislators are not a majority on the committee. We badly need this. However, at present H.4378 does not go far enough. We should also prohibit members of PURC, their immediate families, and the businesses with which they are associated from receiving income, donations, or gifts from any regulated monopoly. At present they can receive all of these benefits from the industries that they oversee. This should end, now.

So, with all that time until November, there is no good reason for the General Assembly not to take up these other bills and actually reform our regulatory system.

Lynn is more diplomatic about all that than I would be, but she sure knows her stuff, and I felt a post from her would be far more informative than one from me…

Kara says she’s out for good, may run in Dist. 18

This just came in from Kara Gormley Meador, as a comment on the previous post about her:

Good morning folks. I checked with an attorney who is working on the redistricting suit. It sounds as if I am out of 23 for good. The suit underway is based on race. The attorney told me that gerrymandering is not illegal, unless there is a racial component. It is another sad truth about our elected officials; they can draw the lines in a way that helps keep them in office. Just one more reason I am for term limits for our legislators. I still have some decisions to make, like whether or not to run in District 18. It’s something that I am strongly considering.

If she runs in 18, that would mean opposing Ronnie Cromer. I can’t offer much of a read on her chances. She could have been a real threat to Jake Knotts, I think. Anyone have a read on 18?

And she’s right — the courts have long held that incumbency protection is allowed in redistricting. No, that doesn’t seem right, but that’s what the courts have said.

Today’s news haiku: Nikki’s poll numbers

Nikki Haley is now less popular in South Carolina than Barack Obama:

South Carolinians have soured on Nikki Haley, turning the relatively new governor from a national Tea Party favorite into a chief executive struggling to maintain support among members of her own party, the latest Winthrop University poll shows.

Only 34.6 percent of those surveyed — 1,073 registered S.C. Democrats, Republicans and independents — said they approved of Haley’s job performance, according to the poll. Far more — 43 percent — said they disapprove of the way the Republican is handling her job as governor. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 2.9 percent percentage points.

Haley’s approval rating is lower than that of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, according to the poll. Obama has a 44.8 percent approval rating in strongly Republican South Carolina, according to the Winthrop poll….

This has to be a bitter pill for Nikki, since she ran against Barack Obama. That was her whole strategy. What’s she going to do next time? Will she be reduced to actually running against the Democratic nominee for governor? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, in a totally unrelated development, I was reading something about bad poetry over the weekend, and it inspired me to revive my “news haiku” feature.

Oh, stop yer bellyachin’! You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. Even I admit this isn’t good haiku (where, for instance, is the nature reference?). But I thought it had a certain poignancy to it:

She’s Nikki Haley,
our shiny, national star!
Why don’t we love her?

The emergency curfew in Five Points

I was thinking about writing something about the “emergency” curfew that Columbia City Council enacted this morning for Five Points, but hey, I wasn’t at the meeting, and I noticed Kathryn saying she was, so why shouldn’t she write it? (Since I first became an editor supervising reporters in 1980, my mind runs that way — why shouldn’t other people go to the meetings and do the work?)

She was kind enough to share this — and quickly, too:

City Council held a “work session” at 8 AM this morning, to accommodate the schedule of at least one council member, to discuss and possibly enact an emergency curfew in Five Points. The recent severe assault and robbery of 18-year-old Carter Strange was determined by the city attorney to be sufficient to justify the measures under a Fourth Circuit case involving a similar curfew in Charlottesville, VA. Council waived the attorney-client privilege that would have necessitated executive session and excluded non-council members from the meeting.

Council heard from both City Attorney Ken Gaines and a municipal attorney from Newberry whose name I do not recall who was engaged for a second opinion. Both said that there was probably sufficient evidence of juvenile involvement in and victimization from crime in the Five Points area to justify the curfew, but cautioned that lawsuits could certainly result. There is no legal requirement to carry an ID and you can’t have ID checkpoints, but if a cop has sufficient belief that someone appears to be under 17, he can detain the person. If no parent or other suitable relative can be found by the end of the curfew period (6 AM), the child would be taken into emergency protective custody by DSS, but NOT DJJ — the kid cannot be held in jail or handcuffs. Parents can be cited, as well.  A lot of discussion about these procedures ensued, as well as discussion of alternative entertainment options in city parks for juveniles–Assistant City Manager and former parks head Allison Baker said that three city parks offer alternatives, with widely varying degrees of juvenile participation. There are no entertainment options open to juveniles in Five Points– Mayor Benjamin pointed out that there are no arcades, ice cream parlors, or movie theaters in Five Points.

Council informally determined to use $450,000 of hospitality taxes to fund a specially trained hospitality zone police team.

Attorney Gaines read additional “whereas” clauses with additional crimes that would justify the enactment of the curfew. Council voted unanimously to enact the 60 day curfew, effective tonight.

My initial reaction to the action by council was, “It’s about time.” Man, but they have dithered over this. Yeah, I know they’ve got all kinds of sound, lawyerly reasons not to act (and are they lawyered up or what?) — one can always find lots of those. But it’s about time.

Update on protests from our man in Bahrain

This was today...

First we hear from our Hawaii correspondent on the day’s biggest story, now the Mideast. In all my years in the MSM, I never had such a far-flung “staff” as this.

This is from my same correspondent — an executive with an American company doing business over there — who contributed this earlier report from his high-rise apartment point of view.

Here’s his update:

Thought you might like to see the latest on the protest and demonstrations around my building . The protest photo was around 2:00AM this morning and the march into the Pearl Square below me is happening as we speak.  Notice in the black are all women , numbering in the thousands now. Also notice at the top of the photo the main road is now covered by protesters.

You can clearly see the ladies in their black robes if you click on the image and zoom in; I intentionally left the files large so you could do that.

More as I have it.

... and this was last night.

Today begins the great Convergence!

Folks getting ready for ConvergeSE at ADCO last night. You'll note that I am, indeed, the only one around here who dresses like a Mad Man./Brad Warthen

No, I am not the Keymaster, and I am not awaiting the Gatekeeper. This convergence is a little less cosmic, but only a little.

I mentioned yesterday that I’m working at ADCO. Well, today things are fairly quiet here because the ADCO Interactive folks are over at ETV hosting a series of extremely advanced workshops in Web development and convergence and other mysterious new media stuff. These confabs are being conducted by some of the leading kahunas on the forefront of new media.

I’d be over there, except Gene Crawford (the jefe of ADCO Interactive) told me it would all be over my head. I am, however, allowed to attend the speeches that will be given tomorrow over at the Swearingen Center. Supposedly, they’ll talk down enough to me for me, a mere blogger, to follow.

If you want to know more about this event, check out the Web site. Or if that’s too inconvenient, here’s an excerpt from the press release:

ConvergeSE 2010 is intended for Web designers and developers, business executives, marketing professionals, content creators and students. Whether you’re a seasoned expert or a newcomer to the Web, you’re sure to discover something that will spark your creativity and get you motivated.

The conference, a southeastwide expansion of last year’s successful ConvergeSC, will feature such speakers as Neil Patel of Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics, Kevin Hale of Wufoo, Robert Tolar Haining of Condé Nast Digital, Aarron Walter of MailChimp and Brandon Eley of

The conference “will take you from front-end design to the development technologies used to build websites and web apps, then also help you learn strategies to sell your services or application as well as build community around it,” says organizer Gene Crawford of and “It’s that well rounded, multi-disciplinary approach to Converge that makes it a little unique I think. We give each speaker 30 minutes to get their point across and then it’s off to another topic, fast and furious.”

Who should attend ConvergeSE 2010? “Anyone who works with the web or on the web,” said Crawford. Which today means pretty much anybody.

When and Where is it?
Friday, June 25, 8 am-5 pm, Workshop Day
1041 George Rogers Boulevard

Saturday, June 25, 8 am-5pm, Conference Day
University of south Carolina
Amoco Hall
Swearingen Engineering Center
301 Main Street

Yes, I DO have a job, thank you very much

Where does Superman go when he’s not saving Lois and Jimmy? Well, sometimes he’s hammering out a story for Perry White in order to uphold his cover. Sure, he can write at super-speed, but not when others in the newsroom are watching. And sometimes they must see him being Clark Kent to believe in that identity.

So it is with me. I can’t blog ALL the time, and sometimes I’m actually working for a living.

“What? You? Work!?!?” you say, your voice rising in pitch on that last word, as did Maynard G. Krebs’.

Yes, indeed, and you shouldn’t be so shocked. I have been known to do work frequently. I even used to do it when I was with the newspaper, even though I was “in the newspaper business, where it is such an important part of the ethics that you should never seem to be working,” as Jake Barnes so rightly noted.

What am I doing now? Well, I’m in the ad game. I’ve joined ADCO, a full-service advertising and marketing firm here in Columbia. I’ve been ADCO’s director of communications/public relations for quite some time now. I joined in mid-February.

So why haven’t I mentioned it before? Well, it’s not like I’ve made a secret of it. I’ve announced it in some public forums, such as when I’m speaking to civic groups (they gave me a big hand at Rotary when I told them, probably because they were thinking, “Never thought he’d get a job.”). But mostly I haven’t done it because ADCO is undergoing a lot of very exciting changes (see how I’m learning the flack lingo?), and I sort of wanted to wait until all the pieces were in place. There are three big things happening with ADCO as I type this:

  1. This year is our 20th anniversary, since Lanier Jones and Brian Murrell started the company in 1990.
  2. Over the last couple of months we’ve been putting together a new (very exciting!) venture with Periodthree, a Web design and development firm. Gene Crawford and his gang have physically moved into the building with us here at 1220 Pickens, and will henceforth be known as ADCO Interactive. This greatly expands what ADCO can do on the Web.
  3. The addition of Yours Truly. This, of course, is a big thrill for everyone, especially the aforementioned Mr. Truly. What will I be doing? Oh, this and that. Business development, for one. Writing stuff (such as some of the copy for the new Web site). Marketing consulting (which is remarkably like what I did at the newspaper — you’d be surprised; it’s all about shaping message). But the very coolest thing, as far as y’all are concerned, is that Lanier and Brian and Lora and the gang very much encourage me to continue doing the blog. Not many jobs I looked at over the past year would have encouraged that. In fact, most potential employers shuddered at the thought, which makes ADCO rather special.

The Period Three — that is to say, ADCO Interactive — team has been working on a new Web site that will incorporate all of these changes. For instance, if you go look at the old site, you won’t find me or any of the new Interactive folks. The new one goes live in a couple of weeks. So I haven’t wanted to refer you to it until all that was ready.

Also, if I told y’all I had a job, I’d have to go rewrite my lede on my “About” page, and I haven’t thought of anything I like as much as “Brad Warthen is an unemployed newspaperman, until he finds something else to be.” It’s way existential. I think it ranks up there with “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” Or “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Or “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” You get the idea.

Call me Ishmael.

But what the hey; I’ll worry about that later. I thought I’d go ahead and scoop the new ADCO Web site, if only by a bit.

By the way, to address what I’m sure you’re wondering about, this is just like “Mad Men.” Except that as I type this in my office, I’m drinking a Samuel Adams Summer Ale rather than a martini (I am not making this up — Gene and the gang are celebrating the fact that ConvergeSE happens tomorrow, and I “just happened” to step out of my office just as they were opening a few bottles in the corridor). And I’m the only one who dresses like it’s 1962. In fact, one of the Web gurus here for ConvergeSE just said “nice tie” to me in the hall — and it’s really not one of my nicer ties (hey, I know when these hepcats are being ironic; I’m way perceptive). And if you ask one of the young women in the office to fetch coffee, she just doesn’t hop to it the way they do for Don Draper. I figure I’m not saying it with the right tone or something.

But other than all that, it’s just like “Mad Men.” And I’m really getting into it.

Rep. Smith: Democrats WILL vote to override all 107 Sanford vetoes

Not as a bloc, mind you, because as you know, Democrats don’t do blocs. But according to Rep. James Smith, who called me a few minutes ago to set me straight (thereby saving me a call to him or Minority Leader Harry Ott), it will be the official House Democratic leadership position that ALL of Gov. Sanford’s 107 vetoes should be overridden. And he hopes they will be — but of course that will depend on the Republicans doing their duty by South Carolina — which James suggests the Tea Party has made GOP lawmakers scared to do.

James called me because a lot of y’all were calling him, egged on to do so by this blog (in the absence of really helpful coverage of the

Rep. James Smith

budget vetoes by the MSM). I urge y’all to keep on calling your lawmakers, Democrats and especially Republicans (since there’s more of them) to tell them what you think. And if you’ve forgotten who your lawmakers are, or how to contact them, here are instructions on enabling yourself.

If you’ll recall, House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham told me over the weekend (“Lawmakers will uphold most of Sanford’s vetoes“), the governor is likely to prevail on most of his vetoes of funding for such things as public libraries, the State Museum, technical colleges, SC ETV, the Arts Commission and the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in part because Democrats can’t be relied upon to vote to override. He based this on the lack of support he got from Democrats on some key votes on the budget.

James says that was then, this is now.

Indeed Democrats were divided on some things such as court fees. But that has nothing to do with these budget vetoes. If the Legislature fails to override, says the former Minority Leader, it won’t be because of lack of Democratic votes. And of the governor’s 107 vetoes, “I have yet to find one that we would not override.”

And while Kenny is worried, James still hopes “to be successful in overriding them.”

If the Democrats can indeed stick together tomorrow, that means the fate of these vetoes will lie in the bitter rivalry between regular mainstream Republicans and the Sanford fringe — a fringe that was emboldened by Nikki Haley’s near victory in the primary last Tuesday. All Sanford and Haley and their allies need is to drum up a third of either the House or the Senate for Mark Sanford to have his biggest victory in his eight sorry years in office.

So once again, folks, rather than merely refer you to a link, here are the instructions on how to contact your legislator, as we used to say at the bottoms of editorials:

To find out who your legislators are and how to contact them, go to and select “Find your legislator” on the left. Or call Project Vote Smart at 1-888-VOTE-SMART.

Shadd endorses Meadors as 5th circuit solicitor

If I were my former paper, I suppose I’d have an “EXCLUSIVE” tag on this…

John Meadors tells me that at 4 p.m. today, third-place finisher James Shadd will endorse him for the Democratic nomination for 5th Circuit solicitor.

This is a big boost for Meadors, who trailed top vote-getter Dan Johnson badly last Tuesday, 43 percent to 30 percent. I say “trailed badly,” but those numbers still put Meadors within comeback range, especially if Shadd can deliver a significant portion of his 7,692 votes (27 percent).

Complicating this calculation — and making any chunk of voters who can be induced to come out particularly significant — is the expected low turnout for the runoff next Tuesday. Think about it — Republicans still have a governor’s race to settle, not to mention attorney general and Gov Lite and superintendent of education. Whereas Vincent Sheheen’s big win took away most of the motivation for Democrats to turn out again.

So basically, in this race, anything could happen next week.