Loose Lips


When is a wetlands not a wetlands? When it can become a shopping center.

If the Clean Water Act of 1995, as recently passed by the U.S. House, passes the Senate about 90 percent of South Carolina's freshwater wetlands, including much of the Congaree Swamp National Monument, would no longer classify as wetlands.

The old rule simply said wetlands were areas that "periodically" flooded every year. The new rule would require property to be under water for 21 consecutive days a year, during "growing season" to qualify as wetlands. It would allow most of the land now protected for vital wildlife habitat to be filled and developed.

Both of our state senators weighed in against the bill passed by the House, saying it was extreme. The Republican representative from the Lowcountry, Mark Sanford, voted against the bill, calling instead for "incremental change."



If you missed it in real life, the South Carolina State Museum has opened an exhibit that "tells the true story of the Confederate flag" which will be on display through Dec. 10.

The exhibit, on loan from the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va., displays memorabilia from flags to bumper stickers and beach towels that trace the history of that unique southern symbol.

One placard in the display reads, "Even if neither side can be fully reconciled to the other's position, it behooves all sides to understand all points of view and reach a compromise on where the flag should fly. If not, we will only continue to delay the ongoing healing of the rift over the war that seems unresolved 130 years after Appomattox."

Only the most mint julep-besotted magnolia-sniffer could follow the banner's history through the exhibit and not concede that it has become a symbol of white supremacy.

Whether the flag should fly above the State House or whether it should be removed, according to another placard, are "questions of values not fact."


The latest issue of Policy Review, the quarterly publication of the conservative Heritage Foundation, ran an article by South Carolina Atty. Gen. Charlie Condon titled "Clinton's Cocaine Babies."

In the article, Condon touted the success of his program to lock up cocaine-addicted mothers and asked, "Why won't the administration let us save our children?"

When Condon was the District Attorney for Charleston, he implemented a program at the Medical University of South Carolina that involved arresting indigent pregnant women who tested positive for cocaine.

After several women gave birth while in handcuffs, the Feds gave the hospital a choice of ending the program or losing federal funding for the entire hospital.

While Condon asserts that "virtually none of [the pregnant drug users] were willing to seek help voluntarily," he fails to mention that no voluntary programs existed.

The American Medical Association, the American Pediatrics Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the South Carolina State Council on Maternal, Infant and Child Health have all concluded that there is no evidence that Condon's punitive measures are effective.

That Condon would continue to brag on a program condemned by state and national health organizations says more about his political concerns than his professed family values.


When they were hauling all the weight lifting equipment out of the prisons to comply with the legislative mandate that inmates shall not pump iron, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Robin Zimmerman made a modest proposal. "There's always aerobics," she said.

No doubt, South Carolina could be a better state if our inmates would only focus on toning rather than muscle bulk. In the meantime, we're looking forward to Zimmerman in Spandex, leading the cons through a rousing workout.


It's all in the family for the Quinns. Rep. Rick Quinn (R-Richland) shares credit for keeping the Confederate flag flying above the State House along with his father, who is the editor of Southern Partisan.

Young Quinn sponsored a bill to ensure that the flag returns to its threatened perch on the dome after the building's renovation. The new legislation arguably protects the flag from being removed by court order.

The cover story of the recent issue of Southern Partisan claimed that "a major grassroots effort to save the flag" turned the tide.

The Southern Heritage Association, a Columbia-based flag waving group supported by the Quinns, mailed 30,000 postcards alerting neo-Confederates that they needed to lean on their legislators.

In the same issue, Southern Partisan gave its Scalawag Award to one of the two Republican representatives who didn't support the flag bill. Rep. Bill Cotty (R-Richland) was lambasted for his vote and "his pompous public pronouncements declaring the Confederate battle flag a divisive symbol of slavery.'"


Like some industrial-strength funeral procession, trucks bearing nuclear waste caskets lined up recently to get into the radioactive burial grounds in Barnwell.

On July 1, South Carolina again threw open its doors to America's nuclear waste. Not only did Chem-Nuclear, Gov. David Beasley, his advisors and a flock of well-shod lobbyists make out like bandits, the state got some money to build schools. If you're willing to sell your kids' environmental future, you ought to get something for it, right?

Doing it for money was bad enough, but destroying the nuclear compact 15 years in the making was a crying shame.

The governor rationalized that it was necessary for South Carolina to pull out of the compact in order to punish North Carolina for not getting a replacement to the Barnwell dump operable by the end of the year.

This short-sighted money grab ensures that another generation of South Carolinians can lay claim to the distinction of being the nation's nuclear dump.

We guess the governor showed those Tarheels that we don't need them to dump on us that's already been taken care of.


While we regularly hold their feet to the fire, we are nonetheless big supporters of the state's educational broadcasting system. The recent announcement that news and local programing in Columbia and the entire operation of the Charleston station would be terminated took us by surprise.

Like many South Carolinians, we have come to rely on our local public radio. That the 2.5 percent budget cut "across the board" for state agencies would result in the state's only independent news team (other than the staff of this humble publication), and the entire staff of the Charleston station, being axed was unanticipated and unnecessary.

The Columbia-based news team AT WLTR had long been an embarrassment to the brass at ETV, primarily for doing its job.

Two years ago, after an investigative piece about animal research embarrassed medical school officials, WLTR reporters were told they couldn't file Freedom of Information requests with state agencies. The powers that be didn't want other state agencies looking into their business.

Why the Charleston station is being closed down is open to debate. "We were a convenient appendage to cut off," the station manager speculated.

"I want to know what their real agenda is," says Mark Overton, former director of Spoleto.

Overton, a visible member of the ETV "family" who participates in those obnoxious fund-raising drives, asks, "What larger objective is being served by stealing in like a thief in the night and taking the whole tent?"

WSCI employees were given 30 minutes' notice that the station was being closed. Within days, equipment was being removed and the locks changed.

"Given some notice, we could have come up with some alternatives," Overton says. He believes that the lack of advance notice was designed to head off community opposition to the closure. In 1987, an announced plan to close the station in six months gave supporters time to rally to block the cut.

"I am incensed," Overton says. "The political types don't understand that many, many people rely on this station for a cultural and intellectual lifeline."

We understand that SC-ETV President for Life Henry Cauthen has to dance a fine line to keep the Neanderthals in the legislature signing his checks, but axing the news team and the Charleston station without giving the "family" any input was, at best, cowardice.

Henry, trust your family. If Overton and thousands of other loyal listeners of public radio had known of your dilemma, they may have been able to provide other options.

They're registered voters and influential people, they could give you a fighting chance with the legislature.

Henry, we need each other. Let's not go down without a fight.


After Gen. William Westmoreland addressed a Greenville audience on Memorial Day, a POINT reader in the Upstate wrote and asked if this was the same general that had been exposed for "misrepresenting the Vietnam war to the American public."

The reader also wanted to know if we thought the public was so "memory constricted that they would swallow such propaganda."

The answer is yes.


Charleston Sen. Robert Ford quit his job selling cars at a Lincoln dealership in the Holy City last month because he didn't want to hurt his friends. Ford had been the target of callers on local radio talk shows who suggested that people boycott the dealership as long as Ford worked there.

WTMA talk show host Dan Moon read on the air a letter by Ford that advocated the boycotting of Columbia-area businesses that discriminated against African-American employees and those who refuse to support black media.

Ford said Moon read the letter "intentionally to inflame the angry white male." The same folks Ford intends to avoid when he looks for a new job.


When the votes were counted on the compromise version of the state budget bill, it was clear that the governor's plan to include the Barnwell dump in the budget was going to carry the Senate.

Like rats deserting the sinking ship, 45 of the state's 46 senators went on record as supporting the compromise budget that kept Barnwell open, Shannon Faulkner out of The Citadel and the Confederate flag flying above the State House dome.

Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter), a longtime friend of the environment, women and minorities, couldn't bring himself to run with the pack. Leventis, apparently, is guided by something his colleagues lack: a conscience.


This month's Sleazeball team have the distinction of being the first father-son combo to win the award. While these two slime-buckets claim they're guided by love of their heritage, their ethnocentricity has rubbed raw the sores of racial animosity in South Carolina.

To win a free trial subscription to POINT, be the first caller to name these Sleazeballs with the genetic propensity for screwing up our future while obsessing on their past.

Last month's Sleazeball was Sec. of Agriculture Les Tindall.

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© Copyright by POINT, 1995

Last modified 7/9/95