MAKE MINE TOFU
In keeping with its motto "We never met an environmental problem we couldn't make you feel better about," DHEC released an advisory about contaminated fish in 18 rivers and nine lakes across South Carolina.
Rather than acknowledge that pollution has reached dangerous levels, the happy-face folks at DHEC cheerfully told us in an Oct. 7 press release, "People can still enjoy fish if they limit the amount they eat." DHEC included a handy table listing the amount and what kinds of fish are safe to consume in a month that you can tape to your tackle box.
"Let's see, Honey," says the angler referring to his table of Recommended Fish Consumption Limits by Waterbody, "we're on the Little Pee Dee, and that's a bass you just caught. We can eat a half-pound a month without fear of cancer, brain damage or birth defects."
While DHEC says, "the contamination is only in the fish and does not make the water unsafe for drinking and recreational uses, they advise "Pregnant women, women planning to become pregnant, infants and children should not eat any fish from these waterbodies."
South Carolina is one of the few places outside of Third World dictatorships that builds monuments to living politicians. Sen. Strom Thurmond falls into that category (just barely).
The monument to Strom, planned for the south side of the State House, has drawn numerous proposals ranging from carving the structure out of fossil material to dipping the existing carcass in bronze.
Our favorite is the animated statue of Thurmond that cops a feel of female passers by.
DIVERSITY ON THE REDNECK RIVERIA
Sharon Brown is the latest scandal to hit the morally challenged city fathers of Myrtle Beach. The city council is a conservative lot that spends much of its time anguishing over obscene T-shirts and thong bikinis. They want to attract a family crowd, and if that takes paving every square inch of the Grand Strand, well, that's the price of progress.
Brown, a 31 year-old-black woman, started attending council meetings to defend the right of a gay bar to open in downtown Myrtle Beach. After the bar opened, Brown kept attending the meetings to speak out on drainage and other community concerns.
Brown surprised everyone last month by declaring herself a candidate for city council. Surprise turned into shock when Brown later announced that she was a he. Brown told the Myrtle Beach Sun, "I'm transsexual. I know it's going to come out during the race, and I want to go ahead and let the people know."
Brown performs a Whitney Houston act at Metropolis, the bar whose license was challenged, and spends her days campaigning.
Councilman Mark McBride says he opposed licensing Metropolis not because of its sexual orientation but because there are too many bars in the Pavilion area already. When asked what he thinks about the possibility of having a transsexual council member, McBride, who is running for mayor, said, "I've never had to think about it."
"If the city wants to grow, it can," Brown said, "but with growth comes diversity."
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
You've heard of stealth candidates; U.S. Rep. Floyd Spence is a stealth incumbent. When was the last time you heard one of his liberal constituents from Columbia complaining about him? For that matter, when was the last time you heard anything about the 26-year veteran?
While most politicians are pushing for campaign finance reform, now that it has become politically expedient, Spence has cosponsored a bill that would repeal campaign contribution limits altogether. He believes that rich people and corporations have the right to give him as much money as they want.
Spence has raised a higher percentage of campaign contributions from outside his district than any other congressman, according to the Public Interest Research Group (a nonprofit watchdog group). In the last election, more than 93.5 percent of Spence's funding came from people who could not vote for him.
Voters who keep reelecting Spence really haven't had much of a choice lately. Spence had no serious opposition in the last three general elections. The intensely Republican district includes Lexington and Sen. Strom Thurmond's Aiken. Voters in these parts seem to believe that longevity is the most important political attribute.
HOT PLATE SPECIAL
The next time a highway patrolman asks for your drivers license and registration, look him calmly in the eye and ask to see his. It seems that the patrol, as well as the State Transport Police, are driving around with bogus license tags.
When authority over license tags shifted from the Department of Revenue to the Department of Public Safety in January, DPS Director Boykin Rose immediately issued a directive for HP and STP tags to be made for his cop cars. A proposal to change state law to allow such tags had previously failed to pass the legislature. The only tags authorized by state law for government vehicles are the SG, CG and MG of state, county and municipal government.
Rose, fired last year by the governor in a complicated and protracted power struggle, was in the process of building a military force that could successfully defend South Carolina from another War of Northern Aggression. Rose had ordered high-powered weaponry, and was reportedly angling for his own air force.
The struggle over the nuclear laundry in downtown Columbia took a bizarre turn late last month when the company's lawyer asked the judge to find the community groups protesting its license, and its lawyer, in contempt of court.
Interstate Nuclear Services (INS) and its predecessor have been laundering radioactive clothing in a poor neighborhood for over 20 years. INS' operating license is up for renewal and, for the first time, the company is being asked to provide information about what they do.
When Columbia lawyer Bob Guild asked INS for records, the company argued that all of its records, except correspondence with government agencies, were protected as "trade secrets."
The judge allowed Guild to see the company's records but issued a gag order forbidding him to discuss their contents.
When Guild discovered that many of the records the company wanted to protect actually dealt with safety problems at the plant, he filed another motion to declassify the records. In the Columbia weekly Free Times, Guild referred to a memo documenting the company's response to excessive radioactive releases as an example of what shouldn't be covered by the gag order. INS' attorney said Guild had violated the gag order by revealing the title of one of the restricted documents.
Potter wants Guild and the community groups dismissed from the case, the company documents returned, Guild sanctioned and fined, and Potter's legal fees paid.
At an Oct. 10 hearing, Judge Allison Lee ruled against Potter's contempt motion but postponed ruling on Guild's motion to open the company's records.
Potter's aggressive use of ethics charges as a litigation tool is itself unethical, and should be seen by Judge Allison Lee as the smoke screen that it is.
"They are acting like we are Julius and Ethel Rosenburg trying to ferret out the secrets of the atomic bomb," Guild said. "We're talking about a laundry in a residential neighborhood and how much radiation INS releases."
POLL AX POLITICS
It was about 8:30 on the evening of Oct. 2 when the phone in Heidi Reeves' Aiken apartment rang. The man on the line said he was doing a campaign research poll and asked if she would answer a few questions.
The man asked: was she planning on voting in the upcoming special election; would she support doing away with property tax on autos; should the Confederate flag keep flying; which party does she identify with and, if the election were held today, would she vote for Republican incumbent Charles Sharpe or his Democratic challenger Caroll Bryant?
"Then he asked me if I would still vote for Caroll Bryant if I knew that in his spare time he was defending convicted murderers," Reeves said. "I realized at this time that this was no impartial poll, and I told him I would still support Bryant."
Reeves said she knew Bryant was a trial lawyer and that everyone, even convicted murderers, are entitled to legal council. "I asked him who commissioned his poll and he hemmed and hawed and couldn't or wouldn't tell me" she said. "It made me mad because as a political science major I have a little more information than most voters, and I realized that the intent of this so-called poll was to change voters minds with innuendo."
The call Tootsie Watkins received was the same as Reeves', but the candidates were different in the Georgetown district. After Watkins told the caller that she planned to vote for Democratic incumbent Vida Miller she was asked, "Would you still vote for Miller if you knew she missed 15 percent of the legislative session?"
Other voters in Miller's district reported getting identical calls. One angry voter, who knew that Miller had only missed one of 64 days in last session, managed to get the caller's boss on the phone. The boss revealed that they were given the questions from their client, the Republican Party.
Voters in these districts are victims of what is known as "push-polling," a practice that has been denounced by the bipartisan American Association of Political Consultants, including Republican pollster Whit Ayers.
NAME THAT SLEAZEBALL
This month's sleazeball is a prosecutor known for not cutting minorities any slack. As a conservative Republican he sucked up to the Christian Coalition as one of its own. He was forced out of the closet by former friends who finally discovered exactly who they were actually in bed with.
This sleazebag is now whining that he is a victim of the same narrow-minded politics that he has long championed. Be the first caller to identify this hypocrite and win a free trial subscription to POINT.
Last month's Sleazeball, who is using your tax dollars to push his own religious agenda, was David Muldrow Beasley. To date, he has been bestowed the honor more than any other South Carolinian.