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TexasTowelie

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 73,882

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Fed Up With Low Pay and Administrative Boondoggles, UGA Employees Unionize

When thousands of lower-waged University of Georgia employees went into the holiday season with only half a paycheck last winter, Joseph Fu decided enough was enough.

"Staff and even faculty are extremely weak in this establishment," the UGA math professor said. "It seems like faculty… are treated with almost open contempt."

Fu is now leading a newly formed United Campus Workers union at the university, in hopes of giving a voice to underrepresented staff members.

The widely criticized transition in pay schedules last fall was the spark behind the idea, Fu said. A proposed change to the Fair Labor Standards Act last year raised the threshold for overtime compensation to $47,476 a year, meaning anyone who made less than that was eligible for overtime pay. Under state law, anyone eligible for overtime pay must be paid on a biweekly basis, so over 3,000 employees at UGA are now paid every other week rather than once a month. (Courts and the Trump Administration have put the FLSA rule on hold, but the new pay schedule remains in effect.)

Read more: http://flagpole.com/news/news-features/2017/11/29/fed-up-with-low-pay-and-administrative-boondoggles-uga-employees-unionize

Federal judge questions Upstate school district's prayers

GREENVILLE — A federal judge is questioning how a South Carolina school district is enforcing policies on prayer at school-related events.

U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks has asked the Greenville County School District and the American Humanist Association to come up with a compromise on how she might change a previous order on school prayer, The Greenville News reported.

Hendricks says she worries the school district is allowing violations of the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

The district and the American Humanist Association have been fighting over prayer, especially at graduation ceremonies, for four years.

Hendricks ruled two years ago that the district could allow prayers if they are initiated and led by students.

Read more: http://www.goupstate.com/news/20171216/federal-judge-questions-upstate-school-districts-prayers

Feds, state cast wide net in investigation of failed nuclear project

Back in February 2016, long before the State House hearings, federal and state investigations and lawsuits began, SCANA’s top executives joined a conference call to discuss the company’s latest fiscal quarter and its massive nuclear project.

They breezed through aerial photos of the Fairfield County reactor site, noting where parts had been placed and concrete poured. And they explained why their construction contract protected SCANA and the V.C. Summer project from a contractor’s financial problems.

But no SCANA official on that call, or in any other public statements, mentioned that just two weeks before, they had received a damning report diagnosing critical problems that stood to doom the construction effort.

That glaring omission could be of interest to federal investigators probing SCANA’s handling of the Summer project, which the company and minority partner Santee Cooper abandoned on July 31 after $9 billion spent and nearly a decade of work.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article190221654.html

State agency chief retires after South Carolinas nuclear fiasco

A state agency head on Friday became the fourth executive to announce his departure after South Carolina’s nuclear fiasco.

“It’s time,” said S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff executive director Dukes Scott. “It’s been a great experience up until the last year, and the last four or five months have been tough.”

Scott, 68, will step down Jan. 15, more than five months after SCE&G and Santee Cooper pulled the plug on a 10-year effort to build two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County, he said, adding that criticism from the public over the nuclear failure has sped up his retirement date.

Scott has led the ORS since its inception in 2004. The agency helps police utilities by auditing their requests for rate hikes and negotiating what customers should be charged.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article190020924.html

Corruption probe evidence suggests pervasive pattern of political meddling by powerful Quinns

Former Rep. Rick Quinn painted his guilty plea on a misconduct charge as a necessary evil to end the persecution of his family over what amounted to a simple paperwork error on a state form. But newly released evidence in the case suggests a much deeper and pervasive pattern of alleged misconduct, along with a concerted effort by Quinn to hide his work on behalf of his father’s influential consulting firm.

Emails unveiled at the Lexington Republican's plea hearing Wednesday illustrate how the Quinns' political “family” of allies worked behind the scenes to influence legislation and decisions on behalf of the firm's clients, from getting one opposing lawmaker to “take a dive” on a bill favored by AT&T to pushing an amendment hand-delivered by a University of South Carolina lobbyist, special prosecutor David Pascoe told the court.

This taste of the evidence investigators have collected is just a smattering of the tens of thousands of emails, invoices and other documents authorities seized during a March raid at the Columbia offices of Richard Quinn & Associates. But it gave the public its first glimpse at the inside workings of one of South Carolina's oldest and most dominant political machines, illuminating how it works its levers and tentacles to further the interests of a vast array of high-dollar clients.

Take the case of AT&T, which reportedly shoveled close to a half-million dollars into the coffers of Richard Quinn & Associates between 2007 and 2015. The telecommunications giant was dismayed that Rep. Jim Merrill, a Daniel Island Republican, was digging in against a bill to make other carriers contribute to a fund that helps subsidize phone service to rural areas. They turned to the Quinns for help in dealing with Merrill, emails indicated.

Read more: https://www.postandcourier.com/news/corruption-probe-evidence-suggests-pervasive-pattern-of-political-meddling-by/article_1359706a-e0da-11e7-8cad-8f797c4e09ab.html

Martin O'Malley gives Democratic call to arms at Charleston campaign event for Joe Cunningham

Democratic presidential politics descended on Charleston Saturday as potential 2020 candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley made his third trip to South Carolina in 2017.

As he did in his more recent trips, O'Malley tied his visit to stumping for local Democrats, a move that helps both the party and his own apparatus should he try again after his 2016 bid fell short.

His message this time was more on what Democrats can bring to the table than in targeting key Republican foe President Donald Trump head on.

"None of our candidates, quite frankly, are talking about Donald Trump," O'Malley said during his appearance at the Bay Street Biergarten that drew at least 100. "They're talking about us. They're talking about what we as a nation need to do as a people to listen to one another again."

Read more: https://www.postandcourier.com/politics/martin-o-malley-gives-democratic-call-to-arms-at-charleston/article_495f65e0-e29a-11e7-ba5b-3b8f42bcb4d5.html

South Carolina political groups begin early preparations for another contentious redistricting fight

COLUMBIA — Between candidate recruitment for the 2018 midterm elections and protests over the GOP tax bill, South Carolina Democrats also are educating their base about a less immediate concern: the importance of redistricting.

Top Republicans stand ready to defend the party's longtime dominance in state politics and the map-drawing process. Advocacy groups are enlisting reform-minded lawmakers of both parties in an unlikely bid to change the whole system. Well-funded national start-ups are building legal teams to assist with potential court challenges.

Three years before the 2020 census results trigger new legislative redistricting, battle lines are already being drawn in the Palmetto State, as an array of organizations take preliminary steps to prepare for what is inevitably set to be another contentious fight.

Most efforts at this early stage are focused on engaging the public about the process so that voters are paying attention once the process starts.

Read more: https://www.postandcourier.com/politics/south-carolina-political-groups-begin-early-preparations-for-another-contentious/article_2e861596-e01c-11e7-8d55-0356e4a7800e.html

Santee Cooper's chairman files lawsuit to prevent Gov. Henry McMaster from firing him

COLUMBIA — Leighton Lord, Santee Cooper's chairman, filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging Gov. Henry McMaster's decision to remove him from the 12-member public utility board.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Richland County Circuit Court, asks to delay Lord's termination until it can be determined whether McMaster had grounds to fire the Columbia-area attorney.

The legal dispute stems from a Dec. 8 decision by McMaster to remove Lord, who served as the head of Santee Cooper's board since 2013 and helped lead the utility's failed attempt to build two new nuclear reactors at V.C. Summer station.

In a letter, McMaster accused Lord of not cooperating with legislative committees that were investigating the $9 billion nuclear fiasco. He also alleged that Lord withheld information about the nuclear project from the governor's office.

Read more: https://www.postandcourier.com/business/santee-cooper-s-chairman-files-lawsuit-to-prevent-gov-henry/article_c5ff4242-e05a-11e7-ae1e-0fc440d3da74.html

S.C. House sexual harassment policy outlines a range of misconduct, doesn't specify reporting window

The South Carolina House of Representative "no harassment" policy lists the kind of conduct not allowed from its employees with painstaking detail, often going beyond state and federal law.

The legislative chamber responded to a Freedom of Information Act request by CP for its sexual harassment policy. The "Guidelines on Identifying, Reporting, and Addressing Harassment in the Workplace" point to the House Speaker, clerk, or chair of the Operations and Management Committee as the main point of contact for any complaints, as previously clarified by House clerk Charles Reid.

The policy defines sexual harassment as "unwelcome, direct or indirect, verbal or physical conduct" that includes: offensive remarks, jokes, or slurs; sexually explicit or graphic images or communications; offensive sexual advances or propositions; unwelcomed and intentional touching; and acts of aggression, intimidation, hostility or threats.

Complaints may be reported verbally or written down.

“The Speaker of the House will order an investigation of any report and will take prompt, appropriate remedial action based upon the totality of the circumstance and the record as a whole," according to the document, published below in its entirety. "Any investigation will be done as to protect of persons reporting..."

Read more: https://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/TheBattery/archives/2017/12/13/sc-house-sexual-harassment-policy-outlines-a-range-of-misconduct-doesnt-specify-reporting-window

How South Carolina history was hijacked to sell the Lost Cause


Abbeville, S.C. is home to three historic markers that tell varying stories of the South's history
Photo: Dustin Waters


Driving into Abbeville's historic Court Square, just past a 7-Eleven selling live bait and a fluorescent-lit Dollar General, sits a 21-year-old monument declaring that the Confederacy was "in the right" all along. It's Thanksgiving day, 2017. The town square is empty, except for a smiling family staging a holiday photo at the Christmas tree next to the 40-foot granite obelisk touting the Lost Cause.

An exact replica of the county's original Confederate marker erected by the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1906, which was damaged by fire in 1991, Abbeville's current monument recognizes that the Confederacy was born here during one of the first organized meetings of secession in 1860. Just a stone's throw away are two markers, much smaller in size, that tell a deeper story about South Carolina's past.

One, erected by the Equal Justice Initiative in 2016, recounts the lynching of Anthony Crawford. A successful black landowner, Crawford was murdered in 1916 for "cursing a white man" who demanded he sell his cottonseed for less than its worth. Pulled from jail by an angry mob and dragged through town, Crawford was among eight black men lynched in Abbeville County between 1877 and 1950 and one of 185 total victims of racial violence who were lynched across South Carolina during that time.

The other monument of interest in this town square littered with historical markers is far less conspicuous. It sits a few feet high, tucked behind an overgrown shrub near the plaque detailing Crawford's murder. On one side, the slab simply reads "Calhoun."

Read more: https://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/how-south-carolina-history-was-hijacked-to-sell-the-lost-cause/Content?oid=13762169
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