To the Contrary

Disclosing donations

When Reform SC burst into the political headlines with plans to bring in former Gov. Jeb Bush to raise money to "educate" voters about Republican legislators who weren't on board with Gov. Mark Sanford's agenda, the group's co-founder said he was unsure whether donors' names would be publicized.

That was disturbing not just because we believe the public has a right to know who's trying to influence their vote (as it sounds as though Reform SC will do), but also because it raised troubling questions about Gov. Mark Sanford's long-stated commitment to transparency. As Mr. Sanford explained time and again in 2002, voters have a right to know who is trying to influence their votes, because elected officials may feel indebted to those whose expenditures help elect them. ...

It's past time for South Carolina to adopt the disclosure requirements that lawmakers told us they passed four years ago. In fact, one way Reform SC could live up to its name -- and support one of Mr. Sanford's better ideas -- would be to add real campaign finance reform to its own agenda.

Gamecock Guarantee

South Carolina's neighbors arguably do a better job of helping students from low-income backgrounds get into college and stay in college. North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Virginia -- among other states -- offer not only merit-based scholarships but need-based scholarships as well.

Those scholarships help students attend college even if they don't have a high grade-point average.

But the University of South Carolina recently established the new "Gamecock Guarantee," a program that helps close the financial gap for students from modest backgrounds. USC officials call it the first need-based scholarship in the state offering to cover four years of tuition and fees. ...

State Sen. John Courson, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, praised the new program, saying it could help the state attract more black males specifically into teaching, an urgent need. ...

Certainly it seems that this need-based scholarship program deserves not only to be expanded at USC but to other South Carolina universities as well.

On the Net:

The (Hilton Head) Island Packet on shrimping season, Sept. 26:

Shrimpers operating from Port Royal got a reprieve this shrimping season with a decision to keep a dock open that had been slated to close this month.

The State Ports Authority, which is selling property that includes the dock, agreed to keep it open. That was a result of meetings that involved the Ports Authority, the town of Port Royal and Gov. Mark Sanford's office. ...

Some have suggested creating partnerships that might involve the shrimpers and the state departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Commerce and the Sea Grant Consortium to create a regional farmers market and cooperative retail seafood center.

That kind of operation could provide a big draw for county residents and visitors and greatly enhance residential and retail development in the former port area.

The Ports Authority can ensure a working dock stays in historic Port Royal.

State officials must do more than just pay lip service to keeping the state's fishing industry viable.

On the Net:

The (Rock Hill) Herald on reforming foster care, Sept. 24:

Some of the problems with South Carolina's foster care system can be fixed with policy changes. But many of the problems, despite the old saw, might benefit from having some money thrown at them. ...

Many of these problems could at least be alleviated with higher funding -- better pay to retain social workers and agency lawyers; more money for training; more money for office equipment and technology; more judges to serve in the family court system; more money for foster parents.

Money, of course, is not the only solution, but it could help. If the state continues to try to operate its foster care system on the cheap, children will continue to pay the price in misery.

Foster parents, social workers, lawyers and others who labor on under these difficult conditions deserve our respect. We hope the report of this committee will prompt serious reforms.

On the Net: