This month, POINT peels back the layers of bureaucracy that cloak DHEC, the state agency in charge of protecting South Carolina's land, air and water. DHEC has staggering responsibilities; apparently answering questions from the alternative press isn't one of them.
We gave it our best shot, but these stories were written without the benefit of interviews with the people who run DHEC and make the decisions that affect us all.
Commissioner Doug Bryant, Deputy Commissioner Lewis Shaw and DHEC Board Chairperson John Burriss all refused to talk. Still, DHEC's record speaks volumes, and raises troubling questions about the agency responsible for watching over South Carolina's environment and public health.
With elections approaching, we hope you will let candidates know your concerns about DHEC and the need for restructuring the agency. It is up to you to make it an election-year issue.
In a related issue, the South Carolina Progressive Network is focusing on a long-term project that will analyze how money influences politics in our state, tracking the money trail to see who gave what to whom, and to what ends. The effort will consider ways to reclaim democracy and counter the disproportionate amount of influence wielded by the wealthy.
As part of that project, POINT and the Progressive Network are cosponsoring a conference on Money and Politics on Sept. 28 in Columbia. The workshop is designed for academics, legislators, journalists and grassroots organizers, and will feature speakers who have been involved in reform efforts in other states and at the national level.
Participants will look at how money in politics affects their own issues and explore the idea of building a statewide alliance to support a movement for campaign finance reform in South Carolina. The day-long seminar costs $10, which includes a light lunch. For information, see the editorial on "Exploring the Campaign Money Trail" or give us a call tollfree at 1-888-OUR-VOTE. Hope to see you there.