To the Contrary

Firefighters killed

There will be a time for answers to the questions about the cause of the most heartrending tragedy in the city of Charleston's long firefighting history. But this is the time for mourning the deaths of nine brave men who, combined, had more than 100 years of service in their life-saving profession. This state and this nation have joined our citizens in their grief. ...

There is no doubt that the manner of their deaths and the cause of the fire that became such a roaring inferno will receive the fullest scrutiny. Indeed, that investigation already has begun.

But in the fire's aftermath, the sense in this saddened community is one of irreparable loss. Their sacrifice is a painful reminder of the risks that firefighters face on any given day, at any moment, when they are called to respond to an emergency. There is no way those they serve can repay the debt owed to these courageous men who died bravely doing their duty.

Punishing Viers

Don't you just love how the politicians weasel out of punishing one of their own when he does something monstrous? Last week, a Columbia municipal judge convicted South Carolina Rep. Thad Viers and fined him $500 for threatening James Ziegler, who was dating his estranged wife, with violence and sexual assault. ...

But despite the vile nature of the calls, House Speaker Bobby Harrell said last week that he sees no need for the General Assembly to punish Viers for his conviction for unlawful communication, a misdemeanor. The court's decision, said Harrell, stands as punishment enough. ...

Now only the voters of District 68 in Myrtle Beach stand between the young gentleman and vindication. ...

And maybe the voters in Harrell's District 114 will have an opinion on the matter, too. It could happen.

Gov. Mark Sanford rightly refuses to adhere to the ancient South Carolina tradition that governors should butt out of legislative matters. Last week, after Viers' conviction for unlawful communication, Sanford said that public officials have special responsibility to comport themselves in exemplary fashion. ...

We applaud Sanford for refusing to play the classic South Carolina "speak no evil" game. It is a profound relief that somebody on the inside of South Carolina government refuses to pretend that this was an ordinary misdemeanor.

On the Net:

(Spartanburg) Herald-Journal on the water fight between North and South Carolina, May 13:

South Carolina has laid claim to water that North Carolina wants, setting up a legal battle that could span many droughts before being decided.

The attorney general for the Palmetto State is asking the Supreme Court to halt two North Carolina cities' plans to daily siphon millions of gallons of water from the Catawba River, which provides drinking water and jobs to both states.

What's at stake is not only the drinking water, the water needed by 13 hydroelectric plants and the basin for treated wastewater discharges but also relationships between the two states. ...

South Carolina fears a lopsided take from the river, while North Carolina has an interest in making sure there is enough water for its growing cities, but waiting on the court to decide how the water should be divvied up may produce results too late.

Interrupting the water flow in our streams, particularly those we share with other states, should be kept at a minimum, and officials of both states should not only forge an agreement that equitably distributes one of our greatest basic needs but also focuses on ways to get residents and industries to depend less on the river.

Then there may be no fear over who is taking what.

On the Net:

The (Orangeburg) Times and Democrat on the veto of all-terrain vehicle safety legislation, June 16:

Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of "Chandler's Law" may reinforce his libertarian leanings but the action again means another year without regulations on children's use of all-terrain vehicles.

For the third year, Sanford has vetoed legislation that would require children to wear protective gear when operating ATVs. For the third year, lawmakers have failed to override the rejection. ...

Sanford contends the bill imposes a hidden tax on ATV owners by requiring them to have their children take an ATV safety course. While those courses are free to people who purchase a new ATV, people who buy used ones would have to pay for them, he said. ...

Government has a role to play in protecting children at home and this legislation is consistent with that mission. It is not unlike requiring the use of car seats and seat belts. For the legislation to have any meaning, it must address use of the vehicles on private property, where most ATV accidents involving children occur.

As Sen. Brad Hutto told The Times and Democrat: "A lot of things we as lawmakers don't leave up to parents, like whether they go to school, can buy cigarettes and alcohol. In the interest of society, we pass rules regarding children. I don't understand why this is any different."

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