Wednesday, September 3, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today
I hope everybody had a great Labor Day Weekend. From a business perspective, this holiday was simply over the moon. Every restaurant in the Old Town was packed, with either a line or a waiting list. The galleries report strong sales and very high levels of out-of­towners, presumably here to see for themselves what all the fuss is about with our little corner of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Much of the email and phone comment this week was on the governor’s vetoes. There was a fair amount of confusion as to what we were doing in Columbia in late August. The stories in the papers, for the most part, did not make clear why we were there and what the issues were, especially concerning the Horry County matter. OK, here’s the deal:

It seems that some of the fire coverage in Horry County is done with semi-antique equipment, which is often housed in older fire stations. Insurance companies were prepared to dramatically raise fire insurance rates in the communities served by the fire departments in question. The question before the House was whether to allow the tax increase, and thereby forestall the insurance rate increases, or deny the increase and let the insurance companies become the bad guys by raising rates. The House chose to deny the tax increase.

So many times, our various media choose to give us a bare-bones rendition of the information, rather than do the background research to provide a fuller, more accurate story. Fortunately, in our part of the state, with the delegation you have chosen, your representatives give you the straight story, regardless of what you might otherwise read. I have produced well over 600 columns and op-ed pieces since my election. My colleagues Rep. Weston Newton and Sen. Tom Davis are both busy turning out columns and informational pieces for publication every week. Beaufort County residents have ample opportunity to hear the “inside baseball” treatment of the issues of the day. This is a version of transparency that we may take for granted. I assure you that other parts of the state would love to have such a wealth of good, first-person information from their representatives.

Speaking of transparency and the possible lack thereof, my good friends Marty Sauls and Barbara Clark, both Jasper County Councilpersons, called to report an agenda item where the much maligned Jasper School Board went into executive session to discuss the building of new Taj Mahal offices for that same much maligned school board. Just to be clear, this is Jasper County, where they have special fundraising events to purchase books and pencils for the school children. While I am constrained by my vow of civility, let’s just say that such a notion runs this representative very hot. In my view, the school board is about providing for the proper education of pupils and students, not building plush offices and meeting facilities for themselves.

I want to remind you about the upcoming Alzheimer’s fundraiser in the Promenade. Tomorrow, September 4th, from 5 to 8 p.m. we will be “Paint[ing] the Promenade Purple.” This is an old fashioned pub crawl from Captain Wood’s to Cork’s, to Corner Perk, to the Infield, to Latitude Wine Bar, and Moon Mi Pizza. The charge is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. This is going to be a great time, with all the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Next month, we are also hosting the Alzheimer’s Walk on Saturday, October 25th. Again this begins and ends at the Calhoun Street Promenade. Alzheimer’s is serious, and so are we. See you there.