We don't know whether Kershaw County voters will face a referendum this fall on whether to organize a new county police department -- in the process taking virtually all authority away from the sheriff's office -- but the fact that county council is even considering it is a bit unsettling for both entities. Discord between sheriffs and county council members is nothing new, of course. In the past, going back decades, some sheriffs have been quick to remind council members that they are independent elected officials, and councils have been no less reticent to let sheriffs know they are dependent ...
• There's a controversy over federal subsidies granted to college students, and that's a valid subject for debate, but lost in the shuffle is the fact that college costs are out of control. The expense charged to students from colleges and universities has skyrocketed in the two decades at a rate far exceeding the increase in the cost of living. Colleges need to get a handle on that before criticizing the government for not allowing large subsidies.
It appears that claims of $5-a-gallon gasoline in South Carolina that were made a few months ago were nothing more than speculation, as the price of fuel is now coming down and is actually lower than it was a year ago. That's good news, of course, and experts say one reason is that people are driving less, using more fuel-efficient cars, making fewer trips and carpooling. There's another option we'd like to suggest, one that can save money while at the same time improving health. It's walking. What could be simpler than that?
The relationship between Gov. Nikki Haley and members of the General Assembly hasn't been exactly lovey-dovey, and there's probably some blame to be placed on both sides. But it does look a bit churlish for the Senate to finally pass a bill that will allow gubernatorial candidates to pick their own running mates, but to postpone the effective date of the bill until after Haley runs for re-election -- as she is presumed to want to do -- two years from now.
• USAirways, which has a major hub in Charlotte, is making a play for American Airlines, which is in bankruptcy, cutting a deal with American's unions that will give USAirways a step up in the merger it seeks. For Kershaw County travelers who choose to fly out of Charlotte rather than subject themselves to the restrictions of Columbia's limited flight schedules, that would be a great improvement, and we hope USAirways is able to pull its deal off.
After years of fan discontent over the lack of a playoff system in college football, it appears that progress is finally being made toward establishing some sort of playoff that will involve at least four teams and possibly more. Over many seasons, since the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was established, college football's power brokers steadfastly refused to admit that a controversial system of picking two teams to play for the national championship had any weaknesses. They wanted to protect the current bowl system and they displayed a blind eye to fans' calls for a playoff.
Members of the S. C. General Assembly appear poised to strike down the TERI program as the state's retirement system deficit continues to climb, recently hitting the $14 billion mark. The program was born out of good intentions but contained so many loopholes that it became the antithesis of what lawmakers intended when they started it.
• Political spin is a given these days, and President Obama is as good -- or bad, given your point of view -- at it as anyone. We were amused at his response to one reporter after Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen stuck her foot in her mouth with her comment about Ann Romney's never having "worked a day in her life." Obama referred to Rosen as "some woman on television," conveniently forgetting that she's a Democratic operative. We'll have to admit that goes beyond spin.
Pat Summit, the legendary coach of the women's basketball team at the University of Tennessee, has stepped down, months after revealing that she has early-onset dementia. Summit carved out one of the most incredible records of any coach in any sport, finishing her career after 38 years with 1,098 wins and only 208 losses and more championships than anyone can count. We are all left to ponder one inescapable fact: if dementia can strike someone as young (59) and as active as Pat Summit, is there anyone who's immune?
One of the great things about our political system is that citizens can openly and freely voice their opinions about elected officials and particular proposals that are under consideration. Such dialogue has been common in the controversy surrounding the proposed sports complex in Camden. Some critics have been vocal not only about the project itself but about the way Camden City Council has handled the matter. We understand many of those concerns; we've commented on prior occasions that council members could have done a better job of presenting their ideas and accepting public input. On the other hand, there ...
• We're glad to read that analysts say the surge in gasoline prices is nearing its end and that prices might actually subside a bit as we head toward summer. Here in the United States, fuel prices have never been a classic supply-and-demand item, and there are few who truly understand the system. But one thing is indeed clear: if prices are going down, we're all going to have more money in our pockets to spend on other things and to help stimulate the recovery, and that's indeed a good thing.
There's a long history in this country of major-party presidential candidates bending to the left (if they're Democrats) or to the right (Republicans) to win their parties' nominations, and then swinging back toward the center during the general election that determines who will occupy the White House for the next four years. That's probably what we're going to see now that Rick Santorum has given up his campaign, opening the door for Mitt Romney to become the Republican nominee.
Back in the early 1960s, the journalism surrounding politicians and famous figures was often adoring and non-controversial -- something a public relations expert might dream up. Movie stars and professional athletes were always pictured as happy and devoted to their families, although there was probably nearly as much fooling around back then as now. And political figures were smilingly looked upon as people who had nothing more than the good of the country in their hearts. President John F. Kennedy's multiple dalliances were well known but never reported.
• Everybody realizes that airline food isn't the best – even if you get anything at all to eat, which isn't often -- but a woman traveling on Qantas Airlines from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, last week got the ultimate insult -- crawling maggots in a bag of trail mix distributed by a flight attendant. There's no word on whether she had to use her airline sickness bag after discovering the creatures mid-snack, but Qantas' offer to her -- $400 off her $1,600 ticket -- seems a bit chintzy.
Politicians are known to exaggerate from time to time, and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn followed that tradition earlier this week when he said a South Carolina law requiring voters to show a picture ID when going to the polls hearkens back to the Jim Crow era, when all sorts of measures prevented blacks from going to the polls. Those days are gone forever, though they remained in force for too long, and the new law -- it's being challenged by the Obama administration's Justice Department -- poses no threat to trying to disenfranchise people. Rather, it's a safeguard ...
Whenever the subject of guns is brought up, it engenders strong opinion on both sides -- from those who believe in absolute Second Amendment rights, and from those who believe that nobody should be allowed to own a gun in any circumstances. Like most people, we fall somewhere in the middle, solidly on the side of Americans to own firearms but a bit dubious about why it makes sense for people to own Uzis and other automatic weapons that are made with the express purpose of killing people.
We comment on sports issues in this space on a regular basis, because athletics are so ingrained into the culture of Kershaw County and South Carolina. This week marks the kick-off of college football season in the Palmetto State, and several developments highlight the changing culture of the pigskin pastime here.
• Every now and then a story just makes you want to puff up with pride. We had one Wednesday, and we'll have another this Wednesday, both on the same subject: the renaming of the I-20 bridge over the Wateree River for Kershaw County's three medal of honor winners. Richmond Hobson Hilton, John C. Villepigue and Donald Leroy Truesdell are heroes out of history in no uncertain terms. In our preview story, readers learned that Hilton charged gunners firing at his squad, firing until his ammunition was spent, killing six enemies and capturing 10, but lost an arm as ...
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