In a perfect world -- in a political system that functioned more as our forefathers intended rather than how it actually does -- elected officials in Washington would take on issues based on the importance of those matters rather than how the politicians would be affected at the ballot box in their next re-election campaign. But, of course, it's not a perfect world, and sometimes lawmakers can be most productive when they can plow ahead without having to worry about repercussions at the voting booth.
• We see through news reports that a sizeable percentage of newly elected U.S. Congressmen have decided to sleep in their offices, partly due to the high cost of real estate in the Washington area. That brings back memories. Rep. Ken Holland, formerly of Camden, was one of the first to become an "office snoozer" when he was elected to Congress from the Fifth Congressional District in 1974. Holland, a lawyer by profession, served eight years before leaving Washington -- one of the few who didn't become intoxicated with the power of Washington -- and now lives in Gaffney
The state appears on the verge of legitimizing a traffic ticket system that has existed on the gray market for years in many municipalities -- writing tickets and collecting fines while not counting the violations against people's traffic records, thus saving them the higher insurance premiums that often result with speeding violations. A bill in the House of Representatives would allow police to write a warning ticket to speeders who are going less than 10 miles per hour over the limit, with the state and cities sharing the revenue.
We all like to think that when we go to the polls to elect our leaders that we're casting our ballots for people who will make bold decisions; few voters ever mark the box next to the name of a candidate they consider timid. Camden City Council has indeed made some bold decisions recently, the latest one being to buy the former Mather Academy property, with the purpose of building a new recreational complex to take the place of the aging Rhame Arena.
• It's difficult not to like the candor of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, the plain-spoken chief executive who's grappling with the Garden State's problems in a way that residents of that state have seldom seen. Christie lets the criticism of the media and special-interest groups roll off his back while he pile drives into the massive issues facing his state. Recently, Christie said he was not running for president but added that he knew he could win if he did. Few politicians are so bold or, as his critics say, brash. It will be interesting to ...
The nation marked a milestone earlier this week when Frank Buckles of West Virginia, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, died at the age of 110. Buckles passed away peacefully, according to his daughter, and remained until the end somewhat bemused by his singular status as last survivor.
The drama that's been playing out for a couple weeks in Wisconsin over public sector unions has moved to Ohio, and it's almost certain that the issue of public unions isn't going away. While union membership has been declining for years in private business, that hasn't been the case with public unions; in 2009, for the first time in this country's history, a majority of unionized workers were in government jobs rather than private ones. And the percentages are even more striking: while only 7 percent of private workers are unionized, 36 percent of government ...
• We're glad to see Kershaw County Council moving toward a ban on smoking in county-owned vehicles. Employees have the right to smoke if they wish, of course, but the prohibition on puffing in vehicles merely extends the present policy which bans smoking in county buildings. Cigarette smoke odor lingers in vehicles, and non-smoking employees shouldn't have to put up with it.
With April 15 approaching, Kershaw County taxpayers are bundling their records together and preparing to report to Uncle Sam. In most cases, they'll be hiring someone to prepare their tax returns because the tax code in this country is so blindingly complicated that a layman has no chance of understanding it. Many tax professionals can't even understand it. But in Washington, there's finally talk of comprehensive tax reform. That, of course, doesn't mean our elected officials in the nation's capital will accomplish anything, but conditions are ripe. We have a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled ...
Most people here in Kershaw County and across the country believe that despite political differences, there's a sense of fair play that should come into effect when philosophical problems arise in government. We certainly haven't seen much of an atmosphere of compromise in the last few years, but the brouhaha in Wisconsin over the governor's efforts to end a portion of public unions' collective bargaining rights has prompted two actions that we believe most people -- even those who don't agree with Gov. Scott Walker's plan -- will think violate a sense of fair play.
• A simple but efficient system is helping prevent meth production in South Carolina. A computer tracking system that went online in early January monitors purchases of the cold remedy pseudoephedrine -- a key ingredient in meth -- as they are made and thus prevents lawbreakers from going from store to store to buy large supplies of the over-the-counter drug. Nearly 6,000 sales have been prevented in the month since the system went online; some of those certainly would have gone into meth. It's a good system that is apparently doing exactly what it was designed to accomplish.
Camden City Council made the wise move some time ago to prohibit people from sending text messages while they're driving, a practice that is unquestionably dangerous but is common, especially among teenagers. Now it appears that the General Assembly might pass a statewide ban on texting despite the fact that there are still several senators who feel such a prohibition would be an infringement on drivers' rights. But making that argument makes no more sense than saying that speed limits pose a similar danger on the rights of individuals.
With President Obama having come forth with a proposed budget that's big on tax increases and small on spending cuts, political eyes will be turning toward Republicans to see which GOP hopeful will step out and establish a position as a frontrunner. Incumbent presidents have a terrific advantage, but the 2010 Democratic debacle is full indication that Obama won't be a shoo-in for another term in the White House. Kershaw County voters will be keeping their eyes on the race, just as voters across the country will.
• Fie on those who are criticizing First Lady Michelle Obama because she served pizza, sausages and Buffalo wings at the White House Super Bowl viewing. Mrs. Obama has been spearheading an effort to get Americans to eat more healthful fare, but she's right in saying that it isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. People can adopt better diets without completely eliminating those "fun" foods that almost everyone likes. Carping critics need to pipe down.
Republicans gained a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in last November's elections, but the GOP is finding that binding all its members together to produce clear policy isn't an easy task. House Republicans earlier this week proposed cutting about $35 billion in spending, slashing such programs as Americorps, family planning assistance and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But many newly elected members say that's not enough, stressing they were sent to Washington to make even deeper cuts. Complicating the situation is that spending legislation must also pass the Senate, where Democrats still maintain a ...
Easter. Go ahead and let the word resonate in your mind. Let all the memories and fond associations come rushing over you. Easter is such a lovely holiday. The Biblical story behind it teaches people to be hopeful, that there is the possibility of redemption, unconditional love and eternal life. The natural season is a time of blooming and birth and renewal. The earth wakes up from its winter slumber and the air feels softer and warmer.
It was good to see dedicated volunteers and staff members recognized at last week's annual United Way of Kershaw County dinner. While there are many, many people who push together to make the United Way the superb organization that it is, a few special people were singled out for recognition. Dr. Frank Morgan, superintendent of the Kershaw County School District, received the Jake Watson Award, and Camden Deputy Fire Chief Phil Elliot was given the Anne Dallas Volunteer of the Year award. Other plaudits for volunteer efforts were given, and staff member Margaret Lawhorn was singled out for her ...
• The news that the city of Camden plans to install an elevator at Camden City Hall is quite welcome. It is especially so to the city's disabled citizens who have found it difficult to come to court or attend Camden City Council meetings, both of which take place on the second floor. Many years ago, the city installed a chair-lift system attached to a railing of the building's main stairwell. It hasn't always worked and some people find its appearance a bit daunting. Installing the elevator -- which will also allow employees and visitors to reach offices and ...
Both Democrats and Republicans in South Carolina will have advisory questions on their June primary ballots -- votes that will not be binding but are intended simply to provide some feeling for what Palmetto State residents are thinking about particular issues. As you would guess, such questions often revolve around issues particularly important to one party or another, and they're sometimes done to help provide leverage for the parties to push certain projects.
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