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Wednesday
Oct222014

Sheheen Struggling to Gain Support

Democrat Vincent Sheheen is running as hard as he can for governor in the final few weeks before the election, trying to make up the 60,000-vote margin in his race with Gov. Nikki Haley in 2010.

But perhaps his fate was sealed as soon as he decided to take on Haley a second time. Sheheen is struggling to get traction from voters who already know him. While Haley has weathered several small scandals, there is no big issue to hang on her as she runs for a second term.

Sheheen also faces independent candidate in Tom Ervin. Their campaign war chests are similar - each has about $3.5 million - although Ervin is using his own money, while Sheheen had to raise his. Both offer a lighter brand of conservative than the governor, and both want South Carolina to take money for Medicaid expansion, want to increase teacher pay and think Haley is a poor manager who only reacts when there is a crisis.

Ervin gives voters that don't like Haley, especially those who lean a bit conservative, a fresh choice, said Scott Buchanan, a political scientist at The Citadel.

"Once you get the nomination for an office one time, it's not that common to come back four years later and get it again. Sheheen is showing why that can be a struggle," Buchanan said.

As the days to the election dwindle, Sheheen isn't slowing down. He makes two to three campaign stops most days, hammering home a message that the Republican governor ignored education, chases poor paying jobs that do nothing to improve people's lives, inflates those job announcement numbers and is too ethically challenged to lead South Carolina for four more years.

"If people who want honest government show up at the polls, I'll win the election," Sheheen said.

Polls aren't too friendly to that idea. A survey of likely voters by Winthrop University at the end of September had Haley at 44 percent with Sheheen about 10 percentage points behind. Recent polls have looked worse.

Full Story Here

Tuesday
Oct212014

Council Drops "Interim" from Administrator Burns' Title

Anderson County Council voted to drop “Interim” from the title of Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns Tuesday night, following a unanimous recommendation from the personnel committee earlier in the month. The vote was delayed in the Oct. 7 county council meeting because the proposal did not make it on the agenda for that meeting.

The proposal passed by a a vote of 5-0, with  Anderson County Councilman Eddie Moore and Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson abstaining.

Anderson County Councilman Francis Crowder, who chairs the committee, said that Burns' salary would remain the same, and that there would be no contract and “everything will continue as it is.”

Wilson praised Burns’ record during his tenure, but said because she believed the timing of the vote recalled 2009 she would abstain from the vote.

Council also approved a resolution asking the South Carolina General Assembly in the local government fund to provide tax relief for Anderson County property owners. 

“We are supposed to be getting $9 million, and we are getting less than $7 million,” said Anderson County Councilman Tom Allen. “They are not following the law that they themselves passed.”

Earlier, council approved on second reading tax incentives for Stanco Metal Product, Inc., creating 10 new jobs at an average $18.35 wage. The company has been in Anderson for more than 30 years, and the new investment totals $5.9 million.  

On Tuesday night, council:

Crowder allocated an additional $14,000 from his paving account, in addition to an earlier allocation of $8,000 from his recreation funds, for a parking and a possible park and playground. The $8,000 were for plans in phase one of the project, and the $14,000 will be used to pave the lot. 

Approved on first reading tax incentives for a company from the West Coast, Project East, a 15-year-old organic agribusiness, which will create 27 new jobs at an average salary of $18.74 and a $6.9 million total capital investment.  

Honored Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lee Luff for his “outstanding leadership and dedicated service to the  Anderson community; his involvement with local governments and businesses; and for showcasing our community and welcoming visitors. 

Recognized Andersonville Baptist Church on their 175th anniversary.

Proclaimed Oct. 19-24 “Starburst Storytellers Festival Week.”

Tuesday
Oct212014

Anderson Jobless Rate Drops; S.C. Adjusted Rate Rises

Anderson County's unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in September, after a jump to 6.3 percent in August. It is the first drop in unemployment since April in Anderson County, which boasts the fifth lowest jobless rate in the South Carolina.

Jobless rates either went down or were unchanged in all of South Carolina's 46 counties, according to state officials. But those numbers are not seasonally adjusted, so they can't be directly compared with the state unemployment rate.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 6.6 percent in September from a revised August level of 6.3 percent. The number of unemployed persons was 144,388, an increase of 6,437 over  the month. The number of South Carolinians working ticked up by 2,527 people to 2,038,393. Over the month, the labor force increased by 8,964 people to a level of 2,182,781. 
Tuesday
Oct212014

Obamacare Not Curbing Charity Care at S.C. Hospitals

Hospitals in South Carolina are providing the same amount of charity care, if not more, than they were before the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace launched last year, a South Carolina Hospital Association executive said this week.

"There are some hospitals where it's worse, some hospitals where it's the same. It's not going down - I know that," said Rozalynn Goodwin, the hospital association's vice president for community engagement.

"I wouldn't surprise me to see minimal or no impact (from the Affordable Care Act)," said Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of Medical University Hospital. "We haven't seen any big change in the numbers at MUSC."

South Carolina hospitals provided more than $1 billion worth of uncompensated care last year to low-income patients who were uninsured and ineligible for Medicaid. The state and federal governments reimbursed them $471 million for it during the 2014 fiscal year.

"I think we forget - someone not having insurance doesn't mean that hospitals aren't being paid to care for that person," said S.C. Medicaid Director Tony Keck. He noted that hospitals across the state still made a $1.1 billion profit last year. "I don't know what data the (hospital association) has to back up their statement."

One of the main objectives of the federal health care law is to reduce the percentage of residents across the country without insurance. But South Carolina is one of about half of all states that will not participate in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, so hospitals here are still treating many low-income, uninsured patients, Goodwin said.

The Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion an optional provision of the law in 2012. Most conservative states, including South Carolina, opted out.

"We didn't have the type of enrollment that a lot of other states had," said Goodwin. The South Carolina Hospital Association supports Medicaid expansion. Keck, a member of Gov. Nikki Haley's Cabinet, does not.

Still, Medicaid enrollment is growing here, he said. More than 85,000 people have newly enrolled in the low-income health insurance program since Jan. 1, bringing total enrollment in the state to about 1.1 million residents.

Tuesday
Oct212014

Sheriff's Association Kicks Off Membership Drive

Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper announced today the beginning of the 2014 Fall Membership Drive for the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.  Skipper is an active member of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association and invited the citizens of Anderson County to join the Association as Honorary Members.

The South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association provides advocacy using the strong unified voice of South Carolina’s 46 elected Sheriffs.  The Association is a key player in shaping state policy on public safety and crime prevention, as well as providing critical training to Sheriffs’ teams. “With government funding becoming increasingly difficult to secure, the membership drive has taken on greater importance than ever before”, said Sheriff Skipper.  “The funding is vital to help us carry out our mission of making our communities safer places to live, work, and play.”

Membership appeals will be sent out through a direct mail piece over the coming days. Individuals choosing to join the voluntary program can do so for as little as $25, while businesses can show their support for a $50 contribution.  The funding provides critically important technical resources, training, and legislative support on key criminal justice issues.  It is important to note that contributions are tax deductible.

“I realize that everyone does not have the ability or desire to become an Honorary Member of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association”, said Sheriff Skipper.   He went on to say, “But, rest assured that your inability to join this reputable organization will not impact the level of service you receive from my office.  I would simply ask you to consider joining the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association as an Honorary Member if you have the means and are so inclined.”

Individuals that do not receive a membership appeal and would like more information can contact the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association by phone at (803) 772-1101 or online at www.sheriffsc.com. The association can also be reached by mail at 112 Westpark Blvd., Columbia, SC 29210.

Sheriff Skipper would like to remind everyone that the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association does not solicit via telemarketing.  If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be calling on behalf of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, know that it is a fraudulent call and hang up.

Tuesday
Oct212014

Bill Would Stop Social Security Benefits for Nazis

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is furious some former Nazis are still collecting US social security benefits and she intends to introduce a bill to take them away.

"It's deeply disturbing and I'm deeply disturbed that these individuals continue to receive Social Security benefits even after the Justice Department identified them as Nazi war criminals," Maloney told Business Insider on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals have collected millions in benefits over the years after they were expelled from the US. The AP investigation found US officials had used Social Security payments as a negotiating tool when securing agreements for the Nazis to voluntarily give up their US citizenship and leave the country.

"My legislation would close that loophole," the veteran Upper East Side lawmaker vowed. "If you're a Nazi war criminal, you're a Nazi war criminal. You should not be receiving Social Security benefits. Period."

Maloney said there are some promising signs for her bill, including support in the Senate from Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania). The White House said Monday it agrees that these suspected war criminals should not be receiving the benefits.

However, the fact alleged Nazi war criminals are about as unsympathetic a target as one could find, Maloney said the bill's passage is not a foregone conclusion.

"You never know. I have a great deal of respect for anything that passes the United States Congress. I think this should be a slam dunk," she said.

Maloney has also called for an investigation into the matter at the Justice Department and the Social Security Administration. The Justice Department told Yahoo News it was reviewing the request.

As far as cutting off benefits to other people accused of serious crimes, Maloney cited terrorists as another group that should not be collecting taxpayer dollars as they enter their elderly years.

"Then I'll look at cutting off benefits to terrorists that are deported," she said.

Tuesday
Oct212014

Grace Episcopal BBQ to Benefit AIM

Grace Episcopal Church is hosting a BBQ fundraiser Nov.1 from 5-8 pm at the Anderson County Famers Market, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Anderson Interfaith Ministries.  For more information, call 864-225-8011 or visit aimcharity.org or here.

Monday
Oct202014

Vicar of Baghdad: U.S. Left Iraq a "Million Times Worse" than Under Saddam Hussein 

Canon Andrew White, the Anglican pastor who's known as the Vicar of Baghdad, says that after U.S. troops left Iraq in 2011, the country has been facing "total devastation," even worse than under Saddam Hussein. White also described what Christians are facing as one of the worst persecutions in history.

"It was total devastation, it was the most horrendous thing," White told The News Tribune in Takoma, Washington, Sunday when speaking about the persecution Christians have endured in Iraq since the U.S. pulled its troops out in 2011. "The terrible thing that the Americans have to realize is that all of their intervention, everything they tried to do, has totally been wasted. Nothing has been achieved by this at all."

He continued, "Are we worse now than under Sadam? A million times worse."

Speaking to an audience at the Life Center church in Takoma, White was critical of Obama's decision to pull troops out of the country in 2011, instead of leaving over 10,000 soldiers, which the Iraqi government had requested.

"The reason we have this tragedy now is because you came in and you left us too soon," he emphasized. "We weren't ready to be left. Your military gave their lives, they worked to save our country, and then they left us. And I said, within three month, we will have terrorism ... and we did."

"I think it could be one of the worst persecutions of Christians in history," he explained.

Full Story Here

Monday
Oct202014

GOP Governors Say Repeal of Obamacare Unlikely

While Republicans in Congress shout, "Repeal Obamacare," GOP governors in many states have quietly accepted the law's major Medicaid expansion. Even if their party wins control of the Senate in the upcoming elections, they just don't see the law going away.

Nine Republican governors have expanded Medicaid for low-income people in their states, despite their own misgivings and adamant opposition from conservative legislators. Three more governors are negotiating with the Democratic administration in Washington.

Rather than demanding repeal, the governors generally have sought federal concessions to make their decisions more politically acceptable at home. That approach is in sharp contrast to the anti-Obamacare fervor of their party in Congress.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he doesn't think there will be a repeal in Washington, even if Republicans win a Senate majority and consolidate their hold on the House in next month's election.

"That's not gonna happen," the Republican governor told The Associated Press during a recent re-election campaign swing.

Monday
Oct202014

Superintendent Candidates Back Revamped Funding in Debate

Both major party candidates to be South Carolina's top educator said Monday that they support the idea of revamping school funding guidelines and are in favor of looking at ways to do that in a more equitable way.

Republican Molly Spearman and Democrat Tom Thompson talked about the issues facing the state's next education superintendent on South Carolina Educational Television. The debate was taped at 2 p.m. Monday and will be shown on statewide SCETV networks at 7 p.m.

Spearman was director of the South Carolina School Administrators Association. Thompson is a former dean of graduate studies at South Carolina State University.

A third-party candidate, Ed Murray of the American Party, was not invited. Current Republican superintendent Mick Zais isn't seeking re-election.

Here are the candidates' thoughts on a couple major topics facing education.

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SCHOOL FUNDING

On Monday, both candidates said they'd favor looking at a way to fund schools more equitably. Spearman said she would stress to lawmakers that more than one-time money is needed to ensure schools have a steady funding stream and implement local solutions.

"It can't just be a one-year fix," Spearman said.

Thompson said he would favor exploring a funding model that would share more of the wealth when a large corporation like Boeing or BMW comes to a certain part of the state. Spearman agreed, saying that she'd favor looking at ways to share part of that benefit, given that such companies get incentives from the state.

Spearman stressed that South Carolina's school funding model is middle-aged and is based on severely outdated methods.

"We put too much burden on the local community, and I do think it's a state responsibility," she said.

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COMMON CORE

In previous encounters, the two candidates have disagreed on federal involvement in education, particularly when it comes to Common Core. The math and English benchmarks have been adopted in dozens of states, including South Carolina, and describe what students should know after completing each grade, so they're ready for college and careers after high school.

On Monday, Spearman said she supported state lawmakers' decision to set up panel to review the state's standards, reiterating her opinion that "Washington does become too involved sometimes."

"We have to have high standards approved by South Carolinians," Spearman said. "That will be my No. 1 focus."

Thompson said the process of determining exactly what the standards will look like needed to be a collaborative one and said that, as education chief, he would be responsible for bringing in the right people to get the job done.

"The federal government is not the problem here," Thompson said. "The federal government is not our enemy."

Spearman said she has already begun discussions with people who are involved in evaluating the current standards.

"I'm very optimistic," she said, saying it's vital to teach children how to problem solve and not just regurgitate information.

Monday
Oct202014

Haley, Ervin Show Gains in Latest Polls

Fresh polling data from the week after the first gubernatorial debate shows Sen. Vincent Sheheen dropped 11 points from July's ABC News 4/Post and Courier poll and trails Gov. Nikki Haley by 20 points.

According to the most recent poll conducted by the Voter Survey Service on behalf of ABC News 4 and the Post and Courier, Haley picked up 5 points since the July 14 survey to take 51 percent of the support from voters surveyed.

"She's not running as a state legislator anymore. She's running as the sitting governor," said Dr. Gibbs Knotts, the chair of the political science department at the College of Charleston. "The economy is improving. She's raised money. She's, you know, become a national figure in some levels. And so it's a real difficult job to unseat an incumbent."

Meanwhile, Sheheen dropped 11 points to 31 percent.

Independent candidate Tom Ervin was the winner of the third party candidates in the most recent poll, gaining 8 points over July from 3 to 11 percentage points.

Knotts says Ervin's gains may be coming at Sheheen's expense, but he thinks a strong showing in Tuesday night's debate may help Sheheen pick up momentum again.

Libertarian candidate Steve French held steady at 2 percentage points, and United Citizens candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves gained 1 point for a total of 1 percent.

Four percent of respondents said they were still undecided on the race.

Four years ago and leading into the 2010 gubernatorial election, Haley also led Sheheen, but not by 20 points. A Crantford & Associates poll from Oct. 21, 2010 had Haley leading Sheheen 48-37.

Monday
Oct202014

Tim Scott Cruising Along in Re-election Bid

Tim Scott has had virtually no opposition as he marches toward winning the remaining two years in the term of former Sen. Jim DeMint. And, given his name recognition and incumbent status, the South Carolina Republican has been able to rely less on campaigning and more on the visibility that accompanies his official duties.

Scott is seeking to add two years to his tenure — what's left of the term of DeMint, who left the Senate in January 2013 to take the helm of the Heritage Foundation. Scott had just won a second U.S House term when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to DeMint's seat.

The election marks South Carolina's first-ever U.S. Senate contest between two black major-party candidates. Scott's Democratic opponent, Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson, has done some campaigning but remains mostly unknown outside of the Columbia area, hamstrung by negligible finances. The most recent fundraising totals showed her with less than $3,000 on hand. Scott had more than $3.6 million.

Scott's strong position allows him to do his senatorial job and save his multimillion-dollar campaign war chest for a likely full-term run in another two years.

"He's not spending money he doesn't need to spend," said Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at the College of Charleston. "Dickerson just doesn't have the statewide name recognition and doesn't have the financing."

In the U.S. House and the South Carolina House before that, Scott represented coastal constituents and had limited statewide exposure. Earlier this year, Scott's campaign pressed to get him exposure throughout the state, visiting all 46 counties.

Full Story Here

Sunday
Oct192014

Medications Mistakes Common Among Children

Roughly every eight minutes from 2002 through 2012, a child in the U.S. experienced a medication mistake, according to a new study of calls to poison control hotlines.

The number and rate of reported medication mistakes rose during the 11-year study, except for cough and cold medicines, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

The reduction in mistakes with cough and cold medicines follows a multipronged campaign to decrease the use of these products among young children, which suggests education is helpful in reducing errors, Henry Spiller, one of the study’s authors, told Reuters Health.

“We think that multipronged effort had an effect,” said Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. “We can see a drop associated with these efforts.”

Medication errors can cause injury, increased healthcare spending and even death, the researchers write.

Most studies have focused on medication mistakes in healthcare facilities like hospitals. Less is known about mistakes that happen with children’s medicine at home.