Tuesday, April 8, 2014
“Removing the faults in a stagecoach may produce a perfect stagecoach, but it is unlikely to produce the first motor car.” – Edward De Bono
We South Carolinians seem to have a lot of addictions, among them college football, barbecue, tobacco and Southern cooking. But we may just have to admit that our biggest collective addiction seems to be politics and government connections, and I don’t mean that in a healthy way.
Once again, a Lowcountry taxpayer-funded institution has cast its net nationwide in search of a visionary new leader.
And once again, said institution has found that of all the interested and qualified candidates across this great nation of ours, the absolute best candidate for the job is sitting right there in the South Carolina legislature.
The College of Charleston did this in selecting Glen McConnell as its next president, and the Charleston Aviation Authority did it when it selected State Senator Paul Campbell as its executive director.
At least McConnell will resign his present post as lieutenant governor to take the CofC job.
Sen. Campbell will collect a $192,000 salary from the Aviation Authority while continuing to serve as a state senator. Not bad part-time work, if you can find it.
The race card being played in the McConnell controversy is not only bogus, but it obscures a greater issue in this state. Are the hallowed halls of the state capitol in Columbia now the fount of all knowledge, leadership, and wisdom in this state? Of course not, but they are the source of appropriated funds, the mother’s milk to which South Carolina is addicted. We may need to change our state moniker from “sandlappers” to “taxlappers.”
Now two vital Lowcountry institutions that have a tremendous effect on the future and vitality of our region have shown local citizens as well as people around the country that whatever expertise and experience qualified leaders in highly specialized fields elsewhere in the country may have to offer, it cannot compare to what is most important here: political clout.
In the McConnell selection, it seems one simple question puts his candidacy into focus: if all of his experience in politics and appropriating public funds had occurred in any other state, would that have made him a qualified candidate for the CofC job?
So now we live with the selection of yet another political insider from within the same state government that brought us:
• The State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel scandal, resignation, and indictment
• The Lt. Governor Ken Ard scandal, resignation and indictment
• The State Rep. Thad Viers scandal, resignation and indictment
• The State Sen. Robert Ford scandal and resignation
• The Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell ongoing campaign finance investigation
And the list goes on.
We can do better, South Carolina. We deserve it.
Will Haynie has published more than 400 op-ed columns as a feature columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News when it was owned by the New York Times.
His niche is as a humorous conservative. Find him on Twitter at @willhaynie or email him at Haynie.firstname.lastname@example.org.