To the Contrary

Ravenel abused trust

Whether state lawmakers were simply following the Boy Scout motto or had inside knowledge, they closed the session prepared to reconvene to name a new state treasurer.

Thomas Ravenel was suspended from the post by Gov. Mark Sanford when the former was indicted on federal cocaine charges. On July 24, Mr. Ravenel resigned, perhaps in an attempt to appear contrite and, we surmise, to lessen the penalty he will eventually pay if found guilty. ...

The one question that has dogged the Ravenel case, one we've even asked ourselves, is whether the accused received special treatment from authorities. Did his position in state government make his legal troubles lighter? Did his family name have influence?

After all, Michael Levon Miller has been in jail from the beginning. Admittedly, he has a different charge leveled against him, that of selling the drug.

But some people (and we confess to being among them) might say that it seems the system isn't looking at these two parties equally. Which is worse? To sell the cocaine or to buy it? That's one of those tough questions the courts will have to answer. Does money matter? Does skin color? Does influence?

Yet just as Mr. Ravenel's name and position may have influenced authorities to his benefit, the end result might be that the same factors work against him to avoid any appearance of bias.

Abuse of the public's trust is taken seriously in South Carolina -- most of the time.

The Beaufort Gazette on conditions for the state's children, July 29:

Conditions are bleak for many South Carolina youths, and the state remains one of the worst for children. Although some indicators improved, moving South Carolina up a notch to 46th among the states, it ranks four places lower than in 2003 and is still fifth-worst in the nation. ...

The survey conducted each year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation measures 10 categories, and South Carolina ranks in the bottom 10 states on six of the indicators.

The report is a call to leaders in the public and private sectors to concentrate even more on efforts that nurture healthy children. Healthy children and a good education system are among key factors to helping children overcome some of the problems facing the state's population. ...

Magic bullets don't exist to solve the problems overnight. South Carolina and Lowcountry counties are making incremental progress in some areas, but it will take a quantum leap to pull the state into the mainstream.

On the Net: http://www.beaufortgazette.com/opinions/

Herald-Journal of Spartanburg on Surfside Beach's smoking ban, July 30:

Governments are justified in banning smoking in public buildings, but they should refrain from interfering with the rights of businesses by requiring them to ban smoking. And they go far beyond the proper use of their authority when they ban smoking on the beach.

The town of Surfside Beach passed an ordinance last week banning smoking on its beaches. That's right, outside, on the beach, in the ocean breeze -- smoking will be banned.

The town says it wants to cut down on the number of cigarette butts littering the beach. That's a litter problem, not a smoking problem. The town should toughen its litter laws and enforce them rather than banning a legal behavior by citizens in a location where it's unlikely to significantly bother others. ...

To what area will this puritanical exercise expand next? Will people be banned from smoking in their own vehicles because of too many cigarette butts left on the roads? Will they still be allowed to smoke in their own yards?

Smoking has become unfashionable and unpopular, but that shouldn't give the government the right to ban it. When the majority gets accustomed to using the power of government to enforce its tastes on society, many freedoms will be endangered.

On the Net: http://www.goupstate.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?CategoryOPINION01

The (Columbia) State on all-terrain vehicle safety regulations, July 26:

We require parents to buckle their children in child restraint seats and then in safety belts. We don't even let buckled-up children ride in the front seat until they're 6. ...

But when it comes to the increasingly popular all-terrain vehicles, we offer no protection, no warning. ...

Our Legislature tried to do that in 2006, passing a bill that would prohibit 5-year-olds from driving ATVs and require 6- to 15-year-olds to wear a helmet and goggles and sit through a safety course. Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the bill, and a minority of senators sustained his veto. And three more South Carolina children died on ATVs. Another 550 had to go to the hospital with injuries when they crashed their ATVs.

Our Legislature tried again this year to set that very minimum standard, and again Mr. Sanford vetoed the bill. Again a minority of senators sustained his veto. And now another child has died.

Mr. Sanford says the law would somehow interfere with parental rights. He said the same thing last year when he vetoed a tougher child restraint law; fortunately, the Legislature had the good sense to overrule him on that. By his logic, we should roll back some of our child neglect and abuse statutes, since they similarly impinge on "parental rights." ...

Four children killed in a year. That's not many. Unless one of them was a child you loved.

On the Net: http://www.thestate.com/opinion/

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