A bill is making its way through the S.C. General Assembly that would allow quicker and less expensive access to public records for all citizens of the Palmetto State. It's a reasonable compromise involving a bit of give-and-take on the parts of both those who proposed it and those who would have to live with its provisions in providing such info, and we hope to see it sail on through the lawmaking process.
• A story detailing the closing of Home Furnishing Co. in Camden appeared in this newspaper last week; the store is shutting down after 93 years in business. Founded by Gus Beleos and run for decades by his son, Likie, and his wife, Connie, the store was for years an anchor in the downtown Camden business community. Such locally owned establishments are falling by the wayside, not only here but across the country. We wish the Beleoses the best in their retirement.
"There are no winners in this," a Columbia attorney said last week after his client was sentenced to five years in prison for his part in the death of another man during an altercation following a 2010 University of South Carolina football game against Alabama. Indeed.
A circuit court of appeals in Washington recently struck down the process of "intra-session recess appointments," which President Obama used last year as an end-run around the Senate confirmation process. Recess appointments were originally intended, back in the days when travel to the capital was long and grueling, and communication was poor, to allow presidents to fill vacancies that occurred while the Senate was not in session, thus avoiding the "advice and consent" decree in which the Senate must approve presidential appointees. Chief executives have abused that power off and on since 1823, but President Obama took it to a ...
• Diplomatic posts have always been plum political prizes for presidents to hand out to supporters and donors; over the years, about 30 percent of such jobs have been awarded to people who were willing to pay for them. This year, with President Obama having a hefty list of well-to-do supporters, the price is higher than ever, one news outlet reports. Being called "ambassador" and receiving a post to a safe country with a stable political environment is quite a catch. Of course, Obama's doing nothing different than his predecessors have; it's just that the price tag has gone ...
We noted recently that we don't see much reason for people to own assault-type weapons and magazines that hold large amounts of ammunition. And we certainly don't see any harm to the second amendment in requiring background checks for all people who are purchasing guns. But in the ongoing debate about gun violence in this country, which has reached epidemic proportions, we are all being naive if we think instituting new laws is going to stop such violence. That doesn't mean some measures aren't wise and won't make a small difference in the ownership of ...
We noted recently that President Obama, during his inaugural speech, outlined a liberal agenda of programs he intends to push during his second term. There wasn't much centrism in it, and those looking for a spirit of bipartisan cooperation were probably disappointed. Those same people will no doubt also not be particularly happy with the staff appointments the president is making for his second term, another sign that he isn't going to be in a compromising mood in the years to come.
• Kudos to Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, who's been chosen to attend the Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership program, which is conducted by the Aspen Institute, a public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., and not in Colorado, as its name might lead some to believe. The program annually brings together 24 elected officials from around the country, and one of the things it encourages is civil dialogue and bipartisan cooperation, two things which are in short supply in politics today.
We commented Wednesday on the majesty of presidential inaugurations -- President Obama's, to be specific -- but noted that oath-taking day is one in which all Americans can take pride in the way our government operates. With the exception of Beyonce's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner -- was she lip-synching or not? -- there was little controversy to be observed.
Oh, that every day were Inauguration Day. There is little that can compare with a presidential inauguration in this country -- the pomp, the pageantry, the expectancy, and most of all, the feeling of security that democracy marches on in an orderly, peaceful fashion. On Monday, there were no armies pulling coups, no insurrectionists -- just the reassuring sight of the nation's highest-ranking legal officer administering the oath of office to the country's elected chief executive.
• Evidence continues to mount that climate change caused by human activity is already affecting life in this country, with a prediction of more frequent and intense heat waves, heavy downpours and, in some places, floods and droughts. The National Climate Assessment, which is presented to the president and Congress every four years, does not paint a pretty picture. Hard scientific evidence is hard to argue with, and that's what this is.
President Obama is a gifted speaker -- quick on his feet, personable, ready with a quip. And we'll give him high marks for political courage in trying to establish new gun controls; it's a volatile issue, and he has little to gain politically by taking it on. But he's pushing forward with it, and whether you agree with him or not, he deserves credit for delving into a policy that can engender hard feelings on both sides and can cost him political capital.
When the city of Camden proposed using hospitality tax funds to help construct a new YMCA, the proposal met with a great deal of opposition from many who felt that wouldn't be an appropriate use of the funds. That controversy boiled over for quite awhile and Mayor Jeffrey Graham eventually lost his re-election bid to political newcomer Tony Scully. Now a new proposal for hospitality tax funding has been brought before council, and whether or not members decide to fund it, there can be no argument that it would be a proper use of such money.
• Political correctness run amok raised its head again recently when ESPN apologized for comments of broadcaster Brent Musberger, who was complimentary of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's girlfriend during the national championship football game. The woman, Katherine Webb, was shown in the stands, and Musberger said, "What a beautiful woman. Wow!" We're still trying to figure out who was offended by that statement, but one thing is sure these days: you can't say anything without offending someone.
No matter how you feel about climate change -- whether you think global warming is caused by humans and is driving the planet towards ruin, or whether recent warmer temperatures are just a part of natural weather cycles -- it's hard to deny the enjoyment of a winter spell in which temperatures rise far above normal. That's what is forecast for the next few days in Camden, with highs in the mid-70s, which is more like late spring than the height of winter.
• We stand with Kershaw County Council in recognizing Bobby Jones on his long years of service not just to his hometown of Bethune, but the entire county. From his many years as a teacher, coach and principal to his time on and chairing the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission to serving as a counselor at The ALPHA Center, Jones epitomizes public service in Kershaw County. He is also a very nice man, giving hugs to men and women alike, and surprising folks with pound cakes, mostly of the lemon variety. But it is his contributions, large and small, to ...
Lawyers, court officials and others who end up spending time in criminal courtrooms in Kershaw County and elsewhere have no doubt heard many defendants' attorneys try to burnish their image after they've been convicted of crimes. The purpose, of course, is to try to grab a bit of leniency from the judge or jury which is going to hand down a sentence. "He's a good boy" is one of the favorites, often portraying the convicted person as a high knight of society who just happened to make a mistake, perhaps murder or armed robbery. "I just snapped" is ...
In the last 42 years, Kershaw County has had a number of sheriffs, some of them who performed more efficiently than others. Over that entire period, nearby Lexington County had only one -- James Metts, who was sentenced to prison Monday after pleading guilty to taking money in return for letting two illegal immigrants out of jail. Though he had no direct connection to Kershaw County, many here were familiar with him through his long service in another Midlands county and a great deal of publicity he received.
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