- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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April 2


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The Post and Courier of Charleston on how ‘buying American’ can hurt Americans:

A lot of CARTA’s yearly budget goes toward buying new buses. And for good reason - most of the current fleet was built for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Some of the buses on Charleston area streets have traveled the distance to the moon and back a few times.



That’s unsafe and inefficient, and constant repairs are costly and time-consuming. Really it’s a miracle that CARTA managed nearly 90 percent on-time performance last year. That’s much better than many bus systems.

But when it comes to investing in new vehicles, CARTA doesn’t get much bang for its buck. Each new bus costs about $500,000. About a third of its 117-bus fleet needs to be replaced.

It’s not just CARTA. Every bus system in the United States pays the same price for new vehicles. In fact, they all get them from the same two companies that most people haven’t even heard of - Gillig and New Flyer. There’s a months-long waiting list.

Of course, there are dozens of other bus manufacturers in the world. Many of them make very high quality vehicles for far less than $500,000 a pop. Some, like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, even have or are building facilities right here in South Carolina.

But CARTA can’t shop around. That’s because federal rules state that bus systems have to “Buy America.”

“No funds may be obligated by the Federal Transit Administration . unless all iron, steel and manufactured products used in the project are produced in the United States,” reads the FTA guideline.

New buses are actually partially exempted from that requirement - but only for vehicles mostly made out of United States materials and assembled here. In other words, it’s a pretty useless exemption.

Railroads, highways and even airports face similar restrictions.

“Buy America” makes sense in concept. Relying on manufacturers here in the United States will support American businesses, encourage the employment of American workers and pump dollars back into the economy to help fund even more public investment.

It just doesn’t work out that way. The real effect of “Buy America” is to limit competition, drive up price, reduce efficiency and make even straightforward infrastructure investments prohibitively expensive and time consuming.

Besides, in a global economy, it makes little difference where a company is headquartered. Volvo, for example, is a Swedish company owned by a Chinese firm. But the thousands of jobs that Volvo expects to bring to Berkeley County over the next few years will be very much American.

And while high-priced contracts for American-owned firms certainly help those companies and their workers, they hurt taxpayers, who are also American. If buying foreign products would save millions of dollars, that’s a significant public benefit worth considering.

All of this is particularly relevant right now as Congress considers President Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, which is really $200 billion of federal investment to spur state, local and private funding. That money isn’t going to go nearly as far as it should as long as onerous “Buy American” rules remain in place.

Of course, repeal isn’t likely on the horizon given Mr. Trump’s vocal preference for “America First,” not to mention his recent misguided tariffs on steel and aluminum. But he should note that putting Americans first sometimes means opening up to foreign investment.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com/

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April 4

The Times & Democrat on “all social change is fueled by blood”:

“All social change is fueled by blood.”

The words of Claflin University’s Dr. Mitchell Mackinem, an associate professor of sociology, were in answer to a question pertaining to the potential impact of the budding youth movement to reform gun laws. March for Our Lives was born of the killing of 17 students in a mass shooting at a Florida school on Feb. 14.

Mackinem said the young people can have impact if they convince their parents and leaders to take up the torch and effect change in the wake of the most recent bloodshed at an American school.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a primary force for change during the civil rights era. And though the movement he led was devoted to non-violence, the struggle for equal rights in America is filled with much spilled blood.

Today, the nation remembers that King himself was killed amid the civil rights battles, falling to an assassin’s bullet 50 years ago in Memphis, Tenn. His death occurred during a year of turbulence and violence in an America struggling with social change at home and a foreign war in Vietnam.

In his famous words, it is as if King knew he would die before his mission was complete.

In an April 3 sermon, a day before his death, he declared: “(God has) allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you.”

And though America today remains far from the colorblind nation envisioned by King, the importance of his message and the impact he had on society remain.

The country honors the King legacy annually with a national holiday for his birthday in January, but in 2018, the anniversary of the day America lost the civil rights leader is reason to look again at what he stood for and what can be done to push the ideals of peaceful social change and equality for which he stood.

Writing for InsideSources.com, Jevon Collins, performing arts program director at The King Arts Complex in Columbus, Ohio, has compiled a list of 50 ways to honor king on the 50th anniversary of his death.

On this day, we have selected a top 10 from his 50:

1. Learn about his life, read his words, journey through his archives at www.thekingcenter.org.

2. Martin Luther King, Jr. was best known for encouraging nonviolent resistance. Read the ways in which this strategy was practiced. http://www.crmvet.org/info/nv.htm

3. Understand the primary characteristics of nonviolent resistance. Visit http://thekingcenter.org/glossary-nonviolence

4. Commit to a year of peace and action with the National Civil Rights Museum. They’ll send you 50 achievable actions to help realize King’s legacy of peace.

5. Share your dream with the world, just as King shared his many dreams.

6. Read a book to children about King or his beliefs.

7. Give of your time and volunteer.

8. Help another learn the English language.

9. Join in the 50 acts of service or kindness today. http://www.mlk50forward.org/love-for-humanity-50-acts-of-service-or-kindness-campaign/

10. Give forgiveness.

Online: http://thetandd.com/

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March 30

The Sun News on a failure to investigate sex crimes against children:

Lamenting the failure of the Horry County Police Department to investigate sex crimes against children, Sue Berkowitz of the S.C. Legal Justice Center asked: If we aren’t going to protect children, who are we going to protect?

It’s a fair and good question, and one which Horry County public officials should be asking themselves - and then providing answers for the public instead of stonewalling and misusing the Freedom of Information Act. On March 25, The Sun News published a report detailing prematurely dropped cases of sex crimes on children. An important element of the reportorial investigation illustrated an unacceptable lack of transparency and clarity.

“Requests . for basic information, such as how many cases the department handled, have been met by an onslaught of obstacles, including widely conflicting answers, refusals to comment and a Freedom of Information Act response in which (the HCPD) claimed it would take five months and more than $23,000 of work - which it would charge the newspaper - to fulfill.”

Police Chief Joe Hill punted all questions on the investigation to county attorney ArrigoCarotti; Horry County Council chairman Mark Lazarus said county administrator Chris Eldridge is responsible for day-to-day oversight of departments. Neither of the well-paid appointed officials responded to requests. It’s hardly the first time Eldridge or Carotti have stonewalled news reporters.

Down the chain of command, county spokeswoman Kelly Moore did not address questions about the cases. The HCPD public information officer, Krystal Dotson, provided the outrageous $23,000 cost estimate - “930 (hours) x $25 per hour = $23,250 which does not include the $.50 cost per page.” Moreover, when Dotson was questioned about the process of fulfilling the FOIA request, she wondered: “What benefit does the public have in knowing?”

That’s not a proper question for a PIO, or any elected or appointed official. The benefit to the public includes having information, through news media reporting, that helps citizens determine if justice is being served, if children are properly protected, if county law enforcement officers are doing their jobs. From Eldridge on down the Horry County bureaucracy, citizens and taxpayers deserve better understanding that public information belongs to the public, not Horry County government nor any entity thereof including the HCPD.

Journalists, including here at the grassroots of the republic as much as the Washington press corps, understand that we are not necessarily popular with presidents, legislators, governors, county and municipal officials, etc. Often, doing our jobs begs questions about whether public officials are doing their jobs. That’s the way it is - and does not make the news media the enemy of the people.

A lack of accountability is one of the most troubling aspects of the investigation. The numbers provided by the HCPD range from 3,100 (in December 2017) over the past five years to 497 (in February), then 1,168. Unlike other kinds of crime, sex crimes against children are not tracked. They should be uniformly tracked, and the S.C. General Assembly should make that happen. Horry and Georgetown legislators should help advance a change in state law.

Sex crimes on children often are particularly difficult to investigate and to prosecute. Tracking these crimes differs widely in South Carolina. For example, the Myrtle Beach Police Department reported 209 cases over five years, and provided a list of cases, and the status (closed, unfounded, active). The newspaper’s investigation focused on the HCPD, which covers unincorporated areas of the county, such as Carolina Forest and Little River. Horry is the only S.C. county in which the police department is not part of the elected sheriff’s responsibility.

The HCPD has made some improvement in correcting problems, according to outside professionals such as Dr. Carol Rahter, founder of the Children’s Recovery Center, and attorney Amy Lawrence. Dr. Rahter, who examines abused children, cites a better relationship with the HCPD which she said is more responsive than in the past. Lawrence said, “I see them making small steps . at the rate they’re going it’s going to take decades . I don’t think the community has decades to wait.”

Lawrence also spoke to the dropped cases. “This is an awful thing that has happened. But if we don’t acknowledge it, if the police department doesn’t acknowledge that it was bad and change, become better because of it, then it will just continue on. It won’t ever end.”

Online: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/

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