2012 Thunder & Lightning Awards Celebration

Honoring South Carolina’s outstanding agitators

Feb. 18, 7pm

The Big Apple
1000 Hampton, downtown Columbia

Silent auction.  Finger food.  Cash bar.

This year’s Thunder & Lightning honorees were instrumental in successfully blocking the voter photo ID law in South Carolina, a major victory that showed grassroots activism at its best.


Larrie Butler was born at home in Calhoun County in 1926 and never had a birth certificate. Mr. Butler exposed the governor’s lack of knowledge about the law by having sufficient photo ID to buy Sudafed and a plane ticket, but not to vote in South Carolina. He was featured in local, state and national news programs, and his story illustrated how the new law would prevent some people from voting. (See video the SC Progressive Network shot of him in his home.)

Delores Freelon, a Columbia resident, never had a first name on her birth certificate, so the SC DMV would not issue her a driver’s license — in spite of having a valid license from another state and plenty of other identification. Her story was picked up by the media. (See video the SC Progressive Network shot documenting her story.)

Sen. Gerald Malloy, a Darlington County attorney, took the point with the US Dept. of Justice, packaging our grassroots testimony into a clear, compelling case.

Virginia Sanders, a Richland County resident and SC Progressive Network co-chair, is being honored for her tireless dedication in raising public awareness about the ID law by working the radio call-in shows and organizing in Midlands communities. (See photos of her in action here.)

Dr. Brenda Williams and her husband, Joseph, have run a family medical practice in Sumter for nearly 30 years, where they have long been dedicated to promoting civil rights. Dr. Williams gathered scores of affidavits from area residents whose voting rights were threatened by the law. She was also featured in local, state and national news pieces about her work on the ID law.


Dave Lippman

Dave Lippman will provide the evening’s entertainment. A satirical troubadour with an international reputation, Dave afflicts the complacent, takes the air out of windbags, and updates worn-out songs with brand-new parody. His alter-ego, Wild Bill Bailout, is the bard of the bankers. (For a taste of his work, check out this video.)

Tickets are $25 single/$40 couple. Price includes a year’s membership in the Network. Event proceeds will be used to further our work improving the quality of life and government in South Carolina.

You may pay at the door, but reservations are requested as space is limited. Call 803-808-3384 or RSVP on Facebook.

Make an online donation here.


Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without plowing the ground, rain without thunder and lightning. Power concedes nothing without demand and struggle. It never has and it never will.

Frederick Douglass

Note to Nikki: Unions do have a role in SC

By Erin McKee

President, Charleston Central Labor Council

In her State of the State address last week, Gov. Nikki Haley stated, “We’ll make the unions understand full well that they are not needed, not wanted and not welcome in the state of South Carolina.”

Gov. Haley was born in 1972. The Central Labor Union in Charleston was chartered in 1912. The majority of labor unions in this state have been on this Earth longer than our governor. Union members in South Carolina pay taxes (and her salary), and the majority have higher wages, health benefits and retirement, which enable them to take care of their families.

Unions are needed in South Carolina. Union members are the only workers protected from at-will employment. Union members want to work with management to make their companies safe, have a contract that everyone can understand, have a grievance procedure (like due process) and protect workers.

Unions are the anti-theft device for workers. Is our state better off with low-wage jobs and no benefits? What will that do to our tax base over time, what will that do to our children, what will that do to our middle class? When labor was strong so was our middle class. What will happen to small businesses when people don’t make enough money to shop? Do we really want the big business world to take over and have more companies keeping wages so low that the workers need public assistance while they make record profits?

Gov. Haley chose a union facility to have her inauguration. She works in a Statehouse painted by the Painters Union, gets her mail from the United States Postal Service, which has the Postal Workers Union, the National Letter Carriers, the Mail Handlers Union. Most of what she buys more than likely came through the Port of Charleston, where the International Longshoremen’s Association handles cargo. She likely uses AT&T which has the Communications Workers of America union.

UPS workers who deliver packages to her office are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The power she consumes is provided from SCE&G whose workers are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Some of our very large companies like Kapstone, Mead Westvaco, Bowater, International Paper are union as are our firefighters and lots of our construction workers.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers did the solar panel job at Boeing in the heat of the summer. Many in our wonderful symphony in Charleston are members of the American Federation of Musicians.

We’ve got union members at our military bases and VA hospitals. Gov. Haley should be representing everyone in South Carolina including union members.

We feel like we are being taxed without representation, yet you support right to work which makes us represent those who do not pay their share for the costs of the benefits they receive.

I ask the governor, as one mother to another, to please stop attacking union members as unwanted and unneeded as our children watch the news and wonder why you say bad things about their hard-working parents.

The truth behind Gingrich’s false food-stamp claims

Institute for Southern Studies

Date on which Republican presidential candidate and former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich, speaking during a debate in South Carolina, claimed that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history”: 1/16/2012

Number of days later that the Gingrich campaign unveiled a TV ad making the same claim: 1

Number of people who have joined the food stamp program — known since 2008 as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — under President Obama: 14,200,000

Number of people who became SNAP beneficiaries under President George W. Bush: 14,700,000

Number of people added to the SNAP rolls in the 12 months before Obama took office in January 2009: 4,400,000

Percentage by which that exceeds the number added in 2007, when the economic downturn began: 300

Number by which the SNAP rolls declined in October 2011: 43,528

Number of people receiving SNAP benefits, according to the latest figures available: 46,224,722

Proportion of U.S. residents that represents: 1 in 7

Proportion of residents receiving SNAP benefits in Mississippi, the state with the highest poverty rate: 1 in 5

Under the economic stimulus bill President Obama signed in 2009, increase in monthly SNAP benefits for a family of four: $80

Income limit for a family of four to be eligible for SNAP: $29,000

Percent of SNAP beneficiaries who are white: 36

Percent who are African-American: 22

Percent who are Latino: 10

Percent who are children: 47

Percent who live in a household where someone has a job: 41

Percent of SNAP households that also received cash welfare benefits in 1990: 42

In 2010: 8

SNAP’s annual cost to taxpayers: $75,000,000,000

Percentage by which that cost has increased since 2008: 200

Value of economic activity generated for every $1 spent on SNAP benefits: $1.84

(Click on figure to go to source. To comment on this index, click here. Image of Gingrich during the Jan. 16 GOP debate is a still from Fox News video via FactCheck.org.)

The real meaning of “self-deportation”

By Wendy Sefsaf

Immigration Policy Center

The term “self-deportation” has found its way into the GOP presidential primary race, with candidate Mitt Romney outlining a vague immigration platform which includes “self-deportation,” or the idea that unauthorized immigrants will voluntarily choose to leave the U.S. if life here is made unbearable enough. While “self-deportation” may be a new idea to some, those who monitor immigration policy understand that it is code for “attrition through enforcement” – a plan pursued by extremist immigration-control organizations in Congress and state houses across the nation.

Mr. Romney explains how he thinks “self-deportation” would work by saying “if people don’t get work here, they’re going to self-deport to a place they can get work.” However, as described in a forthcoming report from the Immigration Policy Center, “self-deportation” – or, more accurately, “attrition through enforcement” – goes far beyond denying unauthorized immigrants work. The strategy is currently embodied in state laws that include provisions denying education, transportation, and even basic services like water and housing to anyone who cannot prove legal immigration status. So far, the states that have attempted to roll out this plan have done little more than undermine basic human rights, devastate local economies, and place unnecessary burdens on U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants.

There is little evidence that “attrition through enforcement” is causing unauthorized immigrants to leave. In fact, a July 2011 study from the RAND Corporation found that, despite improved economic conditions in Mexico and worsened conditions in the United States, fewer Mexican immigrants returned to Mexico in 2008 and 2009 than in the two years before the recession.

The Urban Institute’s Juan Pedrozo has also pointed out that “it’s tough to tell whether (and how many) immigrants have left a community if you are looking right after a state passes a law. It can take years of evidence to test claims of a mass exodus.” Moreover, “growing evidence suggests that most immigrants (especially families with school-age children) are here to stay, except perhaps where local economies are particularly weak.”

Furthermore, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, “nearly two-thirds of the 10.2 million unauthorized adult immigrants in the United States have lived in this country for at least 10 years, and nearly half are parents of minor children,” most of whom are U.S. citizens. There is no reason to believe that they are going to “self-deport” as their ties to the country have grown much deeper.

Whether you call it “self-deportation” or “attrition through enforcement,” this is a policy that offers no genuine solution to the growing instability of our immigration system. Relying on a strategy conceived by immigration restrictionists and pursued by opportunistic politicians is no game plan. This country deserves to hear more detailed and thoughtful approaches from politicians and policy makers—ones that will offer a way forward, rather than ones grounded in divisive and punitive approaches to unauthorized immigration.

The Immigration Policy Center, established in 2003, is the policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC’s mission is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.

South Carolina issues pro-equality license plate

We are delighted to announce the SC Equality license plate! The plate will be available on Jan. 30, and is a wonderful way to show support for the LGBTQ community in South Carolina. This plate is not just for the LGBTQ community, but for family members, allies and the community at large!

This week, South Carolina joins Indiana as one of three states to claim pro-equality license plates, Maryland being the first in 2008.

The license plate was created as a way of allowing residents of South Carolina to publicly display their support of community, culture and policy that encourages and advocates for equal treatment for all South Carolinians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

2012 represents our 10th Anniversary of providing LGBT advocacy in the Palmetto State, and we can think of no better way to kick off our year of celebration! We begin the New Year feeling grateful and fortunate that South Carolina license plate policy allows a broad expression of diverse opinion and organizational support.

With one of the lowest specialty license plate fees in the state ($25.00), the SC Equality license plate is an affordable way to show support for equality and the over 120,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals who call South Carolina home.

To get YOUR SC Equality license plate, visit your local DMV, complete the specialty plate application and pay the $25.00 fee along with standard registration fees.  Half of the $25.00 fee will support the education and advocacy work of South Carolina Equality Foundation.

Join us for the following events to celebrate the plate:

In Columbia, Jan. 20, 5:30 – 7:00pm at 701 Whaley St.

In Charleston, we celebrate with Takeover! Club Blu at Tides on Folly Beach, Jan. 21, 2012 at 8pm.

To be eligible to receive one of the first 100 plates issued, please contact Christine at christine@scequality.org.

SC Equality is a member of the SC Progressive Network.

Campaign reform advocates call for clean elections measure on SC ballot

Most South Carolinians are now feeling the effect of unregulated corporate cash that has flooded the state with record numbers of nasty political ads. While most bemoan the devolution of the campaign system – including some GOP candidates – some are redoubling efforts to do something about it.

Advocates for campaign finance reform will hold a press conference on Jan. 20 at 1:30pm in the lower lobby of the State House on the second anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that deregulated limits on corporate campaign donations and fueled record spending in the SC Republican presidential preference primary.

John Crangle, Director of Common Cause of South Carolina, will address the implications of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

“Most people disagree with the Supreme Court rulings that corporations are people and money is speech,” Crangle said. “Amending the US Constitution is going to take some time, but we can address this corruption on a state level now by passing clean elections.”

Rep. Joe Neal, Co-chair of the SC Progressive Network, will speak about the Clean Elections Act that he reintroduced this week. (See more at the Network’s web site.)

“The Clean Elections Act has been introduced in every legislative session since 2000,” Neal said, “but now I think people are waking up to reality that public offices are on the auction block.” Over 90 percent of the candidates for the state legislature that spend the most money win.”

“South Carolinians who are disgusted with the flood of unregulated cash that is corrupting our political system have a way to fight back,” he said. “The Clean Elections Act will allow people to run for office without having to accept corporate, private or PAC money, and still run a competitive campaign.”

Rep. Neal’s legislation calls for putting clean elections on the general election ballot this November.

Citizens who are concerned about money corrupting our political system are invited to attend the press conference.

Anti-choice subcommittee hearing scheduled

H.3408, the statewide ban on insurance coverage of abortion, is on the agenda for the senate medical affairs subcommittee meeting this Wednesday, Jan. 18! This is our ONLY opportunity during the legislative process in the Senate to show legislators that South Carolinians oppose this divisive, politically motivated attack on reproductive health.

If there is one time to get involved and take action, THIS IS IT! Without your presence on Wednesday, we cannot show legislators our power in numbers! Together, we can put pressure on the committee members to VOTE NO on H.3408!

H.3408 Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee Hearing
WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 18
TIME: 9:30am (Please arrive early, so we can fill up the front row!)
WHERE: Gressette Building, Room 207

We recommend parking in the 1201 Main St. garage across from the State House, entrance at Lady and Assembly.

For details, email sloane.whelan@pphsinc.org or call 401-529-2357.

Tell Them gears up for 2012

As the South Carolina Legislature resumes its legislative session, we at Tell Them, a member of the SC Progressive Network, are excited to begin a new year.

Tell Them reached a significant milestone in 2011 when the network grew to more than 10,000 members. Our focus on prevention has resonated with mainstream South Carolinians committed to creating a stronger, healthier state.

Over the past few months, we have made numerous updates to the Tell Them website in order to better facilitate direct communication between our members and our elected officials.

It now has a variety of new features, including:

  • Young People’s Bill of Rights: Tell Them believes that every young adult in South Carolina deserves the right to uncensored reproductive health education and access to services. We have developed 9 key rights that we strive to protect.
  • Get Local: Visit your regions’ page to learn more about the issues currently impacting your community and the actions you can take to have your voice heard.
  • Learn the Facts:  Use this new section get the facts about the economics of teen pregnancy, access to reproductive healthcare, comprehensive sex education, and more.

We will be using this new website, expanded field support, outdoor and print advertising and social media to educate the public, and ultimately lawmakers, about serious threats to basic individual rights.

One of these very real threats in South Carolina is the H. 3408 – The “Refusal of Care” Act, also known as the “Freedom of Conscience” Act. This legislation would give health care professionals the legal right to put their moral and religious beliefs before the health and well-being of their patients. You can also download some examples of how this legislation will affect patients in South Carolina. Our top priority this session is defeating the passage of this bill, and we need your help to be successful.

Click here to take action now on H. 3408.

It’s going to be a busy year for Tell Them and one we hope you will want to share with us.