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Columns

  • Transparency a key to quality government

    Each year, the week that includes March 16 is designated as “Sunshine Week.”

    It’s a time to remind government officials about the laws that govern them, laws that require meetings to be held in the open and public records to be made available to citizens. Sunshine Week aims to advance the idea that government works best when the sun is permitted to shine in.

  • Doing right thing hard in S.C.

    We in South Carolina love our history. As William Faulkner said of the South, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

    Lately I have been reading a wonderful book about our state’s past – and clearly there are lessons to be learned.

    The book is Deliver Us from Evil, by Dr. Lacy K. Ford, and it’s about how the South, especially South Carolina, dealt with the issue of slavery from the time of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution until the days prior to the Civil War.

  • Free speech is not subsidized speech

    Curiously, one of the most debated items in the entire S.C. House budget process was a combined $70,000 reduction in appropriations to the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate. $70,000 is an utterly trivial part of a $25 billion budget, but the reason for the reduction is what raised the ire of many House members.

  • Corruption abounds in government

    It’s been another week of circumstances which scream corruption. First, Lois Lerner was back to testify or actually recite the Fifth Amendment on the IRS scandal.

    When the show was over and meeting closed, Rep. Elijah Cummings pitched a fit because he wanted to ask some questions. When Rep. Darrell Issa turned the microphones back on, Cummings actually had no questions for the witness. He simply wanted to make a statement about the proceedings.

  • Why doesn’t council care?

    Lancaster County Council voted 5-2 on March 10 to approve first reading of Mattamy Homes’ proposal to build a large housing development on the TreeTops property in Van Wyck.

    The puzzling thing is that during the discussion they showed quite conclusively that they understood all the arguments against this use of the property and then voted 5-2 that they don’t care.

    The question is: Why don’t they care?

  • What I love and hate about proms

    I loved some things about prom when I was a principal early in my career.

    I loved seeing how hard juniors and their teacher sponsors worked to transform a plain banquet hall into a magical, glittering place.

    I loved watching the limos pull up, full of students so excited about a night they’d been looking forward to for years.

    I loved seeing the boys decked out in their tuxes and the girls in fairy-tale gowns.

  • Suggestions for improving Lancaster

    I would like to share some ideas for Lancaster County Council members to consider. The biggest problem facing the county is the lack of jobs. Lancaster continues to be at the top of the list for unemployment. There are some things council can do to become an attractive place for a business to open or relocate.

  • Fight continues for sunshine on an open government

    It is Sunshine Week. No, don’t break out the SPF 70 sunscreen...this week is about shining light on government activities.

    Lest we forget, letting the sun shine on government actions and records is vital to our free democratic system of government.

    While efforts to improve government transparency in our Legislature have stalled for the last two years, there are those in the Palmetto State still fighting the good fight for more sunshine.

    First let’s recognize the journalists.

  • Citizen’s guide to S.C. Freedom of Information

    S.C. Press Association

    The S.C. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) makes records and meetings of public bodies open and available to citizens and their representatives in the press.

    As a citizen of South Carolina, you have the right to attend meetings of commissions, councils, boards and other public bodies. You have a right to see and copy records of public bodies. The FOIA – also known as the Sunshine Law because it shines light on government meetings and records – is essential to our democratic form of government.

    Who, what is covered?

  • Citizens deserve officials’ respect

    It happens in every county, every small town and every school district. It happens at the state level and at the federal level.

    “Watchdogs” monitor the actions of government. They attend meetings. They write letters. They ask the tough questions. They request public records under the Freedom of Information Act. Sometimes, they sound the alarm when they believe tax dollars have been wasted or politicians have misused their power.