- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:


Feb. 24

The Times and Democrat on the upcoming South Carolina primary:

This is it. South Carolina’s big week in the national political spotlight.

The state’s Democratic presidential primary comes on Leap Day, Feb. 29, and is seen as crucial to any candidate wanting to take a big leap toward the nomination. With Super Tuesday just three days after, the winner here could get a major boost.

A key factor in South Carolina will be the vote of African Americans, who traditionally make up more than 60% of the Democratic Party electorate. Will they stand by former Vice President Joe Biden as has been the theory all along? Will Sen. Bernie Sanders find support he heretofore has not had among black voters? Will support for former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg be a factor even though he has bypassed the South Carolina primary?

What these voters do has never been more significant. For the first time, more than a million people of color are registered to vote in the state.

And a study by WalletHub says the state’s African American population is third in political engagement among the states. With 1 being the most engaged, South Carolina ranks:

- 11th in black voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election.

- 14th in black voters turnout in the 2018 midterm elections.

- 9th in black voter registration in the 2016 presidential election.

- 18th in black voter registration in the 2018 midterm elections.

- 1st in proportional representation of blacks in the state legislature.

- 1st in proportional representation of blacks in national party conventions.

For the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/where-are-blacks-most-least-politically-engaged/19026/

Another recent study found that beyond the overall African American vote, the key for Democrats is the vote of black women and other women of color, in South Carolina and beyond.

The study by the Center for American Progress - a progressive think tank based in Washington — examined the growing electoral power of women of color in the U.S. electorate. “Women of Color: A Collective Powerhouse in the U.S. Electorate” notes that the number eligible women of color voters has increased by 59% since 2000 - a gain of more than 13 million potential voters.

The study found that among women of color, African Americans constitute the largest and most politically active demographic of women-of-color voters. At least 15 million black women are voting-age U.S. citizens and black women typically turn out to vote at higher rates than any other group of women.

As much as Democrats are targeting black voters – and the loyal block of African American women – they are not alone. President Donald Trump will be keeping an eye on the numbers too.

The president consistently argues that he has done more for African Americans than any Democrat, and there are those believing his message is resonating in a way that could earn him more black support than in 2016.

All eyes will be on the Democrats this week in breaking down how African Americans vote in the Democratic primary as a bellwether for what is going to happen in the days following in other states and in the remainder of the campaign.

And while South Carolina is likely to remain a “red” state and vote for Trump in November, no matter what black voters do, the impact of the votes of African American men and women in swing states such as Pennsylvania could have major impact on Election Day.

Trump got an estimated 8% of the African American vote in 2016. If he is able to increase that by just a couple of points, depending on the size of the black vote, there could be significant impact.

As CNN’s Van Jones stated: “Warning to Democrats: What (Trump) was saying to African Americans can be effective … We’ve got to wake up, folks. There’s a whole bubble thing that goes on … I think what you’re going to see him do is say, ‘You may not like my rhetoric, but look at my results and my record for black people.’ If he narrow casts that, it’s going to be effective.”

Online: https://thetandd.com/


Feb. 23

The Post and Courier on how to handle the rise of sheriff’s breaking the law:

When suspended Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland got indicted Tuesday on 15 corruption and abuse of office charges - he had been suspended earlier after a domestic violence indictment - his attorney had an interesting take.

“The default position today is that the law enforcement officer is wrong,” Andy Savage declared. “The world has changed.”

No. That’s not the default position, at least not here in South Carolina. But yes, the world has changed. Until recently, the default position had been that the law enforcement officer is never wrong - even in those rare cases when it’s unquestionably clear that he killed an unarmed person, when no one’s life was in danger. Today the default is that when it’s painfully, unquestionably clear that a cop has broken the law in a big way, we’re sometimes willing to do something about it.

Of course that criticism about the world turning against law enforcement officers is meant to conjure up images of the dedicated officers who patrol our streets and come face to face with bad guys who want to kill them.

Mr. Strickland, who had the administrative job of running the sheriff’s office, is accused of flat-out corruption. Of taking advantage of the cops who are out there trying to protect us, by ordering them to work on his home, and on his campaign, while they were on duty. Of coercing an employee into a sexual relationship, giving away county property and illegally distributing prescription drugs. And more.

Mr. Strickland is the 14th S.C. sheriff in the past decade to be accused of breaking the law. Two more, and more than a third of our state’s 46 sheriffs will have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

The Legislature has met this growing epidemic with deafening silence. But days before Mr. Strickland’s latest indictment, we got a valuable reminder that we don’t actually have to wait for legislative action to protect ourselves from abusive but not yet indicted sheriffs.

After a prosecutor determined that Union County Sheriff David Taylor didn’t actually violate the law when he asked employees to buy him alcohol while on duty and made sexually inappropriate comments, the Union County Council initiated a process to render the sheriff impotent.

Although the state constitution requires that every county have a sheriff, it doesn’t say what sheriffs do. And a law that traces its roots to the 1950s allows county councils to create county police departments to “duplicate or replace the law enforcement functions of a sheriff.” Charleston County used to have a county police department; Horry County still does, and the sheriff is relegated to providing “courthouse security, processing warrants, fingerprinting, registration of sex offenders, funeral escorts, background checks and managing” the county jail. The main police work is left to the county police chief, who can be fired by the county administrator for a lot less than a felony conviction.

Now, this sort of arrangement is clearly redundant. It’s not a quick solution. And given some county councils we’ve seen, we’d never suggest that letting the county fire a police chief is a perfect situation. Such a drastic move is simply the only solution the Legislature has allowed.

What we need is for the Legislature to give us more solutions that don’t have these drawbacks - solutions that can deter bad behavior on the part of officials who have had every reason to believe the law doesn’t apply to them. That can start by requiring routine outside audits of all expenditures by sheriffs, requiring them to follow state procurement regulations, giving county officials clearer authority to deny sheriffs’ office expenditures and requiring sheriffs to post details about all their spending online.

And in case heightened scrutiny isn’t sufficient, the Legislature should give county councils the authority to remove abusive sheriffs. After all, the constitution allows for the removal of statewide officials (the agriculture commissioner and secretary of state, for example) who have far less opportunity for abuse than a sheriff.

If lawmakers aren’t willing to act, then perhaps more counties should consider workarounds to reduce the amount of power and money their now-unaccountable sheriffs can get their hands on.

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


Feb. 21

The Index-Journal on funding education reform:

Closer to home, in Abbeville, a school board has spent large sums of money a great deal of time studying its options for - finally - facing the fact that schools are in disrepair. Whether to consolidate two high schools into one and forge ahead with needed renovations might not result in one easy answer, the district has dragged this issue on far too long, and with no real results.

Meanwhile, in Columbia, state senators are spending a great deal of time and wasting money (their salaries) by dragging their feet on addressing statewide education issues, such as teacher pay, scholarships and certification fees - issues that are certainly not new to lawmakers and are in a can that has been kicked down the road for so long that if they were actually on a road they’d likely be three or more states away.

We give that two thumbs down and would like to offer a kick ourselves. But not in the can. Do. Something. Please.

Our state treasury nearly always seems to be in need of dollars. Seems the state should find a way to improve its collection of delinquent taxes as a means of keeping the coffers filled.

The Department of Revenue’s tally reached $119 million. And that’s just the folks who made DOR’s list of those who owe anywhere from $94,373 to roughly $2.8 million.

If you missed it, we ran a story Wednesday that listed area residents and businesses that made the list of those behind on their taxes, along with a listing of those who owe more than $1 million to the state. At what point does the state do more than produce a sort of Most Wanted list and actually seize property and bank accounts? But a thumbs down from those of us who pay our taxes to those of you who, apparently, think you can abstain.

We are seeing what might be a trend, at least in the Lakelands.

First it was McCormick County, then Greenwood District 50. Now, District 52 is giving it thought.

Reference here is, of course, regarding the move to year-round school calendars. McCormick County set the precedent and has already made the move. District 50 has signed on but delayed the new calendar until next school year. That the Ninety Six district is poised to follow suit in the 2021-22 school year might have been inevitable because a number of that district’s students also attend the Frank Russell Technology Center in District 50. That alone would not be reason enough to move to the modified calendar, but districts are making the move primarily to shore up the learning and retention gap that comes with long winter and summer breaks.

Suffice it to say that, despite the difficulty such a modification to the school calendar entails, it makes sense - and gets a thumbs up from us - that the district is heading this direction. We won’t be surprised to see it take hold throughout the Lakelands’ public schools. Of course, Abbeville County would have to actually have renovated or new schools to send students to, whether on the current schedule or year-round.

Online: http://www.indexjournal.com/

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