Loose Lips


    A recent Associated Press study of truth in the governor's announcements of economic growth was a cold shower. The governor claimed record growth in 1996, claiming $5.7 billion in investments and 26,000 new jobs.

    The study found only $3.3 billion in new investments and only 12,000 jobs Beasley promised.

    How can the governor get away with such fudging of the numbers? It's easy when administration and all of the state agencies involved with business development won't release the names of the companies from which they drew their figures. Loose Lips

    Their press conferences touting strong economic growth are public record, but the facts to back them up are not. The chief economist for the state's Board of Economic Advisers, Bill Gillespie, is confident in the governor's figures but acknowledges he doesn't have any hard numbers. He suggested that the individual companies who announced expansion be contacted, but refused to release their names, citing confidentiality.

    Confidentially, we think he's covering the governor's projected assets.



    If you are among those who feel the quality of life degrades when the legislature is in session, read no further.

    Rep. Jeff Young (R-Sumter), who sponsored the bill last year that now allows law-abiding citizens to carry a gun in their pocket, has been pushing legislation that would allow "officers of the court" to tote a piece anywhere in the state. Ostensibly, this new law would prevent judges and magistrates from being blown away by bad guys in courts, churches or bars.

    Young wants to give judges the ability to defend themselves in places the normal law-abiding citizen can't carry a gun.

    When Rep Bob Sheheen (D-Kershaw) pointed out that all lawyers are "officers of the court," the Second Amendment crowd realized they were on the edge of making a big mistake. The bill would have allowed lawyer legislators to carry guns onto the floor of the House.

    House Speaker David Wilkins (R-Greenville) knows that Rep. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington) has been qualifying squads of House members, some of them lawyers, some of them pissed off at him, to carry concealed weapons. "You want to bring a gun on the floor of this House?" Wilkens asked the pistol-packing crowd, "NOOO," he intoned.

    During the debate, Rep . Dan Cooper (R-Anderson) told Knotts, "If Jean Toal can bring a gun in here, I ought to be able to, too."

    The House finally agree that lawyers couldn't, but judges should be able to carry a gun into restricted areas "while carrying out the duties of office."

    If the House subpoenas Toal, they may have a problem.



    The battle over the "So-Called New Power Company" has become rough and tumble, but we're not sure if the boys at Electric Lite really know who they're up against.

    Volleys of gunfire that echoed for hours down the Saluda River below the Lake Murray Dam on a recent weekend weren't the sounds of the state militia; it was SCE&G testing out its latest security force. According to a spokesperson for the privately owned monopoly, SCE&G has "an awful lot" of men bearing arms. This doesn't count the SWAT team it employs to guard the nuclear plant from terrorists.

    SCE&G recently applied to become part of a proposed federal scheme to make nuclear weapons material at its reactor. These guys have more firepower than some Third World countries.

    If the new kids want to provide power, they may have to come up with a lot more muscle.



    The fight over Laidlaw's permit to dump toxic waste on the shores of Lake Marion has dragged on more than 12 years. The latest battle took place in district court in Sumter the first week in May before Judge Duane Shuler.

    Laidlaw and DHEC are defending the agency's decision to allow the dump to continue operating without posting a cash bond for eventual environmental restoration or to mitigate damages in the event of an accidental leak.

    In 1994, the DHEC Board, in a surprising decision, ruled that the dump had to post a cash bond to continue operating. By January 1995, two board members who voted for the bond had been replaced by the governor, and the board reversed itself. The new board decided that a piece of paper promising to clean up was as good as $130 million in the bank.

    The case before Judge Shuler has all the intrigue and plot twists of a great mini-series.

    Laidlaw is the fattest cat in the state. It has contributed more to legislators and spent more on lobbyists in the last couple of years than anyone else.

    DHEC, the state agency regulating toxic landfills, has an incestuous relationship with the dump dating back to its founder, Bill Stillwell, who got the license to operate the dump a few days after he left a DHEC job regulating dumps.

    The Department of Natural Resources and Santee Cooper, both state agencies in the uncomfortable position of taking another state agency to court. Santee Cooper makes electricity and is in charge of Lake Marion. John Rainey, appointed by Gov. Carroll Campbell to head the agency, is a rich, white Republican environmentalist. Rainey understands the threat posed by the dump, and has consistently pushed for stronger regulations or closure of the facility.

    The Sierra Club weighs in for the opponents as well as the local Citizens Allied for a Safe Environment. CASE's members include black and white working people living around the dump as well as some well-to-do folk who breathe the same air and drink the same water.

    DHEC has taken the unprecedented step of hiring a private lawyer to represent the agency in state court. The reason DHEC needs an outside attorney is that the last time they appeared in court over the cash bond question they were arguing the other side. In 1994, Jackie Dickman, DHEC's lead attorney on the Laidlaw case, appeared before Judge Shuler - that's right, the same judge now hearing DHEC argue against its own previous case - and told the judge that "irreparable harm" would befall South Carolina if he didn't uphold the cash bond.

    No wonder DHEC needs a lawyer.

    The judge is known around the courthouse for being an avid sportsman who knows parts of Lake Marion like the back of his hand. His ruling could mean the end of our politicians' biggest sugar daddy.

    Hopes are that he is looking more forward to retirement and taking his grandkids fishing in Lake Marion than to being reelected.



    House Speaker David Wilkins' (R-Greenville) conservative constituents are beginning to whisper about his newfound penchant for interior decorating.

    First the Speaker led the shopping trip for new furniture for the State House. Then he introduced a bill that gave him authority to assign desks so he could give his buddies the best seats in the house. He also pushed a bill through that makes sure that all the pictures and trinkets (read Confederate flags) in the House be returned to their original positions.

    It's enough to make one wonder if the Speaker isn't getting caught up in the details.



    Sen. Mike Fair s (Greenville-R) staunch defense of this state's heritage apparently only extends to dead things. Fair recently supported the Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority's decision to put a new sewer line down the bank of the Reedy River instead of burying it away from the river.

    The sewer authority spent $42,000 on mailings to convince the public that chopping down some 24,000 trees (some of them Civil War-era beeches) was the cost-effective option.

    Brad Wyche, president of Friends of the Reedy River, figured that the cost of relocating the sewer line away from the river would add about $7 a year to the average sewer bill for the next 20 years. The sewer line will pass right through the downtown riverfront that the city has been trying to develop into a green space.

    Fair defended the plan to despoil the river's heritage by saying, "If they have to spend more money to save a tree, then the tree's history."

    To add insult to injury, Rep. Bob Leach (R-Greenville), who defeated Wyche for the seat, sponsored a House resolution praising the Sewer Authority for its fine work.



    Time once was that you could tell if the fellow in the car ahead of you was armed -- his shotgun was hanging in the rear window of his pick-up. What with the growing number of citizens carrying concealed weapons, it's getting harder to tell who not to tailgate.

    Rep. Andreas Bauer (R-Lexington) has introduced a bill that would help offensive drivers know who to avoid. The legislation would provide special license tags to "firearms enthusiasts" that say: Second Amendment, the Cornerstone of Freedom.

    The Senate Transportation Committee, in an effort to diffuse the tension over the move to grant the Sons of Confederate Veterans tags sporting Confederate flags, have decided to give all federally tax-exempt groups tag rights.

    This means that if we get 300 members of this publication to buy a tag, we can get our own slogan. What might such a tag say? Send in or call us with your suggestions; we'll print the most outrageous suggestions next month.



    It was a tough call this month between the governor who attended the anti-gay rally in Greenville and the Attorney General who has decided to sue the tobacco companies he has been defending.

    The General won our award for taking time from his busy media schedule to figure out that his support for tobacco farmers and NASCAR racing could screw our citizens out of billions of dollars in tobacco money -- and cost him votes.

    Be the first caller to name the amount of money (to the closest $1,000) that the General has taken from the tobacco companies in the past 18 months, and win a trial subscription to POINT.


© Copyright by POINT, 1997
Last modified 5/13/97