Down memory lane with Bobby

My friend Monica began a discussion on Facebook with this:

“My favorite Bobby Harrell memory of when he was Speaker of the SC House? Stripping our destined-to-be Governor then House member Nikki Haley of her committee chairmanships. Why? She had the gall to push for transparency in government and voting on record. And there were “solid conservative Republicans” who supported him in teaching her a lesson. Anyone else have a fond memory?”

So I dug back into the archives and came up with some replies for Monica…

Oh I’ll play! How about the time he sent a letter to the pharmacy board on official speaker’s office letterhead and then said he wasn’t seeking special treatment for his business … Palmetto State Pharmaceuticals?

Well, who couldn’t have seen the ethics violations writing on the wall there, huh?

How about “Bobby Bucks” … liberally dispensed Palmetto Leadership Council (PLC) funds, the political action committee affiliated with House Speaker Bobby Harrell … which were used to exceed campaign-finance restrictions, dole out personal favors and wield enormous influence. Particularly egregious when used in primary races to protect incumbents.

Nothing wrong with keeping your sycophants all funded up for their next election right?

Or … what about that bill in Spring 2014 that fantastically appeared overnight which would remove the attorney general and other officials from prosecuting certain ethics and public corruption cases.

Bobby had been a co-sponsor on the Fair Tax bill for quite a while, and that bill has never had a floor vote, yet this bill just FLEW through the process. Funny that.

Or back in early 2013 when he bragged about having ““the lowest tax rate in the nation” when in actuality the report he was citing said SC has the “lowest tax collections per capita.” … which really means SC doesn’t charge less, it collects less. And the reason it collects less is because a) SC incomes are low and b) politicians exempt so many special interests. Quite a difference eh?

Smoke and mirrors at the expense of the SC taxpayers.

Then Joyce Zandri wanted in…

My favorite was when he was campaigning for election against John Steinberger and was asked what he thought about the FairTax. This after having been a co-sponsor of the SC Fairtax Act for several years. His answer? “It might be fine for the federal government but it won’t work at the state level”.

Yep. Way before the phantom airplane trips, Bobby Harrell was bad news for SC citizens.

October 24, 2014  Tags:   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Vet Bill – What? Private vets are being “subsidized” for spay/neuter surgeries?

Almost every proponent of “doing something about those spay/neuter clinics” recited the same phrase in the recent AWLS hearings. They insisted that these clinics are “subsidized by tax dollars”.

And yet, speaker after speaker who stood and spoke about what their organization is providing for their community announced “We do this through donations. We do this with private grants. We do not receive any taxpayer dollars.”

We recognize that there are some counties who contract with private animal welfare organizations to house, adopt, or euthanize stray animals brought in from Animal Control or county residents. And those contracts are paid in the same way any contract with a county is paid, whether it be a landscaping contract, an electrician contract, or a print shop contract. Services are provided and invoices are paid.

But because of the relentless mantra of “IT’S NOT FAIR!!!!”, let’s take a look at one county who has chosen to use money from their budget to be proactive about trying to solve their problem of too many stray/unwanted dogs and cats.

Oconee County, like most of the smaller or less affluent counties in South Carolina, does not have the big Humane Society Building, with prominent board members, wide lawns, comfortable kennel space which accommodates a couple hundred pets. They don’t have a spay/neuter clinic. But they have made some decisions about the best solution for their county’s unwanted cats and dogs that is better than rounding them up and killing them all.

Recognizing that if you prevent the births you can prevent the deaths, the local government officials have set up a county fund of $60K to be used to spay/neuter dogs and cats, both shelter animals pre-adoption, and owned pets. In addition, animal welfare volunteers have worked extremely hard to secure PRIVATE GRANTS of slightly more than $50K to help pet owners.

Since they don’t have a spay/neuter clinic in Oconee County, who does these surgeries? Local veterinarians in private practice. Local vets work with the county and with humane society volunteers to facilitate surgeries. What, then, will Pat Hill and SCAV and the vets who have complained in the hearings about the clinics that are subsidized with tax dollars have to say to Oconee County’s pet owners and veterinarians? Local governments are closest to the problems in their communities, and their solutions should not be dismissed by legislation from Columbia. Or scorned or second guessed by lobbyists from Columbia or Charleston.

Do they substitute their judgment and assert that they … from miles away and across the state … know better how to resolve the pet overpopulation problem in a smaller, more rural, less affluent county? What about other small counties who have stray and unwanted animals but do not have the resources to support a spay/neuter clinic? If legislation is passed that harms the efforts of Oconee County vets and their collaboration with local government and volunteers, these other small counties will lose their opportunities to follow Oconee’s example and determine for themselves the best use of their animal control funding – reaction vs. prevention.

Counties who direct money from their own budgets to facilitate local solutions know best. Those decisions should not be interfered with through nagging by veterinarians who don’t face the challenges of the smaller counties. Tax dollars are allocated by those folks who understand the situations their residents face. If county money and volunteers and veterinarians are working together proactively on solving their local problem – even though Pat Hill and veterinarians from other places in the state complain about ‘subsidizing’ – let them continue without legislative interference.

October 24, 2014   Posted in: Uncategorized  2 Comments

After Harrell

I may have posted this before, but even if … great article by House Representative-elect Jonathon Hill:

It begins …

Sometimes, I’m a pretty embarrassed South Carolinian. Though we could be described, at least here in the Upstate, as “the buckle on the Bible Belt,” we have a way of frequently making unpleasant political headlines.

It started with a former Governor, now Congressman, who said he “hiked the Appalachian trail” when he was actually visiting his “soul mate” who was not his wife (a saga that is still playing out like a soap opera), to a Lieutenant Governor forced to resign in disgrace after multiple campaign finance violations (in the private sector, this is known as “embezzlement”), to 8 Sheriffs in the last 4 years indicted or investigated for a variety of fraudulent behavior, including racketeering and bribe-taking, finally climaxing in the indictment of Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell just days ago for violations that dwarf those of former Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard.

But what you won’t hear in the media is the greatest corruption of all: our very system of government is compromised.

Oh, we make a show of the three-branch balance of power that our founders bequeathed to us. Yet, as Lawrence Lessig put it, “We inherited an extraordinary estate. On our watch, we have let it fall to ruin.”

Well worth your time to click the link above and read the entire article.

October 23, 2014   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Harrell Press

I’m going to copy in some of the best coverage of today’s Harrell hearing so you can peruse as you like.

John Monk at TheState.com:

From powerful official to government informant: SC House Speaker Harrell pleads guilty to misconduct in office

And that’s the takeaway from today. The Feds have their snitch. Columbia should be prepared for Armageddon!

• Harrell agrees not to seek or hold public office for three years. He also will be on probation during that time. The Charleston Republican was first elected to the House in 1993.

• Harrell will pay a $30,000 fine plus an additional $93,958 to the general fund of South Carolina. Harrell will also turn over all of his remaining campaign account to the state’s general fund. That amount was not immediately available.

• Harrell agrees to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors, including being ready to testify “fully and truthfully at any trials or other proceeding” in state or federal court. Harrell must submit to polygraph examinations.

Eva Moore at Freetimes:

It might sound like Harrell’s in the clear, but four other indictments against him remain, including one felony. Those other indictments relate to Harrell allegedly paying an administrative assistant at his insurance agency using campaign funds, among other charges. “[The other charges] do not have anything to do with this guilty plea,” First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe told the judge –

“The government’s got a huge amount of leverage over this guy,” Crangle said. “This is just the beginning. It’s designed to get his cooperation so the other guys will go down.” There’ve been rumors and a few news reports of federal and state investigations at the State House looking into everything from vote trading to improper PAC spending among legislators. Crangle said today he thinks some 15 to 20 other legislators could face charges, making the current investigation a second installment of Operation Lost Trust. Crangle also faulted other lawmakers for not blowing the whistle on Harrell. “Every member of the Legislature who did not complain … is complicit,” Crangle said. It shouldn’t have taken citizen activism and pressure to bring down the powerful Speaker, he said. –

===============
As far as the November 4 election goes … SC Radio News Team @scrnnews

W/ Harrell now ineligible, Democratic candidate Mary Tinkler & Green Party’s Sue Edward are only candidates in solidly GOP district.

There may be an attempt at a GOP write in vote.

—————-

South Carolina Radio Network:

Pascoe said SLED investigators also identified four round trip flights Harrell reported from Charleston to Columbia that he called “non-existent.” However, prosecutors allowed Harrell’s legal team to add a “caveat” during his guilty plea that maintained the flights did occur, but he would plead guilty to improperly reimbursing himself.

The solicitor insisted investigators had evidence to show Harrell did not fly to Columbia on those days, “The State can prove the trip did not happen, but if he agrees that he’s guilty of this charge and that he received an excessive benefit, then I’m fine with that,” he told Judge Manning.

October 23, 2014   Posted in: Uncategorized  One Comment

Me and Bobby Harrell

In October 2010 Speaker Bobby Harrell was in Greenville speaking with a coalition of tea party leaders. It was my one and only interaction with him.

Here’s my Q&A with Harrell.

October 23, 2014   Posted in: Uncategorized  One Comment

South Carolina is now the only state in the nation without a working system.

Who is stunned to hear about this?

And … WHO should have fixed it long ago? Excusessssssss……..

I look at the time WASTED on the floor of the House and Senate and the “Congratulate ME!” tours of the state every time a taxpayer subsidized new business opens and wonder … as those legislators leave to floor to head to their dinner and drinks, and the Governor dines with politicos, and as they all watch over their children … couldn’t they have spent their time better in the past years by also watching over other people’s children by solving THIS? THIS more than that is their responsibility. Stop naming bridges and advocating for state vegetables and attend to these responsibilities.

Robert Kittle, Reporting at WSPA:

The South Carolina Department of Social Services has reportedly settled a dispute with the contractor it fired last year over a child support enforcement computer system that still doesn’t exist, 17 years after it was required. DSS and Hewlett Packard are still working out the details of the settlement.

The state fired HP in July 2013, saying the company had missed important testing deadlines for the system, which was not even close to being ready. But HP argued that the missed deadlines were the state’s fault because it kept making changes to the system, requiring computer code to be rewritten. The two sides have been in mediation since last year.

Since the details of the settlement are still being worked out, neither DSS nor HP can talk about them.

Federal law required the state to have a statewide child support enforcement computer system in 1997, but the state has had one problem after another with the contractors it hired to do the work. South Carolina is now the only state in the nation without a working system. The state has been fined more than $100 million by the federal government for not having a system. The contractors have paid almost half of that, but that means taxpayers have still shelled out tens of millions in fines.

Having one statewide computer system would make it faster and easier for the state to find deadbeat parents and get the child support they owe. Now, each county clerk of court has its own system, which is not tied to any other counties or to the state. Despite not having a statewide system, DSS says the state has still met all federal requirements for child support collection and enforcement.

DSS is looking at its options for how to proceed, trying to determine how much, if any, of HP’s work can be used and whether the state will be able to finish the system itself.

October 22, 2014   Posted in: Uncategorized  2 Comments

Did you miss the Land Use Presentation Monday?

Roger Nutt, the Monarch of Transparency in Spartanburg County, has the video of Monday’s meeting which contains the discussion on Land Use Planning.

The discussion begins at 55 minutes, 30 seconds.

And … if you’d like to see the vote on the EPA RESOLUTION, that discussion / vote begins at 1 hour, 27 minutes.

October 22, 2014   Posted in: Uncategorized  2 Comments

AUTOPSY DESTROYS MICHAEL BROWN ‘HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT’ STORY

We had WEEKS of coverage of outrage and rioting over a lie.

I doubt that we’ll have weeks … days … 1 day? of the same media coverage devoted to the facts that have emerged through autopsy and hearings.

Ben Shapiro reporting at Breitbart.com:

A new autopsy report revealed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has now put the final nail in the coffin of the Michael Brown “Gentle Giant” narrative. Proponents of prosecuting Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department over his shooting of Brown have claimed that Wilson shot Brown while he was running away, his hands up. In actuality, the autopsy report suggests that Brown did indeed attempt to take Wilson’s gun, that Wilson shot him in the hand over it, and that Brown charged Wilson with his hands down.

In other words, every element of the original narrative pushed by the media, leftist politicians, and protesters was a lie.

There is not a single shred of physical evidence backing the original media narrative of the Michael Brown killing. But that won’t matter to the thousands who plan to go off the deep end should the state not ignore that lack of evidence and prosecute Wilson to the full extent of the non-law.

Full details are in Shapiro’s story at the link above.

October 22, 2014  Tags:   Posted in: Uncategorized  2 Comments

Referendum to segregate Transportation Fund on the ballot for November

Sadly this is in Wisconsin, not South Carolina.

But if Butch Kirven wants to involve the SC General Assembly in legislation to pay for roads, here is where he should start!

This would be a changed to the state Constitution.

From the Wisconsin Daily Independent.com:

Should money you pay for transportation related projects go to fund other things, such as education or health care?

It’s a question voters will see on the November 4th ballot, but the wording of the referendum may be confusing for some voters.

The question on the ballot reads:

Shall section 9 (2) of article IV and section 11 of article VII of the constitution be created to require that revenues generated by use of the state transportation system be deposited into a Transportation Fund administered by a department of transportation for the exclusive purpose of funding Wisconsin’s transportation systems and to prohibit any transfers or lapses from this fund?

As the law stands now, funds collected in fees and taxes may be used for any public purpose by the Legislature. Wisconsin’s Transportation Fund, which currently exists under statute, is designed to be the source of funding for all modes of transportation in the state. Wisconsin law requires that specific revenue streams such as taxes or fees related to motor vehicles, aircraft, and railroads be deposited into the transportation fund.

Currently the legislature can take monies from this fund for any projects they deem necessary, and not necessarily transportation issues. When funds are transferred, they normally go to the General Fund for programs like health care education and shared revenue.

What this means in plain terms is that money in the transportation fund can be used for any purpose.

A “yes” vote would require that all funds collected must be used for transportation issues such as roads and bridges and other modes of transportation.

A “no” vote would allow the transportation funds to be used for other programs determined by the Legislature.

October 22, 2014  Tags: ,   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Halbig and the Nonchalance of Six Small Words

It’s a trifecta of Obamacare posts today!

and I LOVE This one!

GREG WEINER writing at Liberty Law Site.org:

It begins…

The psychology of legislative draftsmanship involved in the six words at stake in Halbig v. Burwell—“an exchange established by the State”—reflects a short-odds gamble that did not hit. The bettors first wanted the IRS to rescue them from the consequences, and now they want the courts to do it.

The gamble was that states, enticed by subsidies for their citizens or intimidated by the threat of losing Medicaid funds, would establish healthcare exchanges. The Obama administration is surely right that the whole idea of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was that such subsidies be provided, and that the consequences that have ensued from those six small words were probably unintended.

On the other hand, the authors of those words—and words, after all, are the stuff of laws—placed their bet at a casino called federalism, a device that is not incidental to the constitutional design. That is what is at stake in this case, and that is why even those who believe the courts should give majorities a wide berth may be compelled to support judicial intercession to empower majorities—as expressed through the states—in Halbig.

If you geek out about the Halbig situation as much as I do, read the entire article at the link above. Here’s another excerpt:

That makes the views of majorities as expressed through the state governments inescapably pertinent. Thus the significance of the ACA’s reference to exchanges “established by the State.” Its very nonchalance, which the ACA’s defenders say is why it should not be seen as frustrating the law’s design, is in fact the key to grasping phrase’s importance. It shows that the drafters simply assumed states would get with the program. That they did not reflected acts of majority will in 34 states, whose residents make up nearly 60 percent of the population.

October 22, 2014  Tags: ,   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments