Archive for October 2006

Marriage Amendment Forum

October 24, 2006

Monday, I spoke on the “yes” position on the Nov. 7th ballot initiative to define marriage hosted by the Alliance for Local Leadership. This definition will define marriage as the union between one man & one woman. A constitutional amendment is required to keep a liberal activist judge from throwing out current SC Law. Speaking the “no” side was Asha Leong with the SC Equality Coalition. I applaud those that will come out and passionately defend their beliefs, even if they are on the wrong side of the issue. That’s how democracy works. The Anderson Independent gave fair coverage as well as TV-4.


Sen. Billy O’Dell Bridge Dedication

October 23, 2006

Sunday a Bridge on Highway 25 was dedicated to Sen. Billy O’Dell, who happens to be the senior senator in my suite. Interestingly, the bridge is in 3 counties: Abbeville County, Greenwood, & Abbeville Counties. Next session begins Sen. O’Dell’s service for 22 years. Congratulations Billy!

Biography: William Hamilton “Billy” [R]–(Dist. No. 4, Abbeville-Anderson-Greenwood Cos.)– CEO, O’Dell Corp., Inc.; residing at 144 Devon Park, Greenwood; b. Oct. 11, 1938 in Ware Shoals; s. William B. and Sara Francis O’Dell; g. The Citadel, B.A., 1960; m. Aedra Gail Tisdale, 2 children, William B. and Patricia Michelle; VC, School Dist. 51, 1974-81; Dir., Southern Broom & Mop Assn., 1974; Pres., Southern Broom & Mop Assn., 1976; The Citadel Bd. of Visitors, 1981-89; Pres., Ware Shoals Chamber of Commerce, 1985; Dir., State Chamber of Commerce, 1985-88; Pres., Ware Shoals Chamber of Commerce, 1985-86; Dir., State Chamber of Commerce, 1985-88; Pres., Ware Shoals Comm. Foundation, 1985-88; Chm., Ware Shoals United Fund, 1986; VC, Abbeville Dev. Bd., 1987; Piedmont Tech. Bd. of Visitors, 1987-88; The Citadel Bd. of Visitors, 1990-91; Recipient of Palmetto Award, The Citadel, 1994; Hon. Doctor of Bus., The Citadel; CEO, The O’Dell Corp., 1997; Hon. Doctor of Bus., The Citadel, 1997; Small Bus. Legislator of the Year, 1998; Alumni Achievement Award, Camden Mil. Academy, 2000; Legislator of the Year, Dept. of Disabilities and Special Needs, 2001; Bd. of Trustees, Camden Mil. Academy, 2004; Coms.: Fin.; Gen.; LCI; Rules; Invitations; Deacon, Mt. Gallagher Baptist Church, 1977-81; mil. serv.: SCNG, 1956-58; prev. serv. in Sen. 1989-05.

Sunday Baptism

October 22, 2006

In the center of these pictures are Scott and his son Shane. They have accepted Christ as their personal savior and wanted to publicly proclaim this with baptism. It was too cold to go down to the river, so we used the YMCA pool. In the water with them is Kent McGahey (plaid shirt), one of our elders at Concord Community Church. Rich Cannerella (white shirt) was instrumental in Scott’s conversion.

Lake Hartwell Association Meeting

October 20, 2006

I briefly attended the annual Lake Hartwell Association meeting last night at the Anderson County Civic Center. Obviously, the prominent topic of discussion was the current drought and water levels. The Army Corps of Engineers has adjusted the criteria for water release rates for all the lakes on the Savannah River Basin. Hopefully these adjustments will help us up here.

Other hot topics with the lake residents are:
-property tax reform
-encourage the water compact between Georgia & South Carolina
-proper use of the PCP settlement funds by DNR
-boat noise regulation

WiMAX technology private public partnership possiblity

October 18, 2006

I have some information that all of my friends in blogland may be interested in. Below is information that I received from an ETV official, Ray Sharpe about a new technology called WiMAX. This is a new term for me, maybe you’ve heard of it. You may be surprised to hear that our thrifty Governor is even interested in this partnership. Stay tuned, or should I say stay wired, or un-wired?

Kevin, I wanted to share with you what happened in our (K-12) governor’s budget hearing today. Moss was questioned by the Governor about ETV’s plans for the digital transition of it’s instructional channels. ETV is developing plans for an exciting, new wireless broadband initiative called ETV’s Educational Broadband Service (EBS). Through a public-private partnership, this new service could conceivably create a wireless broadband service for our state. One technology that can make this all possible is WiMAX. Many in the commercial industry believe WiMAX is the next revolution in wireless.

WiMAX is an acronym that stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, a certification mark for consumer products—laptops, PDA’s, next generation cell phones. WiMAX is a new wireless technology that provides broadband connections over long distances (not to be confused with weaker Wi-Fi signals found in hotel and coffee shop “hot spots”). WiMAX can be used for a number of applications, including “last mile” Internet broadband connections, hotspots and cellular backhaul, and high-speed enterprise connectivity for business.

With ETV’s planned transition of its 67 instructional, closed-circuit ITFS channels to the new digital EBS standard, ETV can utilize and lease this spectrum for WiMAX availability all across South Carolina. ETV is planning to use this high-speed bandwidth for educational services to schools, state government services, and, through a public-private partnership, to provide stimulus for economic development opportunities. The value of a new broadband “cloud” over the entire state would be tremendous for South Carolina and ETV.

Thornwell Charter Slammed

October 13, 2006

The children of Laurens County suffered a blow on Wednesday from which they may not recover. The State Board of Education denied the appeal of the Thornwell Charter School by a narrow margin. Thornwell is currently a private school in the Clinton area which is closing at the end of this school year. A group of benefactors and administrators have formed a non-profit corporation to open a new charter (public) school on the grounds. The Laurens 56 public school district denied the original application of the Thornwell Charter School on August 11 on four grounds-fiscal impact, facilities inadequacy, unrealistic budget, and the legal issue of conversion from a private school to a charter school. The State Board, after hearing nearly two hours of appeal (including Sen. Danny Verdin & Rep. Jeff Duncan), ruled in favor, albeit barely, of Thornwelll on the first three issues, but sided with the district on count four. This was perhaps the most amazing finding of the Board because they had in their possession a June 1 opinion of the South Carolina Attorney General wherein the state’s chief legal officer found that the Thornwell charter application is in complete compliance with the law on this issue. The opinion states that, “…there is no conflict with Section 59-40-210 [the law on private-charter conversion] in such planned opening of the charter school…” The Board simply decided that the Attorney General does not understand the law.

As a member of the South Carolina Senate, I can assure you that no one in the General Assembly, even the lawyers, ever stands up and says that the Attorney General doesn’t know what he’s talking about. No one takes an opinion as definitive as this one, and so cavalierly disregards it as merely another argument. The Board’s decision to toss aside the official opinion of the Attorney General is stunning in its presumption. The Board, acting as a court in this case, absolutely ignored the only real piece of legal evidence in its possession. The hubris displayed by this act should deeply trouble anyone in South Carolina that cares about education.

The South Carolina Charter School Advisory Committee, which is charged with sanctioning each charter school application, declared the Thornwell application as one of the best it has ever reviewed. Nonetheless, Laurens 56 hired a top Columbia law firm, Halligan and Childs, at a cost that surely ranged into the thousands of dollars, to fight the effort of children and their parents to create an innovative learning experience. If this charter application cannot pass muster, none ever will.

This case is not about vouchers or “sending public money to private schools”. It is about public school choice, the very thing that defenders of the status quo claim they support. Obviously, they do not. The defenders of the status quo, in this case Laurens 56 and a majority of the State Board of Education, slammed the door on the hopes and dreams of children in Laurens County. This was an injustice.

Nov. 7 Ballot Referenda

October 7, 2006

Below are the 7 items that will appear on the Nov. 7th ballot. If you would like to see the full wording of the questions and the official explanation, go to:

Question 1 Defines marriage as one man and one woman (I’ll vote yes)
Question 2a Allows for the Senate to reorganize before January (I’ll vote yes)
Question 2b Allows for one legislative body to meet without the other (I’ll vote yes)
Question 3a Expands Retirement System Investments (I’ll vote yes)
Question 3b Abolishes Investment Panel (I’ll vote yes)
Question 4 Assessment Cap (I’ll vote yes)
Question 5 Eminent Domain (I’ll vote yes)
(some have explained that referenda is more appropriate than referendums)