Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Too much traffic
I would like to thank all the people responsible for all the traffic on all the roads in Summerville. Why, just last Monday at one o’clock in the afternoon I was backed up in traffic all the way from the Credit Union to I-26. It only took me 20 minutes. While I was enjoying being in this traffic, I was thinking if any of the people who caused this were also enjoying this experience.
I have never seen a town that used to be so great to live in become absolute disgraceful with traffic problems.
Do something about it! It is awful. You have sold out, Summerville. There can’t be any place else to build on. Enough is enough.
By the way, I have lived in Summerville for over 42 years. My children all went to Summerville, from kindergarden to high school.
Horne bill increases taxes, state control
Taxpayers should fear the new tax tsunami headed toward them, given federal, state and local governments’ appetites for increasing taxes and excessive spending. Obamacare, the Local Option Sales Tax, sales taxes for roads and increasing property taxes eat up more and more of our declining incomes, and in turn decrease consumer spending and the growth of jobs.
Particularly scary is House Bill H.4407, introduce by Representative Jenny Horne in January 2014, proposing to finance K-12 schools by raising and shifting taxes. This 59-page bill is, as Rep. Horne explained to the Chamber of Commerce last month, “very technical” and a “paradigm shift.” The bill’s nature and lack of merit is indicated by the fact that it has received no consideration by a House committee or subcommittee and is co-sponsored by only three of the more than 120 members of the House, two of whom are Democrats and one of whom is, like Horne, a lawyer elected as a Republican.
One Dorchester County Councilman, Larry Hargett, wrote, after reading the bill, that “it is the most confusing, convoluted and self-serving piece of legislation I have ever seen. It is obvious that this is a BIG tax increase to further empower the state and local education monopoly.”
Rep. Horne’s bill establishes a new statewide property tax of 100 mills, which would be imposed on owner-occupied residential property and other property. Those new tax dollars would be sent to a trust fund in Columbia “and then doled out” (Rep. Horne’s words) to each South Carolina school district (after taking an administrative fee in Columbia, of course). Her bill provides that $600 million of the new statewide property tax would be shifted as credits to the taxes of businesses and second homes. Thus, ordinary owner-occupied properties (ordinary home owners) would pay increased property taxes to benefit wealthy owners of large businesses and second homes.
That is just the beginning. Horne’s bill also gives new authority to local school districts to tax local residential property for school operations, and removes any of the existing scrutiny or oversight by local county governments over school tax increases. Thus, Horne’s bill would enable Dorchester School Districts #2 and #4 to raise new owner-occupied residential property taxes without any of the historical debate by Dorchester County Council over whether those taxes increases are warranted.
Horne’s bill raises literally dozens of unanswered questions, including questions, which, when asked, she will not or cannot adequately answer.
The rationale for Horne’s bill is said to be that it would provide more money to richer school districts, such as Dorchester School District #2. Logically, more money to richer schools could be available only by decreasing the monies given to rural districts (and we know that is not going to happen) or causing a net increase in taxes. Horne’s bill clearly would cause residential property owners a huge net tax increase.
Thus, Horne’s bill is an attempt to roll back Act 388, which shifted the school operating tax burden on owner-occupied properties (the taxes ordinary homeowners paid) to a one-percent sales tax, and any increases in school property taxes to the owners of businesses and second homes. Unable to obtain the repeal or modification of Act 388 directly, after years of unsuccessful attempts to get the Legislature to do so, Horne’s H.4407 is the latest attempt to shift back to taxing owner-occupied residential properties to lower the taxes on vacation homes and big business.
(Editor’s Note: Mr. Smith is a candidate for the Republican nomination in SC House District 94).
Thoughts on road construction
It is difficult to understand how we got in this mess with the delays of the Dorchester Road construction. The article in the Journal Scene (“Councilmembers Receive ‘Troubling’ info on Road Project”) on May 7th was very enlightening, yet raised other questions. It was good to see that County Councilmen Chinnis and Byars are trying to take some action to get things done. But the construction was to be done 6 months ago. Why so long to take action? I assume Dorchester Road is within the districts “represented” Mr. Chinnis and Mr. Byars. If it wasn’t an election year, would they be as interested? I would suggest not, or else they would have been interested from the beginning, especially knowing the history of the company doing this work and their record doing other work for the county. Certainly they would have been interested many months prior to the November 2013 construction deadline.
Who in the county is responsible for this contract and allowed it to get out of hand (as seems to be the case too frequently)? Who is responsible for this failure? Are they looking for another job yet? They should be. Who will pick up the cost-overrun for this project, the citizens of Dorchester County (and the State) or the failing company? That should have been written into the contract so that where would be no doubt. But when there is what seems to a good-ole-boy network for getting contracts done in this county you can understand why our taxes keep going up and our inconvenience is going down. Is anybody being held accountable? If nobody is being held accountable, we voters should hold people accountable at the ballot box.
Where was the County Council during this whole process? Are these two councilmen the only ones interested in what is happening and the results because it’s an election year and the problems shows up in their districts? They shouldn’t be the only ones concerned. The entire council is responsible for the decisions and the results of those decision throughout the county, not just for their district. And it doesn’t matter if they were on the council at the time the decision was made. They each think they are on the council to represent the people of this county, yet when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road (no pun intended), they don’t want to get involved if it doesn’t affect them directly or isn’t in their district, or, as in this case, if it’s not in an election year!
Now that I think about it, I guess it’s not that difficult to understand how we got in this mess! Voters need to vote out council member who aren’t interested and vote in those who are interested. And if they become disinterested, vote them back out again!
Murphy the wrong choice
Rep. Chris Murphy repeatedly has been on the wrong side of ethics.
For example, Murphy voted on House Bill 3945 to continue the self-policing of legislators’ ethics violations by the legislators themselves. Ethics violations by every elected and appointed official in South Carolina are judged by an independent ethics commission free of legislators EXCEPT for House and Senate members, who judge themselves. All of the many groups who have recommended ethics reform and virtually all voters recognize the need for the House and Senate to end self-policing to prevent conflicts of interest, achieve justice and avoid the appearance of self-serving favoritism. Only legislators like Murphy, Horne and Bennett want legislators to continue judging their own ethics violations.
In addition, Murphy recently co-sponsored House Bill 5072, which was fast tracked to the House floor without going to a Committee, as a widely perceived attempt to get the Attorney General removed from prosecuting Speaker Bobby Harrell before the Grand Jury. The bill would require replacing the Attorney General as the prosecutor of criminal ethics violations or acts of public corruption by “constitutional officers” which could include House and Senate members. The Attorney General would be replaced by a special prosecutor appointed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. Thus, this Murphy supported bill would require the legislators to appoint who would prosecute themselves, the legislators.
Before the June, 2010 Republican Primary Murphy campaigned together door-to-door with then Magistrate Judge Maité Murphy promoting his candidacy to the SC House of Representatives for House District 98. Then Judge Murphy also appeared with Chris on 4 x 8 signs displayed in support of Mr. Murphy’s candidacy.
Rep. Murphy has represented many clients, including those part of the booming, annual $100 million-plus DUI business, in Magistrates Court in Dorchester County. He uses loopholes in South Carolina’s current DUI laws that let people charged with DUI delay or avoid trial, get off with light sentences and resume driving quickly. For example, he is able to delay cases for up to seven months automatically for no reason other than that he is a legislator. To benefit those charged with DUI Murphy caused “Emma’s law” to be amended to raise to .15 the blood alcohol level required to make those convicted of drunk driving use an ignition interlock device. That weakened the law and made it easier for Defense Lawyer Murphy to get reduced penalties for his clients convicted of Drunken Driving.
Even if Murphy’s actions above are legal, are they ethical? Is this what we want our elected Representatives to do? Is this what we elected Chris Murphy for? Of course not.
That’s why I am going to vote for Larry Hargett.
Kenneth E. Battle
Horne’s bill an improvement
I am glad to see recent coverage in the Journal Scene about efforts to improve the SC Comprehensive Health Education Act (SCHEA), specifically the issue of how best to teach sex education in public schools.
Unfortunately, comments from Rev. Ron Moock may have confused the issue. Your paper reported that according to Rev. Moock Dorchester District 2 is not in compliance with current law. The same issue discussed a DD2 workshop where Superintendent Pye reported on the district’s efforts in this regard and his statement that sex education instructors were abiding by the law.
I have spoken with both school board members and educators involved in teaching sex ed in DD2 and am convinced that the district is in compliance and doing a better job than many of our school districts in S.C.
The recent controversy has been fueled by an effort, led by Rep. Jenny Horne, to update and improve the 25 year old SCHEA. Her bill has passed the House and is currently working its way through the Senate. This excellent bill would improve current standards for teaching sex education by, among other things, requiring that sex ed teachers be certified and that course material be scientifically-based.
These common-sense provisions have alarmed some well-meaning but misinformed folks who worry that teaching anything other than abstinence will encourage kids to do it. In fact, this issue has been studied and it is has been well shown that teen pregnancy, STDs, and rates of sexual activity are actually lower when comprehensive sex ed is taught. The comprehensive sex ed courses currently being taught in DD2 emphasize abstinence but also include scientifically accurate information about pregnancy and STD prevention in the upper grades.
Parents should thank the leaders in DD2 who have worked hard to bring effective health education to our students. While they are at it they should call their state senators and ask them to support Rep. Horne’s bill, H.3435.
Joseph C. Moore Jr., MD