Fixing the problem…easier said than done around here

Click the news release below for an application to serve on boards and commissions

Release

Why can’t this get fixed? I’m asked. What is the delegation doing about it? I’m asked.

For that, you may need some background. Sadly, when the 17 members of the Richland County Delegation only meet ONCE a year (usually December), not much can get done. And when you only have three Republicans and 14 Democrats, getting a fix requires bipartisan help. Since November 2012, very few Democrats have seemed eager to help; but I do want to say there are some Democrats who, like me, feel there’s too much resistance from other colleagues on the delegation to make changes we all know are needed.

Today I noticed these two editorials in The State.

Every member of Richland County’s reckless elections board should resign

Richland County elections board mishandled public’s trust

I agree with those editorials and many of you that tell me that “we” need to replace the board; but how? If “we” can’t get enough votes in the delegation to remove/replace current board members, we’ll have to hope the board members will do it for us.

Many have asked me how are the board members are chosen? That has been a sticking point with me for ten years as Richland handles the appointments process much differently than Lexington County.

Three and a half years ago, I briefly discussed the Appointment process to Richland County Boards and Commissions. I plan to share more later; but what everyone should know is this: those members of the Appointments Committee screen the applicants and only the applicant(s) the Appointments Committee decides are “best” are sent to the delegation to vote yea or nay. I can’t recall one time in my ten years that the Appointments Committee recommendation didn’t get enough votes from the delegation.

One would think with this board/commission continuing to cause our citizens problems, my calls to have the entire delegation review the applicants would seem like a positive change. Well….my suggestion of this has been shot down several times in the past. More recently (last week), I asked that I be sent every applications of everyone who has applied – the day they apply – so that I can reach out to voters in the county and encourage them to apply if we do not yet appear to have many applicants…or many qualified applicants. (This is why I’m sharing the application today with you. To date, I haven’t been given the information about who has applied nor seen their application – even though I personally know of at least two county residents who have already sent their applications to the delegation.)

HOW CAN YOU HELP? If you are interested in serving on the commission, click above on the notice and print the application and send it in – before the deadline. It’s not an easy process…and the job obviously won’t be an easy one…but if you’re qualified and your desire is to effectively run a board so that your county won’t be mired in this mess much longer, please apply.

We all know the problems. What is being done to fix them?

A year and a half ago, I outlined what I believed were four necessary steps to avoid another fiasco. None of this could be done on my own; but I do wish to thank those like-minded delegation members who supported some or all of these steps.

1) Personnel changes
From The State 12/3/2012 “He (Ballentine) is the first member of the county’s delegation to publicly call for her (Lillian McBride’s) dismissal. Others joined and, although it took a while, and the board actually moved the former Director instead of dismissing, change at the top occurred. Of course, after another director was hired – and since fired – the question now resurfaces, is this board even constitutional? More on that later.

2) Legislation to hold the board/commission more accountable . Representative Finlay and I joined a colleague from Horry County in hopes we could provide more (any) accountability to this commission. H.3197 ultimately died in a House Committee when colleagues narrowly defeated the bill because of concerns over putting the commissions under the Secretary of State. Recently, I supported H.3198 along with colleagues James Smith, Mia McLeod and Beth Bernstein. This bill is on the House floor for debate and, instead of putting accountability for the board/commission with the Secretary of State, would put it with the State Election Commission. We’ll see if this bill can pass the House this coming week before we begin the floor debate on the budget the following week.

3) Reduce the size of our precincts
To help our community, I followed through on this plan by filing H 3724 early in the session (February 28, 2013). The bill passed the House less than 2 weeks later on March 8, 2013. The bill sat in the Senate until ultimately the entire delegation passed a county-wide bill reducing precinct sizes months later. That bill incorporated the changes I submitted previously for House District 71. NOTE: Assuming the Voter Registration & Elections office can deliver, notices will soon go out informing voters of their polling location (some will be new, some will stay where they voted last time). Regardless, precincts in our community will have fewer voters than previously. I will be sure to keep our voters updated on this through my website, regular Community Updates, Facebook and Twitter. Everyone will know where they will be voting for the next election!

4) Revisit early voting debate
Debate still continues but we did revisit “early voting”. Nothing final has passed yet; but I did revisit this debate and was able to support measures I had not previously endorsed prior to the fiasco we had here in Richland County.

Obviously, steps 1 and 2 above are still needed and I ask that you contact your Representative and Senator if you agree as well. As we’ve all heard often (and Representative Finlay shared in an interview last week): the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

If you want different results, please contact your Representative and Senator and express your concerns. Somehow, many delegation members continue they don’t hear from their voters about this.

For more background, below are related posts that have appeared on this website since Election Day 2012.

November 13, 2012 The long wait at Dutch Fork Middle School

November 15, 2012 State Law Enforcement should investigate Richland County Voting Fiasco

November 16, 2012 What questions do you have regarding the Richland County election mess?

November 24, 2012 Richland County Election Analysis: Duncan Bell NOTE: When given the chance, the delegation did not vote to appoint Mr. Buell to the commission.

November 27, 2012 Ooops!

November 30, 2012 Restoring the Public’s confidence

December 3, 2012 Personnel changes needed at Richland Election Commission

December 18, 2012 More on Richland County Election Mess

March 11, 2013 Solutions to prevent another election fiasco

March 22, 2013 The State: Will SC force Richland County to buy voting machines (a link from April 2013 Community Update)

July 14, 2013 Richland County Elections Fiasco: The Final Report

November 4, 2013 Vote…without the long wait this time

Richland County Elections Fiasco: The Final Report


Video above from Dutch Fork Middle School, sent to me by a constituent on Election Day. That story first posted here

If you’re a Richland County voter, who waited in lines for several hours last November, or a taxpayer, who is now having to foot the $100,000 tab for this mess, you might want to read the final report.

It’s the least the County owes you. Click here for the final report released this week

Here is more from The State…

By Dawn Hinshaw

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — Richland County Council finally agreed Tuesday to pay more than $100,000 in bills for the lawyers who cleaned up the county’s November election mess.But not until after some unusual procedural moves, a change of heart by two members and the chairman’s threat to enforce a time limit for Councilman Bill Malinowski as he questioned charges for travel and telephone conversations.

The council, which had put off the decision twice before, agreed to pay $72,423.10 for lawyer Steve Hamm to investigate Election Day problems and recommend how to fix them; $9,348.75 for lawyer John Nichols, who represented demoted elections director Lillian McBride; and $17,924.20 for Helen McFadden, who kept the election results from being overturned in court.

Read the full article here .

THE LATEST on “Bickley Manor Project”

Today I had another conversation with Mrs. Nicholson in the SC State Housing Office and I learned that tomorrow (Tuesday, May 21) the “2013 Point Scores” of all applicants this year for tax credits will be posted.

That link will appear tomorrow when you visit this page

I have been told many of the proposals in the competition have a perfect score, this year a 186, and the Authority will utilize the tie breaker criteria outlined on page 11 of the 2013 QAP in order to break the ties. The Authority is still in the process of underwriting the developments and plans to make final award announcements in mid-late June.

As I previously shared weeks ago , there are 65 applicants across the state; but only 16 or 17 will be funded. Today I learned that of those 65, aprpoximately 20 to 23 are in the “GP” category and in that “GP”category, only 4 or 5 will be funded.

While nothing is certain, based on the community’s opposition – and based on no letters of support from local officials, I feel that the Bickley Manor project will not be one of the 4 or 5 from the group that is funded.

Again, just my feeling here, should the project not get tax credit funding, I do not believe the developer will have an interest in continuing with the project.

I want to thank each of you who has written, called, and emailed my office. More importantly, you contacted the SC State Housing Authority to voice your concern as well.

It’s my hope and belief that in mid-June, we will see that this project will not be awarded tax-credits and therefore will not proceed.

As always, come back to NathansNews.com often and stay informed and share your opinions, advice, concerns.

Richland County Community Contact – Law Enforcement

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With the recent incidents around Chapin and Irmo , I wanted to be sure everyone knew our Richland County Community Action Team contact!

Deputy Mo Gabr can be reached at 513-9622. As you can see in the picture above, he covers from Piney Grove out to Chapin and had visited several Chapin communities recently. If you’d like him to visit your neighborhood HOA, please give him a call. If you are going to be away and would like your house watched, give him a call.

To learn more about the Richland County Community Action Team, click here .

Obviously, please call 911 anytime there is an emergency.

The State of the State Address

Filmed inside the Chamber of the SC House of Representative shortly before Governor Nikki Haley’s State of the State.

To read the full text of Govenor Haley’s address, click here .

As mentioned in the video above, here is the 2013 SC House GOP Legislative Agenda.

From the Republican National Convention

Last week, Karen and I were in Tampa at the Republican National Convention. I was able to film this short video clip just outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

You can also view photos from the convention by going to my Facebook albums:

Republican National Convention: Day One

Republican National Convention Day Two and Three

Republican National Convention Night Three 3

As you can see, I was very excited to attend my first convention and enjoyed having Karen there to experience it as well! Obviously the highlight of the week was having Governor Romney stop to speak with us on the way to deliver the biggest speech of his career!

As specials thanks to the SC Republican Party for putting on a very busy and successful week. Having several speakers personally visit the SC delegation gave our activists, party leaders and officials a better chance to hear more about the person instead of just the brief time we hear officials on TV.

OnPoint! with Cynthia Hardy

Recently, I got to appear on OnPoint! with Cynthia Hardy on WACH Fox.

Ballentine Focuses on Jobs

For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Contact: Luke Byars
(803) 931-0580

Ballentine Focuses on Jobs

Announces Campaign; Learn More at www.nathansnews.com

(Chapin, SC) – Today, businessman Nathan Ballentine announced his campaign for reelection to the State House of Representatives, District 71. Ballentine serves the people of Irmo, Chapin, and Dutch Fork. He has built a solid reputation as a civic leader committed to working well with others to get results that will help grow our economy and provide tax relief for South Carolina.

“I truly understand the impact this economic downturn has had on our state. I am committed to do anything and everything I can to help grow our economy, promote business development and ultimately create more jobs. While we have made some improvements recently, I will not be satisfied until everyone here that wants a good job can get a good job,” Ballentine said. “I want us to have the best place in the State to live, work and raise a family.”

Recent news stories have highlighted petty partisan politics and legislative infighting. This has left the perception that South Carolina government has become dysfunctional and ill prepared to partner with business groups to help grow our economy.

Ballentine, however is committed to working with others to get results, “I believe in standing tall on principle and I will continue to speak up whenever I feel that our collective liberties or personal freedoms are under attack or when a lack of transparency prohibits our State from moving forward. But, I have also learned it is important to work hard with others who are committed to improving our State and on projects of mutual benefit to all of us.”

Recognized as a “Friend of the Taxpayer” by the SC Association of Taxpayers, Ballentine is known for his fiscal conservatism and he has also received high marks from the conservation community. The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and several other business and civic organizations have singled him out for his straightforward leadership in the legislature.

Going forward Ballentine’s #1 focus will continue to be jobs and economic development. His campaign message remains People, Not Politics. For more information, please visit www.nathansnews.com where Nathan openly discusses issues of importance to House District 71 and the Palmetto State.

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Proposed law: Require annual USC-Clemson game

Tuesday morning interview with local radio station 560 WVOC, click play.

The following article appeared in The State:

USC and Clemson will be required – by state law – to continue their annual football matchup in perpetuity if one lawmaker has his way.

State Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Lexington, has introduced a proposal, to be considered by a panel of House members Wednesday, to require the two teams to continue their annual face-off, college football’s second-longest consecutively played rivalry in the nation. The teams have met 103 consecutive years.

With both the Southeastern Conference, to which USC belongs, and the Atlantic Coast Conference, to which Clemson belongs, adding teams this year, Ballentine and some other fans are worried that scheduling conflicts could mean no more USC-Clemson matchups.

South Carolina Gamecocks defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles celebrates a stop of the Clemson offense in the fourth quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium on Nov. 26, 2011.

For instance, the ACC soon will add Pittsburgh and Syracuse universities to its membership. As the ACC expands, it also will require league members to play nine conference games each fall – up from the current eight.
That will leave Clemson with only three games to play non-ACC members, including USC.

The SEC also is expanding – adding Missouri and Texas A&M.

“I had a constituent bring it up to me, asking whether it was state law that these two teams play. It’s not,” said Ballentine, a 1992 USC graduate. “With all the conference realignment, we just wanted to make sure this annual game continues.”

Other longtime rivalries have been put on the shelf as conferences have realigned, Ballentine noted.

“You saw Texas and Texas A&M,” Ballentine said, referring to the two Texas schools that no longer will play after A&M bolted to the SEC from the Big 12, which includes Texas. “That rivalry went by the wayside. Nebraska and Missouri dropped by the wayside (in 2010). No one wants to see that happen here to our two universities where families enjoy the annual game, and it’s great for our economy.”

Ballentine said he wrote both universities, asking for their input, but heard nothing.

University officials said Monday that they do not want legislative guidance on their football schedules.

Spokesman Wes Hickman said USC appreciates Ballentine’s sentiment but does not support his bill. “Athletic schedules need to be decided by athletic directors and coaches,” Hickman said.

In a statement, Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips said, “Clemson would prefer to not have to legislate this issue as I cannot conceive of a realistic scenario that would prohibit Clemson and South Carolina from continuing our football series.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Palmetto State lawmakers have stepped in to preserve the state’s most well-known rivalry game.

During his research, Ballentine discovered that USC and Clemson only played each other Oct. 23, 1952, because the General Assembly intervened to require that they play.

That year, Clemson ignored a ban on going to a bowl game by its then-conference – the Southern Conference – and played the University of Miami in the Orange Bowl. The penalty? Clemson was barred from playing any other Southern Conference opponent, including USC.

“There is a precedence for doing this,” Ballentine said.

Source

Presidential candidate visits again

Many recall my support four years ago for a relatively unknown (in our state) Governor and businessman to represent my party in the November 2008 Presidential election. The dominant topics during that campaign cycle were the war on terror and our national defense. When it became clear that another candidate with more expertise in those areas would be the Republican nominee, Governor Romney graciously suspended his campaign in order for Senator John McCain to work towards his impending general election opponent.

Earlier this year though, Governor Romney came to my home in Chapin and shared he was strongly considering another run. Karen and I immediately offered our support! Representative Huggins and I took him that day to meet with local business owners and neighbors who have been struggling in these economic times our country now faces.

While I thought Governor Romney was best in 2008, he certainly is best now when our country needs someone (from outside Washington) to help turnaround this struggling economy! A turnaround much like he did when he turned deficits into surpluses as Governor of Massachussets, when he saved an Olympics mired in controversy, and as he did working in the free-market to ultimately expand business and grow companies and create jobs.

I hope you’ll join me as he visits our community again tomorrow evening at 7:15 pm at Seven Oaks Park for a grassroots rally. Get there early and please let us know you’re coming by calling the office at 803-575-0698.